Nervous Conditions


” ‘What it is,’ she sighed, ‘to have to choose between self and security. When I was in England I glimpsed for a little while the things I could have been, the things I could have done if – if – if things were – different – But there was Babawa Chido and the children and the family. And does anyone realize, does anyone appreciate, what sacrifices were made? As for me, no one even thinks about the things I gave up.’ She collected herself. ‘But that’s how it goes, Sisi Tambu! And when you have a good man and lovely children, it makes it all worth while.’ ” (pg. 103)

In general, a nervous condition is a tension existing between two things.  In the book “Nervous Conditions” a tension exists within Maiguru between what she knows she could have been with her education and her life as a wife and mother.  Having lived in England, Maiguru witnessed what women with an education of her level were able to accomplish while back at home her own family did not even know she was obtaining her masters degree, but thought she simply followed her husband to be with him while he pursued his education. Much like how the British culture pulls on the hearts of her daughter, the society she remembers continues to call out to Maiguru though she is back in Zimbabwe.  From the quote the reader can see that she must still get caught up in day dreams about careers, conversations, and expectations she could have had if she stayed in England, but she is forced to be content for the sake of her family. She recognizes that things would need to be “different” in order for her to utilize her education to the fullest.

I personally this tension still very much exists in today’s society.  On multiple occasions I have been asked if I am pursuing a “MRS” degree simply because I am a woman attending a private university.  There is still a pull on women to choose between education/a career and family. Society plays into the tension by allowing for shame and guilt to be appropriate feelings for young women to experience if they feel drawn towards a career above pursuit of building a family or finding a husband.  This is not a tension that is specific to a particular geographical location, but remains relevant across the globe. The tension that exists between gender reaches far beyond simply the surprise that accompanies a woman pursuing a higher education or having “reaching” career goals.  What women are paid and how they treated in the workplace is also a cause of tension in today’s society because many fail to recognize the unequal treatment of women as an issue.

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