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The Writer

 

I got talking with a friend who said she had been thinking of putting pen to paper. I advised her to start writing for it is starting off that’s difficult. Once you begin, ‘ain’t no stopping’. She mentioned that she had a topic burning her stomach and talked about the different angles from which she would confront it. She wanted to write on ‘The Other Woman’. What a coincidence! Few days earlier I had discussed this same topic with another friend who had suggested ways to handle it. I was in a vantage position to use this subject. Often the writer is tempted to use the story of which one is a part to spice up one’s writing. Like the clergyman the writer hears a story – directly or indirectly – and stores it away. At the first opportunity, s/he’s tempted to use it to support a point or to draw comparisons.

The least detail in a place or thing could arouse the writer’s passion. So when the conversation of two passengers caught my attention as I was sitting ‘jęję(ly)‘ on the bus, I knew that ‘one day, one day’, I would use it. These young men had attended an event some days earlier. They talked about the activities at the event and then narrowed their conversation down to a couple there.

– I can’t understand why she’s still with him.

– She loves him and I’m sure he loves her too.

– If he loved her, he wouldn’t have suggested such a thing.

– As in…?

– He said, ‘For tonight, let’s pretend we were not married.’

– He was joking.

– No he wasn’t.

– I’m sure he was.

– I tell you he wasn’t. I was with them.

– Then why would he have said such?

– There was a young lady there who caught his fancy.

– Then he might have been drunk.

– Devil’s advocate, you are.

They got to their stop and got off. And here I am relating the conversation to you. Does that make me an olofofo? I still keep the yarn and will develop it when the occasion arises.

Each of us has a story to tell. Take your mind back to the primary school days, when you were given a topic to write about. The common topic for primary school pupils is ‘My Family’. You’ll remember how confused you were, how you beat about the bush not knowing how to begin, what to write and what to keep out. Little by little you started writing and voilà, you put together those lines on your family. You produced facts or fiction that made up ‘My Family’. Parents and guardians are often amused by what their children/wards come up with when writing on ‘My Family’.

In the course of writing, does the fiction writer stay on course or veer off with his/her imagination? I’ve been advised by more than two people not to distort the truth in my writing. For, it’s believed that, the writer that distorts the truth, leads astray the reader(s) and the writer’s punishment will be measured by the number of readers led astray. Imagine how much the punishment would be if one misled 170 million people. Santa Maria!

Writing a book is tiresome and pain-staking – ask any author how s/he feels at the beginning. The writer fears being rejected by publishing houses. J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter, received many rejection letters before a publisher read through her manuscripts and gave her a publishing contract. The rest is now history. At the beginning the writer is filled with apprehension of how the opus will be accepted by the public. Questions like ‘What reception would they give to my book?’, ‘Which review would my book get?’ race through the writer’s mind. It takes guts to write a book. That’s why one should congratulate Aisha Buhari on writing ‘The Essential of Beauty Therapy’. If the First Lady office wasn’t abolished by her husband could she have found the time to write a book? The Vice President, who stood in for the President, the special guest of honour, said that the book was, ‘… an instructional manual’. Was he referring to beauty salons? Can any beauty salon (in the current austere weather) afford the book at N20, 000 a copy? Did her table of contents include the use of native materials such as the black soap, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, osun (camwood)…? And did the author cover the menace of skin bleaching which Nigerian mothers are said to have started inflicting on their young children?

Looks like the book didn’t make any noise in Abuja. Some residents there, especially women, believe it was insensitive of Mrs. Buhari to have launched the book on the second anniversary of the Chibok Girls’ abduction. If she was insensitive what would we say of those in her circles who should’ve known better? For even if she was adamant on launching her book, the date should’ve been moved forward. She wrote a book. She was proud to have written a book. She had agreed that the proceeds from the book sale would be used to assist Boko Haram victims especially the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Having said all that, I believe one should welcome Aisha Buhari to the world of writers. Copies of your first book would have been submitted to our National Library. Thus you may have become a honorary member of the Association of Nigerian Authors. Bravo! You’re a woman of destiny. You’re the spouse of the man who championed ‘Change’ into our psyche. You were fated to be at his side when he achieved his dream. You were there during those 12 years when he was fighting opponents blocking his way into Aso Rock. Let’s hope you’ve been keeping a journal of activities of your days and activities in Aso Rock from the minute you and your family moved in. The lines may start well before the May 29, 2015 Inauguration and end at your last minute in Aso Rock. I, for one, am interested in what made him so tenacious. For all we know, you may already have that journal. So we look forward to reading your memoirs after the sojourn in Aso Rock. Give us glimpses into what goes on behind the curtains, like the little talks among the other halves of our big men. Mrs. Buhari’s memoirs will make a good read. It’ll take a pride of place in libraries in Nigeria and beyond. ‘The Road to Aso Rock’ (you see, I already have a title for the memoirs) will make up for the gaffe of launching a book on beauty therapy on the second anniversary of the abduction of the Chibok Girls.

Has anyone read a book entitled, ‘They Call Me Mama’, published in 2014? The writer also lives in Aso Rock.

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