If you have read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie before, you are sure to pick up anything that she writes. So, when I saw ‘Zikora’ on Prime Reading I was more than tempted to stop what I was reading and hop on to this one. And what an emotional roller coaster this story was!
Zikora, is a 39-year-old Nigerian lawyer living in Washington DC and the readers meet her for the time during the grueling hours of labour in a hospital. A woman in labour and her thoughts on past and present string together a magical narrative. The storytelling has the power to teleport you inside Zikora’s body and mind.
There is a backstory on how Zikora is alone in the hospital with her not-so-empathetic mother as her only companion. In contrast to Zikora, the educated and professionally sound female character, we have Mmiliaku, her cousin who lives in Nigeria. A subservient wife who has already given birth to five children and accepts her abusive husband in adherence to social norms. The two ends of the spectrum showcase the fine line that women tread to simply exist in a not-so-equal society.
I think culturally we are very similar to Zikora’s mother; we take offense at admitting pain, irritation, and suffering while carrying a baby, birthing, and nurturing a child. Zikora’s mother doesn’t approve of such an outward expression. And then there is the modern-day assertion of treating pregnancy in normal tones, the pop culture that over-glorifies this period, and the birthing process. Zikora hides her discomfort, lest she is ousted from her professional space for coming across as incompetent. You nod with Zikora that ‘Nature’ certainly demands so much from a female body towards childbirth.
Zikora, at about 30-odd-pages, moves at an amazingly fast pace. I cannot tell you how impressive it is to read a woman’s story that is told in a simple way and with such a hard-hitting impact. By the end of it, I was so invested in Zikora’s story that I wanted it to continue and turn into a full-fledged novel.
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