THE FORGOTTEN VILLAGE by Lorna Cook
27 June 2019
TWO SHORTS AND A SNORT by Jan Sikes
18 June 2019
MEMOIR OF A MAD WOMAN by Vashti Quiroz-Vega
This is the second story which I’ve read from the pen of Ms Vega, and it did not disappoint. This short story is told in the first person by Emma, a young girl who ends up in an orphanage after her spineless father leaves them, and her mother dies in a fire under mysterious circumstances.
From the outset, it is clear that Emma will have no justice in the care system, and this is a frightening thing to contemplate. Those – both teachers and carers – don’t seem to care enough to find out what is really happening to her, even when she has her period, which she wrongfully blames on a blow she received from her best friend, Jessica, and the subsequent thrashing she gets from the head of the orphanage who turns a blind eye to her being assaulted by two of the male employees. The abuse started when she’s about thirteen and carries on till she’s fifteen before something snaps in her.
The ultimate question to ponder is whether the reader would blame her, or accept her justice which she meted out with cold and rational precision? Emma ends up in a protective environment where she lives out her life, but again, she imagines a nurse is trying to do her harm, and the reader is left with the chilling reality that something could happen to her too!
I’m of the opinion that this short story has enough plots to be written into at least a short thriller novel. I would have liked to have experienced more showing – more dialogue among the various characters – specific and descriptive scene setting – for example discussion among Preston and Gus as well as Mrs McKenna. I wanted to detest them more, so that in the end, when Emma exacts justice, there is no doubt in my mind that she wasn’t mad, but she demanded justice for the wrongs done to her, not just told, but shown against a backdrop of specific scene setting.
VAGARIES OF LIFE AND GIRLS’ TALK by Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko
21 May 2019 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The very first story, YOU WILL DIE IF YOU SCREAM! sets the scene of that which is to come, relating a chilling threat which faces a young woman, Helen, who misses her ride and gets offered a lift by a ‘respectable churchgoer’. She finds herself in dire circumstances when he childlocks her rear door, preventing her from escaping. She realizes that he is abducting her. This story stayed with me for a long time. The only thing which saves Helen is keeping her cool. I won’t divulge what happens next, but it certainly made me think.
IS THIS LOVE OR WHAT!? Is such a tragic account of what happens when parents arrange marriages for their children. This eye-opener is written from the children’s perspective – those who are the ‘co-lateral damage’ in any marital breakup.
FLORENCE is an unbelievable tale of murder, wife abduction and all the evils which often happen behind high, imposing walls. I was gutted when I read the story, but at the same time relieved that justice was served. No doubt this sort of thing often happens in places where women are treated as second-class citizens.
THE SILENT THIEF is a light-hearted look at a somewhat scary, yet funny story of who really is the egg thief; you never know what might be hanging from your fence in the backyard . . .
LOST IN SOHO is the account of a young girl’s first visit to London. She epitomizes to me in any event, what often happens to many inexperienced young people from Africa who come to big cities such as London, and they somehow think that everyone is the ‘good guy’. Fortunately, she has a brother who helps her.
SIMPLE THINGS OF LIFE is an account of a young girl’s search for happiness and peace. “What are the simple things of life? she mused, and the smile instantly returned to her face. It could be as simple as everyday happenings that make life worth living or even little dramas that provide relief to life’s drudgery, like sitting on the front steps of a house, watching people and life pass by.” In many African villages, that is exactly what one can do, and in this young lady, Mma’s case, that is what happens to such an extent that her fellow students at the church see a difference in her demeanor – she becomes peaceful and happy despite various circumstances. A thought-provoking story: We all need to look for the simple things in life which will make us happy and not let our inner peace be destroyed.
THE BREAK-IN tells the incredible, but very believable story of circumstances which take place in places where women seldom have a voice. A man leaves his wife and children for ten years, and then he decides to come back as if nothing ever happened. This is the story of Mercy and how she manages to get justice for herself and her children, even after such a long time. “The judge said he was surprised to know there are men who never grow up. Ibrahim was told to man-up, and only to see his children when he was man enough to pay child support and to be a proper father.”
WEDGED-IN relates an all too familiar tale of a woman who finds herself alone after a divorce, becoming a target for unscrupulous men who feel duty bound to get into her bed – shocking, but often true.
GIRLS’ TALK is a whimsical look at three young women who get together over drinks to discuss all their ups and downs – some unbelievably sad and others uplifting. Dialogue in this story is positive and natural. For example, “Carol walks in from the kitchen with a tray, holding three glasses and a bottle of Pink Lady. ‘Well, you can still laugh. Some people can still laugh.’”
I began reading this collection after settling down after supper and then finished the rest the next morning. There is much to commend this collection of short stories, which are well-edited and written in the author’s second language. Therefore, I sometimes felt as if some of the sentences were a bit short, almost slowing down my reading. I noticed this especially in the first story, YOU WILL DIE IF YOU SCREAM!? On the other hand, this style of writing could have been deliberate, highlighting the anxiety which Helen felt. An excellent first collection of short stories.