Welcome to another episode of The Shorttales Club. Today, we will be talking about an interesting story written by Kasimma and titled This Man, published on The Puritan Magazine.
Kasimma is an Igbo term meaning most beautiful. She is an alumni of Chimamanda Adichie’s Creative Writing Workshop, the Short Story Day Africa workshop, the International Writing Program, and others.
She’s been a writer-in-residence, in artists’ residencies across Africa, Asia, and Europe. Her works appear or are forthcoming in The Book Smuggler’s Den, Jellyfish Review, Kiwetu Journal, Orbis Journal, and Afreecan Read.
The Story of This Man
This Man is a story about this man. It takes the reader on a journey of discovery. At first, you meet This Man who you think is just another regular man like you and I, only to later find out that he is actually attending his own funeral. Then you realise that everyone he’s communicated with up till then is a spirit.
This Man gets a befitting burial. His family tick all the boxes and his spirit is welcomed into the land of his ancestors. And here, the story gets interesting. The narrator is a spirit who has almost given up hope of ever being reunited with their ancestors. We see their deaths, their families, we see victims of war and we see these spirits, wandering, restlessly, impatiently, waiting for someone to find their bodies and send them off.
Now, imagine that every time we go to funeral homes, we share that space with others that could be sitting on our laps or playing with our hair. Imagine that some of the decisions we make, we are not in charge of. We think we’re in control, but we’re not. Or just imagine those nights where you are under the covers, but something is biting you and you remember recently spraying insecticide in your room. There shouldn’t be any mosquitoes, but something is pinching you. And then, you put on the lights, search everywhere, and you can’t find what it is and no, it’s not bed bugs. Imagine that there’s some other worldly being that feels like there is something that you should be doing that you’re not doing and so it is punishing you for that.
This Man is a story that brings to mind the matter of free will. Habiba is of the opinion that if spirits can influence our thoughts and actions and we don’t even know which thoughts and actions they’re influencing then, do we even have free will? People are already bothered about the matter of faith and destiny. And then you add ghosts that can make one do something that they do not want to do. It is creepy.
Peter, our resident Ndi Igbo, helped us to translate most of the words we didn’t understand, sharing insights into the Igbo culture and what it means to bury our dead properly. He talked about how our ancestors intercede for us here on earth and how this relationship is tied to our efforts in remembering and celebrating them after their deaths.
In essence, none of us wish to be forgotten even after we die. We all want to be remembered fondly by the people we leave behind. So what happens when those people have not even acknowledged our passing, much less do something to immortalise us? You get vengeful spirits.
Cryptte believes This Man is a social commentary. How else do you explain the ridiculousness of some of our leaders’ decisions. Is it not easier to blame it all on vengeful spirits who are angry at us for failing to give them a befitting burial?
One other point that we kept coming back to was how Kasimma was able to teach us the importance of reflection. We, as a people, have failed to acknowledge and admit that the Nigerian civil war is part of our history, of who we are today; that people died on both sides, that families were wiped out and some others never found their way back. By scrapping history from our classrooms, we have conveniently decided to erase this part of our heritage. And maybe this is the reason our dead haunt us.
Kasimma did a good job of not forcing opinions down our throats. There was no agenda, she never mentioned Biafra, or named names. She just told a tale of human beings being humans and showed how the actions of the living affect those of the dead. She simply put forth the question, what if? Her story urges us to think.
This Man will make you laugh, cry and wish for things forgotten. It will make you want to do better. It will make you reflect. In conclusion, we all agreed that Kasimma’s writing is beautiful in its simplicity. In the words of Peter, her writing flows like water.
You can find other stories by the author on Amazon using the affiliate link provided below. We’ve also included one for Coco that shares an affinity with This Man. Purchasing from them would greatly help the podcast grow, so thanks in advance.
https://amzn.to/3TYUoFE All Shades of Iberibe by Kasimma
https://kasimma.com/read-online/ (Bonus) Other works by Kasimma
https://amzn.to/3Nece5j Coco [Theatrical Version]
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See you next time!