The Color Brown

Maisha - Charleston, South Carolina
Entered on March 10, 2009

I remember the summer before I started kindergarten. My mother taught me a lesson that would forever resonate into the deep recesses of my soul. You are more than a color. When I turned eight, I soon found that fitting in would not be easy. Some accepted me, but others could not get beyond their distaste of brown. Brown was invisible and detestable, and so I sought refuge and validation in the innocence of my past.

I missed those sunny fall afternoons in Grandmama’s backyard playing with Tasha. I’d forgotten how slimy the tadpoles had felt three summers before, wriggling in my tiny, tender palms. In a matter of moments, the end of that summer had turned tragically bleak and desolate. For a long while, it had curbed my yearning for human companionship. No one could replace Tasha.

From time to time, I would sit beside my window and look outside. That’s when I began to notice the beauty of the leaves, how they changed so much, and yet still remained the same. I liked the bright greens and teals of spring, but fall would roll around and, in no time, fade the earth to a dull brown. I hated brown, the way it sullied the earth and interrupted the seasonal flow. Yet hidden beneath my disgust, I secretly found the bare branches to be just as beautiful as the blossoming ones.

Gold was a pretty color. It appeared in late summer, early fall. Nonetheless, I despised the way the gold always rusted away to that ghastly brown, then fell and became lost in the clutter of the dead. Each autumn, I mourned the loss of a leaf. Winter was a prolonged moment of silence…a memorial.

Tasha was brown.

Beside the window I watched the cycle of life continue every year with the coming of each new season. Learning that death was only an extension of the cycle, I had grown to hate it much less these days. I watched the kids playing in the yard in the piles of leaves and marveled at how they blended so well with Mother Nature. The many-hued browns of those two were a sight to behold against the brown of the leaves.

And this one, soft and warm in my arms. She was as precious as she could be, the sweetness of her breath gently shaking her tiny little body. She squirmed as I pulled her closer to my breasts. I planted my lips on her ebony forehead. She was an extension of him and me. He, too, was a soft brown.

Sometimes I wondered what Tasha would say if she were here right now. It had taken most of my childhood to erase the pain and loneliness after her passing. I’d hated the color brown for a long time. It reminded me too much of that autumn. But now, brown no longer meant the end of the cycle. It hailed a new beginning of life sublime.

I am more than brown.