A Respectable Girl

My story with FGM is a little different.
I had a friend in the sixth grade,
And one day she called me,
Voice brimming with pride,
And told me that she had been circumcised.
She explained what it was.
She said her parents had taken her to a doctor for the operation.
They said that circumcision was a nice thing,
And it made girls look prettier.
The girl was bragging and stuff.
Then all of the sudden,
She asked me if I’d been circumcised.
“Why haven’t your parents done it for you?”
“I don’t know.”
She made me feel like I was lacking something.
That I had something bad and unacceptable.
And I was a kid who didn’t understand anything.

After a while,
Mama asked me to see if I needed to be circumcised.
She didn’t pressure me, though.
She let me be.
Then she asked me again,
And I agreed to be examined.
She told me to take off my clothes and lie on the bed.
I did so.
At the time I felt like I was being violated,
As she examined and touched me,
Checking to see if my hymen was still intact,
And if I needed to be circumcised.
She then told me to get up and put my clothes back on.
“You don’t need to be circumcised,” she said.
Afterward, mama stood in front of my entire Upper Egyptian family,
And told them I didn’t need to be circumcised.
“Her thing is small,” she lied.

At school,
I heard stories from my friends,
That circumcision made them prettier and ready for marriage.
I looked at myself down there,
And didn’t feel pretty.
One time I even picked up a razor and tried to cut off the extra part,
Because I didn’t like how it looked.

The days went by.
I grew up.
Mama passed away.
Soon it was time for my niece to get circumcised.
I heard family members tell my sister,
“Your daughter needs to be circumcised,
So she grows up well-behaved.
We can’t do what your mother did,
Leaving your sister like that.
Who knows what she’ll do in the future?”
They circumcised my niece.
I saw the pain she was in,
How it still hurts her till this day.
I realized my mother had been right.
She had done me a favor,
Even if she hadn’t done the same for my older sister.

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