WHEN TRUST BECOMES ELUSIVE... !!!TITLE: PERFECT MOTHER
AUTHOr:UDUAK E. AKPABIO
PUBLISHER: ATHENA PRESSYEAR: 2009
REVIEWER: NKECHI OBIANIGWE
After 8 years of marriage, Ani and Celia Ubong are blessed with three girls Eno Abasi, Ekaete and Itoro; a wonderful achievement by Celia but not satisfactory enough for her mother-in- law. In an attempt to produce a male heir for Ani’s lineage, Celia loses her womb in the process and keeps this away from her husband and mother-in-law. To resist the insurmountable pressures from her mother in law, Celia turns to her friend Sandra for advice; while the best solution is for Celia to send her mother-in-law back to the village, some other disturbing news that cannot be avoided easily, awaits her. She is made to accommodate a step son that her husband presents after eight years. Heartbroken, desperate and in a bid to protect her family, she loses her last daughter, Itoro. She goes through several interrogations by disciplinary bodies, but will she ever be able to put together the family she had built or her husband’s trust, ever again?
Uduak Akpabio tells this simple story in a way that the reader keeps asking ‘What Next!’. A tale of deceit, betrayal, uncertainty, murder amongst others is well embedded in this 70 scene drama piece.
The cultural importance of a male heir in a typical Calabar tradition is shown here. Regardless of the enlightenment one has been exposed to as a result of Western education and interactions, the role of a male child in Nigeria cannot be left out entirely as that signifies the continuity of one’s lineage. It is in an attempt to ensure this continuity that Celia’s mother in law, Idorenyin, contributes to the instability and death in the family.
Here, the negative role of the mother-in-law is exemplified. In Nigeria, old age symbolizes wisdom and maturity; as it is popularly said that ‘what an elder sees while sitting, a child cannot see even when he climbs a tree’, instead of acting as the rock of the family, encouraging them and praying for their welfare as it should be and a source of wisdom that the family can turn to, Idorenyin helps to bring discord to the family.
The negative consequences of unemployment is also explored here as John readily jumps at an opportunity to act out as a “native doctor” with his degree in Theatre Arts, he becomes an accessory to murder. It shows the extent one could go in search of greener pastures when the opportunity to truly prove one’s worth is not available. Nevertheless, Uduak has shown through this piece that resorting to deceit is not the best measure.
The irony of the word ‘perfect’ yearns for recognition. Who is the perfect mother? Celia or Idorenyin? Both characters hardly qualify; although Celia exhibits tendencies of what a perfect mother should be but she hardly follows through till the end in her quest for preservation and self contentment.
The book is an aberration from the Nigerian literatures we usually find on our book stands. Uduak Akpabio fills the story with elements of intrigue, deceit, betrayal that probes the reader to get through to the end of the book. It is a most read for anyone who craves a better understanding of the importance of tradition in this present age.