Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What the hell?

I was walking back into the house, exhausted after a long day at school, when I heard a voice drifting from the dining room.

“The obruni hasn’t eaten yet.”

It was Sister Suzy’s voice. I froze next to the door to the garage, and listened.

“I said, the obruni hasn’t eaten her food,” she repeated.

By the time I walked to the kitchen, Sister Suzy was gone. There was my fufu, covered and uneaten on at my place at the table. It wasn’t ready in time for me to eat during my lunch break, so I had taken bread and Milo for lunch instead. Didi, the cook, had put my serving at my place while I was at school. Oh well, not a big deal, I’ll just eat it late. But did Suzy really just call me that? Obruni?

I was livid. How dare she talk about me like that? Seriously! I have a name, bitch! Is that all I am? Just “White Person?” It’s one thing if a little kid calls me “Obruni!” from across the road, or if a stranger shouts “Obruni!” at me because she doesn’t know my name. But to have someone in my own house call me that, the lady I sit next to every night at dinner... oooh, I really don’t like that. It’s not like she was speaking in Twi, either. She was talking to Didi in English, and she couldn’t use my English name.

Imagine if the situation were reversed, if she were the stranger living in a house of white nuns. Could you ever imagine any polite, normal person saying, “The negro hasn’t eaten?” Of course not! That’s just rude. I felt quite insulted, and I wanted to cry. I had to remind myself that this was Sister Suzy, and I already knew she hated me... no new news there.

I never understood why she hated me. I thought at first it was because she’s a nun and I’m not. I thought she was just a religious snob. Then, one night, I saw her joking around with Hannah, laughing and teasing about something. Hannah’s not a nun, either... but she’s not an obruni. Is that why Suzy hates me?

Okay, maybe “hates” isn’t the correct word. I think a better way to say it... Suzy doesn’t respect me at all. I’m not asking for any kind of special respect other than the respect that every human person deserves. Suzy treats me as though I’m beneath her. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not a nun or if it’s because I’m an obruni, but I don’t like it either way. It was easier to handle when more of my allies were around, but now that I’m basically alone here, it’s much harder on me.


Ernie B said...

you should confront her and tell her that you find that word offensive. Ask her how she would feel if she were called the N*** word. I believe that if you confront her about it she would stop treating you that way. Don't be intimidated just because she is a nun, let her know that her demeaning of you is not only uncharitable but unchristian.

JMJDave said...

...well said Ernie! And I heartily agree!