TITLE: AFTER ONE
AUTHOR: Ololade Akinlabi Ige
- OF PAGES: 30
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2019
PUBLISHER: The Poetician Inc.
REVIEWER: John Chizoba Vincent
In this expressive book: After One, Ololade Akinlabi Ige tells a story of lust and pleasure, the consequences of illegitimate pregnancies, relationships and pretense. And he achieves this through a narrative that is uniquely his. The book offers us astounding but emotional scenes. It portrays the cleverness of people who dare to circumvent the societal norms and principles and traditional and cultural beliefs. After One is a tale of pain and brevity, metaphorical and tones affective, and imagery of what women archive in their heart. It shows what women try to harbor in their subconscious mind as they attempt to look for a lover who would definitely love them for who they are without holding the language of their past against them or holding them ransom of their mistakes.
Sometimes, the mistakes we made when we were much younger later come back to haunt us when we have forgotten about them. However, the pleasure, the enjoyment, the tasteful part of these mistakes remain colourful and beautiful. And like the wings of the butterfly, they become part of our past and present creating an ablution, illusion and empty gratification that stands to demonstrate its shades in our lives. We can try to wrap and throw these memories into a sudden wind or try to throw them away like packs of cards, but our efforts will be in vain. The past simply stands patiently, thriving and striving in mixed tranquilities, waiting for us on the other good phase of life where living is of two forms and folds; where living is a misery and dying is not far-fetched between the thighs and the legs of a woman.
He deploys an idiom of despair to center the links between lust and love, past and present, pretense and reality, for what one is definitely to get him/herself into as he or she tries to feel among in a vast society like ours, trying to document love in a heart where it does not really exist. He made us to understand that the past of our lives controls the present and there is no way we can rule out our pasts if they are ugly and the viciousness of these pasts would still carve themselves out from where they are hidden whenever we look at the mirror to see who we’ve become. Some of these horrible pasts of our lives are our replicates; our shadows, we stare at them, watch them ruin us, we get entangled with them; we watch them belittle us and we watch them praise us also when they are of greatness and joyfulness. Sometimes, these past mistakes are the photocopies of who we are going to be in future. Those things we see each second are part of our present and going to be part of us for eternity. This was the case with Grace who was hunted by her past pleasure with Wilson, her earliest love.
After One shows that anyone who dares to love casting his or her past in the darkness, is treading on dangerous grounds. The book also shows that the norms of a forced relationship are hazy, and that both parties are simply inviting to themselves a cudgel of misery, especially when hidden secrets are revealed.
Akinlabi recalls the effect of out of wedlock pregnancy. He recollects the disadvantages and miseries that revolve around a damaged pleasure and the cravenness seen in trying to fix the past with the present. We see a Grace trying not to prevent the past from denying her the pleasures of the present. We see a lost Grace holding onto her sanity because society couldn’t abide or create a balance between the love she tries to plant in the heart of her existing lovers. Even when Wilson jilted her and got her pregnant then travelled to the US, she made up her mind to keep the pregnancy, to hide her pains and later touch it with her bare hands when the baby would arrive. After the birth of the baby, she hated her passionately that she had to hide her in the toilet one day when one of her numerous lovers came around to see her. She didn’t mind the tears of little Favour in the toilet. No, she was heartless because of her greediness and selfishness searching for love in places where love did not really exist.
“A man who truly loves you will love you for who you are,“ Granny usually advised
“Granny , I’m just nervous. I don’t want to lose him” She would reply. (Chapter 5. Pg. 22)
From the very beginning, children born outside of marriage have life stacked against them; they reek of brokenness and pains because they are left in a single hand of a mother or in a single hand of a father to be raised. In many ways, Grace tried to hide Favour, her ten year old lost pleasure from her many lovers. However, the lies cost her a lot. The men fled and she was always left with a broken heart. She was ashamed of projecting her past to her future friends, she was not going to allow them to know that she was an ‘After One’ (a person who gives birth out of wedlock). She didn’t want to be known as a second hand commodity but the more she tried to avoid or hide these things from her present, the more things fell apart. None of the men could really love her: from David to Amos, from Amos to John. The fear of revealing her true self to them always tormented her.
Grace succeeded in keeping Favour with her Mother whenever she had a date or whenever any of her lovers was visiting, but the old woman had her own responsibilities and engagements. Sometimes, she would not engage small Favour into her businesses or she might not be able to take her along whenever she was leaving or travelling to a far land to buy her wares. This was an obstacle to Grace. She found it very irritating the way people looked at her in the street, as one who has committed the grievous of all transgressions. In her immediate community, it was a shameful act, an abomination for one to be laid and later have a child. She tried training Favour to call her Auntie and her granny, Mother. But as time went on, she was surprised when her mother called Favour and her in a sitting to carefully and tenderly tell Favour that she wasn’t her mother rather Grace was. Although this didn’t go down well with Grace but she had to swallow hard.She planned to be more careful in her future dealings with Favour. While many single mothers work wonders and raise their children well, despite the obstacles they encounter, for many others the challenge is too great and their children suffer the consequences just like Favour. The absence of married parents is related to delayed development in early childhood. Different risks associated with out-of-wedlock birth arise as the child grows older as we can see in the life of Favour trying to seek for the face of someone who she takes as a mother.
Grace has to accept her past (Favour) after David found out who she really was and left her. She had to let Favour into her life and accept her the way she is. But the most interesting part of this was David coming back to her after many months of trying to reach out to him which failed. He came back to her life and accepted Grace as a loveable being. He also accepted favor and agreed to adopt her as his daughter.
Ige carefully explores the themes of early pregnancy, consequences of unprotected sex, relationships, sex out of wedlock, failed relationship and sacrifices. He left no stone unturned as he adeptly carry us from one page of the book to the other to the very end of it. We will only find a true love in the beautiful colours of pleasure in wedlock not out of wedlock.