A short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Released : 07/11/2020

Reviewed : 29/10/2020

Reviewed by : Susma Sharma Gurumayum

The story opens with Zikora in labour in a hospital room. Zikora is a 39 year old Nigerian working in the United States as a lawyer. Her lawyer boyfriend, to her surprise, left her when she announced her pregnancy. In this story of her child birthing process, she exposes the patriarchal acts she is expected to confirm to as a woman. She regularly talks to her cousin in Nigeria, Mmiliaku who has mothered many kids and faces daily abuse from her husband. At one point, Zikora says, “It’s funny how pregnancy is like body hair. We scrub and scrape our armpits and upper lip and legs because we hate to have hair there. Then we pamper and treat the hair on our heads because we love hair there. But it’s all hair. It’s the wanting that makes the difference.” Between labour pains, she goes back to her memories including the time when a kind lady had helped her with her abortion during her teens. This short tale explores mother-daughter relationship, the good and the bad of it. In the labour room, she was conscious of how she was “disgracing” her mother and pondered on how she “was not facing labor with laced-up dignity.” She was expected “to meet each rush of pain with a mute grinding of teeth, to endure pain with pride, to embrace pain, even.”

This short story spoke of pregnancy from a feminist perspective. It shows how pregnancy is almost always the woman’s responsibility and how men can almost always escape because they have the choice to not be a part of it. Regarding unplanned pregnancies, the narration shows how whether you decide to keep the baby or not, it always came down to the woman and it always affected the woman. On another side, this story also showed how doctors and nurses sometimes insensitive to the would-be mother in such critical situations, how mothers are born when the child is born and how they will do anything, even die for their child. The writer depicted how a new-born’s life choices is decided for them, from the time they are born, by social and cultural norms.

Chimamanda Ngochi Adichie’s prose is powerful, real, honest and raw. No sugar-coating, she presents hard facts and asks uncomfortable questions leaving us to contemplate on issues we can no longer ignore.

Published on the 27th of October, 2020 as one of the Amazon Original Stories, this piece is, at present, available free to read for Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

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