What To Expect When You’re Being Circumcised

Picture 5

I mean, it’s not awkward enough that you just got your first period and your mother and grandmother parade your blood-stained panties all throughout the seven-story apartment building, which homes every single member of your extended family.

But then the call is made to the local barber, or – if you’re lucky and your family is into big spending – the local physician who “performs” this celebratory tradition.

But times are tough, so barber it is. And not just any barber – the same old man who’s cut your father and brother’s hair for years.

You overhear the conversation. You hear your grandma authoritatively tell your mother that it’s time for your circumcision.

The music blares from the dust encrusted speakers connected to the PC that still runs Windows 95. It doesn’t take long before you realize you’re going to lose your femininity to a looped Tamer Hosny soundtrack.

fgm2Your cousins fill your grandma’s place, banging on drums and laughing loudly as if there’s a wedding. Then your aunts file in one by one, each with the same hollow expression and eerily fake smiles.

The courtesy on a day like this is to prepare all your favourite foods.

“Protein!”, they shriek. “She’ll need protein for all the blood.”

“Blood?”, you think, wide-eyed. It starts to get real.

Trays of chicken, meat and liver cover the four tables your cousins had to push together in the balcony – a meal suitable to quench the deepest bloodlust.

The doorbell rings – it could only be one person. Everyone else just barges in. Shrieks of glee fill the place as the little ones fight over who gets to open the door.

He steps into the apartment like a revered war hero. Dressed in a dinky, over-sized, olive-coloured suit, he clutches his faux brown leather briefcase – most assuredly his prized possession.

Immediately, he is offered a heaping plate full of meat. He hungrily digs in, using his thick, stubby fingers to pull through the greasy chunks of beef.

Your grandma takes you aside, indicating it’s time. She hands you a white night gown and instructs you to put it on and wait in the bathroom.

You meekly accept the offer knowing full well there is nothing you can do to change the course of events for the afternoon. To be honest, you still don’t really understand what’s going on.

You look at your naked body in the mirror, accepting it for all its glory – accepting that in a matter of a few short minutes, it will never look that way again.

You wait alone in the bathroom, while the whole family celebrates your initiation into the real world. They’re all here for you. They’re all celebrating for you.

They’re all here to bear witness to one of the cruelest crimes humanity has offered the female gender. And they do so with a feast of meat.

The bathroom door opens. It’s time.

Your grandma and mother reach for each one of your arms, throwing you down onto the cold white tile. Your uncle holds your knees apart. Your cousins fight to catch a glimpse as the Barber prepares himself.


He slowly pulls out his thick-rimmed reading glasses. Pulling up the dress, he mindlessly scratches his beard, thinking of the best way to maim you. Opening his briefcase, he pulls out a set of glistening razors.

You don’t understand what’s taking him so long to choose – they all look identical. You strain your neck to get a better view of what’s going on. Your mother doesn’t like this, so she pulls on you harder, almost digging her nails into your arms.

He sprays the blade with some sharp scented cologne – his “disinfecting” process. The blade glistens in the bathroom’s flickering neon light.

fgm3You intuitively try to slam your knees together, pressing them tightly – but to no avail. Several pairs of hands dig into your flesh trying to separate your meek attempt to save what is yours.

The Barber cocks his head as he examines every inch of your exposed vagina. You watch as he decides the best way to go about his business. He reaches in with the same stubby fingers as he explains his plan of action, leaving no detail to the imagination.

His cold touch nauseates you as he eagerly probes you. You clench your fists, digging your nails into your palms, quietly begging for it to stop. His ideas are received with grunts and nods of approval.

Without hesitation he reaches in with his thumb and index finger and pulls. The blade, poised in the other hand, with lightening speed executes the vision men have had for women for centuries.

The rapid slice is met with one piercing sharp screech.

And then nothing. Silence.

You wake up hours later, your face soaked in your tear-stained pillow – and an agonizing, piercing pain between your thighs. Your eyes catch a glimpse of a heaping plate of meat beside your bed.

“Protein,” you think to yourself, “they think I need protein.”

And as you close your eyes for the last time that night, you know in your heart you don’t need to look in a mirror to see that now you share that same hollow expression every single woman in your family has.


WE SAID THIS: Check out all of Shareen’s sensational short stories here.