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BOOK REVIEW: Onyeka Nwelue’s ‘The Abyssinian Boy’, By Evans Ufeli

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by Evans Ufeli

Onyeka Nwelue’s Abyssinian Boy is a riveting story with many sides and perquisite lessons. Set in Dawali Indain, the author took dept mixed with uncommon fictive narrative to create a world, the propensity of which is reminiscent to pure realism. It’s a remarkable narrative that pulls the reader on a straight lane as he sees through the life of an Indian journalist, Rajaswamy Rajasgopalan, married to a Nigerian, Eunice Onwubiko.

The good times of their lives unveils family happiness, abundant love, cerebral interactions and the bonds of family ties that stretches through a culture that elevates collective habitation more than any thing else. At the fulcrum of the life of the Rajasgopalan lies the vivid cultural heritage of the Hindis, one mixed with the devious objective of racism. The author’s careful exploration of the tradition, religion, culture and believes of the people place the novel on historical discovery, social works and archaeological testament.

The tragedy that hits the Rajasgopalan family in this book takes this simple tale right down the heart of the reader as one struggles with the pains of the innocent. It’s touching to feel how supernatural forces rear their ambitions on the affairs of men, lay untold turmoil on the hearts of the living with unspeakable horrors.

The story was told in two parts. The first, presents Rajaswamy in India, his wife Eunice, their son David and his extended family. The narrative style of the author,particularly his varied use of literary devices grips the reader with indelible suspense. He puts this lines “Ananthan went out and got drunk, forgetting his wig on the bench at the bar Where he’d drunk himself to imbecility. He returned home with a hard face … grabbed swathi by her hands and made her knee on the floor of their kitchen … swathi struggled,but what could she do? She could n’t escape the grip of a monster because he held her so firm she scream through as if he were a rapist,not her husband”

The second part of the story, set in Nigeria saw Rajaswamy trying to understand the complexity of the Lagos Metropolis. Eunice had to interpret so many situations. In Imo State, Mama-Nkeukwu displayed religious bigotry “for Christ sake” and this leaves Rajaswamy in confusion. Her illiteracy had long become a nightmare and this held the story unforgivably funny.

The stint of magical realism in the author’s craft released the story into the metaphysical realism,trailing David’s journey with Nfanfa into the grave. This, introduced the reader into the ancient African believe of the existence of spirit children who roam restlessly within the physical and spiritual world collecting miseries to  strain the living with more question than answers. This very subject that has held many African writers to endless narrative.

The author intelligently present the subject of magical realism in ways that leaves the believability of the concept to the readers sensibility. The reader is equally drenched in a fixating tragedy and a handful of a realm of existence that pees often into the collective patrimony of the living. He is spored to think of the fate of little boys – David and Raghu and leave a judgement at the authors table why death should call on David ; a character full of live and inquisition, then on Ragbu who brought tragedy upon himself with a looming horizontal pain piercing through the hearts of everyone in the Rajasgopalan family.

Then, Papa-Nkeukwu who knows all and keeps everyone in the dark while evil ranged the ties of a generation. Onyeka Nwelue’s capacity for resplendent narrative is commendable and his eyes for details counts for him as a distinguish writer emerging from the continent of Africa.The book is a moving story and the diction is aptly deployed except for minor grammatical errors noticed at some point eg “extreme end” and the use of certain expression made in Igbo language,many interpreted in English language and others not interpreted for wider acceptance and understanding. This is however very minimal, the book still hold a flying prospect one that will earn the author gold in the nearest future.

Evans Ufeli is a Lagos based Lawyer and writer. He is the author of the a claimed Novel “Without Face”. He lives in Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. He is on Facebook

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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