I often got that feeling of betrayal, of liberal shock when someone who carted me around work, held subtle exhibitions my way and treated me as a living sculpture pretended to know my name but didn’t. And only felt obligated to ask of my name when opposite me, with one gawky and awkward hand outstretched while the rest of the guilty but gleeful spectators stood a step behind, leaning in to hear my answer.
“Regina” I would say.
And a fake smile would be chalked across each of their faces as a chorus of ‘ooing’ and ‘ahing’ would ensue at such a moderately placed name. And the person leading the group would nod in appreciation, never once practising the name on his lips and congratulate me on what hard work I was doing. And I would say thank you because it would be impolite not to.
And as they would walk on with a casual glance my way, I would ponder at my place in this line of work. How valuable was I to them? How expendable?
And I was sure, in that moment, that I was just a number to each and every one of them.