The maximum period of gestation, according to the Shafi’is, is four years. The Maliki’s argue for a five year period, I believe. The issue, it seems, is not self-evident and subject to disagreement. My teacher, MAR, and I laugh at the absurdity of the proposition. “The child will simply walk off to school right after delivery,” he jokes. I find it curious that he is poking fun at the apparent illogic of the stated gestation period. This discussion on pregnancy lends itself easily to musings on the miracle of child bearing and birthing. A woman’s heart is stronger than a man’s, he tells me. Finally, I think, at least something about a woman is not inferior to a man. He begins by detailing the process of menstruation and it’s relation to pregnancy. I can’t help but be amused by the irony of a man delineating female anatomy to a woman, patronizing me as though I have no knowledge of such things. Perhaps because I‘m single? Either way, I apparently have no understanding of how my own body works. Lost in my thoughts, I return to the story just in time to catch his elucidation of the fetus, enclosed in a “bag” in the womb, protected from harm. All the menstrual blood , you see, then gathers under this bag to form a cushion for the baby who sleeps peacefully, encased in the bag, resting its head on a progressive build up of menstrual blood. So what happens when this latent fetus awakens from it’s peaceful slumber? It begins to hit its head against the mouth of the uterus in order to make its exit. Here we return to the anecdote on the strength of women’s hearts. I struggle to keep my concentration, tempted to loose myself in thoughts of future plans. There was a woman, the story continues, who was in need of a heart transplant. The doctors were finally able to procure the heart of a young man who had recently passed away. The transplant was completed and the woman survived the procedure. Eventually, she became pregnant and when her sleeping child no longer desired his pillow of menstrual blood (at the end of a four or five year gestation period, I’m not sure), he began to knock his head against this closed door that must be opened for him to make his appearance. At this moment, this possessor of a man’s heart, no longer able to endure the agony of birthing, meets the fate of her donor. A woman’s heart is undoubtedly stronger than a man’s. I look at the clock. Fifteen minutes of lost time on an entertaining biology lesson. I’m uncertain what to think or where to begin my objections; do I even have any objections? I’m simply satisfied that, after months of taking classes with MAR, at long last, women are comparable to men in something, however fantastical that something might be.
An older piece from 2009