REVIEW OF INDIGO BY MOLARA WOOD

 

TITLE:                                                Indigo

AUTHOR:                                           Molara Wood

PLACE OF PUBLICATION:              Nigeria

PUBLISHER:                                      Parresia Books

YEAR OF PUBLICATION:                 2013

ISBN:                                                   978-978-934-002-6

NO OF PAGES:                                   165

GENRE:                                               Short stories

 

The cover of Molara Wood’s short story collection, Indigo, provides an accurate description of the content. Art by Muraina Oyelami, the piece is titled ‘pensiveness’ and it depicts a woman with indigo covered head scarf, long neck, dark skin with head tilted to one side. It appears she is considering something, weighing her options. The rest of the cover is decked in stripes reputed as the dressing of the Egba people of Ogun state. This collection examines the life of ordinary people as they deal with different challenges. Wood’s first collection of short stories offers fresh intellectualism into grief, sadness, trauma and a woman’s place in the society among other things.

In the cover story, Indigo, we follow Idera who spoke against the accepted wisdom in a room full of mothers. Her barrenness became the butt of jokes so that she felt hollow inside and her home felt strange, like a second skin. Women who had no children were barren, whether by choice or not and Idera is a character many women can relate to. Harking to his Mother’s call, Idera’s husband, Jaiye, decides to relocate back to Nigeria and in a barely heated argument flings the childless accusation at her. He claims that he kept her happy by not pressing for a hid even after professing that with or without children he was happy. The cultural shift was most likely responsible for the shift in mentality since his ears became full from what people were saying. In a stroke of luck after her husband abandons the house, Idera discovers she is pregnant and her shame is washed away by the indigo river that becomes the name for a girl child her husband hopes will be as beautiful as his wife. Indigo is a flawless balance of character and conflict that weaves in and out between past and present and yet is unforced.

There are other stories that resonate for me. Gani’s fall is a story about polygamy and one woman’s endurance when her husband rejects her because of female children and takes a second wife. The relationship between a man and his two wives is explored through a fight with the younger wife and the nonexistent relationship between the man and his female children.

In Night Market, the story is traumatic. An African American woman is traumatised by the death of her unborn child. She visits the night market in search of spirits and lycanthropic beings in hopes that they return to her her unborn child which she lost as a result of the ineffective NEPA. After a week at the hospital, she decides to find her baby and ends up getting an unorthodox healing from her gate man who turns out to be a Sango worshiper.

The relationship between two sisters and a couple is explored through a sham marriage and an overburdened guilty conscience. In Name Only is told through the first person point of view in sombre tones through the eyes of a nine year old. He is forced to attend his beloved aunt’s fake marriage ceremony that she sets up to get papers. Sadly, it backfires when immigration denies her a visa and she has to return to Nigeria. His parents’ divorce when the ties that binds them together frays.

I also particularly like Girl on the Wall, a story about servitude. A photograph reveals another sibling telling a tale of sacrifice. It is a story that stays with me long after reading it.

I enjoyed reading The Scarcity of Common Goods, sequel to Free Rice. The story is explored through the eyes of a twelve year old whose father just died. The story starts at the burial ground where there is a rude interruption at the funeral of Mr. Falode and oscillates between the child’s memories and the present.  Aduke, Mrs. Falode’s deranged sister came as a principal mourner to the funeral announcing herself with ‘kerosene is cocaine’ and an empty calabash on her head to signify shortage.  Aduke was well aware of scarcity of another kind, men. Voicing out her concerns to her sister who was privileged to be educated and also marry a rich man, Mrs. Falode although burned by her guilt-induced generosity drove Aduke away from her home with a broom. Drawing the attention of the neighbours who loved to engage in idle gossip, Mrs. Falode sought to air her dirty linen out in the open. Her father’ mistress is also present and the narrator discovers that she has two younger half siblings. Her mother becomes a matriarch ruling over the business and the household providing sustenance for many others.

The collection is capped off with Written in stone which explores history through a heart break that leads a girl to find the truth about what happened to a noble woman who placed a curse on a trio of dubious elders. It is indeed true that ‘not all princes are sterling material.’

With 17 stories gathered together, the collection is richly diverse. The strongest unifying feature is the calibre of the narratives. They all fit in even with stories that are sometimes devastating in its deep emotion. A short story is like a kiss from a stranger in the dark and with the short shorts, there is a sense of not having fully savoured each delicious bite. Those stories end just as they are beginning to reel the reader in.

There is often a change in gear between stories – from Nigeria to the Diaspora, past to present, joy to sadness – but this showcases one another rather than detract from it. This collection shows that the author has mastered complex and heart wrenching emotions without watering down the strong characters portrayed throughout the collection. It shows that Africa is richly diverse and strong. It would be reductive to seek a linking theme in this collection that has achieved so much with a variety of characters, themes and POVs.

 

About the reviewer: Damilola Olaniyi is an eclectic creative. She is the creative director of Onkowe Contest aimed at helping children discover their creative side through writing. She is a script writer. She loves writing, reading and has a passion for moving images. Some of her writings have appeared in The Daily Sun, Nigerian Pilot, The Writing Disorder magazine and the Kalahari Review.

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Finding my Way

Sitting at my computer is my favourite part of the day. Sometimes though, I end up not writing much and I make plans and have to be reminded by an alarm. That’s okay.

But sifting the contents of my PC dug up some interesting documents and I wonder why I have not been able to do much. I realize that discouragement is a big part of it. Some would say, “who blogging epp?!” Amidst all this, I noticed that my fan base is growing organically with over 800 followers so I must have written some really beautiful things in the past.

Lately, I have been trying to race against deadlines and submit stories for contests not just because of the award money, but for my morale. A morale I am struggling to rev up.

