Book Review: The Heart is a Child of Many Nights
Moments sometimes become living things. Sparks and stimuli fly. A word starts to mean twelve and more sweet things. A stray smile suddenly congeals into a compelling force and then soft words and the gentle rustle of gentle poetry. The hand starts to climb towards the intensity of soft things. And the heart, weary from its many battles just wants to cuddle up and love. This is the way we are led into the openings of Ayodele’s offerings in the heart kneading Crimson Clouds.
But he goes a step further than the architecture of moments, he intersperses it with the sociologies – known or unbeknownst to us- that often map out the windows through which we peer into love.
Our societies, it turns out, are often sculpted in halves. The haves and the have nots, the upper and the lower class.Unspoken borders.These un-meeting lines that run through our lives. And shape the flows of our realities. And so our life stories, our breathing timelines unfurl inexorably along these dictated streams. The rich go to the schools of the rich. The poor head off to back-wood Alagbon community high or not so high schools. Career fates also follow this script (of course there are outliers to these trajectories).
And because love is essentially a science of contact, our love lives also inflexibly stick to these ten commandments of social divides. The berlin wall of the heart. These un-meeting lines that run through our lives. Our stories. But sometimes, just sometimes the heart in search of that elusive, ineluctable thing overhears a voice on the other side —in that intricate dialect only the heart understands– and pauses for a second and tiptoes and start to singsong and walk and run and then fly towards that love hum on the other side. The heart is a fence jumper.
This is the very creative nexus of Ayodele Arowosegbe in this uber-compelling romantic thriller.
Life-screen protected Zainab, beautiful in that way some people are beautiful- as though it is of right, as though the opposite of beautiful is beautiful, with nothing in their countenance but shock at the un-beautiful things of this world,. The tale of eyes that have known nothing but possibilities and enablement all her life. And there is Michael, rough-hewn, son of the sun and the harsh ways of this clime. Ambitious but un-enabled.Bold and daring but candidly aware of his place, quite small, in this world. Well their worlds met and there was that little something of the heart and the rest as they say….is chemistry.
Zainab wants that which her money cannot buy: love, songs, the gaze of distant shores, fire, to want more, to go to those far places within that make the heart flutter. But what is the legal tender for feelings? Who will build the love-stock exchange of the mind? What do you do when a man comes along and it is as though your heart took the selfie of your desires and printed it out in flesh?
Yeah, I know. That well-worn approach to the love tale all over again! But perhaps because Ayo makes no frill about his desire, his aim here just to entertain… just entertain (no great grand idea of time or the explaining of us) with this book, we find ourselves approaching the story with a sort of openness that reveals the greater lights of things.
We discover to our astonishment how love does not ever fail to fascinate, how it jars with the deeper humanities of things and the stories beneath the mascara, the frailties and desires that under-gird our instagram- perfected lives.
You will not fail to notice the relaxed voice of the author; how he did not try to impress us or sound “big ideaish” or write exclusively for a ‘Soyinkarisque’ delight– pun intended– in that way of we young writers. I love the prominence of the narration. A told story could be good too?
While you are getting cozy with the soft coos and tender ways of this book, Ayo suddenly shocks with the stranger colours in the feathers that make Alhaji Ibrahim, his conglomerate, his family and the jarring revelation that changes their lives and our lives and the gear of the story from a mushy romance to a fast paced, heart thumbing slew and twists of events that take us from Lagos to London in a sweep, Paris and back in another while throwing up assassins and Interpol officers and a variation of characters that keeps us glued to the pages.
When all is said and read, it is love, the soft, tender whoosh of it that you take away from this book. How love is the memory of things. How love is the window through which we peer in to the world. If that book wave, that book movement, book enthusiasts in Nigeria have their eyes on the hills for will ever come, I think unpretentious and non-complex books like this, stories written just to delight will open the way. It will open hearts. You should get yourself a copy. For there you are in the mall or in the taxi and a familiar face shots across with such force of beauty and you remember Ayo’s lines:
Her beauty was interesting; the type that elicits curiosity, even in the most insensitive of men. There was just something about her no words could describe.
Or you in one of those moments that become living things. The beckon of lover to lover. And a word starts to mean twelve and more sweet things. And then soft words and the gentle rustle of poetry. You will find yourself recalling these lines from Crimson Clouds:
He kept murmuring in bliss until it became a song to her ears.
For the heart, this heart is a fence jumper.
A Review of Crimson Clouds, a romantic thriller by AyodeleArowosegbe