The day that turned my life, I remember playing with my cousins and friends in the courtyard of our house, being happy and being the ten year old that I was. There were a lot of activities happening at home, a feast was being prepared and there was the inviting smell of the sweetmeats from the kitchen. When we went asking for our share, we were told that we had to wait till the big event was over and after that we could feast on the delicacies being made. It was strange that my father and mother were not around, but somehow I did not quite think about it that time.
A few strange men came to the house and the aunts took them inside, a long conversation followed which we children could barely follow in spite of the fact that we had our ears sticking to the walls where the adults were talking.
One of the women who were inside my house called out to me and asked me to come inside. Though honey was dripping when she called me, I sensed something amiss and suddenly wanted to hold onto the hands of my parents. The hair on my neck stood up as the woman told me that it was a big day in my life and that I had to behave and be brave because that was how women were supposed to be. I was 10 and here was a strange olf lady talking to me about becoming a woman. I had no clue what was going to follow when I saw one of the men inside the room taking out a blade and washing it. My immediate reaction was to run. I wanted my mother, I was scared and did not know what these people were going to do to me.
As I turned to flee, strong hands grabbed my tiny arms and dragged me inside. I bit one of the hands and a tight slap fell on my face. More than the cheek that was slapped, my heart stung. I wanted my mother, she would protect me. She was always there for me, taking care of me when I was scared or hurt, where was she now. I wanted my mother and cried out for her. My little heart broke when the kind face of my mother did not appear in front of me to save me. I knew nobody could save me, yet I fought back.
My dress was stripped off, strange men held me down with their strong arms. Someone stuffed my mouth with rags and one of the women asked me to not cry and be brave. She said it would not hurt, she said I was becoming a woman. The next instant, something sharp sliced through me, something cold and sharp. It hurt. It hurt real bad and I could do nothing to stop the pain. I could do nothing to hide my shame. Those men had touched my private parts, they had saw me in a way nobody should have, they hurt me and I thought this was what they meant by being a woman. I did not want to be a woman if this was what being a woman meant. They lifted me up and the women in the house began to sing and chant loudly while I was made to sit on a cold stone. Someone gave me a rag to wipe myself. I was scared to look down. Already the stone I was sitting on was red, red with my blood. I did not know how to stop it or how to stop the pain.
For weeks after that I was angry at my mother. She was the one who promised to protect me and be there for me no matter what happened. I could not forgive her for what she had done to me. Years later, she told me how, in a similar manner this had happened to her too.
I had tears in my eyes and hugged my mother after what seemed like ages. Both of us cried, still hugging each other. Once I had calmed down a bit, my sweet mother, she wiped my tears and told me to go away from this place once I could manage on my own, she said we don’t want this to happen to your daughter. She echoed my thoughts when she said being a woman is not this. It is having a life of fulfilling all your dreams, not letting anything come in the way of your happiness. Today as I pack my bags to leave my ancestral village for good, I know that I will come back for the sake of the other girls in the village. If a woman will not save them, nobody else can.
This could be a story for you, it might not be for the scores of girls who have undergone this shameful practice of FemaleGenitalMutilation. Hurt fills my heart, it tries to understand and share some of the pain these girls have gone through, but fails. Yet, the heart is happy to know of girls who have left this experience in their past and don't let it affect their lives in any manner. They are true women, women of strength, the kind that I admire.
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