For Maria Ebun Pataki

For Maria Ebun Pataki

Before you begin, it’s important that you know that this is not a review of the excellence of this production, but an appreciation (call it tribute if you may) of the genius of Damilola Orimogunje, the director of this film for bringing such an important yet hardly spoken about subject to light. This is due to the fact that this production would pass for an 8/10, as it was done really well in all ramifications (according to our standards); and due to the sensitivity of the subject matter of the film.

Postpartum depression: is a form of depression that happens to a woman after she has given birth. It could be immediately or may take a few months after childbirth. Usually, in some women, complicated or traumatic childbirth experiences can result in a mental illness. One which makes them question their decision of having a child, how fit they are to be a mother, and a lot of other things. This illness can be severe or mild, depending on the individual, and the situations surrounding their childbirth. Sadly, there’s not enough knowledge on this mental condition, especially in our present society, and most mothers are left to suffer alone. In most cases, the woman is expected to “be strong” for her baby no matter what she’s going through, which is a total neglect to her own health. What this film aims to achieve is to expose the struggles of mothers, and mirror motherhood beyond a superhero with a cape duty, but to also portray these women first as human beings who are capable of feeling.

This movie tells a story of Derin who has just had a baby, but endured a problematic and traumatic delivery process. According to the doctors, there were so many complications so a Cesarean session was necessary, and yet with that, she bled so much, it was only by a miracle that she survived. The days that followed the delivery of her baby become the most challenging days of her life. She wrestles stress, feelings of dejection, regret, anxiety, and so many terrible mental battles. This painful childbirth experience, as her husband explains is the reason Derin decides to name the baby Maria –which meaning varies between pain, bitterness or rebellion, depending on the context or language. In the long run, we see Derin’s mental health deteriorate so much that she is unable to handle it, so she opts for a more permanent solution.

This film is bound to break off two arguments.

The first being… What really is motherhood?

According to Derin’s mother in-law, “a mother is someone who does what she doesn’t want to do because of her children…” But should this be the standard?

Without a doubt, the role of motherhood naturally comes with sacrifices. Accommodating a whole human in one’s belly is already a huge sacrifice. And the paths it leads to afterwards are roads tarred with sacrifice. So yes, the default stance of motherhood is one of sacrificing oneself, convenience, desires, and all of that. However, this is not to say that a mother’s life should be neglected. She is first human, before she is a mother, so there is a need to identify where the line meets and to draw it. In a case like that of Derin as we see, her mother in-law held an archaic view of motherhood, one that entirely neglected the life and health of the woman. This should not be. A mother needs to be fine mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and in other necessary areas of her life to be able to carry out her duties effectively.

The other argument is this: who suffers more in such situations? I mean, looking at Derin and her husband, it is agreeable that he had this fair share of suffering, and seeing the way things ended, it’s almost easy to want to pick a side. But is that really necessary? In such sensitive situations, there shouldn’t be a premise for such comparison.

The character of Derin’s husband is an enlightened and empathetic man who understands the importance of his wife’s individuality hence prioritizes her health. He doesn’t seem to buy the societal construct of “motherhood”, as represented by his mother. Rather, he takes an objective stance and looks for solution for his wife. This of course doesn’t come without it’s own emotional and mental suffering. Sadly, things don’t scale up for him as he is flung to the end of the road of the very sail he tried to protect, and his “Ife” takes her life.

The tragic end of this story can be read as the directors disposition to the subject matter. That is na person wey dey alive fit take care of another person. Sadly, the end does not favour her Derin’s husband (as is usually the case of the bereaved) who has had a really hectic ride as well through out the story. However, this proves the importance of one’s mental health. And to further show that no matter how much we may love someone who suffers depression or other mental illnesses, and are empathetic towards them, we may never be able to equate their level of suffering because they do not only feel the physical and mental pain, but are mostly always faced with the guilt of putting their loved ones through stress and ultimately hurting them. Of a truth, the matter of mental health is quite complex, but it is really integral to our being. So more attention should be payed to it.

Another very crucial theme explored in this film is a characteristic that is quite common in Nigeria: it is how everyone believes giving an advice to a new mother is necessary. A lot of times these advices are so unsolicited and inaccurate. If we could tone down our ITKness (I too know) a little and be more objective about our reality, our society would be a lot better. The most appalling of all these is how alienated we tend to act in situations that we are well aware of. Derin’s mother-in-law may not have experienced postpartum depression, but being a mother should have given her a clue on how to handle the situation. And this represents the stance of so many people out there. We live in illusions a lot in Nigeria; we need to break off from the stronghold of societal standards.

As was said earlier, this is not a critique in the sense of the word, however, it is necessary to mention a few things.

As you may have already deciphered, the storyline is great. The acting was amazing as well. Great cast selection. Attention was payed to details. The scenes of the baby crying (even though at some point got a little clumsy) was done really well. Derin’s facial expressions, her husbands body language and responses, even in their state of extreme suffering, you could feel their chemistry—almost felt like it was real. Everything was really neatly done, except for a few hiccups of course. One of which is what we see in one of the beginning scenes. Derin has just finished her surgery but is able to lay on her side and curl in a fetal position and cry. That is not realistic because people who undergo surgery have to lie straight facing the ceiling for a few days and even weeks, until their wound heals. That particular one wasn’t done correctly.

Nonetheless, this movie is a really good one and is highly recommend!

Kudos to this team for producing this movie!

2 Comments

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    Flora Nnamaka Posted on1:49 pm - February 23, 2022

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