It really is a strange situation to find oneself in – that of attending your own funeral.
My introduction to Ciku Kimeria happened a few days back during the Dhaka Lit Fest 2015 when I ambled into one of the halls where she was speaking; I enjoyed every minute of the session. Ciku Kimeria is such a gracious and affable person with a lively personality. (The following day I had the opportunity of meeting her and that was one of the highlights of the festival for me.) During the session she shared some of her travel anecdotes with us. They were hilarious and inspiring. She read a few excerpts from the book, towards the end of the session, and the theatrics in her voice was enthralling! Having missed a huge chunk of the session, I didn’t have much idea about the book, (I didn’t even know the name of the book at that point), but after hearing the excerpts and experiencing her wonderful stage presence, I just had to buy a copy. I finished reading it in a matter of hours and I highly enjoyed it.
Of Goats and Poisoned Oranges is a tale of a middle aged power couple and their tumultuous married life. Wambui, a strong, educated, overbearing woman from a rich and established family falls in love and eventually marries the less educated chauffeur from a poor family, Njogu. After the first few happy years of their marriage their lives become rocky; the love that bound them together once is replaced by their need to protect their social image and mutual dissatisfaction. This leads to Njogu having a number of ‘flings’. But eventually, he falls in love with Nyambura, a driven, hardworking poor woman trying to support herself in the city. He begins to see her on a regular basis and soon their relationship develops into something more. The plot revolves around the interactions between these three characters.
The story is narrated from the perspectives of different characters. Kimeria has amazingly established the tones and personalities of each of these characters through their respective narratives. Seeing the different views was not only refreshing but also helped paint a wider image of the social aspects of Kenya. Moreover, the characters, through all their ups and downs, felt so realistic. It’s written simply and the plot progresses fluently. Having little knowledge and familiarity with the Kenyan lifestyle, I did have to pause and reread few sections. I especially had problems with pronouncing the names and other Kiswahili phrases (I bet I butchered them in my head).
If you are looking for a fast-paced fun read, this is definitely a high contender! This thin book is jam packed with humor, drama, love, hate, betrayal, blackmailing, social inequality, greed, frustrations and everything human. However, if this wasn’t incentive enough to read it, the quirky title should peak your curiosity.
Rating – 4/5
Will I recommend it? Definitely.