My birthday has come: reflections on 2013 VOF journey so far
The pain of labor engulfed me
This was labor like I had never seen before
My swollen heart was ready
My swollen head was ready
Perspiring heavily I heard the doctor tell me to hold on
“NOOOOOOOO” I screamed. It was time
I knew it. My neighbour entered the room and told me to be reasonable
Who was I to change the order of things? I almost gave in but then I thought quickly, if not me then who and I pushed again
The contractions were faster now and so were the doubts. Other women shunned me and told me not to be overzealous
“A child giving birth” they said. “She still has milk on her nose what does she know and what can she tell us?” A lot I thought as another contraction came.
The nurse was no better as she told me to behave otherwise I would kill my child. Oh I could feel my pregnant belly and I knew my child was alive and would live.
Then I was jolted to reality. I had to push, it was time my baby needed to be born and the time was now.
As I felt another contraction my aunt told me that I was too forward for a woman. Silence is a woman’s weapon she said. “Suffer in silence daughter of my brother. Do not embarrass us.” But why I asked should I be quiet.
Her words almost brought the baby out “because you are a woman, that’s why”. This was too much had my mother been told this same rhetoric to remain in a bad relationship? And my sister…
I was brought out of my reverie by the doctor’s sharp call to stop pushing. But I’m not pushing I said. The baby was due and would not be stopped. My life suddenly flashed before my eyes
I remembered being in a line, blood, yes embarrassment, menstruation, my friends taking drugs and family planning tablets to stop menstruation because their husbands hated it and they were scared they would be left. What kind of life was that? I saw my mother holding on to the last to her marriage for what would she be called if she divorced my dad, my aunt being thrashed in front of the whole neighbourhood and never reporting it once. Had my uncle not said that he would leave any woman who dared report him to the police? But she was injured. She could not go to the hospital because they wanted a police report first. Then the next thing she was gone. Beaten to death by her husband. a man who had said he loved her. No justice for her. “She deserved it”, some whispered “such a stubborn woman, did she think she was a man.” My heart went out to -scream -another violent contraction had come and I was powerless to stop it- I almost wept. The time was now but the doctor and nurses shook their heads. Not yet, not yet but the baby is coming I screamed.” No” they said. This is not your time. You have forgotten your place. My mind went back to a colleague who committed suicide because of a domestic issue, my neighbour’s niece raped and denied justice, scarred and afraid to walk because of a man who now walked scot free, girls subdued to silence who would never see the light of empowerment, who would leave regressing into the past. I could see the extinction of women and empty shells replacing the warm women I knew, hardworking, resilient hopeful, loving. But how could I help.
With all my strength I screamed and everyone almost jumped out of their skins. Yes I needed to give them voice, I screamed much louder and I knew my baby had arrived. My birthday had come, my voice had been found and yes that day I knew the work ahead of me but the first step had been made. My birthday had come, my voice had been born. I live now for a society where women are treated equally, given equal opportunities, educated and empowered. thirty one powerful, unstoppable voices born!
We are the voices of our future. We have been born, we have a voice. We will stand up for our rights and the rights of all marginalised women in our societies until they also find their voices and offer solutions for change.
Whilst reading the 2013 VOF assignments just realised that the issues being brought out are crucial and will change the paradigm. The best part is there is hope, solutions are there. We can change the world one step at a time and together we will finish the journey, one teaspoonful at a time and together we will move the mountains or create them, one drop at a time and together we will fill the oceans.