AUTHOR: Bayo Adebowale
MONTH READ: November 2016
PAGE COUNT: 141
YEAR PUBLISHED: 2006
” And so, most of the village men in Kufi resented Yaremi for her ‘self-conceit’ and loathed her for what always came out of her mouth, by way of resistance of them. Times without number, Yaremi had told the men what they hated to hear- the plain truth- that she was neither a napkin nor a rag to clean up mess with. She was not a music calabash for the clumsy fingers of drummers. The strands of her hair were not for the grubby claws of ruffians. No. She was a neat woman, vibrant as the lily, floating on the clear water of the village lake; a pretty woman carrying the blackness of her skin like a shinning royal gown over her smooth body. What impudence! To the men, this was one woman who should be kept at arm’s length and be dealt with decisively. But there were a few of them in the village who still found Yaremi irresistible and who, at every available opportunity, still wanted to move closer to her.”
A short but awesome read, Lonely Days by Bayo Adebowale is a story that expresses views on how much culture, traditions and beliefs affect people and the choices they make, even at their detriment. It tells the story of a middled-aged woman named Yaremi, who through unforeseen circumstances became a widow by loss of her husband, Ajumobi.
Until now, Yaremi never really knew what the pangs of widowhood felt like, especially in a rural suburb such as the village where she lived (Kufi). Kufi as portrayed in the story is a village settlement where the people still believed that gods had supremacy over all happenings, a place where people still lived in mud houses having thatched roofs, with most of them engaging in manual jobs such as hunting and farming for the men, while the women were involved in petty trading. Yaremi was one of such women as she sometimes sold taffeta which she made using the help of her grandson Woye.
One major problem Kufi had as a village was that, most deaths weren’t tagged as natural, worst still if it happened to be the husband of a woman. In cases like this, the women( now widows) were subjected to various forms of humiliation and torture. These included things like confessing to gods for the death of their deceased husband, taking libation, having heads completely shaved, remaining in isolation for long periods of time and worse of all, being forced to remarry (most especially a kinsman) against their wishes. This was the plight Yaremi and her peers had, but unlike her peers, Yaremi was able to stand for herself by refusing to give into customs which she felt were obsolete. Although she had moments when she would allow herself wallow in self-pity and wonder, she remained diligent and determined in all that she did and this earned her a place among the menfolk of Kufi as well as one or two admirers.
But the reason Yaremi stands as the heroine of this book lies in the fact that she was a woman who knew her worth and wouldn’t allow the sentiments of others stop her from making the right decision for herself. This remarkable act was exhibited when the day came for her to pick a new suitor as tradition demanded, but Yaremi blatantly refused all offers not minding the disgrace it would bring to the community. The story ends with Yaremi having to leave Kufi village for fear of being ostracized, but most importantly to regain her peace.
Bayo Adebowale through this nicely crafted story has been able to lend a voice to women at large by using the ever pretty and bold Yaremi as a tool.I loved his use and style of words and also the manner in which he portrayed the richness of the African culture.
This is a must read for women and men , both young and old and for those who have voices but are afraid to speak for fear of society. Yaremi indeed has been of exemplary character to us all.
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