One of my biggest fears around marriage was not the long-term commitment I would be facing, it was the thought of the in-laws I would end up with that made me shudder. That over-protective mother, the meddling aunts and worse, the sisters who would rip into me because I cannot cook to save my life.
Reading Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo played out my fears. For three agonising evenings, this couple (characters) invaded my lounge. Over a glass of wine, I listened to both sides of the story justifying their reckless actions. Femni explains how she felt betrayed, manipulated by her husband and in-laws. Her husband Akin thought that his actions would surely help and only make his wife happy. On our “last day” when trying to dissect this story, it dawned on me that both of them are at fault! Such a pity I cannot call them back and say “well hang on, actually you are both in the wrong and need to apologise to each other.”
I quite appreciated my marriage after reading Stay with me. Last December we were celebrating our paper anniversary. My in laws live far across the ocean and my parents live 1200 km away. We all chat over the phone and I’m grateful neither party interferes in our marital affairs. We do not have kids and have decided should we not be able to have kids, we’ll adopt – an Indian or Chinese child just to mix it up. We are after all in a biracial relationship so why not.
Femni and Akin also loved each other very much, perhaps they were soul mates but they let family impose in their marriage. Without resorting to spoilers; Akin was not man enough to tell the love of his life the truth. He decided to play God, but when it didn’t suit him anymore he went mental. Femni, well I can understand her frustrations but that cannot justify infidelity. This love story is a tragedy, an unnecessary tragedy but shows why communication and trust is central in a relationship.
I applaud the author’s uncomplicated and easy writing style. She simply told a story that happens to many a couple. A sad reality for desperate couples finding themselves vulnerable to pressures of societal norms. A single story of love, grief and betrayal.
I cannot wait to hear reviews and opinions from single and married feminists and the men who claim culture and tradition. It will be interesting again to hear from the author. What drove her to courageously write on this topic? The book will hopefully come out in March this year. It will surely be one of the best reads for 2017.
5 stars from me!
Well done Ayobami 😉