Rosemary Chikafa explores the unique relationship between labour and driving women. So I finally got my driver’s licence after FOUR attempts at VID. Mind you, that is a huge feat for a woman – so the male chauvinists say. I can’t say I blame them though considering the number of women I saw bumping the drums during those four visits at VID. I couldn’t believe my eyes when a lady obliviously let loose on the clutch and backed into the drums at a speed I could have sworn was 100km/hr and boom – the rear wheel rode on the first drum and the VID officer gaped his mouth stupid. I always remember his angry and incredulous look especially at times like the day my husband threw the car keys at me and pronounced, ‘woman I am not your chauffer, stop disturbing my work schedule.
From now on drive yourself wherever you want to go.’ Now that was difficult because you see, like most women I know I scare easily. If I see a spider, I scream. If a rat runs over my foot, I feel an impending heart attack and here was my husband telling me to drive myself! The traffic jungle – mind you, JUNGLE – loomed large before me. All those cars! And in all shapes and sizes too – behind me, in front of me, to my left and to my right – NO! One impatient horn could really do it for me. I mean, really, in a jungle the only horn you can expect to hear is a lion’s roar or maybe an elephant’s trumpet. ‘Oh, fine then, I sure as hell can drive myself thank you,’ I had grudgingly told my husband. But between you and me, of course my body was all panic adrenalin.
The thing is, I wanted to go to Weaver Press from the University of Zimbabwe and I was not even sure of the directions. The prospect of crossing the intersection onto Lomagundi road was to my reality being stranded in the heart of the Amazon itself. But what the heck, men always exaggerate about women drivers. They say a woman driver has no defensive sense whatsoever. Let a haulage truck roll towards her and she will close her eyes, put her hands on the head, her foot on the accelerator and bawl out loud – for the midwife perhaps. Well, I drove alright and of course waited forever at the give way signs.
You see, I was just being careful. I carry a life within me for nine months. Now that’s nurturing life and so I wouldn’t rush through a give way sign when I see another car coming from my right. No, I simply cannot be held culpable for dumping that life nurturing spirit on the road. And then came the time to turn right onto Broadlands Road. Suddenly my husband’s Nissan Homy was a bus and the last time I had checked I was the holder of a class four driver’s licence and certainly not class one. There was not enough room left on my left and the lions began to roar and I thought, NOW WHERE IS THAT MIDWIFE!
Then I remembered to hit the buzzer, at least the nurses would rush to my bedside. Tick-tock, tick-tock – oh, at least I had remembered to hit the hazards – brilliant! The journey wasn’t over yet and I was doing alright and I thought, yes of course crossing onto Lomagundi would be a piece of cake. Forget that I should simply have turned onto Lomagundi and not Broadlands in the first place. A woman doesn’t need a sense of direction, the gut will do thank you. Rule number one for those not so confident drivers; just follow the car in front of you. Bravo! But then the traffic lights went red on me and I surely hadn’t watched the driver in front of me cross over.
Panic adrenalin again. Green. Holy Spirit please bring your magic now. Yes, move slowly, wait at the centre there. Midwife please. Sure I’m here dear, now breath, breath we don’t want you choking the baby now. There, there, ok. Amber . Now push. Yes, very good. The procedure was repeated until I reached it. Number 38 Broadlands. Thank God. Phew am tired better put this baby to sleep. I couldn’t take on the task of driving through the gate. It could have been another labour intensive effort. The good part was of course waltzing into dear hubby’s office afterwards. Had he been in the labour ward with me? Oh Shame, I must have been too delirious to notice. ‘Honey, did someone pour a bucket of water on you by mistake – your shirt is dripping wet.’ And the thrill of that secret satisfaction warming up my body; DIVINE!