A Useless Woman

A few years ago, in Kurdistan, one of my dear, friends advised me that there was an Arabic word to describe me. (Yes, he was male, and no, he wasn’t being rude, it’s a cultural thing). I can’t remember the word now, but he explained that it meant I was a useless woman. Oh, how I laughed! Apparently once a woman is past child bearing days she is known by this word and is basically a useless woman. This means that since I had my hysterectomy for severe endometriosis at the age of 32 I have since been useless.

Today is a big birthday, so I got up, ground some coffee beans and made a delicious cup of organic coffee. I sat on a chair looking out from my balcony over the valley and I contemplated how useless I have been since I couldn’t bear any more children.

At age 39 I went to university and got my BA (hons) English Literature, at age 43 I gained my Masters in Creative Writing. I was so useless after this, I worked on projects in the community before being accepted to do my PhD in Creative Writing. Whilst still being useless, I completed my PhD and got a job in Kurdistan as Dr Amaye. I published short stories in various anthologies, was long listed for a literature prize for my first attempt at a novel. Eventually, I published my PhD novel and have continued publishing short stories in anthologies and journals.

Did I mention that during my early useless years, I also got divorced, reared children single handedly, had a business that saw me working 16 hours a day, supported family members whilst having a paralysed face and a barely working left side of my body. Oh, and worked several jobs whilst all this was going on because bills had to be paid and benefits were never an option for me.

Whilst continuing to be a useless woman, I moved to Trinidad to continue teaching and guiding students in my first love of creative writing. And this morning I woke up to the following message from someone who has taught me so much over the past couple of years, which shows my uselessness in all its glory.

So, as today unfolds I am embracing all my uselessness in any form it takes and I hope it can continue for many more birthdays.

I feel grateful, I feel blessed.

Published by Muli

I am the Coordinator of the MFA Creative Writing in UWI, St Augustine. My research interests are women's voices, memory and migration. I'm also interested in how we, as a university, engage with the wider community to help changes at grassroots level.

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