The Chronicle Gambia

She Continues to Birth Herself

And from across me, there is a mirror. From where I sit, when the sun seeps in, and its light strikes against it, the contour of its body glisters more than its centre. I bend my knees, to rest my feet, and its centre makes my legs look larger than they actually are. I slump deeper into my seat, and they enlarge more. As the sun emerges from behind the clouds, it shoots out stronger rays to hit the centre, and the reflection starts fading.

She interrupts my thoughts, straightens her own legs from where she too sat in the depths of the mirror, stands on her feet and tenaciously, in wobbly steps, drags herself to the front. Her feet get smaller and smaller as she nears closer. Until it appears the arch of each foot swallowed her heels.

She sees me staring at her, and stares back with her dull, curious eyes. Our eyes meet, and I cannot look past the fear drowning hers. I stand here and watch her closely. Her hands shaking as she cradles the child growing slowly inside of her. She wraps her hands around her delicate body to stop the fear from spreading even more. It is evident in her eyes. She does not know how she is going to hold her in her arms and tell her she is the daughter of all the things that hurt her mother ¾ and in spite of it all, she does not have a surname. But as much as she scares her, the child is even more scared herself: her soul is young but it is already dampened.

I lean forward and try to plaster a kiss on her tummy. She leans forward with me, and suddenly, as she crouches, her bump moves far from me, burying itself deeper into the mirror’s crystal abyss and I cannot.

I stretch my palm to touch her and she stretches hers too. I stretch it further and she follows, until the tip of our fingers touch and we stay that way for some time. But all of a sudden, her hands are cold. So cold, my heart shudders. And I pull away.

She begins to take steady, deep breaths. Because as long as she is willing to breathe, they will both stay alive. But she has forgotten so quickly, her job, like every mother, is only to bear her and it is the single breath that was breathed into her from the onset to give her life that is keeping her alive and as it has kept her, herself, is capable of doing so even more.

I turn around to return to where I sat, and she turns around with me and begins to walk back into the glass. I stop halfway, and tilt my head to the right and I see her, likewise dead in her tracks, staring at me from her left. I lift my hand and remind her a mother does not give birth to her child, then have them lying over her head, as I stir my fingers in the air to bid her adieu and we part, until another day, when the woman inside of her who continues to birth herself from within, births a new her.

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