Beyond the confines of the sanctuary of my mother’s womb, I was acutely aware of two worlds. The world within where I gently fed via this rope-like contraption called the umbilical cord. Inside my comforting pool of amniotic fluid, I could perform some delightfully glorious flips; and sometimes even attempt a butterfly! Quick, impulsive flurries of movement which doubtless, caused my poor mother some pains. But how otherwise, was I to prove to my living embryonic self, that I was truly alive and would soon be joining the rest of humanity which beckoned from without? Then the second world which transmitted a plethora of different kinds of signals into my consciousness. Pleasant signals like children at play, birdsong and rain. And dreadful ones like my mother’s fart, rolling thunder, and the sickening rumble of bumpy roads.
The more I grew inside my mother’s womb, the more a certain kind of discomfort intensified every time our taxi hit a particular short stretch inside Tema General where we routinely went for anti-natal care. Through all the months of my prenatal care, I would feel my mother brace herself for the crazy performance on this infamous stretch as our rented taxi regularly fell in and out of what appeared to be a thousand and one trenches. That now familiar cry of anguish, ‘adjeiii!’ would fly in multiples out of my mother’s mouth as we trundled along. On one particular trip to the maternity facility when I was in my seventh month, the crazy drill on this stretch, was so jarring that I performed one massive unintended flip which almost landed me outside of my mother’s birth canal! Oh, how I dreaded those five abusive minutes on that dirt street leading to and from the Maternity Block of Tema General Hospital.
Dear reader, it was only weeks after I was successfully delivered, that I saw it for what it was – that short, but unforgettable lane of shame. The taxi ride is generally smooth until you enter the gates of this (in)famous health facility. First culprit is this one very unkind speed hump. It is sure to shout out a welcoming ‘wam-bang’ just before you veer right and hit this apology of a street. I know it is called a ‘speed ramp’ because, I would hear the taxi driver curse and rant against some heartless hospital authorities who should be taking care of this street in particular.
Five lousy, harrowing minutes to the sanctuary of your birth? A part of the prenatal techniques designed to test your endurance as a foetus, or plain old insensitivity to the plight of the yet yet-to-be-born? Well, what to I know? I am just a new born, grateful to my maker for arriving safe and well.
Written by: Emmanuel Mwinila-Yuori