Joy Cut Short, But Dreams Fulfilled
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Joy Cut Short, But Dreams Fulfilled

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The novel sets the scene with a ghastly motor accident at a police checkpoint where the almighty Andrew experiences first hand the notorious Nigerian police brutality. He is taught the lesson of his life and is pulverised both physically and mentally by corrupt policemen on duty for daring to question the roadblock set up on a highway. This proud and powerful man is broken down to his weakest state by a police force as brutal as the reigning military head of state of the time. Andrew who criss-crosses the length and breadth of Eastern Nigeria doing his logging business to make ends meet and take care of his wife, Betty and their children is broken, traumatised and hospitalised.  

As the story picks up, we see from afar, the pier of dreams being laid for their children by this father and the loving, but subtly manipulative, matriarch, Betty. Andrew sends his children to the best of schools, feeds them with the best of food and ensures that they lack nothing. His seemingly stable, promising and admirable Christian family is fully under his control. Although Betty is a well-formed practising Catholic mother who recognises the place of God in their lives, she is also rooted culturally enough to recognise her husband’s place and importance in their family. You’ll see this in the way she reacts to seeing a battered Andrew on a hospital bed.  Andrew on his part, knows the place of God in his life. And also, the place of his work and what the work provides in maintaining the high standard of life he has set for himself and his family. Nothing and no one can come between him and his ambition. He is even ready to rebel against Fr. Thomas and face the consequences of being denied his access to the sacraments. The irony is that while he battles the church, the biggest contract of his wood logging business is given to him by the Christian Men Association, an organisation in the same Church.

For Betty, the accident is probably a consequence of her husband fighting God. She reiterates that Andrew must know where to draw the line between his dreams and plans for his family and the act of offending God. As the family swims in this maelstrom of faith and pragmatism, a new problem unleashes itself. Nedu, Andrew and Betty’s first son, announces he wants to be a Catholic Priest. The challenge this poses for the dreams set for him by his father becomes the conflict that drives this uniquely enthralling novel from end to end. 

The story is told from Nedu’s point of view and takes us through the internal struggles he faces and the role his mother, Betty, his siblings–Nwaka, Nwamaka and the Lopizites play in either its achievement or failure. 

The novel sets the scene with a ghastly motor accident at a police checkpoint where the almighty Andrew experiences first hand the notorious Nigerian police brutality. He is taught the lesson of his life and is pulverised both physically and mentally by corrupt policemen on duty for daring to question the roadblock set up on a highway. This proud and powerful man is broken down to his weakest state by a police force as brutal as the reigning military head of state of the time. Andrew who criss-crosses the length and breadth of Eastern Nigeria doing his logging business to make ends meet and take care of his wife, Betty and their children is broken, traumatised and hospitalised.  

As the story picks up, we see from afar, the pier of dreams being laid for their children by this father and the loving, but subtly manipulative, matriarch, Betty. Andrew sends his children to the best of schools, feeds them with the best of food and ensures that they lack nothing. His seemingly stable, promising and admirable Christian family is fully under his control. Although Betty is a well-formed practising Catholic mother who recognises the place of God in their lives, she is also rooted culturally enough to recognise her husband’s place and importance in their family. You’ll see this in the way she reacts to seeing a battered Andrew on a hospital bed.  Andrew on his part, knows the place of God in his life. And also, the place of his work and what the work provides in maintaining the high standard of life he has set for himself and his family. Nothing and no one can come between him and his ambition. He is even ready to rebel against Fr. Thomas and face the consequences of being denied his access to the sacraments. The irony is that while he battles the church, the biggest contract of his wood logging business is given to him by the Christian Men Association, an organisation in the same Church.

For Betty, the accident is probably a consequence of her husband fighting God. She reiterates that Andrew must know where to draw the line between his dreams and plans for his family and the act of offending God. As the family swims in this maelstrom of faith and pragmatism, a new problem unleashes itself. Nedu, Andrew and Betty’s first son, announces he wants to be a Catholic Priest. The challenge this poses for the dreams set for him by his father becomes the conflict that drives this uniquely enthralling novel from end to end. 

The story is told from Nedu’s point of view and takes us through the internal struggles he faces and the role his mother, Betty, his siblings–Nwaka, Nwamaka and the Lopizites play in either its achievement or failure.