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Review: When Lemons Grow on Orange Trees

Spoiler alert!!

I did more of a mini summary than a review. Heads up for people that actually plan on reading the book.
The book is a fiction novel written by young writer DIEKARA OLORUNTOBA-OJU. She was 16 when she wrote this book but it was published in 2016. (20 years)

Diekara is a 20 year old Nigerian Under grad. Foreign languages student of Obafemi Awolowo Uni (OAU). She has published poems and won scholarships but this is her first Novel.

I attended a discussion about the book and people had alot to say! Some even thought it was a “tragedy porn”.

The book was centered on the suffering in Nigeria. Poverty, corruption, lack of brotherliness, dilapitating infrastructure, insecurity and a host of others.

From our politicians to “police men” to doctors and even ordinary citizens.

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The books main character was Sewa.

Sewa was from a comfortable family. Her mum died of cancer when she was younger so she lived with her dad and 4 brothers, Tomiwa, Kunle, Tobi and Jide. One day while at the dinning they heard gun shots followed by continous knocking on their door by someone who seemed desperate to come in, their dad checked and it was their neighbor. He opened the door not knowing it was a trap. The robbers burst in behind her! They take all they can from the house and just before they left 1 of the 5 men grab Sewa and in a bid to fight for her, her dad gets shot and he died .Sewa was tied and raped.

They had only their aunt whom they barely knew to take care of them but she too was grabbed by the cold hands of death during a Boko haram attack in the city of Jos where she lived.

They had no one else and soon lost all their privileges including their house!

Aishat was Sewa’s very supportive Muslim friend who was always there for Sewa and her siblings especially when Sewa found out she was pregnant from the rape during the attack with a child whom she refused to name because of the bitterness she bore in her heart against the child instead she called her “Omo” which simply means “child” in Yoruba language.

Sewa had to drop out of school moving her siblings to public school and they now live in a “face me I face you” apartment.” which Aisha had paid for with the savings for her car.

Sewa worked as a cleaner and several menial jobs to keep her family together.

Riot broke out over the removal of subsidy and one day, as Sewa passed by she over heard two men talk about the subsidy situation and she couldn’t help but join in after listening to them for a while. One of the men pointed that she was very well spoken and asked why she looked the way she looked. All tattered in her shabby slum clothes and she simply said it was a long story. He called out to her saying that he wanted to help her. She thought about accepting the help but didn’t saying, “what about the other people like me, will you also help them all?” She left but came back on second thoughts hoping that his offer to help her was still open. On gettng there, she over heard him tell his friend his plan to “help” Sewa. He was going to employ her as a stripper in a strip club he had just opened at Lekki because she has a fine body and he was surprised she rejected the offer saying “maybe the poverty hasn’t hit her hard yet” At this point she spoke and expressed how dissapointed she was and reigned insults at him while tears clouded her eyes.

The boys were done with school and Tomiwa did very well in his WAEC even though he still hadn’t spoken to anyone ever since their dad died. (5 years)

They went out that day to throw balls of Eba at a politicians billboard. Tomiwa SEEMED PLEASED BY THIS.  That day Tomiwa was out later than usual and Sewa insisted on going out in the dead of the night in search for him. Kunle followed her behind. They reported to the police but were asked to come back if he was still missing after 24 hours. Kunle suggested they went to all the hospitals. They eventually found Tomiwa  in one of the hospitals, he was in a bike accident! The bike rider had died on the spot. For the first time after 5 years  since their dad died, Tomiwa spoke!

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He told Sewa how he was grieving and just couldn’t get himself to talk all these years even though he tried. How life had become a living hell for them until “YESTERDAY WHEN I THREW THE MORSEL OF EBA ON THE BILLBOARD AND FELT A SPARK I HADN’T FELT IN YEARS. FOR YEARS I HAD BEEN NURSING DEAD HOPES BUT YESTERDAY HOPE WAS REKINDLED; IT CAME ALIVE… OR ATLEAST IT FELT SO” “FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME I DIDNT FEEL LIKE A CAGED VICTIM. BUT MY JOY WAS SHORT LIVED FOR, APPARENTLY, ON THIS SIDE OF THE EARTH, ONE IS NOT ALLOWED TO STAY HAPPY FOR LONG. I REALIZED THAT HAPPINESS IS ELUSIVE TO THE POOR; THAT’S WHY MY DAY THAT STARTED HAPPY HAD TO END WITH BLEEDING AND BANDAGES, PAIN AND…,” he closed his eyes “DEATH. THERE IS THE THICK SCENT OF DEATH AROUND ME.”

While Sewa was with Tomiwa in his ward, she picked up his notebook and flipped through when Tomiwa said “don’t read that, atleast not now” she closed the book and placed it back on his bed.
At LUTH after 3 days of severe suffering, vomiting and abdominal pains, Tomiwa fell into a coma. The doctor later announced that he had a ruptured intestine from the accident and bleeding to his brain and only hospitals in India had the facilities to handle his situation. He was to be transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit before it was possible for him to go to India and the charge was 900,000 per day for the intensive unit and Sewa only had four hundred Naira. Chijindu whom she had met on her way to Jos when her aunt died and had been supportive all through offered to pick the bills and take a loan from the bank to settle everything. Because he didn’t have enough.

Chijindu took Sewa home to get some rest. On their way she thanked Chijindu for all his sarcrifices.

At home she got into her bed and tried to sleep but sleep wouldn’t come so she picked up Tomiwa’s notebook to read

“SOMEDAY”


I personally think that this book moved way too fast. There wasn’t enough time for me to digest one tragedy before another came in.

Over all I enjoyed reading DIEKARA and with more experience, she’ll definitely do great! 

It’s a new week, nothing is impossible!

Go ye and slay.

Have you read this book or any of DIEKARA’s poems??  What are your thoughts? 

XOXO

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