Born On A Tuesday by Elnathan John was the Paperback Book Club’s pick for the month of July. I had heard about the book prior to this but I never cared too much for the details. This isn’t because of anything negative about the book but just that it didn’t belong to my favourite genre. Every now and then, I step out of my comfort zone and read something different which includes a new author or different genre. I’m thankful for joining this club as it would really expand my reading list to include a variety of books and authors.
Born On A Tuesday is a coming of age story of a boy named Dantala which means “Born on a Tuesday”. Also known as Ahmad, in the first person narrative he tells the story of his travails which began the moment he was thrown into a world he knew nothing about when his father sent him to Bayan Layi for Quranic school. From getting involved with the wrong group when that was all that was available to him, to committing crimes that he would have rather not done but they couldn’t be helped, his sojourn was a tough and moving story.
When a wind of change blew, he found himself on the run and back to Sokoto his real home. Fortunately, he falls into the right hands here but then his life is froth with different forms of crises, religion and its different interpreters have caused for him. Crises ranging from struggles about sin and sexuality, endless debates about doctrines and what is to be believed or accepted, to bloody skirmishes that caused him untold suffering.
Surprisingly for me, this poignant story didn’t get my emotions running helter-skelter. I read it with a steady resolve, eager to go on from page to page until I reached the very end.
Born On A Tuesday is an eye opener on the ethnic and religious crises that crop up every now and then in Northern Nigeria. It is a must read for everyone to get to know the story about Islam and its hold on Northern Nigeria told without bias from the Northern perspective. It puts religion into a bigger perspective for everyone to see how it could be manipulated to turn people’s lives into chaos. Whether Islam or Christianity, different people have different interpretations of the Bible or Quran and they create their own doctrines, burdening people with unwieldy yokes.
They create sects and the members they draw to their folds are so indoctrinated that they follow them with blinded loyalty, riddled with fear for many. This makes me wonder yet again on the fickleness of the human mind and how it could be so manipulated to believe even the unimaginable.
Religion is a powerful force which many have used to manipulate people especially the poor and vulnerable of the society. It has become imperative for everyone to seek wisdom and discernment in order to make the right choices about life and who to listen to. As the story portrays, the wise ones like Sheikh Jamal are present in every religion. Whatever situation you find yourself, always allow reason to prevail. Religion is beautiful and we shouldn’t allow people detract from its true purpose which is all goodness to man.
The writing was simple and straight forward. The tone matched the voice of Ahmad who is the narrator, in every sense of who his character embodies. This is very important in writing.
Another lesson which the writing reiterated for me is the fact that you can write a compelling story with simple language. You don’t have to be the best creative writer in the world. Put those words you have on paper and tell your story in the best way that you can to get the world to listen. Asides writing, the ability to tell a story vividly is very key.
I’ll say it again. Born On A Tuesday is a must read for everyone. Go get yours!