Inferno of Silence: An Unexpected Rollercoaster

Title: Inferno of Silence

Author: Tolu’ A. Akinyemi

Publisher: The Roaring Lion Newcastle

E-book/Pages (Okadabooks App/582)

Reviewer: ENANG, God’swill Effiong

Akinyemi has proven himself a genius again. The stories will be reviewed one after another.

In ‘Black Lives Matter’, Akinyemi treats the issue of racism; woven around Ikemefuna, who gets a transfer to play for a team in Europe where he witnesses and experiences racial discrimination and violence. Livened with wry humour, Akinyemi celebrates the reward in the consistency to tackle racism.

Excerpt from the Story “Black Lives Matter”

“This is not the end,” I consoled myself.

The picture was starting to become clear to me. Each time I looked myself in the mirror, my reflection yelled the answer to the questioning stares and unfair treatment I received in the city and on the field. I never knew I was black until I arrived in Europe.

The only thing I knew was that I was a few shades darker than the usual dark. My friends called me charcoal or baba dudu but only on few occasions and as a praise remark rather than a taunt. It never crossed my mind that racial debates will hang loosely like a mist over sound judgement. The bearded Indian was right.

I cut out a cardboard sheet and wrote on it with a marker pen, I AM NOT INFERIOR. And on another, I wrote BLACK IS NOT A SYNONYM FOR INFERIOR, and hung them on my wall in my apartment.

I had to come up with a mantra that could guide a newcomer like me until I was able to find my feet.

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‘Inferno of Silence’ discusses the abuse of men, sometimes by women and how the world often insists on clothing their trauma and stories in silence.

Excerpt from the Story “Inferno of Silence” 

Kunle dropped his bag on the dining table. The table was starting to creak from all the unplanned baggage it silently bore. He enjoyed taking the ferry a few minutes from his office. Not only did it afford him a few minutes of silence before his wife got home, he also enjoyed the view from the boat.

He especially liked watching in the far distance, the ships berthing at Apapa ports, swaying on the waves of the sea.

He liked to think that he bore the weight of his problems on his shoulder like the ports bore the weight of the ships. But he was not the sea, he did not bear the load on his shoulder so gracefully.

He was a man, a man whose wife invoked unfamiliar emotions within him. He had tried to discuss with his father. Once. His father had waved away his concerns, in the process his hands waving away the smoke from his tobacco towards the east. “All women are crazy,” he had said, “you just have to know how to handle them.”

Handle not like a mother ‘handled’ a child, but more like how a Nigerian soldier ‘handled’ a belligerent danfo driver or how some women ‘handled’ the devil they believed possessed a slow housemaid.

He did not like this type of handling; in fact it repulsed him. He had watched his father punch his mother into submission and he had vowed never to be that man; and now that his father was emphasising it, he blamed himself for seeking marital advice from a man he detested in the first instance.

Tolu Akinyemi’s first collection of Short Stories – Inferno of Silence

‘In the Trap of Seers’, religious hypocrisy sings out loudly while ‘Everybody Don Kolomental’ informs us that not all clothed are mentally stable. Almost every character in the story passes through a mental stress. And the intriguing part is how it leads people to committing suicide. However, the beauty of this story lies in the solution it provides for traumatised people, which the author encourages.

 ‘Return Journey’, a man loses the love of his life because of religious differences. A scenario we are all very familiar with as evidenced by the ethnic wars and division in the country and the Racism within and outside the continent.

‘Trouble in Umudike’ left me frozen as incest hits the Odogwu’s family. Set in a rural area, a son deflowers his father’s newly wedded wife to extinction.

Akinyemi ends this extraordinary book with his ‘Blinded by Silence’. Just like the chameleon walks in the footsteps of his fathers, so also a woman walked in the footsteps of her mother because of polygamy and bad governance. The setting alludes to the 90s (during Gen. Sani Abacha’s regime), where men sank ‘under the weight of tribalism’ (p. 566). The author uses historical allusion to correct the present.

In conclusion, the idiom: ‘variety is the spice of life’ becomes apt to describing the writer.  The book carries a wide range of themes such as: bribery and corruption, injustice, death motif (in a world where life is cheap) and others. Like a spider, Akinyemi has woven webs that will speak for years and years to come entangled in our hearts.

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