To Love & To Cherish, Oluseyi Gabriel Akinyemi, Greenlife Publishers, United Kingdom, pp.66, 2020
When we are buffeted by adversities, it seems we have come to the end of the road. But only a fainthearted gives up easily — the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Oluseyi Gabriel Akinyemi’s To Love & To Cherish echoes that you can turn it around with grit.
The author, a UK-trained psychologist, in this work of fiction, sings of hope when there is just a scintilla and he offers a happy ending when unhappiness looms everywhere. He creates two forlorn major characters, Etim Jr. and Cherish, from two miserable backgrounds to rewrite a hard luck resume.
In a simple language devoid of plot complexities, the author depicts dysfunctional families in a contemporary African society and how children born in those homes are affected.
There is a traumatic patina that linger in their lives, and the dubious nature of their friends add to their woes. The work deeply resonates with themes of betrayal, familial untenability, domestic violence and true love —yes in the midst of wholesale despondency, it’s love that brightens the day.
The plot of the fiction follows a linear progression. There is an omnipresent sense of the tragic lurking about the settings, but this is perhaps the author’s way of heightening the reader’s anxiety to find out how the resolution will pan out.
A Prologue heralds To Love & To Cherish, narrated in first person by Etim Jr., who tells us he is a ‘happy-go-lucky person, nay, one without privileges while growing up. What’s more, he experienced a great shock when his father left his mum with another woman, leaving her to scream ‘all men are the same’. As he grew up, he was compelled to hate his elusive dad for all the pains brought on his mother.
Also, due to the sad experience she suffered in the hands of her husband, the woman, Alice, began to fret over his son’s behaviour, for she was afraid his son was going to take after his father. Things, however, came to a head when the boy ran away from home to live without any maternal interference.
It was a wrong decision, as Etim Jr. began to lead a carefree life, mingling with women and men. Unfortunately, it was his beastie who turned out to be a thorn.
Likewise, Cherish, a beautiful girl, whose father abandoned the mum because he wanted a male child rather, grew up to dread men. Worse still, her beastie, Belinda, betrayed her by sleeping with her boyfriend, making her hatred for men to intensify.
To solve these problems, the author brings the two traumatised youths together as husband and wife, but, what looks like a potential good marriage between Etim and Cherish was on the throes of crashing because of infertility issues. Etim had even brought a divorce letter, yet Cherish talked him into hoping for the best, which eventually came their way.
Akinyemi’s To Love & To Cherish is like a therapy for troubled souls, both young and old. The answer to many marital problems today could be found within it. This book is meant for all.