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The Torn Petal: How Theresa Ameh upset the applecart

Right from the public presentation of ‘The Torn Petal’, a book that chronicles the ordeals of girl-children in the war-ravaged North-eastern part of this country, the author, Theresa Ameh seemed to have been in for a shocher.
The person behind Aunty Talatu Reads, seized the opportunity to ventilate her palpable feeling of sorrow, anger and angst over what has befallen these innocent souls in the Eastern part of this country.This was evident in how her audience, during the launching, responded to the tragic story of Hussaina, a girl character caught up in the trajectories of war in the North-eastern part of this country.
In the words of the reviewer, Ojonugwa Sapphire Abu, the story stirs up in her an untold sorrow adding that, above all, the vivid pictures and images brought to life in her heart a numbing pain because anyone could be a victim.
“And those in the eye of the storm are there not because of any lack of proper judgment or special sin but for circumstances beyond their control,” she lamented.
According to her, the story, written in present continuous tense and so carefully detailed in illustration, captures the essence of the era and sheds light on the amount of creative control employed by the writer.
“Such a tale, so potent in its semblance to reality, with the amount of emotions, evokes more words than can be written, even in the largest of volumes.
“The story gives a subtle message in the undertones, that when the drums of war and disaster reach a land, it is usually not the strong or even the warring that are casualties, but the poor, the vulnerable, the Husseini’s and Husseinah’s – Those who should enjoy our protection become the worst hit, nursing wounds, sometimes forever.
Abu added:“I wish the story was a happy one, with an enduring happy ending, where no life was lost and the innocent children to whom the book is mainly targeted would not experience the horrors of such information, alas, this is the entire existence of some of their peers not just in Northern Nigeria but in many, war torn, ravaged regions, nations and communities in the world.”
However, while commending the book as a totally rounded, educative and nicely illustrated, the reviewer therefore recommended it for young readers, saying that parents should from an early age instill in the next generation the realities of cause and effect, and the impact of terror on the populace.
Earlier, while speaking to journalists, the author, Theresa Oyibo Ameh, who is one of the foremost literary promoters in the country, said, “I get particularly pained, maybe as a mother, that our children are not put into consideration when decisions are made.
“Nobody seems to care who these decisions affect, especially now that a lot of people are preaching hate speeches and some people are even threatening to go to war. Do we really know who it is going to affect?
“I feel pained also that a girl child would have to become a mother overnight, even as she didn’t prepare for it, just because of a war she was not involved in.
“So, I preach peace, love and unity. To me, I think we have to start from the children because by the time they become adult, it becomes very difficult for them to imbibe,” she said.
On why the book was adopted on stage, the author said that she decided to do a stage adaptation of the story so as to give the tragic story a flesh and life so that people could see the emotions, and realize how it would affect them if they see it happening live.
“It is touchy when you see a girl suffering from a war she never knew how it came about. It is also no longer like ‘this is what I have read’, it is like ‘this is how it affects me’.”
The children writer noted her experience as thus: “From the opening sentence to the closing sentence is packed with emotions. I was writing the book and visualizing so many horrible things happening in the region – sadness and anger filled me, especially when I ponder on why our children have to go through these horrors.”
Ameh added: “Aunty Talatu Reads is particular about children, especially the less-privileged ones in the society. So it is a mother’s cry asking the society to please thread softly and be more interested in things happening and how they affect every individual.”

About By Ibrahim Ramalan

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