By Ann Esievoadje
‘The Quilt’ is a collection of short stories (fiction and drama) written by Ann Esievoadje. The stories were well crafted with humanity in view. It touched vital parts of the human existence; from spirituality to the mundane aspects of man. Every story is relatable because they convey the everyday hurdles of man and his environment. It is safe to say that ‘The Quilt’ is a literary mirror with which the reader can observe himself and society. Through narrations, it is an instructive manual for the reader to analyse himself along the lines of the themes of the different stories. Skillfully, Ann made sure that she reminded the reader about the most important things in life. With ten well-written pieces, the author disseminates her instructions.
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In ‘Tomi’s Dairy’, the author takes the reader through an emotional driveway, making it difficult for the reader to guess the destination while maintaining the reader’s total attention. This is a tale of a young girl who had not fully recovered from the effects of a broken home and was plunged deep into domestic abuse. She finds succour with a friend or so she thought. The use of situational irony (discrepancy between what is expected and what happens) in this story makes it engaging enough to the reader. Trust is a major theme in this story, as trust is one of the major pillars of human existence. Tomi found herself in a situation where the only person she could trust was her mother. The author also paints a picture of the coming of age of one of the characters in the story. Tomi’s half-sister, Biola soon discovers that had long misplaced her priorities in terms of her relationship with her sister.
“Respect is a two-way street, if you want to get it, you’ve got to give it.”
The world wouldn’t be as hard as it seems, today if man had the willingness to respect himself and his neighbour. One of the major global issues that have plagued the world, today is intolerance. Man is a free moral agent and as such has gained the rights to do as he likes except his actions have a primary or secondary effect on others. In ‘The Sacrifice’, the author emphasizes how strongly respect and tolerance should be imbibed. Especially in the areas of religion, culture and tradition, people should learn how to turn a blind eye to aspects they do not find welcoming.
‘Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.’
Ivie’s character drives home the point from what Oscar Wilde said. The importance of friendship and adaptive mechanisms are great pictures painted by the author. She makes the reader understand that friendship is born out of a conversation, sustained through conversation, and killed by lack of conversation. She also leads the reader to discover that our friends are not our possessions, they are allowed their own time and friends who may not be our friends.
Spirituality is an essential part of human existence. Being a Christian, Ann found this to be a timely opportunity to stress the Importance of the assignment given to every born-again Christian with ‘Before The Tunnel.’ A story about a cynic who realized his assignment when his life was nearly snatched from him. Painting a picture of where the broad and narrow roads lead, respectively. Also, with ‘Princesses Of Kings’, she stresses, from a virtuous woman standpoint, who and what a Christian woman should be and do respectively. With a beautifully crafted imagery of biblical queens and princesses, she drove her message home. Again, she emphasised on the importance of spirituality as a Christian as she paints a picture that perfectly describes the every day Christian’s neglectful relationship with the Holy Spirit in ‘The First Visitor.’
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Furthermore, through retrospective viewing, the author shows how we have arrived at so many paradises before we finally arrive at the actual paradise. So many times, we attain levels, meet people, have possessions in life that seemed, at the time, as the best we could ever have. We find it very difficult to let go even when we see clearly that what we are holding on to is headed nowhere. We constantly live in self-denial of what reality is. However, we let out a very big grin when we look back at how naïve we were, holding on to things and people that were never meant for us. Finally, in her paradise, the narrator ‘In Retrospect’, lost in a reverie, examines the road travelled.
In addition, Ann stressed through storytelling, the importance of family. According to Michael Imperioli,
‘My family is my life, and everything else comes second as far as what’s important to me.’
Working-class couple Mr and Mrs Imoni struggle to keep their family together. From a broken trust by a family member who molests their daughter to a neglectful help who socially endangers the life of their daughter. One had to give. As usual, the woman had to give. The story also shows how domesticated the life of a woman has been summed up to be. The entirety of a woman’s life is characterized to start and end in the home.
Instructively, Ann touches on the risk averseness and nature of easily throwing in the towel of most individuals in ‘Any Last Words.’ Through this piece, she urges the reader to make sure that he doesn’t leave any turn ‘unstoned.’ It is better to venture and know that you are wrong than to refrain and regret why you didn’t venture. She said,
‘Life is too short to live it in fear of not being perfect.’
In conclusion, this is a perfect edifying collection of stories. Like I did say, above, ‘The Quilt’ is a literary mirror with which the reader can observe himself and society. Carefully written, the plot of every story is easy to understand and not convoluted. With a commendable use of Imagery, Ann makes sure that the reader is engaged from the start of this book to the end. Using her position as a Christian, a mother and an active member of society, she takes the reader along the streets of the concerned areas and societal challenges. The Quilt is highly recommended for everyone.
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