Title- What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky
Author- Leslie Ann Arimah
Winner ,Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa
This is a collection of short stories delving into a rich mix of human experiences. The book has a strong Igbo presence of characters giving valuable insight into the culture, language and contemporary life.
The themes range from immigrants, class divides, naughty children, folklore, Biafran/Nigerian Civil War, family tensions, finding and staying in love, a dash of fantasy, to a futuristic story about a mathematician with a secret formula for emotions.
Racism, sexism , poverty and mental health are some of the issues Leslie Nneka Arimah explores in this book. She twists reality to tell us what we already know but are refusing to accept, and that is perhaps the most powerful aspect of her work.
I did enjoy some of the stories. But still think it was over hyped. Like I should have been allowed to discover this book sans the heavy marketing, I may have liked it a little more.
It has a fresh take on many pressing issues.and I like the use of futuristic and fantasy to retell stories we are all familiar with, relive experiences and show the struggles we face as women , children, blacks , immigrants, Igbos etc.
What did you think of When a Man Falls From the Sky?
My favourite story was the one that shares titles with the book.
Mental health is coming into the limelight as a major threat to overall wellbeing for many people. When a celebrity is lost to suicide, it is easy to detach oneself from it. But when it affects someone close to you, it takes the shape of a more vivid reality.
It results in a rollercoaster of emotions. You feel sad about losing them, you feel helpless for not being able to help them.. you may even feel guilty in the terrible case that you may have contributed to their trauma.
Being a young doctor in Nigeria of today is an existence that is tough. The system is not suited to latest standards of care, your career prospects may look bleak, you grapple with exams, and you see your friends moving ahead in life. The mirages of good pay and prestige fritter away before your eyes as you run for cover (in both literal and figurative ways).
In all of this, it is important to have a good support system of both colleagues and mentors who can help navigate the treacherous waters and work together with you to find your way.
A colleague who is an epitome of excellence in her work, studies, leadership, friendship and helping others wrote this message on a forum for colleagues. In the hopes of reaching more people with this lifeline, I asked to share it here. Now, it was directed at a group of young doctors but it’s words can apply to anyone feeling like they are underachieving.
“Hi guys, good afternoon. This is random but I thought I should put it out here. I know it might seem like everyone is out on a path, figuring their lives out, getting married, getting fantastic jobs, writing and acing exams and stuff.
I just want to leave a word of encouragement to folks who feel their life is a mess or they have no idea what to do, say post housejob or post NYSC. Somehow, the government planned our lives from primary school to NYSC level and there might be someone here confused about what next.
Please guys, there are always folks around to help. We are a family here and I really like what Leo did some weeks back about appreciating everyone. Perhaps you’ve written IELTS again and again and keep failing, say Writing tasks, or you’re studying for USMLE and you keep forgetting what you’ve read or you lowkey did Primaries and didn’t pass.
Don’t worry, keep pushing, try again and again and again. Weird but I have this belief that if anyone who can pass 300Level Pharmac exam can pass any exam in the world. Perhaps you’re the one person that your whole family looks up to, you hardly saved anything during housejob because of responsibilities here and there and you don’t even have money for exams right now, always remember God’s got you and there’s a time for everything.
I honestly don’t know why this came to my mind this afternoon but please guys, SUICIDE IS NOT AN OPTION.
Have a nice day, fam.”
– Dr. Akudo Umeh
I really hope this helps someone at least to trust their journey and believe they will surmount all obstacles.
In work environment bedevilled with heightened stress and sometimes difficult conditions, it is imperative to remind doctors to pay attention to their physical and mental well-being. Dr Lawal Abisoye wrote a piece doing just that below.
Good morning colleagues, a quick reminder.
We have a noble call, which is the servitude of mankind. Alleviation of sufferings and restoration of health is what we do. This takes a lot from us, physically, mentally, emotionally, morally and even spiritually.
I want to remind us that we are humans, however “super”. Our bodies, spirits and souls need to be looked after.
