I read somewhere that love was about this, the nuggets of knowledge about our beloved that we so fluently hold.
Yes, I am on a reading haul. Ever since I discovered the wonderful, free books available on Amazon Originals I am on a marathon. And Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie! If I loved her writing in The Visit, I am a fan of hers after my latest read Zikora. Even in the shortest of stories she speaks volumes. Now I need to read her novels.
Zikora is a beautiful, intense story about motherhood and relationships. The protagonist, Zikora, is a thirty-nine-year-old accomplished Nigerian lawyer, practicing in the USA. In the middle of giving birth, she reflects on her life, her relationships, and her realizations. Abandoned by the father of the child she is birthing, she is already overwhelmed by a vortex of emotion. And the only one who is by her side during the labor is her mother. There is a difference between the two women, but as we read more about the mother and the daughter, one realizes perhaps they are not so different after all.
The author’s sharp and witty writing brings about the harshest truth in a casual manner.
Ours was an ancient story, the woman wants the baby and the man doesn’t want the baby and a middle ground does not exist. What would a middle ground be? We couldn’t have half a baby.
Through her brilliant storytelling, Adichie reveals complete character arcs for the protagonist as well as other significant players. Just like that in short thirty-five pages, I knew Zikora, as a compelling blend of strength and vulnerabilities, the past lives of the women, their relationships, strength, and weakness, or the character of the men in their lives. In short, the reader knows who they are dealing with.
In mere 35 pages, the story travels through the past and present, between countries and cultures. And despite all the differences, the author effectively shows, how the stories of women are similar through decades and continents.
In creating a child, Nature demanded so much of the woman and so little of the man.
And only an author of her caliber can cover the myriad of topics like single motherhood, dysfunctional relationships, abortion, pregnancy, post-partum thoughts, love, and circumcisions in so few words. As I commented in my review of her book The Visit, Adichie doesn’t waste a word.
Her take on pregnancy is one of the rawest and most realistic ones I have ever read. She gets everything correct from the pain, the numbness, and to even how flimsy the sanitary pads feel while having post-delivery bleeding. And who else other than Adichie can compare pregnancy with body hair convincingly.
I told her breezily. “It’s funny how pregnancy is like body hair. We scrub and scrape our armpits and upper lip and legs because we hate to have hair there. Then we pamper and treat the hair on our heads because we love hair there. But it’s all hair. It’s the wanting that makes the difference.”
The book is lovely and the only grouse that I can share is while this is a near-perfect short story and did not end abruptly, I was wanting more. I felt this story had the potential to be a great novel.
Overall Zikora is a stunning feat considering the number of words used or rather never wasted. It is available on Amazon.
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