‘Father beat mother so much the only way Little Daju knows how to express love is by violence.’
I had never thought I’d review a short story for our book section. But Troy Onyango’s Little Daju is not your common story, the one you read in a single sitting and move on to the next. It’s the kind of risk the author takes to mould this story that gives me the confidence to return the favour, if I may call it so.
Little Daju, the main character in the story, does not understand how he ended up being a violent husband. It’s his way of life, a normalcy, just as the opening line suggests. And it is around his life that the author weaves an intricate tale that take us on a journey through his childhood, in a household whose communication code is extreme violence. The interlacing of the tales of two households within one story, with the events of both stories leading to the same outcome in different time spaces is magical. And the effect domestic violence has on Daju as a man leaves you confused as to whether you should understand his ultimate experience or not. The depiction of the women in the story, that is Daju’s wife, his mother, his benefactors, elicits mixed feelings, yet the vivid portrayal of the kind of society they live in is not an inch far from what we experience in our daily lives.
If you are the type of reader who appreciates language use, then this is your kind of story. Words harmoniously bounce against each other and in your head, bringing the sordid imagery to life, leaving you either sentimental or angry. If you are not taken in by the story itself, the language will definitely do you justice for your time. Whether poetic justice comes by at the end of the story is debatable, you be the judge. A paragraph therein goes like,
‘Little Daju lies in the pool of his own blood, head tilted towards the door, and his neck is a fountain spewing red onto the tiled floor. He can’t hear the radio still playing November Rain, his favourite track. He can’t hear the neighbours saying how This is such a bad way to die – because, what is a good way to die anyway? He can’t hear Tina’s voice, hoarse and stale, shouting Let me go! and the crack of the baton as it lands on the back of her neck and then she is silent.’
Read the full story HERE.
Review by Hillary Namunyu
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