There comes a time in a woman’s life when she has experienced heartbreak(s), or as the popular phrase goes these days, “chopped breakfast(s).” The way it is for many women, we have to kiss many frogs before even encountering a prince. However, since that doesn’t happen overnight, Damilare Kuku has kindly taken us through the many plights Lagos women (and Nigerian women generally) face on a quest for love.
In Nearly All The Men In Lagos Are Mad, Damilare pieces together twelve tales about the sheer insanity that characterises Lagos men and the ways in which their behaviour impacts women. She sheds light on the pain women are subjected to as a result of the self-centred, rash and lasting decisions men make in Nigeria’s most boisterous city (and in Nigeria at large).
The book delves into familiar terrains such as a pastor’s wife who stands firmly by her husband despite his betrayal, a neglected housewife who is also the breadwinner, and a tryst between an upcoming artist and an Instagram baddie with a shocking twist.
You are either the woman in the story, you know the woman, or you have simply heard about the woman. It doesn’t matter which one it is because it’s relatable nonetheless. Also, the stories are cleverly told in simple language, and Damilare writes from different points of view, showcasing her creativity.
In the aptly titled, Òdè-pus Complex, which is a wordplay on Oedipus Complex, a Yoruba woman, Yejide, is in a relationship with an Igbo man, Uche who is also a mummy’s boy. Unfortunately for Yejide, Uche’s mother is an obstacle to their love. Thankfully for her, she realises on time that her relationship with Uche cannot work, picks up her slippers immediately and runs for her life before finding herself in a tug of war she will never win with his mother.
From the opening sentence of A Lover’s Vendetta, I was hooked. Orode narrates her “love story” from the first time she met her husband. After marriage, they struggle to have children, but unbeknownst to her, there is more to it. Something that struck me in this story is not even Dele’s madness, but his casual wickedness. He knew what his wife was going through, but instead of trying to put her out of her misery, he vehemently refused to.
Beard Gang is about the double lives many wealthy men lead. They cannot live the lives they genuinely want to due to the judgement they would face from society, so instead, they maintain a facade. On the outside, they seem like regular men with money, wives, and children, but they have secrets. These secrets are eventually found out by their wives, who have two options: break up their homes and become laughing stocks of high society, or simply find a way to live with it.
The fact that the women realise they can’t live with their husbands’ secrets all alone and seek out other women who understand their suffering is sad but somewhat admirable. They have a support group that provides an avenue for them to breathe.
Even though the women feel like they failed at their marriages, at least their husbands guarantee their silence by showering them with lavish presents and money. As long as they allow their husbands to continue living how they like, there will be no problems.
It seems that regardless of the number of times women are heartbroken, we can’t become adept at distinguishing the (relatively) normal from the mad. After all, we are not omniscient. We could get accustomed to one man’s brand of madness today and then meet another who, at first glance, is a step up from the last, but unfortunately he is also mad. It just so happens that his own brand is different, so we aren’t immune. Men will always show you different kinds of madness.
At least we can give them an A for consistency.
What I love most about the collection is that the women Damilare writes about are not “virtuous” or yielding. They could be messy (which is normal) but know who exactly they are and refuse to cower, even when they make questionable decisions. The stories are hilarious and refreshingly honest.