diaries

Life in the village could be fun and idyllic but it also could be frustrating and disastrous. It has a way of shaping people’s lives and putting them in a race to continually justify themselves. Such was the effect the village had on the Jumais. The Jumais’ were a family of four: father, mother and two sons. They had always been poor and this book tells the story of how rumours, envy and caring about what others said influenced the way they lived their lives.

The father Meme Jumai, was 49years and had nothing to show for his near five decades on earth. Despite the fact that that he had some form of education, he chose to be a farmer in the village. His wife Stella, who married him simply to spite another man, stayed with him for twenty five years before deciding that enough was enough and left him, taking along most of the yam harvest for the previous year. The two sons left not quite long after their mother. This left Meme Jumai alone with just three tubers of yam for his sustenance till the next harvest which was in two weeks time. His diary told of his daily battle with hunger and the desperate measures he took to fight it. He got to a point he had to go and beg three people for food but they refused him. The diary also told us how he felt about not been able to provide for his family and his feelings about what the villagers thought of him

When the much awaited harvest came it was a calamity, as beetles and termites had destroyed the yams. All along Meme Jumai had been hanging on the hope that his hunger will soon be over and when this disaster happened he took the laws into his hands and went on a shooting rampage, killing three men and injuring another. These were people he had earlier gone to beg for food and the fourth had been peddling rumours about him. This incited the villagers and he was burnt to death.

Enter Calamatus, the last son who was a conman. He was the one the Igwe, the head of the village, sent for to come and bury the remains of his father. He got money by playing a fast one on Billy Barber, an American who thought he was in a legitimate business with an honest person. Calamatus had money which had always been a scarce in the Jumai family and he set about spending the money in a way to show the villagers that the Jumai’s should not be associated with poverty anymore. Calamatus blamed his father for his unnecessary pride because he believed this was what led to his death not the villagers burning.

Despite his affluence, Calamatus was bitter because he was impotent. This he learnt was the fault of the midwife who circumcised him, and since then he had held a grudge against the midwife and sworn to kill her whenever he discovered her identity. He got his wish when Barika, the man who was lucky not to have died from his father’s shot disgraced him in front of the whole village when he mentioned his impotency. Calamatus knew he could only have knowledge of this if it was his wife, who was a midwife that was involved in his circumcision accident. He burnt down Barika’s supermarket in which the Barikas lost their lives and he also died.

The next diary is Abel’s, the first son, who because of the lie his father told about him could not live in the village. He was a writer who had to resort to writing political pieces to make ends meet since all his manuscripts were always sent back to him unpublished. He despised his father because it was the rumours being peddled about him that made Abel’s- to- be in-laws refused him from marrying their daughter; and mainly because his father stayed married to his mother despite her infidelity. Abel was determined to live past his father who died at 49 and his brother who died at 25 but this almost became impossible when his neighbour shot himself dead in his room and co-tenants were ready to burn him alive.

Despite the seriousness of the character’s situations, the author told this story with lots of funny proverbs, and rib cracking sayings which leaves  the reader laughing from page to page.

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