#3 : Stay With Me- Ayòbámi Adébáyò

 

 ​The àmì on the author’s name made me translate the title into Yoruba subconsciously and there! I got a loose idea of what the book was centred on – Àbíkú.

However , nothing prepares you for the twists and turns, the suspense and carefully woven tapestry of this work, the ending that is as unexpected as it is beautiful. All of this makes Stay With Me such a fantastic piece.

The plot mirrors common but rarely discussed experiences. In it, you are made to feel the pressure, frustration and all other emotions of a childless couple in 80’s South West Nigeria.

You feel the pain of betrayal, the rawness of deception, the calculation and misguided love in the ties connecting Akin and Yejide to Funmi, Dotun, Moomi and other characters. Witnessing the  darkest side of each’s persona still does not make you judge them. Such is the candour of Ayòbámi’s presentation.

Perhaps what made this book so striking is the familiarity of the setting.

It is amazing how the author manages to incorporate so many themes in a concise and enjoyable read. Among them are life in Nigeria’s military era; escaping poverty to middle class through education; retaining core aspects of cultural heritage nonetheless; dedication and sacrifice of mothers; sickle cell disease and mental health.

It provides insight into the overwhelming importance placed on having biological children, how this leads to desperation, unforseen circumstances and uncontrollable consequences that defy best laid plans. Societal expectations are seen to be more stringent on women. Even self-proclaimed feminists are not spared.

P.S I would love to know more about Akin. For me, he was the most layered and interesting character.

20 Facts to a Score

To all the wonderful people that take time out to read this blog, I say thank you. For some reason, the facts were held up for a while. I sincerely apologise for the uneasy suspense.

FACT 7
I enjoy reading.

I became fascinated with books early on in life. At first, I couldn’t make out the big words but I still read them anyway.
It was a normal thing for me to exhaust all the school books in my English Literature list before the term began. At the sound of Father’s car horn, we all would rush outside screaming excitedly,”Daddy! Oyoyo!” in anticipation of goodies. I always found a way to outsmart the others and run off with the newspaper. Then I would spend the next two hours poring over each page. My favourites were the articles about politics and science.
Schoolbooks were not my forte. I studied them just enough to earn good grades. However, I read novels long into the night by the light reflecting from the hallway. This opened the doors to an enchanting world where I shared adventures with the numerous characters in my novels.
It was kind of weird reading ‘big books with no pictures’ while others read illustrated children books.What many of my peers didn’t know was that Father discouraged me from watching too much television. When I was eight, he gave me a present – Collins’ Children’s Encyclopaedia. I learnt a lot about the world and was imbued with so much information. Thus at a young age I could reason along with adults.
Often, my teachers would catch me reading novels in class. I only found more clever ways to read them in class. There was this informal book club in school. You get to borrow a book only if you read fast. It didn’t take long for me to get any book I wanted.
Any time I came across a good book, I wished I could write like the author.
Reading became a form of relaxation and a source of comfort. It widened the horizon of my imagination and made me think a lot about things around me.This made schoolwork less boring and easy to understand. The books, articles and magazines I read were about art, culture, science, adventure,religion, politics,romance, business,detective stories, geography and many other topics. As I grew older, I lost interest in romance novels and read more of religious literature.

At breakfast, I would peruse the tin of Milo and milk or the packets of cereal. Till today, all the vitamins and minerals are stuck in my head along with their metabolic functions.

The first part of the Qur’an revealed was, ” Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). {Q96v1}. There is an Hadith(saying of the Prophet {S.A.W.}) that goes thus, ” Seeking knowledge is mandatory upon every Muslim male and female.”
Sadly, almost nobody reads anymore.I think more leaders should read books with children. Let’s learn to love reading . It is the key to national development. The government should budget a lot more for education and revamp our libraries. Parents should make their children see that reading can be fun. This is essential as the literacy level of a people determines their level of development.
Readers become leaders, writers and thinkers. As Father rightly said, ‘The mind that reads retains the sharpness of youth’. Let’s join hands to revive the reading culture. We’d be better for it as a nation.