Mother of Light: Issue 2

On Shades, Meaning and the Responsibility of a Smile
I have been told a few times that I have a beautiful smile. Being the person that I am, a compliment comes with a responsibility, so I strive to keep it that way. A smile. Beautiful. A beautiful smile. Notwithstanding what issues that might be clouding my mind at any moment, it is a responsibility. Tell me about how superficial we have become. Yet we must not all wear our failings like the world ends in a second. Some of us must find joy somehow, somewhere. So here a smile becomes a weapon.
At 16, during a game with my classmates in school, it was asked ‘What is the best feature on your body?’ Then the room became a show of young vanity as answers fell like fruits saying goodbye to branches, from one’s long wavy hair to another’s partially formed abs, from someone’s ‘supposedly’ dramatic colour of eyes down to another’s well shaped toes. When it got to my turn, I was drawn to a consciousness of this body, which I was yet to fall in love with, then with all the bravery I had fired up while others spoke, I said ‘My smile’ (I will keep the response of my classmates to myself). But before you weigh the authenticity of my answer, do not blame a teenage boy raised in a home where silence was the only language known, a virtue; a little boy taught himself other ways to speak. So, a smile becomes affirmation, negation, obedience, rebellion. A smile becomes a secret, a story; and in a world where masculinity is a sore under one’s scrotum, a smile becomes a mask that I, like many others have acquired as an essential commodity.
32 portraits of a smile as a theme arouses in us various perspectives, some even too personal to be voiced (talk about subjectivity of meaning). Some will see the structure; the teeth we show the world in a smile. Others will see the intentions; the reasons we wear our smiles. Yet, as Amie Kaufman Meagan Spooner in These Broken Stars says “I know a thousand different smiles, each with its own nuanced shade of meaning…’ So next time you see someone wearing a smile, think about the story knitted underneath, because there, beneath the white or not-so-white teeth lies the true portrait of that smile.

Wisdom Nemi Otikor


Download here:Mother of Light (Issue 2)

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