Tuesday 15 May
Yesterday evening, on the dot of 9 pm, my mother called me.
When I picked up the phone and recognised her voice, I felt enormously surprised and also, I think, relief. But not fear, anger, or sorrow. On the contrary, I was happy she called.
She said she had received my letter.
She told me she recognised the writing on the envelope, that she was afraid that I was writing to tell her of a catastrophe and that as a result she read it all at once.
In one way it pleased me that she said she was happy that I had written to her, that she understood the step I was taking, that it was my body and that it was important for me to speak to them about this operation. It touched me that she was disappointed I hadn’t spoken to her about it earlier and that she was sorry not to be able to be there with me tomorrow. Her questions on the progress of the operation and about the consultations with the surgeon and anaesthetist did me good. I liked it when she asked me for the clinic’s telephone number and said she would phone me there tomorrow evening. It warmed my heart when she said she would be thinking of me.
But there was this other part of the conversation. This part where she gave me another version of what had happened. The minutes when she said that she had nothing to do with the circumcisions of my sister or myself, that it was my paternal grandmother who had planned it all in secret, in the absence of my father who had left for Dakar (and not to look for my cousin as she herself had told me).
She told me that, on that morning, when she came to look for us in my grandmother’s hut where we were sleeping, my sister and myself, she hadn’t found us, that she asked my grandmother where we were and that she had said we had been sent to the circumciser.
She told me that it wasn’t something that was done in her own village, that her own mother had never done anything as abominable to her.
My mother told me that my father had never believed her, that he had always believed she had participated in this ignominy, and that during that year and well after she had suffered badly.
At the time I didn’t believe her.
I didn’t say anything, but I thought she was lying to me, that she wasn’t innocent. I don’t know, when she was talking to me she wasn’t crying, there wasn’t really any emotion in her voice. And in particular, she didn’t talk about me. She didn’t say that it made her feel as though we had been sent to the abattoir. She didn’t speak about when she saw me again afterwards. She didn’t tell me about her pain that I had been circumcised. I found that bizarre. I listened well, I felt nothing. In fact it was as if my excision was divorced from her, she was just wrongly accused of having participated in it. It was very strange. I had the impression that the drama for her was having been wrongly accused and not the fact that we had been circumcised, my sister and myself.
This morning, in the cold light of day … well I don’t know what to believe any more, if what she said to me is the truth. She told me, yesterday evening, that I was like her, that I had this reserve which prevents me from expressing my emotions (it’s confusing, my father told me basically the same thing, several years ago, but finding a similarity with himself). If that’s so, yesterday evening was it that her emotions didn’t show in her speech because she’s so much in the habit of not showing them? And in fairness, why would she lie to me?
Honestly, I don’t know what to think about it, I am focused on my going to the clinic soon so I think I’ll put it to one side for the moment.
Yesterday evening she told me that she had called my father who is away until Wednesday evening, to let him know that he too had received a letter, no doubt the same.
I don’t know if she made him aware of the contents but he said he would phone on his return, after he had read it.
I’d very much like to hear his version of the story, I hope he will speak to me about it…
[Original in French]