Mama’s Razor

Mama delivered babies. At nights, when we slept on the small bed made of logs, with smelly torn mats spread on them, and fought for space with mosquitoes; I would hear sudden footsteps and shouts. And then the mat serving as the door would be yanked open by sweaty arms. Running feet would rush in, and mama would wake.

They were terrible nights. We lived in a hut made of mud and the roof finished with raffia. The floor was plastered with cow dung and the walls were decorated with paintings from the smokes that always rose from the cooking tripod just by the corner of the room.

I was always awake before mama, because I had gotten accustomed to the running feet that came every other night. Even when the crickets made chirpings, I would still wake, thinking they were coming. Mama would rub the back of her wrinkled palm on her weary eyes and shoo me out of the room.

“Go to mama Ezinne’s hut,” she would say. But she never knew that I wouldn’t go to my stepmother’s hut. I would sit by the side of our cracked hut, just beside the ujirisi tree and listen to the wails of the woman in labour, the soothing and calming words of mama, and the persuasive words of the women that brought her. The men among them would stand in front of the hut, panting and pacing. If the moon was up, I would be able to see fear in their eyes.

After a short time, I would hear the cries of a baby – piercing cry that would jostle me from my half sleep and I would stand and wait by the door. The men would jubilate and exchange handshakes. Mama Ezinne and papa and others in the compound would troop out and converge in front of our hut, congratulating the women and the men.

Mama would come out and go to the back of the hut where she kept her little shrine. The shrine had seven clay pots with feathers and dried chicken blood on them. Each time mama delivered a woman of a baby girl, the baby’s father would bring a fowl, and if it was a boy, they would bring a cock and mama would kill it at the shrine and allow the blood to drop on the pots. I would squat beside her and watch. After chanting and thanking Agbara for safe delivery, she would give the chicken to me and I would call Ezinne’s brother to help me roast it. I was mama’s only child.

Mama always made sure that blood never touched one of the pots, the one that was always covered. It contained mama’s delivery tools. Especially, the razors she used in cutting the placentas. After delivery, mama would come out of the hut and collect one of the numerous rusty razors on the special pot and use it to cut the placenta and return it later.

That was the part I enjoyed most. I loved the razor blades and the magic it could perform. Because of the razors, I was loved by the other kids. During the day times, when we played at the square, I would collect one of the razors from the pot and others would admire it and we would use it to cut our nails and use it to cut our mangoes and oranges.

14 thoughts on “Mama’s Razor” by Obinna Udenwe (@obiudenwe)

  1. This very good writing.

  2. The last paragraph is somewhat scary and absolutely unhygienic

  3. @sassystel, yes ooo, imagine being cool because of some rusty razor

    1. @sassystel, the kids didn’t know that it was unhygienic, remember that then, one razor blade would be used to shave about fifty children. To deliver about 50 babies etc, etc. A lot of things that happened back then were unhygienic.

  4. @Ville, thanks so much. This story i would say found me. It was told to me by my mum, it happened to her.

  5. Hah! You really made something out of a seemingly unimportant object. Great work.

  6. @Obinna U, you write well but to me this story didn’t carry the message or are we to still expect the part 2?

  7. How old is your narrator? He/She sounds not old enough to know what a placenta is? Also, if the mother was so careful about the razors, surely the child would not have the boldness to use the razor in the manner you said.

    There are one or two grammar issues, but otherwise, the story is well told.

  8. Well told. Draws one into its rustic setting.
    Kudos Obinna.

  9. @Zubi, for me i think the message is clear. The story tries to explore the age when hygiene was not so defined. Most of my stories end like this, leaving you wondering if there is going to be a follow up. I think stories sometimes should do this. Give you a little headache, make you hate the writer possibly. Read Wilbur Smith.

  10. @Myne, my narrator is as old as you might assume her to be. I tried to through the voice, point at the age or give you a glimpse of what the age is. The woman was not very careful with the razor. I only said that the pot that had the razors was always covered. Possibly, the woman always covered the pot not because of hygiene but because she wouldn’t want any of them pilfered, which was what was happening at the end, without her knowledge. Hygiene was not the issue at all, remember that the story says that the razors were rusted.

  11. aww…d last paragraph is so..aww. Good story.

  12. well-penned

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