A swarm of bees took flight in my stomach. Although the roar of the crowd was audible from backstage, I moved around attempting to hear the fulfilling clank of the beads that attached to my cornrow braids. I felt skeptical about everything around me as this was more than ever I dreamed of in the twenty-five years of my life. I mustered the courage to peer behind the curtains only to find multitudinous copies of my book being held by people whom I’d never met before. The same words of “The fear of women” dominated each cover in white, bold letters with my name, Mathilde Dia, right below against the plain, black background. I never knew the Sydney Dymocks store had the capacity to fit this many people in all at once. I took one more look in the mirror. I could barely recognise myself with the ample amount of luminous orange eye shadow and pencil eyeliner that sat against my dark complexion. I readjusted my wide, beaded necklace when a short, voluptuous lady approached me.
“Are you ready?” She sighed with a tone as dull as night.
I nodded at her to confirm that I was ready. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath to calm my nerves. I tied my head wrap which had the same majestic colours as a Regal sunbird with the same technique that i always used.
• • • • • •
August 13, 2002
There was nothing compared to exposing myself on paper. The whiff of the pen’s ink against the paper was satisfying to say that least. Banji was still half asleep…