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An enthralling literary masterpiece

Title: Her Eyes Tell Our Stories

Author: Omotayo Sangofadeji

Publisher: CB Fred-Andre Ltd.

Reviewer: Emmanuel Jolayemi

 

Short stories centred around the plight of women (often kept voiceless by societal standards), the tragi-comic intricacies involved in relationships, and the poignant situations in which we find ourselves are some of the subjects Omotayo Sangofadeji’s book, “Her Eyes Tell Our Stories” focuses on.

Through each story, the author establishes several unique personalities whose behaviour and ideologies deeply impact the narrative. Some of the areas explored are patriarchy, child abuse, family complexities, love and relationship.

“With Love, Zoey”, a story about romance, love, deceit, betrayal and tragedy, is the first captivating tale we are introduced to. With this story, Omotayo spins a tale of intrigue and drama that keeps us spellbound as we recognise the patterns of internal conflict with oneself, repression of emotions that find a way to surface in morbid situations and how actions, however little, can change the trajectory of the future forever. Any avid reader will be fixated from start to finish trying to vindicate the character they have chosen to support. The story ends with an unexpected twist: eldritch news that sets the author apart as a fascinating writer.

The author in her next story, “Her Eyes Tell Our Stories”, adeptly portrays seven sub-stories, with seven female characters in seven different settings. Omotayo, the founder of Fight Against Rape Foundation, uses the title story to depict with concise and accurate brevity gender issues hardly addressed globally with emphasis on Nigeria as a nation. Using a timeline from the past to present and to future, issues such as patriarchy, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and the emotional ordeal of rape victims are addressed. We are filled with compassion as we share in the suffering of the women detailed in this story. The author eventually creates a utopian society with the last sub-story and readers are left to imagine what the writer is holding out hope for.

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The third story doesn’t fall short of the profound legacy set by the previous stories. “The Mistress” reveals hidden realities in our society. This time, the author explores a love theme to show that there are grey areas between black and white: infidelity, struggles with loyalty, the pains of betrayal, the average African’s overflowing forgiveness for unfaithful men, the crucifixion of women by judge and jury, and reaching a breaking point when forced to decide between the devil and the red sea.

The agonising and ultimately redemptive story of family is what the reader experiences in “No Extras”. The story explores the yearning of a couple to have a child and how their flaws drive them apart. The question readers would first of all ask while reading this suspense filled story is ‘Does love stand the test of time?’ Thankfully, every page in this narrative counters with a strong literary argument and we are left with a line of reasoning: a spark that sets off a fiery debate in our minds. A message with this depth can only be written by an outstanding writer, which Omotayo has proven to be.

“In Life and Death” is the final spellbound delivery in this collection of stories. Every sentence in this story jolts the mind of the reader, as empathy dawns and the ‘strange’ relationship that jumps out of the pages of the book for us to consider seems not so strange anymore.

By holding strong emotional convictions, appealing to readers on an empathetic basis, Omotayo Sangofadeji, in “Her Eyes Tell Our Stories” uses her passion for gender equality to project women’s liberation, as she takes upon herself the lead exorcist in the battle against societal ills. The author uses potent tales where she prompts the mind with facts and holds conscience captive; and even if one is deaf (by nature or unconcerned), sight is held accountable. I unquestionably urge all readers to read this book.

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