Eat adequately; have your breakfast, take adequate water, let your kidneys rejoice, take fruits in any and every form, even smoothies, exercise, pace yourself. Don’t stay on a liquid diet, don’t console yourself overtly with junk.
Take time off to rest, our activities call for sacrifices and stretching, not at the expense of your good health; recognize and embrace your limits; after all, you are also human.
We make a lot of withdrawals from our emotional bank. We aren’t numb to the sufferings of our patients, every death takes a piece of us. Give yourself time to grief, talk about it at least to colleagues that understand. Get a psychologist if need be; there’s a limit to bottling up, we all need sanity. Cry if you must, weep in your closet if you have to, you’ve earned it.
Don’t let anyone guilt-trip you into doing beyond what you can; you owe yourself a responsibility to be healthy. The funny thing is that you owe this responsibility to your patients as well.
Have a connection with God our Maker and in whatever belief you ascribe to if you don’t believe there’s a God. Spiritual health is as important and physical.
First do no harm.
Do not run yourself down.
Have a wonderful day and week ahead.
Visit Dr Lawal’s Twitter thread
Too often we value those things we do not have. We focus more on the amazing things going on in other people’s lives but not in ours. Yet in no matter situation we may find ourselves, chances are we have got treasures we have either chosen to ignore or haven’t yet discovered.
This is so important for our mental, spiritual and by extension, physical well being. Replace that sulk with a smile. Look inwards and be amazed at what you find.
To make it even resonate better, get out your stationery and make a list of all the good things you have. For this earth and all the beautiful creation, being alive in itself, freedom,health, good hair, good skin, spouse, children, a bed to sleep on, clothes, food…..some of these are gifts millions do not have and yet we find them leading happy lives.
In all, no one has everything. We are meant to partner in goodness and make each other better. We should not flaunt our possessions to sadden others. Neither should we gawk at the blessings of others forgetting ours.
Do not place too much happiness on material things. With the sheer volume of edited images on the net we are bombarded with today, this may seem impossible. But you see, we should take charge of more things in our lives and thus make conscious efforts to do self-reflection. That rich person on earth may have none of the Akhirah and the outwardly poor one already has a great abode. Let us be more concerned with our standing before Allah ( SWT).
We should strive to enjoy the most of every moment and opportunity. Yes we may not have what we want yet but we keep on working towards our goals and not being knocked down by challenges. Who are we if not the #PeopleofAlhamdulillah?
For more, check previous posts on this blog in the #TheRamadhanBaby series
Have a most amazing Jumu’ah. There are many checklists circulating. Make sure to make the most out of it.
Friday 04 August 2017
Jumu’ah 11 Dhul Qadah 1438AH
The àmì on the author’s name made me translate the title into Yoruba subconsciously and there! I got a loose idea of what the book was centred on – Àbíkú.
However , nothing prepares you for the twists and turns, the suspense and carefully woven tapestry of this work, the ending that is as unexpected as it is beautiful. All of this makes Stay With Me such a fantastic piece.
The plot mirrors common but rarely discussed experiences. In it, you are made to feel the pressure, frustration and all other emotions of a childless couple in 80’s South West Nigeria.
You feel the pain of betrayal, the rawness of deception, the calculation and misguided love in the ties connecting Akin and Yejide to Funmi, Dotun, Moomi and other characters. Witnessing the darkest side of each’s persona still does not make you judge them. Such is the candour of Ayòbámi’s presentation.
Perhaps what made this book so striking is the familiarity of the setting.
It is amazing how the author manages to incorporate so many themes in a concise and enjoyable read. Among them are life in Nigeria’s military era; escaping poverty to middle class through education; retaining core aspects of cultural heritage nonetheless; dedication and sacrifice of mothers; sickle cell disease and mental health.
It provides insight into the overwhelming importance placed on having biological children, how this leads to desperation, unforseen circumstances and uncontrollable consequences that defy best laid plans. Societal expectations are seen to be more stringent on women. Even self-proclaimed feminists are not spared.
P.S I would love to know more about Akin. For me, he was the most layered and interesting character.