It was on an unbearably balmy British midsummer afternoon when Heerak Kim decided that she wanted a black baby. It was a very specific want, in that it had to be black and it had to be hers. Well, not black-black of course, because she herself was South Korean; a tall, beanpole of a thing, with pale yellow skin (much to her mother’s simmering envy), jet black waist-length hair and conscious ears that stuck out stubbornly— ears she’d never quite grown into, but was immensely fond of. Still, laying there on her unmade duvet, listening to Deafheaven and chewing on sharp cinnamon gum, she knew that she was to have a black baby— one as black as it could realistically be. A beautiful, caramel-coloured baby of her own, created, shaped and housed within her very own womb, and birthed into the world from her very own vagina.
The thought must have been brewing away in her subconscious for a while, as when she voiced it aloud to herself, it didn’t seem strange in the slightest. In fact, when she explained it to her housemate Xenia, she gleamed with accomplishment, despite the confused Greek girl’s shocked face. When she explained it to Nisha, the Tamil girl who worked at the post office, Heerak sighed with dreamy contentment, oblivious to the cashier slow-blinking in confusion. It was as if Mentos (i.e. her plan) had been cast into bottled Pepsi (i.e. her mind), with the rising, violent froth of serene self-understanding being one defying convention and comprehension.
Later that evening, Heerak shared the good news with her parents.
‘So, you’re pregnant?!’ a greying Vivian Kim interrogated on the smudged MacBook screen.
‘Oh, no. I’m still a virgin. But, that will change. And then I will have a baby. And it will be black.’
Her father, Ronald, nodded, deep in thought like a sage pondering the concept of reality. Her mother sat on the edge of her seat, tugging at the zipper of her gilet.
‘But why?’ Vivian wailed.
‘Why what, Umma?’
‘Will it be black? This makes no sense. Oh, Heerak, are you still going to church? We worry about you.’
‘Now, Wesley Snipes,’ Ronald interjected, with profound vigour, ‘He is black. A fine, fine actor. Also, Will Smith. Both: very good.’ Vivian dug her elbow into her husband's ribs.
‘I knew we should have never let you go to London. It’s a bad influence. Your new friends— they are a bad influence. It’s all a bad influence!’
Heerak shrugged, with a smile. She was always smiling: it was her favourite thing about herself, that she could always smile, which growing up, seemed to always be to her mother’s dismay.
‘A black one...’ her dad muttered, chewing at the arm of his glasses, as he pondered some more. ‘Now wouldn’t that be something? Very good at dancing. They are— I have seen it on YouTube.’
Pointing furiously into the camera, Vivian lectured and cursed her daughter, flitting between her mother-tongue and learned one. She quoted bible verses and guilt-tripped and even at one point, fake-cried, as Heerak sat there in a smiley daze, daydreaming about labour and swollen tits and her black pride and joy.
‘Oh Umma’, she giggled, once the tirade had finally subsided. ‘You worry too much.’