It took til nearly the end of the month, but I SUCCESSFULLY started out the year correctly. I am thankful to again have put forth intentions and completed the same. I told myself that I wanted to read at least a book a month, and as of a couple of hours ago – I can check off January :).
The book I read is called “Efuru” and it is written by a Nigerian author named Flora Nwapa. It was such a pleasure reading this book for many reasons, but most vivid is the complete way that it brings me back to my trips in Meritah as she speaks of Kola nut, palm wine, sitting on mats, the mudroom, preparing and taking herbs, the children, pounding out food, the customs, and so much more. It transports me back to a simpler, but more robust culture and traditions.
I am unsure if any of you have traveled to Meritah (or what people call Africa), but experiencing such a rich culture always leaves me wanting more when I return to the U.S. and deal with the ridiculousness of abject poverty, willful ignorance, avoidable pestilence, prevalent racism, and more ills that should not be present in a so-called first-world country. It is so curious how
I will type out part of the book’s synopsis; but it is amazing to see yourself in a character. I thought I was destined to live a similar life as she until I met my current fiance:
“Efuru is a beautiful, superior woman, who cannot marry or have children successfully. Her neighbors acknowledge her distinctions, are grateful for her generosity, but cannot intervene in or comprehend her tragedy…”
So Efuru has issues bearing a child with her first husband, but after many consultations and following their instructions, she finally has a child, a little girl. Unfortunately, her husband runs off to be with another woman and never returns. Even after their young daughter dies, his face was never seen in his hometown. Come to find out later, the woman he left his wife for, left him for a wealthier man. After several years waiting for him to return, she finally moves on & opens herself up to another man. She agrees to wed him and for years things are good. But after not conceiving a child in 4 years and people talking, she decides (as is customary in traditional culture) to find her husband a second younger wife.
The second wife becomes pregnant within the first year of marriage and bears him a son. She finds out later that he actually had a son out of wedlock with another woman 2 years into their marriage. She is understanding, continues to support him and their new family arrangement, but the younger wife, newly a mother, was upset and wanted nothing to do with his son. He ends up getting into some trouble (never mentioned the source) and goes to jail. He is away for 4 months and misses the death of Efuru’s father. The gossip around the village, her missing husband, and death of her father could were a huge hit. He husband comes back with no details on why he had been jailed, but she sticks with him. It isn’t until she gets extremely ill and gossipers accuse her of adultery, to which her husband feeds into, that she is fed up and makes her exit from the marriage.
“She is coming, the gossip. She has never in her life said anything good about anybody. I wonder who is going to be her next victim. She is always running people down.”
We all know this person, and sadly, many of us know several people just like this. I have tried to distance myself from all these types and it is such a challenge, they are as common as sunshine in the summertime.
I was in several … interesting relationships, one of which was a polygamous relationship which ended due to not all parties being able to resolve their psychological hangups. Another relationship I was in, I became pregnant with twins shortly after my return from Meritah. The would-be-father, moved out of state & I was left to suffer through a 2-month long miscarriage on my own & later told that I would never be able to have children, but IF so, it would not be naturally. Found out he was with another woman and had a child not too long after, who knows if the relationship initiated while I was overseas. Fortunately, mine has a happier ending of finding the man I was supposed to be with and having an amazing daughter who is very healthy. I am thankful for the difficult relationships I endured which have molded me into the woman that pushes out these strokes to share her stories.
Below are some pictures of my travels to Meritah that this story brought me back to with each turn of the page.
>>Respectfully submitted & Always thankful<< ~Mai
Some excerpts from the book to mull over…
- …and nothing more will connect us with that family…
- Don’t they know that a man and a woman should not be seen together often whether they are married or not … She remembered when she was newly married … If they had to go to a place together, she allowed her husband to go in front while she walked behind him.
- It was not the thought of another wife for Gilbert that made her heart so heavy. It was the fact that she was considered barren. It was a curse not to have children. Her people did not just take it as one of the numerous accidents of nature. It was regarded as a failure.
- “That is what they learn in school, to disobey their parents.”
- “The white slave dealers were the Portuguese, the Dutch, the English, or the French. The people regarded them as white men, their nationality did not make any difference, their actions were all the same. The white slave dealers gave them the cannons, the guns, and the hot drinks. The hot drinks did what the Indian hemp is doing in politics today. The only difference is that the hot drinks were legal and the Indian hemp is illegal, but both performed the same function.