That countryside house has always instilled a deep sense of terror within me. That terror was not only because of the legends that we have always weaved around it, but because of that terrifying scene that I once saw in the courtyard of that house. The scene, which has been imprinted in my mind for many years, is something which I have not been able to shake off until now.
The owner of that house was an awe-inspiring midwife, despite of how skinny she was. She practiced her craft for fifty continuous years, until she ascended her throne unchallenged. Even her daughter Samira, with the shiny brown skin, was unable to take over her mother’s throne, and therefore she only served as her helper. However, her reputation as a midwife was not the prime reason for all the childish legends that we wove around her. It was the wide-ranging circumcisions that she had used to perform, which has caused that deep instilled terror in the heart of every girl that has ever passed near that house.
“I was mortified, but my curiosity forced me to continue watching.”
Her house was very close to my grandmother’s, and that was an adequate reason as to why we were prevented from going up to the roof. Only my cousin was able to challenge that mystery, after he was successful in climbing the roof a number of times, which had earned him a firm beating. Nevertheless that rebellious soul’s attempts weren’t crowned with victory until he became an expert in the methods of climbing to that forbidden roof.
“It was the wide-ranging circumcisions that she had used to perform, which has caused that deep instilled terror in the heart of every girl that has ever passed near that house.”
One day he pulled me from my hand and pulled my sister behind us while my grandmother was praying. He said he will show us something worth a million pounds. We went up the stairs and we came close to the wall that separated our house from that of Naeema the midwife. Naeema was standing over there, next to a strong built woman, next to her stood Samira, carrying a dish with boiling water. Close to her, stood her husband, carrying a knife and a stone that looked like it was used to sharpen the knife. On the couch in front of us was a girl who was about 9 to 10 years old, she was shaking hysterically. My cousin said that they were now preparing for a circumcision and that the girl was his classmate at school, and that the strong built woman was her mother. I was mortified, but my curiosity forced me to continue watching.
Several short minutes passed and Naeema, Samira and the girl’s mother approached the girl. Her mother threw her on the couch and held her arms down while Naeema spread her legs apart, as the screams and protests of the girl went unheard, so that Samira could get closer with her knife. Her screams were unbearable and her legs were facing me, I was able to see everything very clearly.
“On the couch in front of us was a girl who was about 9 to 10 years old, she was shaking hysterically.”
Samira started her work and the girl’s screams became louder. Then she uttered a gurgling noise and stopped suddenly from screaming, and a fountain of blood started flowing. My legs could not carry me… I thought the girl died from the pain. I fell near the wall shaking and my voice got louder with sobbing, while my sister stood glued to her place staring in front of her in disbelief. My cousin pulled me to my feet and pulled me towards the stairs whispering, “goddamn you, you are going to expose us.”
We were able to get away before my grandmother sees us and that was the first and last time that for me to see that roof. However, I still remember all its details with utmost clarity.
BuSSy is a performing arts project that documents and gives voice to censored untold stories about gender in different communities in Egypt. The project organizes storytelling workshops and performances where women and men step on stage to share stories about harassment, rape, gender discrimination, honor killing, forced marriage, Female genital mutilation, motherhood, domestic violence, child abuse, mass sexual assaults and many others, from different communities and cities in Egypt.
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