Chimamanda Adichie is no stranger to exemplary writing and this time, she has thrown her weight in bringing out controversial issues grappling the society especially the African context in a progressive word that we live in.
So, does a man have the privilege of choosing if they should be a father or is the decision entirely on the woman and the man left with the mandate of supporting whatever her choice will be?
In her new book Zikora: A short story which was released in October 27, award winning writer Chimamanda Ngozi writes about this lady Zikora, who is in her late 30s and the scene starts with her in hospital, in a labor ward about to give birth.
While waiting for her due time and amidst pain, she reminisces about someone she knows who died while giving birth and she raises the question on the possible reasons of increased mortality among black women, especially in the United States, where the story is actually based on.
While she talks about how no one prepares you for the pain that comes with child bearing, and alludes to her child’s father who is not in the picture yet, Zikora’s mum, a traditional Nigerian woman is in the labor ward with her and constantly side eyeing her each time she screams in pain.
It is beautiful how she brings out how black women, both living in Africa and outside Africa are supposed to embrace pain and endure with grace without complaining, showing teeth and are supposed to smile through it.
The story then, introduces Zikora’s love story with her supposed baby daddy-Kwame. An astute lawyer, who he says comes from a good family and looks good enough to tip any woman off.
The writer narrates how this love story was brewed and raises important issues that most couples hardly talk about which is on contraceptives. It’s as if in any relationship, the issue of what contraceptive to use and when to use is usually a woman’s burden.
Zikora mentions to Kwame how she is having dire effects due to contraceptive she is using and so she will be off it and to which Kwame says okay.
Then she gets pregnant and as soon as she shares the news with Kwame after a lovely gala, Kwame tells her that they are ‘different people’ now and walks away.
And as usual, Zikora gets into a journey of calling and constantly texting Kwame trying to understand why he is different which in return results to self judgement and blame and asking herself what she could have done better.
While there is also another story within the story of Zikora and her cousin ‘water’, who got pregnant despite her fifth child being 6 months old and had to procure an abortion, her reason being, failure to get back to contraceptives due to that slipping off her mind. She explains with one of her children getting sick and taking care of everything she forgot to get back to using a contraceptive.
She had to go away and use a public phone to tell her cousin Zikora about her pregnancy situation because she could not risk her husband hearing or finding out that she was pregnant, again.
She says. ”I should have put in the coil, but I was waiting for my stitches to heal well first, and then I had to deal with the nipple infection and then Baby’s pneumonia, and I just forgot.”
The book, albeit very short, raises awareness of child birth and rights both parents have like when is the right time for a couple to talk about having kids, and when having sex with a man, is it important to know if he is pro abortion or against it.
Zikora’s life also shows a story of how as a teenager she mistook a guy’s stand on avoiding commitment to his lack of opportunity to show commitment and so, her insecurities led her to trying to ‘nice herself to being loved’ and eventually got pregnant and had to abort the child without having that conversation with the baby’s father because as explained he would not have cared.
This is a book that is highly recommended to every woman and man as it highlights and addresses the misconceptions and stereotypes attached to reproductive health and rights, how far one should go in trying to make the other person acknowledge or accept the ‘baby’ situation, if we should keep up with traditions were were born into that we never questioned or should we start our new traditions in the progressive world that we live in, the kind of conversations we all need to have with our partners and the choices we all are required to make at some point.
This is a book you can finish in one sitting and you can purchase your copy at Amazon and enjoy the read.
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