The Sex Lives of African Girls _ Taiye Selasi _ Granta Magazine.pdf

The Sex Lives of African Girls _ Taiye Selasi _ Granta Magazine.pdf

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6/16/2019 The Sex Lives of African Girls | Taiye Selasi | Granta Magazine 1/35 THE SEX LIVES OF AFRICAN GIRLS Taiye Selasi B egin, inevitably, with Uncle. There you are, eleven, alone in the study in the dark in a cool pool of moonlight at the window. The party is in full swing on the back lawn outside. Half of Accra must be out there. In production. Some fifty-odd tables dressed in white linen table skirts, the walls at the periphery all covered in lights, the swimming pool glittering with tea lights in bowls bobbing lightly on the surface of the water, glowing green. The smells of things – night-damp earth, open grill, frangipani trees, citronella – seep in through the window, slightly cracked. You tap the glass lightly and wave your hand, testing, but no one looks up. They can’t see for the dark. It rained around four for five minutes and not longer; now the sky is rich black for its cleansing. Beneath it a soukous band shows off the latest from Congo, the lead singer wailing in French and Lingala.
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6/16/2019 The Sex Lives of African Girls | Taiye Selasi | Granta Magazine 2/35 She ought to be ridiculous: little leopard-print shorts, platform heels, hot-pink half-top, two half- arms of bangles. Instead, wet with sweat and moon, trembling, ascendant, all movement and muscle, she is fearsome. It is a heart-wrenching voice, cutting straight through the din of the chatter, forced laughter, clinked glasses, the crickets. She is shaking her shoulders, hips, braided extensions. She has the most genuine intentions of any woman out there. And they. Their bright bubas adorn the large garden like odd brilliant bulbs that bloom only at night. From the dark of the study you watch with the interest of a scientist observing a species. A small one. Rich African women, like Japanese geisha in wax-batik geles , their skin bleached too light. They are strange to you, strange to the landscape, the dark, with the same polished skill-set of rich women worldwide: how to smile with full lips while the eyes remain empty; how to hate with indifference; how to love without heat. You wonder if they find themselves beautiful, or powerful? Or perplexing, as they seem to you, watching from here? The young ones sit mutely, sipping foam off their Maltas, waiting to be asked to dance by the men in full suits, shoving cake into their mouths when they’re sure no one’s looking (it rained around four; no one sees for the dark). The bolder ones preening, little Aunties-in-training, being paraded around the garden, introduced to parents’ friends. ‘This is Abena, our eldest, just went up to Oxford.’ ‘This is Maame, the lawyer. She trained in the States.’Then the push from the mother, the tentative handshake. ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. How is your son?’ You wonder if they enjoy it. You can’t tell by watching. They all wear the same one impenetrable expression: eyebrows up, lips pushed out, nostrils slightly flared in poor imitation of the 1990s supermodel. It
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