Only The Name Means JOY(Breast Ironing)

Again she dropped the stone on hearth and allowed it to get warm. After a while she pressed Boitumelo’s breasts with it.  Boitumelo felt a melting sensation within and then she noticed it going inside. Crying till her throat went dry and prickly she tried to run but in vain. Being a girl of twelve she couldn’t fight the two women who were holding her hands so tightly. Thinking that Boitumelo had cried enough for the day she left her in a room and closed the door behind her but only after announcing that they’ll continue with the process at night. Tears streamed her cheeks , sniffing sounds filled the room when she noticed the door was left ajar. A notion of running away quickly passed her mind but then she knew it was safe in here. Her mother’s voice reverberated in her mind “This is for your own safety.  I’m trying to protect you. If you don’t let me do it the boys will get attracted to you, only a couple of months more then you’ll be safe”. She told herself that whatever her mother was doing was correct.

She tried to recall the day when her mother had first ironed her breasts. The memory was getting cloudy as was the day, filled with clouds of dust, created by children’s incessant running. Usually she walked past, oblivious to her surrounding but that day she was mindful of every quotidian event. She had been specifically noticing the boys, the little ones were chasing each other and the elders, nowhere to be seen. Relieved she had proceeded to her class and lo and behold! There they were staring directly at her. She had noticed they weren’t making eye contact, wondering where they were looking a chill had run down her vertebrae. Afraid and horrified she had scuttled to the furthest bench.  

This had been a fortnight ago. Now her thoughts are occupied with the stories of her mother which she tells her to prove her undertakings. While a crucial part of her is being lesioned and carbuncled she is taught that the men around her, if they see her breasts, would think she’s ready for sex. Sadly she surmise that this is the way of women hood. Little does she know that it’s a mere taboo in Cameroon.  Boitulmelo means joy but now she lies un veiled to mental trauma, breast cancer, deformities, cysts and other such maladies. Will her life be joyful?


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