Which is why I decided to make a list of the writing on my computer to figure out the genre I am most comfortable with. Here’s what I dug up.

List of Books in Progress

What should I be doing differently, seeing as I wrote a book titled One Book Doesn’t Make You an Author? Drop a comment or two and let’s get the conversation flowing.

Overcoming my Restlessness to Write For Literary Magazines

I rested like I promised myself I would if I took a break from the constant connectivity of online social networking. But barely three weeks after I started to get bored.
I had too much spare time on my hands that I could find better use for so I enrolled in some online courses. I started with film making courses because I became curious about that world since I ventured into scriptwriting.
I still wanted to know more so I took a screenwriting class that involved writing a script for TV. Then I found a creative writing course as a 5 course specialisation and I enrolled.
I had some additional reading to do in between while I sourced for sponsorship for a creative writing contest that I run every year. After months of knocking on closed doors, I gave up and decided to organise a workshop. In class than three weeks, it took form and it was a success. Even more than I expected.
I learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way and up until now, I try hard not to procrastinate.
Despite keeping myself busy taking these courses, sometimes running two or three concurrently, I was still restless. The bird in me felt caged. I wanted to test wings that had not taken flight in a long while.
Meanwhile, my novelette did not do well mostly because I did not have a solid marketing plan in place so that whenever I came across the book, it put me in a mood. And in an eureka moment to shake off the figurative cobwebs that entangled my brain, I wrote an eBook. One book doesn’t make you an author.
The moment your book is in published and released, in print or online, you are considered an author. This book however was not written to stir up an argument about who was considered an author or not, but to remind myself of where my journey started. It was a stark reminder for me not to rest on my oars and to get up. I needed to reeve my creative engine and I had no one to prod me.
I realised I needed a tribe, a support system, a loyal following. Their job would be to cheer me on when I was on track and prod me when I needed tough love. But I didn’t have that so I surfed the internet subscribing to different blogs.
Currently, I work as a freelance writer while also serving as director of projects at a Tech start-up. The job is flexible and I can write. But I wanted to do more with my freelance writing so much that I made several lists of paying markets for literary fiction, a different one each time based on the genre I wrote.
But I needed street crew beyond the local dailies. My list had new and old markets so I started submitting stories, articles and poems everywhere I could. I got accepted with a literary non-fiction piece at The Writing Disorder and with a story at Kalahari Review.
Shortly thereafter I got a freelance script writing job with an animation company. I now have varied experience in addition to the street creds. I also have pending projects that merit my attention.
I have some ways to go still but I am confident that I am once again off to a good start. The second half of the year has started out well with pleasant surprises and I am hopeful that it would come with rich rewards.
Before long, I hope to purchase my old domain, damilolaniyi.com, and I am certain you will not abandon me on this journey. In my next post, I will tell you about the blogs I subscribed to, my blog feedback, my obsession with traffic and how I plan to make money off freelance writing.
So what are you waiting for, drop me a line in the comments and let me know what you think of my ramblings.

I’m Alive!

I have been away from here for a long while but there’s an explanation.

First, I got a domain and moved all the goodies here. And then life happened and I just went along with it. Somehow, I couldn’t renew my domain and I got discouraged. I decided to take a break but it just kept getting longer.

At the risk of leaving this free space to flounder a little while longer, I’m going to talk about things I feel deeply about over the next few days. I’d revamp this space and make it interesting so watch out for it.

I would appreciate it if you show some love. Tell me your experience in the lats six months since we’ve made it half way through the year. That will tell me in many ways that I’m doing something serious.

Go for it!

“A Day to Die” by Abiola Oni

Jalada

F17 adayfordying


Daylight steals past the thick drawn curtains of my bedroom and pries my eyes open. It usually annoys me, the sun forcing itself through the clouds, marking yet another day that I have lived to see, yet another day I have to live through. But not today. Today is a good day. A day to die.

I slide to the other side of the bed, closer to the night table. The other side is cool and empty, it has been for years, but I no longer think about that. At least, not when I first wake up. I wrap my fingers around the wrought iron stead and pull myself up. My arm wobbles, the whole bed wobbles. I swing my legs – one by one – over the side of the bed, my toes touching the cold wooden floor.

Inside the drawer is a small glass bottle of Vladirvir, half…

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Uchay Joel CHIMA

a view from my corner

THE EARTH AND THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN IT
A few weeks ago Ugoma Adegoke asked me whether I could write a brief introduction for the catalogue of Uchay Joel Chima’s new exhibtion. Uchay is an old friend and an artist I respect, so, I agreed happily.

Blokes, strings on canvas, 42inches by 42inches, 2015Crafts and ordinary objects, no matter how skilfully executed, are rarely able to communicate with the viewer or user. Instead, with good works of art, it is possible to connect. If the viewer looks and listens attentively to them, she can discover what they quietly say. The more complex and richer the work, the greater its capacity to permit different levels of interpretation and allow multiple readings.

Yellow Sisi Dey For Corner, mixed media, 36inches by 36inches, 2013.Uchay Joel Chima’s works on canvas might look simple enough at a first glance. Probably, some viewers will be happy with it and not go beyond a superficial reading of them. Those conversant with Uchay’s experimentation…

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PLEASE, COME WITH ME!

Hi all. I’m ashamed for doing the first thing last (but at least I’m getting it done, LOL). I would like you to join me on my domain – damilolaniyi.com

A lot as happened between my last post here and getting the domain and my weekly posts. Perhaps you heard of The Contest… I apologise for all the trouble i may have caused making you search for my posts.

To continue to get interesting posts, please subscribe. That would bring a smile to my face. Thank you!