Sequins and Sapphires

Sequins and Sapphires: Girl in the photograph

By Kathryn Kazibwe:

It is a bright day. The water is dotted with boats, and swimmers in various states of undress. People of all ages and sizes are strewn on the beach, laughing, playing, cuddling, languishing, some even seemingly asleep. There's color splashed all around; swimsuits, picnic blankets, towels, stray polythene bags, the air itself seems to take on a pink tinge. It is the perfect day to be at the beach.

My focus is only secondarily on these things. What originally and recurrently captures my eye is the girl. In her twenties, by the look of it; early twenties. Does that make her a woman? A young adult? No, she is only a girl. Not a very pretty one by any conventional standards, but stunning nevertheless. She is wearing a plain white T-shirt that is rippling in the strong winds, and little black shorts that expose her long, lithe, toned, very light-skinned legs. The wind whips her red scarf to the left and blows her big black afro all around her face, like a wobbly halo. She fingers the scarf lightly, absently, more to occupy her hands than to save it from the wind. Her other arm is outstretched, palm up, ready to receive something.

Still, this is not what reels me in. It is her smile; her smile that sets the corners of her mouth threatening to meet and greet her earlobes. It exposes the large gap between her front teeth, embraces her entire face, and lends a charming glint to her beautiful brown eyes, which are big even when squinted against the stray hair. It is the kind of true, raw smile that is on the brink of being upgraded to a grin before graduating to laughter status; the kind you will not find in any glamour magazine.

They say that a picture speaks a thousand words. This one speaks a million to me, some in languages I understand only by intuition. And the smile on that girl's face speaks in Love, a dialect I was once proficient at. Judging by the fact that she isn't looking straight into the camera, but slightly upwards at its bearer, it is clear whom she means that smile for. The bird's feet at the corners of her eyes indicate that she is regularly in the business of smiling that wonderful smile at this particular person, and the vulnerable yet secure look in her eyes states without a doubt that she is a girl in deep, true love.

I knew this girl once. I knew her very intimately, or so I thought. We shared all our secrets. But I cannot for the life of me remember why she was bold enough to be so happy, or if she expected it to actually last. As I hold the photograph now, I cannot help but wonder if that was all just an illusion. Cameras DO lie these days, you know. How else would I explain the fact that that smile has been replaced with simple muscle action with no meaning behind it? Or that the glint in those eyes is now nothing more than melancholic, even hostile at times? Did I really know her? She's definitely a stranger now. One I admire and envy, but a stranger all the same. What I would give to be her again!

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7 thoughts on “Sequins and Sapphires: Girl in the photograph”

  1. Love; a dialect you were once proficient at. Perhaps when you lost the proficiency, you lost the smile along with it too! 😉

      1. but why? I think we could learn something from the birds – to live freely 🙂 you could always re-learn the dialect 🙂

        1. I could… But emulating the birds doesn’t come easy, as I’m sure you know, Ayeza! It is something that takes courage daily.
          ———-
          Kathryn
          Sent via Nokia Email

          ——Original message——

        2. I could… But emulating the birds doesn’t come easy, as I’m sure you know, Ayeza! It is something that takes courage daily.
          ———-
          Kathryn
          Sent via Nokia Email

          ——Original message——

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