Finding Our Own Alice Achitophels

Being fertile in the society of Zulus is suppose to be impossible. Sterilization is a regulated procedure created by the government and even those who live outside the city still live with the repercussions of this decision. Alice evades the procedure to be sterilized and in her head is always aware of her potential to have kids. When Alice goes on to become pregnant she is praised by others for this ability but to her it has become a burden. While reading the book, this type of situation seems very unrealistic, something we can never experience, but in all actuality its something some people live with everyday.

I have a very close friend, lets call her Sam, who loves children with all her heart. I’m saying this is the type of girl who will baby sit for free simply because she just loves to be with and around kids. She is the godmother of her younger cousin and she takes that role to heart. I don’t even like kids, but that has never stopped her from showing me pictures of her godson and saying “Isn’t he the cutest?” Sam has known since she was about 14 that she will never be able to have kids. Her own mother had ovarian cancer and sadly passed from it. To some others they see it as what they call a fixable problem, simply telling her to just adopt or get a surrogate when she’s ready for children. Although this sounds incredibly insensitive, you can’t blame them for trying to find a bright side. It can be a touchy subject and sometimes you just want the conversation to end before it gets too deep. When I heard people say these things to her I couldn’t help but cringe with Sam at the words “fixable” but I had to be understanding. They just don’t see that to her its a deeply rooted pain that she gets reminded of almost everyday.

It seems to me as though in Zulus’ society the world reacts to Alice’s fertility as we in our society react to ones infertility. We are confused by it, not knowing what questions to ask and how to treat the situation. No matter what the person in the situation feels, we have our own opinions about the situation that greatly affect how we treat them.  Everyone is uncomfortable and no one knows that to do.

Alice never shares fear personal about the pregnancy, more just her fears about the outside world and how they will react to it. Not saying anything doesn’t mean shes not scared for herself.
Sam can tell you the ins and outs of the adoption procedure in the United States at the drop of a hat, including exact amounts of money and time periods. Acceptance of the fact doesn’t mean she’s okay with it.

I feel like there is a deeper pain in Alice’s pregnancy that we can never truly feel, but some of us experience it a little bit more than others. Whether it be our own personal experiences or with someone close to us, there are small bits of Alice Achitophel in everyone’s life.

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