Friday 25 May
It’s official. I’ve been walking normally since yesterday. I dare not make any sudden movements, nor do anything a bit risky, but my gait is normal.
I have definitely left the indeterminate state of constant pulling. I can now talk about occasional cramp.
My sick leave finishes today and I am very pleased. Because I am going up the wall here, from being confined indoors.
Loneliness is weighing a bit heavily on me, in spite of the daily telephone calls from my cousin. Not having any goal ahead such as my operation is leaving me aimless and a little disorientated…
The reality of having to answer questions from my colleagues, neighbours, friends and in-laws is also very much on my mind at the moment. They all want to know why I have been off sick for 10 days.
Each time I hesitate as to how to reply.
To tell them the truth is hard for me. Yet I’m not ashamed, from now on I have no reason for self-reproach as far as my circumcision is concerned. No, it’s something else. But I don’t know exactly what.
Perhaps it’s what I imagine I will see in their faces that holds me back?
I am afraid of no longer having the same status in their eyes. I am afraid of being categorised VICTIM whereas I am more than that. I don’t want to be the embodiment of “the woman who was circumcised when she was little”. I don’t want to be reduced to that.
I believe, deep down, that I don’t have much confidence in people since I can’t get rid of this fear.
Nevertheless, lying is repellent to me. So I equivocate according to the information they have.
I avoid questions from people who don’t know I’ve had the operation (colleagues, neighbours), contenting myself with saying that I’m much better and that I will be back at work on Monday. For those who know about an operation, I talk about a gynaecological problem. Some stop at this explanation but others ask for details. And there I feel caught.
I don’t want to explain that my operation was a clitoris reconstruction. I no longer want to explain it. When I do, I can’t avoid watching the reaction of the person asking. And too often, it disappoints or annoys me.
Most often, he or she says “Oh good, OK” and stops there. No question, not even a sign of emotion, nothing at all. No interest. And I am disappointed, even wounded.
On the other hand, a sympathetic reaction very quickly seems to me to be suspect, as if dictated by propriety. I can’t prevent myself from thinking it sounds false.
In this case, you’d say that the person I was speaking to hadn’t heard the part of my conversation where I explained that I had moved on and that the operation was a reconstruction. As a result I have to endure all sorts of conventional phrases about the brutality of men in Africa, on the necessity of stopping this abominable practice. And it annoys me. A lot, even. Because in the end, these sentences are very general and a long way from myself and what happens to me. Only thinking about it makes me want to snap.
In reality, I believe no reaction truly suits me. You could say that what’s happening to me is costing me a lot because it comes down to lifting a veil on a very intimate subject, something that is very dear to my heart. It’s like a precious gift. And inevitably, conversely, it’s hard to be arrogant about it.
When I think about it, it’s perhaps a poisoned chalice which I’m offering…
At the same time, I don’t want to damage my relationships with them by not being honest. I have the feeling I “owe” the truth to some (like my in-laws or my close friends) at the risk of harming our relationships for ever.
And then, if I can’t confide in them when it’s important things, are they truly my friends? What can you expect of those you consider to be friends, in the end?
It irritates me to be so caught up in this way and not to be able just to say things without caring about their impact on the person I’m speaking to.
So what can I do? Keep the secret or always tell the truth?
For the moment, I take each case as it comes. But I think I’ll have to work on this question in therapy. Can’t wait till Monday.
[Original in French]