Describe an experience that shaped your personal identity.

She greets me from her permanent abode whenever I return to my bedroom: chunky African braids trailing over her shoulders as she tilts her head to stare. I wonder, sometimes, if she blames me for what I did to her. She looked quite different when I first met her: her then fair hair had cascaded over her cream-white shoulders, and her lucid blue eyes remained fixed on me as I inched closer to her prison. I could not believe my Aunty Buki had bought me a new doll. Aunty Buki beamed as her daughter, Chioma, presented me with the belated birthday gift. My mother smiled tightly, but only I knew how much she disapproved of dolls. I collected the gift with a hasty 'thank you' and retreated into my room before my mother could confiscate the doll.

Once we were in my room, Chioma proceeded to unbox the doll and stroke its hair. "You know, I'm almost as beautiful as the doll." She said with a thin-lipped smile. "Not you though, you're much too ugly." Startled, I asked her why she would say such a cruel thing. "You're too dark!" Chioma chortled. "Mami says that families with dark daughters have to pay a large dowry for the girls to be married. And, as if that weren't enough, look at your hair!" Frozen in anger and humiliation, I stared at...

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