Just when you feel not to go along reading some stories, Abubakar remedies the pain with enchanting aftertastes. Abubakar is that good at giving any story a creative end. He darns loopholes with stylish climaxes. The Whispering Trees is a collection of 12 short stories; chic and thoughts ruffling. I love collections of short stories. In them, there are wittiness, delights and numerous escapes that prevent you from being stuck with drab stories. The Whispering Trees is like that; while there are a number of stories that only serve to swell the counts, there are many which hold their own. First of all, get this book, and afterwards; study the confident strides of a debut leaving giant footprints.
With Abubakar’s ethereal stories, I initially thought his is a pastiche of a known writer I had somewhere read online. But by the time I got to Closure, I could easily match him with the image in my head. His story, Closure, was my favourite in Sentinel Nigeria Issue 2. His and few others are the reasons I still subscribe to that eMagazine. Abubakar writes to shatter your thoughts. As you read this collection, your emotions are enmeshed.
More importantly, Abubakar needs to be studied. One may be quick to name him a misogynist or make the slip to tag him a hypocritical-female-sympathiser. In most of the stories, the antagonists are mostly given a feminine flesh. In other few, the fairer sex are sympathised with. Abubukar must be frustrated at the slow law of retribution. He is seen to justify the good over the bad so quickly. In this collection, he seeks to amend things on moral value, and to a great extent, assumes a god over his fictional creatures; stitching up their wounds and killing them at will. In doing this, there is a reversal of the expected and the manner your thoughts are reshuffled to fit with Abubakar’s is amazing. It is Abubakar’s belief that the bad, no matter their inevitability, shouldn’t live long in their viciousness. This book is good but two of the stories are poor. I will point out reasons presently.
These Are Spoilers
Baba Idi’s Enclave is a story too general. It has a snag that makes mess of it. Baba’s Idi’s apathy to democratic activities may be understandable but the presentation of the human-cause of his child’s death is too generic. I understand such happens and the woes we suffer can be justifiably heaped upon corrupt leaders, but including that in a creative piece in its ordinary form dilutes the story. If a creative piece cannot reinvent what constitutes small talks to delight, then I would rather not bother reading it.
“If this politician of yours had not cornered the money meant for refurbishing the hospital for his useless campaign, perhaps your sister would have lived. I want you to think about that the next time you see the man’s face” (pg. 28)
Truly, our leaders are corrupt, the roads are bad and Nigeria; a hell. Nevertheless, retelling all these without some literary ornament makes the plot tediously predictable.
To be candid, The Cat-Eyed English Witch is another story that should be taken away from this collection. It adds no significance to the pack. It trifles with the Black-White stereotype and gets burnt for it. The story is as you can rightly guess. It has a White woman coming to Nigeria for the first time because her Nigerian husband has to bury his father. Her visit immediately disabuses her mind of the Western media-fed images of the country. What a bore.
“One night, he’d come home and told me his father had died and he needed to go back to Nigeria… He had asked me to come along… We landed in Abuja and made the 130 kilometre trip to his village, Akwanga, by car. I hadn’t had a clear idea what to expect but had half-expected to see semi-nuded children, barely able to raise skeletal hands, their wide, hungry eyes imploring, begging to be saved… That was the image of Africa I had always seen on the BBC. Instead, the people had been vibrant, going about their businesses, displaying colourful wares everywhere, their sweating faces smiling. ” (pg. 37)
As she settles down with her in-law, she is faced with the difficulty of conformity with the traditional norms. The story continues on with wiggly hackneys.
“When I had offered a handshake, she had just put her head down. I later understood I’d been disrespectful. I had felt cramped by their communality…” (pg. 37)
Some of the Well-Written
I was constantly refreshed as I read these ones. In everything, they put this collection into reckoning. They commix the humourous with the real; bringing about stewed delights of diverse sorts. In this collection, these are keepers.
I am always after conciseness in a short story. When it stretches into a novella, it harbours rubbish. Dear Mother is short and crisply told. It is the confession of a distraught son to his mother.
One Fine Morning:
This is a joke heralding doom. Button Nose’s first scheme might be successful. The second one; Sadiya may not be able to clarify.
A nightly phone call; a mistaken identity; a deceptive love: Santi goes to prison. Farida; unstable visits; a recorder; some crackly sounds; a stop: Santi nears the noose. I love this story.
Even the whirlwind has got its season and purpose; for it at times brings rain. The beautiful Kyakkyawa may be feared and roguish; beautiful and devilish. But all that have got their moments and their ends too.
Abubakar’s The Whispering Trees is more than a debut. It is a reading kindler.