Life is what we get when, unexpectedly, moments of bliss turn sour and become like ashes in the mouth. At times like these, the option is either win or lose. Invariably, nothing compares to having the courage to win at all cost, to overcome the circumstance, to taste victory in the end or something close.
The front cover of the book shows the portrait of a radiant young woman with a lavish smile, obviously content and happy. On the reverse, there is another figure behind a blue background, a female figure balanced on a limb with mouth agape. She seems to be saying, “Look, I have made it thus far.” Unless you have known or heard of Adenike before encountering the book, you are moved to take a second good look at the contrast.
The biography title is Adenike, a story of a woman in her thirties, who has battled with cancer before becoming a seasoned amputee, as she now describes herself. The narrative tees off: “You’re about to read the story of a young girl whose life’s trajectory changed one fateful day owing to a fall and is still evolving. You’re going to walk with her through her denial, strength, resilience, confusion, pain, tears, brokenness, surrender and freedom. You’ll see her finding herself, coming into her own, fighting for her life.”
Truly, readers will enter into this sob-inducing story and unconsciously fight alongside Oyetunde as she recounts her experience. The hot-wire themes of relationships, religion and culture, societal expectations terminal illnesses and recovering give credence that she is still evolving after her recovery.
In the course of being diagnosed, getting treatment and recovering, Oyetunde documents the process it took her to balancing her life on one limb in all sense of the word: Life itself is not stable so it may be right to say that we all have to keep struggling to find that balance. While the appearance of the cover may give away the story line it is worthy of note, it took her years of practice, resilience to get here. Her story begins with what could be termed a flimsy fall.
For a teenager full of life, it shouldn’t have been a big deal. This wasn’t the case with Oyetunde who began to feel pains in her right Knee weeks after. The pain grew bad each day and she had to be taken to the hospital where it was finally discovered that what she has is Osteogenic Sarcoma. As mysterious as the diagnosis sounded to her family it was a reality check that shook everyone who knew her. Cancer wasn’t something so rampant in this part at the beginning of the millennium worse still it came with a more gruesome option of treatment: amputation.
Detailing what memory could serve this deeply moving story explores the lines between strength and weakness, love and hate, perfection and imperfection and finding yourself in the midst of societal expectations. Not written to garner pity, thanks to the author’s inkling to inject some pun into her vulnerability, which helps how she overcame self-doubt and fears. She also points out how religion and spirituality is burrowed into unfavorable occurrences in these parts of the clime “Spiritual attacks are often labelled the root cause of illness despite medical results. In one recall, Adenike’s father had to cut down a cashew tree on his premises, because a visitor had told him witches were meeting around the tree. Another prayer man introduced by a family friend required a goat whose right leg had to be broken so that as it healed hers would heal, too.
For our heroine, while her life may look all glamorous and comely on the outside, it doesn’t come without the daily struggle to sort out the overwhelming bursts of depression that sometimes assuage her and the expectations of society from her to accept that it is part of God’s plan that things turned out the way it did.
Oyetunde wants people to miss her with such conceptions rather than allow people grieve the way they want, and when they are ready to move on support is all that is required. In essence, having found the gut to write this book, she has come to accept that taking things one day at a time is the way to go.
In no way less does this story resonate with those who have physical disabilities than with everyone else. After all, Life itself is not stable. People struggle daily with other nonphysical issues, ranging from low self-esteem, poverty, joblessness, depression,, among others. Living through it all is like living on a limb won’t sound off .We have to keep struggling to find a balance on that plane while accepting that it is part of life to be flawed.