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by Eugen Bacon
Description: A poignant story about growing up, a child torn between two worlds. It is a compelling tale of friendship, betrayal, love and death.
eBook Publisher: Fictionwise.com, 2003
eBookwise Release Date: August 2005
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [283 KB]
Reading time: 189-265 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
"Hilarious. One of those books that stay with you forever. A magical tale of a young woman and her progress through life's... In turns funny, sad, cruel and philosophical, the honesty and clarity of the narrative brings alive the warmth and vibrancy of a truly free spirit. Bacon's characters are awash with convincing quirks and human frailties. This novel is at various stages very funny; Bacon has a rare gift for comedy, and acutely observes its close relationship with tragedy. This is an entertaining, sexy and heartfelt novel. Well worth investigating Bacon's other works."--Public Library, UK
MY MOTHER WAS TWO PERSONS IN ONE.
The woman she was in the village and the one she reclaimed when she came back to the city. Knowing that we were children of an African culture, of neo-colonial Africa tarnished by the Western touch, Mama occasionally dragged my elder sister, Maria, and me to the village to visit Nana.
There, she shed style and glamour.
There, she caked her face with mud or animal fat, if tradition asked it of her.
There, she walked barefoot, dressed in tribal robes of bark, coral and ostrich feather.
From a very early age, I knew I was encapsulated between these two worlds. One glowed with tarmac roads, skyscrapers, television and supermarkets. The other stood resplendent and princely with dusty paths and thatched mud huts filled with a faint dancing light from paraffin lamps.
In the village, men wore khaki shorts or trousers with polyester tops and black rubber sandals made of bicycle tyres. Women wore floral tribal robes of cotton, sisal or bark cloth.
It was a place where riddles and stories were told.
The village was on an island and we travelled by ferry across the lake to get there. Last time we went, it was only Mama and I at first. I can still remember Maria's screams, her face distorted with rage, as we climbed into Papa's car for the ferry. Somehow, the car always smelt of tobacco and spice, even when Papa wasn't in it. I flattened my nose to the window and looked at Phoebe outside. The maid had a desperate look on her face, trying to drag a glued Maria from the road. I had to give Maria marks--lying prostrate on the tarmac like that, howling for my father to take her or drive over her. Being left was not an option. We passed them, still struggling. I'll never forget the fleeting shadow of sorrow and longing for her baby that crossed Mama's face.
"Leggo of me, let go!' wrenched out of my sister on the road, her howls chasing the car down the road.
But of course there was school.
Papa would never let her miss a day without a good enough reason. Although I could already read and write, I was only in baby crèche, not even in pre-school. Papa always brought me How and Why stories, which I so loved to read: 'How the Monkey tricked the Crocodile'; 'How the Zebra got his Stripes'; 'Why the Tortoise has a Shell'.