(After Girl by Jamaica Kincaid)
Never wash your clothes. Let your older sister do it. You can only help fetching water from that well. Cook the food you like; not the food you want your boy friends to like. It’s good to walk barefoot and shirtless under the sun; the heat makes you tan. Never shave your pubic hair; shave only the beard and the mustache. Don’t pluck your eyebrows. You’re not joining a pageant. Never go to the market unless you look for a new pair of rubber shoes. But don’t look for Hello Kitty bags; you are no longer a kid. But I don’t like Hello Kitty. Never bring a basket unless you accompany your mother. Never let your younger sister ask you to do the dishes; scold her. You are older. Never sing Celine Dion’s songs before your friends. Don’t pout your lips. Pucker it if you are silent. Don’t sashay when you walk. Be haughty. If you are riding a carabao, don’t lap your leg over the other. Don’t point your toes. Flex it. Don’t wear tight shirts and pants when you go downtown. Your cousins will see and talk about you. Throw away your flowered slippers. Get the black one. This is how you pull the rope. Be sure to grip it like a man. Don’t get scared if the pig follows after you. Just hold the rope until you reach the pigpen. Carry the rooster like you are caressing your girl’s soft skin. When you’re with me at cockpits, shout your bet loud. Talk with the elders. The old men. You will know how they courted their wives. You will get sure ways to chase your bird. Swim like a frog; swimming like a dog makes you a sissy. Always help your beautiful teachers at school. But don’t cut flowers. You can only shovel the soil. Don’t sketch Barbie and her clothes. Draw Superman. You will be good at it. Play spiders; ignore your fancy of white cats. Play basketball. Reject your neighbor’s invitation for skipping rope. Plant camote, cassava or tanglad; but never plant sunflowers, rosal or morning glory. Join your uncles. Learn how they puff. Soon you will smoke cigarettes. Don’t stop when your aunts ask you to pluck their white hairs. Tell them you’re tending your mother’s garden. Don’t say it’s your garden. Your aunts will praise your industry. Sweep off cobwebs from the ceiling. Don’t sweep the floor. Your sister can do it. During Sundays, lay down the trapal. Try to carry a 50 kilo sack of unmilled rice. You will dry it under the sun. Bring it to the court. Make this a weekend habit. It forms your body early on. Girls admire boys with perfect build. Do you drink rum? Good. It heightens your tolerance. Just don’t let your mother catch you. I have warned you not to be aggresive to girls. Some of them like gentle boys. A gentleman never tells his feelings. He shows. A flower is a prerequisite to love. Chocolate is a plus. When the sun shines, it is normal to feel the morning wood. It reminds you of becoming a man. If your tool needs wanking, find a safe place to imagine your girl. The way you imagine her is different from the way you think of her. Ask her things you want without embarrassment or hesitation. A man does his insidious desire without being caught by the woman he loves. This is how you pose before her. Don’t bend your knees. Don’t put your weight on one side. Forget your habit of parting your hair. You shouldn’t be conscious. She might think you’re vain. If you happen to see your girl chasing someone, don’t hate her. A man never hurts a woman. Just go directly to boy who insults your pride. Deal with him in a fight. Be sure your girl will never know. Don’t cry. Don’t ask for her help if the fight gets worse. And fight back if you get punches and bruises. But what if he won’t punch or leave me bruises? You mean to say you are really going to be the kind of man whom other men won’t hurt?