13 March 2013
Kisses in the Nederends
In the second part of Kisses in the Nederends, Hau’ofa continues to remind his audience of the importance of the whole body. He states: “We must do more by adding to the revered triumvirate of the body, mind and soul, the hitherto lowly anus”(101). In this moment, Hau’ofa is urging us to search not only the societally recognized parts of the body but also the parts that are left unacknowledged.
Initially while reading this book, I found myself worrying about how I was going to relate Hau’ofa’s rather graphic text to my service-learning experience. And then it all clicked--the pre-kindergarteners that I work with each Friday afternoon at Tunbridge Academy epitomize the type of individuals that which Hau’ofa wishes to convert his readers. Just as Hau’ofa confronts the, “ dirty, disgusting and shameful,”(101) parts of the body, these little four year olds do the same.
Just as every other Friday this semester, I arrived at Tunbridge Academy around one o’clock—a time when the kids are absent from the classroom and are running around in the gym. After completing several classroom tasks such as stuffing folders and passing out snack, finally the kids joined me back in the classroom. These adorable four year olds never cease to amaze me; even after spending an hour in the gym, their energy level remains unchanged: they are little balls of continuous energy. Along with their miniscule gyrating bodies, their mouths are moving at the same space—they never stop talking. More specifically, these kids will talk about anything and everything; they have no filter.
Amidst the chaos of snack time, one of the kids—a four -year old named Quinn approached my desk and asked me to have a “little chat”. If you can’t already tell, Quinn is by far the most animated four-year old I have ever met—he’s a riot. So of course I let him plop down on my lap and he began to tell me that he, “needs to go to the bathroom because [he] has to take a HUGE poop,” and needs my help. Despite having two brothers, I can honestly say that I was not prepared for that kind of conversation! I tried my best to hold back my laughter and agreed to help him. While in the bathroom, Quinn sat on the toilet and talked to me as if we were at a local café—he proved unfazed and unembarrassed by the bodily function that he was completing.
While reading Kisses of the Nederends, I couldn’t help but think of Quinn. Hau’ofa brilliantly writes, “It is only when you are able to lovingly and respectfully kiss your own anus, and those of your fellow human beings, that you will know you have purified yourself of all obscenities and prejudices, and have overcome your worst fears and phobias”(101). In this moment, Hau’ofa is summarizing the underlying premise within his text. That is, he expresses the necessity in confronting the unspoken parts of the body and urges his audience, “to assign the same values” to their body parts as a means to equalize them. Quinn successfully achieves this ideal by feeling comfortable talking about his own poop; he views all of his body parts as equal. Just like Quinn, most other little kids are still unaware of the negative societal stigma that surrounds the processes of the “open” body, and therefore these kids find it quite simple to comfortably embrace all body parts. Hau’ofa writes, “Only when you treat every part of your body equally can you begin your journey toward true love. Perhaps Hau’ofa is suggesting that his audience should attempt to restore their “4-year old mind-set” and embrace their poop.