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Review: The Wispering trees. Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

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The art on this cover! Love love love.

I borrowed this one from one of my sisters endless stash and after the read I realized I think I’m more captivated when I’m Reading a compilation of short stories than reading a book containing one very lengthy story. The more captivating, the quicker the read.

About the writer: Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, born in Jos of Nigeria. Won several prizes for his works, he was also shortlisted for the Caine Prize of African writing in 2013 aswell as being Long listed for the Etisalat Prize for Prose in 2014.

It’s my second time of reading the book and I must say that Abubakar Adam has my heart. He exhibits his very captivating and thrilling writing technique in this piece consisting of 10 short stories
1) Twilight and the mist
2) Baba Idi’s enclave
3) The cat-eyed English witch
5) Dear mother
6) One fine morning
7) Closure
8) Night calls
9) Pledge of fidelity
10) Cry of the witch
The cat- eyed witch was a white woman married to a Nigerian man who had to get used to doing chores, blowing coal for fire and all the other hardship there was in her husband’s family. How she had to learn to courtesy to greet etc. There was a total turn around when she was accused by her in-laws’ wife for killing her child simply because she didn’t have hers.
My most interesting chapter was THE WISPERING TREES no wonder the book was titled after it. Here we see how the dreams of a young medical student Salim were shattered in a car accident which caused him his sight. Salim was just 3months from graduation when this tragedy struck. Thereafter he lived a life of self pity and bitterness due to frustration from his deficiency he took it out on everyone even his loved ones. Falauta was the love of his life whom he had helped through school and she stuck by him even in this hard times until she had to leave for service where she later came back to break the news to Salim that she was getting married just when he had accepted his fate and was getting better. Salim embraced this new life and lived better. “so it was that I lost my sight to find my vision, I lost my life to find my soul and I lost my vanity to find my purpose”-Salim.
Dear mother. Short but exact story. A father who never liked his child and who treated his wife unfairly even though she struggled single handedly to man the house. Her child witnessed all his drunkenness and waywardness and his mothers suffering. Later, this same child poisoned his father leading to his death.
One fine morning. A bottled neck woman shows up at Sambo’s door claiming to be pregnant with his child, Sambo swore he had never known her and after much explaining to his wife the two ladies later announced “April fools”. They joked about it and Sadiya his wife promised him that the bottled neck woman was paid for the act and that he would never be seeing her again. Few days later…. the bottled neck woman shows up again at his door this time with police men and she announced “this is the man officer, this is the mad who got me pregnant and beat me up.” Sambo wished this was another joke but there were no signs that it was a joke as Sadiya appeared by the door and convinced her husband not to know anything about it this time.
The Whirl wind. This was another very interesting chapter. Kyakkyawa was a very beautiful girl who was well aware of her beauty hence held herself with so much pride, making a nuisance of every man that lust after her including her father. Her mother was jealous of her as even her father would often times get lost in her beauty and she threatened to bring the house down cause of this. Kyakkyawa would deal with men who tried to take advantage of her like she did Buba a shop owner who was married with daughters her age. He tried to seduce her and once he started touching her, Kyakkyawa wrestled him. He didn’t expect her to be ferocious. She swore that he would not venture to molest young girls breasts in his shop again. So she set the place on fire! Yes. She burnt his shop and got arrested but her father refused to bail her because she asked him not to but the police was forced to release her saying that she was causing unrest in the cells. She was later married to an old Alhaji that was her grand fathers mate when he tried to sleep with her, she attacked him with a kitchen knife from under her pillow and carved him open. She was arrested but when Alhaji recovered, he begged and asked for her to be released that he wanted his wife back and this got me thinking this her beauty na jazz? This caused the rest of his family and wives to leave him. The highlight of the story was when Audu her cousin came to stay with them. Audu would always go to her room to watch her sleep until she woke up and this upset her father that he scolded her to lock her door but she didn’t. One night he met Audu sitting by her as usual while she slept. On entering the room, Audu said “she is beautiful uncle, she is always beautiful when she sleeps. She should never wake up.” And this was when he realized, the boy had killed his daughter.
The thing about this book is every chapter is engaging and leaves you in anticipation for the next line of action and this anticipation is what keeps you going with the book. When I got to the end of the book, I was sad. I wanted more. More of Abubakar’s stories.
The garbage man: an educated housewife’s attraction to a garbage man leaves her torn between marital and loyalty and her heart’s desire.
Night calls: a series of night calls lands a young man on death row and leaves him desperately trying to escape the hangman.
Abubakar’s stories is one of the most exciting there is in Nigeria. A very engaging book and definitely a must read.
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