TITLE: VULNERABLE CHRONICLES
AUTHOR: EBIDENYEFA TARILA NIKADE
PUBLISHER: Words Rhymes & Rhythm
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2015
REVIEWER: Joseph Omotayo
Life is interesting in its multicolored mixtures. There isn’t a single whole to life. Life is a million broken pieces of experiences. Ebidenyefa Tarila Nikade depicts some of these shards of experiences. This novel chronicles fragile innocence. Fresh prime flowers are messily plucked off. Such is the fate of many characters in this book.
Vulnerable Chronicles is a riveting chic lit. The book is in the duality of the abused and the abuser.
This is the kind of literature that personifies life, something that humanises life with a subtle didacticism.
This book reminds us of what life is in its entirety. A magical realist critic would however argue that literature does not reflect life, but rather a mumble jumble of worlds (different from ours), worlds where things are intentionally made gruel, where beings and apparitions fights for territories. If literature does not reflect life, then one would deny the cruelties Ayaere, Pauline and Daniella swim through. Ayaere, Pauline and Daniella are everyday girls maturing into womanhood. Their miseries cannot be shoved off.
Females are always the worst abused in a system run by Patriarchy. Every female in this novels are tarred in their own ways. Shared helplessness unifies them all. Through Ayaere, we come to know others in their pains. Ayaere, Pauline, Daniella and Angela finish secondary school and the reader follows them into a world that soon almost shreds them. After secondary school, life happens, their innocence is crumpled and the reader is piqued. Though you are embittered at the murkiness these ladies have to weather, more so, your emotion darkens as their lives reflects the ugly realities around you.
“He rode inside of me like a man testing his brand new car. He pressed harder and harder, I cringed and flinched, quaking under his bulky frame, a quantum leap tore apart the firm walls of my hymen. He moaned in ecstasy, I whimpered. A sheepish smile crept across his gratified face complimenting his moans of ecstasy.
At last he was done. He withdrew like a log o wood f taken out of the fireplace. He rolled over lazily and smiled at me, unrepentant.
―I am sorry, he said.” (pg. 86)
We live in a world where a boy’s life may be different from a girl’s. Let’s just put it that a girl is more abused than a boy, arguably however. In a world where the female receives imposed suppressions, they easily are the ‘other’ with many inadequacies and fragilities (see Jacques Lacan’s Otherity).
“A boy could afford to play pranks with his life but not a girl. A girl‘s life is too delicate to be broken. She may never recover, like a broken tumbler shattered in many unwholesome pieces. It would take a glazier‘s miracle to put it back together again.” (pg. 75)
I don’t like when stories, in their desperation to tell the female woes, messily kill off their male characters. This is a bad deliberate demonization. This is reminiscent of what Ama Ata Aidoo does with her male characters in Changes. In Changes, every male is a devil. Years on, critics will continue to flay her for stabbing off the saintliness of Opokuya’s husband, Kubi, that only almost-perfect male character in the book. Ebidenyefa Tarila Nikade does the same with some of her male characters. Perhaps the justifiable devilish male characters are Jay Jay and Dagogo, but what about Henry and Isaac? I don’t buy their hurried demonisation. Henry does not supposedly cash in on Daniella’s naivety. Their relationship and whatsoever they explore in it is mutual. This is very unlike the encounter between Ayaere and Jay Jay. I think individual responsibility in what happens in a relationship should always be examined. It is not always the case that the girl falls cheaply to the boy and the boy outsmarts the girl. The boy may just be as harmless as the girl. Thank goodness Daniella acknowledges her responsibility:
‘But I love him, Aya.‘ (pg. 73)
Isaac is perfect in the beginning of the novel and is later tainted as he shifts affection to another. Read the book to know who. However, when Ayaere crushes on Daniel Ebubedike, everything is easily justified.
One major drag about this novel is that it sermonizes to bore. At the latter end of the novel, you begin to wonder if what you are reader is a literary work or just a labored litany for the ideal.
This book engaged me nonetheless.
JOSEPH OMOTAYO (@omotayome) is a Nigerian reviewer and blogger. Some of his works are published at criticalliteraturereview.blogspot.com and josephomotayo.blogspot.com.