By PRISCA SAM DURU
From time immemorial, trials have been part of man. In fact, life seems incomplete without vicissitudes. What makes the difference however, is how one handles one’s trials. Some are consumed by their trials while some others learn to live with theirs but the wisest, devices means to overcome the trials. The later is what Chigozie Anuli Mbadugba tries to emphasise in her collection of stories titled, Beyond the Trial.
The book is a 195-page collection of three amazing fictional stories; Erased Reproach, Rude Awakening and Shadows From the Past, which encapsulate narratives of three African women who resist the pressure to be swallowed up in the murky waters of life. Rather, they choose to step out of their trials, turning their situations into tools to achieving greater heights.
Beyond the Trial is truly an inspirational masterpiece. So enriching that anyone experiencing any, if not all the situations painted herein, already has weapons – strength of character, resilience and determination, to turn his or her ugly stories into testimonies.
There couldn’t be any better time for the multi-talented young Chigozie, an Ophthalmic Surgeon who flaunts a natural flair for the arts, to publish this, other than now that our country and indeed the entire world are in dire need of restoring moral values. Stories of teenagers dropping out of school due to unwanted pregnancy or even dying as a result of abortion, are heard everyday. Incest, brutality of the highest order, ill treatment of widows and so much more are on the increase by the day. Mbadugha’s highly educative as well as entertaining debut fiction therefore, comes as a rescue from entanglements and certain externalities that only earn one sorrow.
Beginning from the well illustrated cover, Beyond the Trial in the hand of the reader could be likened to a well prepared sumptuous and balanced meal, savoured in this order- the cover wets one’s appetite, Erased Reproach and Rude Awakening serve as the main course while Shadows From the Past is devoured as both main course and more palatable, the desert. Readers are sure to find Funke, Nkechi and Ada’s stories, stimulating enough to draw pity and at the same time, pride that at the end of it all, the oppressed women became heroines. It also teaches on how to move on after set backs instead of dwelling in the past. This resonates throughout the three stories.
In ‘Erased Reproach’, readers are drawn to the unfortunate story of seventeen year old Funke who in spite of her mothers effort to raise a well behaved daughter, falls prey to the antics of her peers. The resultant effect is pregnancy which pushes her out of school.
‘Rude Awakening’ tells the story of Nkechi Emecheta whose rosy life is punctuated by the sudden death of her young husband. She and her children are forced out of their comfort zone by her inlaws.
The last story, ‘Shadows from the Past’ is about a family abused by their own father. The children and their mother watch helplessly as their father terrorise them on a daily basis. The theme of triumph however echoes all through the three stories.
Above every lesson to be learned, Rude Awakening stresses the need to educate female children just like the males. Women’s self worth must be respected and no woman should be idle while the man wins the bread alone. Nkechi’s bitter lesson should serve as an eye opener. Women empowerment is the key and Mbadugha’s book underscores this point beautifully.
Chigozie unleashes her literary prowess in Shadows from the Past. Here, almost every writing technique is employed to detail the consequences of domestic violence. Her expertise in employing flashbacks, twists, anti climax, suspense, etc, techniques makes the out come of the story difficult to predict and the book, un-put-down-able. The messages in all the three stories are of course, very educative and resuscitating but Shadows from the Past is more loaded.
The implications of child molestation, especially as regards sexual violence, is brought to the fore in the book as something that spills into the child’s adulthood and infiltrates into marriage and further into the