Girl, before your father implanted you in your mother’s womb, before being assigned your X’s and not the salubrious Y’s, you were in the water, in the air, in the elements: a tri-atom that didn’t belong to any tribe, any clan, any Kabilah.
In your first incarnation:
You were given the name Mary. You splashed in the mud and played with Abdullah and Abel. You bathed in Central Eriteria’s River Mereb near your church, your curiosity always hovering like that rare blue-tailed damselfly eager to soar high during rainfall. You knew you were different from your sisters, your sad-eyed aunts, and all your kin. You were whole, uncut, every inch of flesh still your very own. When the time came and one of the boys was to wed you, they pointed to that place between your legs. Impure, they’d said. The womenfolk in village knew they had work to do—turning you into one of them, the kind of woman Abel and Abdullah approved of. So, when the midwife sliced off your clitoris, the womenfolk came out, satisfied, proud. You didn’t resist because you had so much trust, so much love. You became hollowed-out: emptied of all that made you, You.
In your second incarnation:
You wanted to resist what they deemed as your purification, but submission had always been the currency of survival. Your pain, spilling faster than your blood, filled Kenya’s Tana River. You simply, died.
In this incarnation:
You push away the head-cover they force you to wear in the mosque. You scream when your mother drags you to the barber in Beni Suef. You push his hand when the blade nicks your labia minora. You run, bleeding your own River Nile, and when your balking feet can no longer run, you almost lift off with your wings; you smile for the freedom to be had, but girl…
You will stay.
You will repeat it all in another incarnation.
You will not let them use your trans-vaginal traumatization as a metaphor for chastity.
You will not let them veil or erase you because you are not the making of sin.
You will not let them de-flower the love you have for YOU.
Girl, you will stay because it is amazing how tree stumps sprout back after they’ve been cut.
Riham Adly’s fiction has appeared in journals such Bending Genres, Connotation Press, Spelk, The Cabinet of Heed, Vestal Review, Volney Road Review, Five:2:One, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Gingerbread House lit, Writing in a Woman’s voice, Anti-Heroine Chick, Danse Macabre and @Fewerthan500 among others. She was recently short-listed in the Arab-Lit Translation Prize. Riham lives with her family in Gizah, Egypt.
Related country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt
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