A few weeks ago I wrote about the magnificence of Nnedi Okorafor’s short story “Mother of Invention.” I’ve also been reading Sonya Renee Taylor’s The Body is Not an Apology, which I mentioned in a post a few weeks before that. It would seem that the universe in her infinite wisdom was sending me literature to help guide me toward a more loving relationship with my body. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story, “Zikora,” was just what I needed to set out boldly the path of self-exploration that so many women have yet to even recognize, let alone move toward.
The story is very short, but mighty. To summarize, the narrative action takes place in a hospital room and explores the emotional storms endured by a young woman, Zikora, who is about to give birth as her mother sits by, detached and emotionally unavailable. Through flashbacks the reader learns that Zikora is a successful DC lawyer, abandoned by her lover as soon as she told him she was pregnant.
We also learn of moments in her college years when she allowed a man to abuse her body. Finally we learn of Zikora’s mother’s painful past and struggle for dignity after her husband deserted her, his senior wife, for a woman who bore him a son. Indeed as has been written about the text, as Zikora undertakes the travail of childbirth, “she begins to see more clearly what her own mother wants for her, for her new baby, and for herself.” But, more importantly, at least for me, it also explores how freaking difficult it is to live in this world in a female body.
The similarity between Okorafor’s depiction of childbirth and that by Adichie is in their rawness; the way that they detail the experience of childbirth in all of its earthiness, primality, and let’s face it, gore. And at the end of it all, both women usher through a precious new life.
Tell me that’s not power.
And it is just one of the many magics of womanhood that should be revered, not rejected as Anwuli’s and Zikora’s former partners do. It should not be devalued as too many of us do when we hand our power over to men as Zikora does as a young woman. It is found in insisting on our dignity as Zikora’s mother and Anwuli eventually do.
Both short stories, Okorafor’s “Mother of Invention” and Adichie’s “Zikora,” were cathartic, gifting me with the ability to remember my own difficult youth and younger adulthood and, with a renewed conviction, reject the disempowering stories that I have been fed about my femaleness.
Like “Mother of Invention” you can read Adichie’s “Zikora” for free here.
Check out Adichie’s brilliant TED talk “We Should All Be Feminists” while you’re at it:
Finally, two greats joined the ancestors in the past couple of weeks:
The beautiful and talented Emmy and Tony award-winning actress, Cicely Tyson, passed away this past Thursday at 96.
She had just recently published her memoir, Just As I Am (2021)
The incomparable Hank Aaron, nicknamed “Hammer” or “Hammerin’ Hank,” also passed away a little over a week ago at the age of 86.
While I’m not a big baseball fan, I do have immense respect for his groundbreaking work! He was a beautiful soul.
Rest in Power, Dear Ones!!
Ok, that’s it for now…
Until next week, as usual,