IT WAS NOT A STORY TO PASS ON…

From the ‘nigger joke’ in the beginning of the story, to this quote;

And what am I supposed to do with these old thighs now, just walk up and down these rooms? What good are they, Jesus? They will never give me the peace I need to get from sunup to sundown, what good are they, are you trying to tell me that I am going to have to go all the way through these days all the way, O my God, to that box with four handles with never nobody settling down between my legs even if I sew up these old pillow cases and rinse down the coal up out of the bin even then nobody, O Jesus, I could be a mule or plow the furrows with my hands if need be or hold these rickety walls up with my back if need be if I knew that somewhere in this world in the pocket of some night I could open my legs to some cowboy lean hips but you are trying to tell me no and O my sweet Jesus, what kind of cross is that?”

in Sula, I fell in love with Toni Morrison. I have said this before here that I had already read one of her novels before Sula, but I was very young then, I guess I couldn’t fully appreciate it. But when I read Sula, my, I just had to go back to The Bluest Eye. My love relationship with Morrison has been steady and strong since, and today’s review is of another of her novels The Pulitzer Prize winning book, Beloved.

A runaway slave is up against the wall, her underwear around her ankles with the engraver humping away; ten minutes, she gave him; ten minutes for seven letters – B. E. L. O. V. E. D, on the headstone for her dead daughter’s grave; the daughter she murdered. It is later that she berates herself for not allowing him to have another ten minutes of pleasure (?) so she could have had six more letters to make what she had in mind (she had heard from church) complete; ‘Dearly Beloved.’ But she didn’t think that then, and so ten minutes got her ‘Beloved’ on her baby’s headstone. Now this sounds, errm, disturbing(?) so far right? Wait till you see how the story starts;

“124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom”

124 being where this runaway slave lived, and this baby being who we come to know as ‘Beloved’s’ ghost. Now that’s some twist huh? Yes, a ghost story! A story about love and the price of it, suffering, survival, in vivid, heartbreaking details, swinging you into the past, to the present, to the future in unexpected turns all throughout the novel. This woman, Sethe, mother of our ghost, Beloved, is a strong woman, who escapes her slave master (while pregnant), survives what looked like near impossible to survive, and finally landed in 124 with her mother-in-law Baby Suggs. However, not long after she reunites with her children at Baby Suggs’, her slave master finds her and this mother, thinking of all that she had been through, and looking at her innocent children, carry them off into the woods and decides to send them home *breaks into song*

Yup! She loved them too much to see them get sold off like ox or bread, like she did not carry them, birth them, nurse them. Why, her last two children were still babies! And so love moved her to kill. them. all.

Now this is revealed only later in the story, exactly what happened, although there is the suspense building up from the beginning with all the ‘re-memory’ going on. This revelation, when it comes, is bone-chilling, yet strangely heart-warming at the same time, thinking a mother put a handsaw to her baby’s neck and cut! Thinking, ‘what manner of love is this?!’ ‘This is deep!’ All at the same time. This is what it did to me.

She only managed to kill her third child, who had no name, just that one word on her headstone: Beloved. 

The story starts with this third baby girl’s ghost’s damages being chronicled. She has driven out her two brothers, Baby Suggs is dead, and it is only Sethe and her last child, Denver, left in the house.  She could shake the entire house, break glass, hurl dogs across the room – her anger was real! Or was it sadness? At least that is what Sethe called her; a sad ghost.

Soon, another of Baby Suggs’ sons, Paul D, joins them at 124, fights off the ghost, and calm is restored (only on face value) till they arrive home one day from a carnival to meet a girl on their steps; with the skin on her hands and feet as soft as a baby’s, thirsty and sick. They ask her name and she says ‘Beloved’. Another twist.

Beloved comes onto the scene as a strange young girl, who becomes severely attached to Sethe and vice versa, becomes tight buddies with Denver, and advances towards Paul D, eventually luring him to have sex with her. Beloved! She brings out memories that all three of them never wanted to bring out, causes confusion and a strange bonding too, yet they could not send her out of 124. Beloved. Was she Sethe’s dead baby come to life? Did that child really die? Who is she?! These questions bug you till whoa…! Beloved vanishes! TONI MORRISON! People, this book works on your emotions! Damn!

We witness Paul D struggle to attempt to come clean with Sethe, but he is unable to, then follows Sethe’s confession, which he can’t handle initially, ‘who does that?! who kills her own child?!’

But through the manic scenes, the tears, the anger, the rage, the mystery, Paul D comes back to Sethe, comes back to 124 and;

“Sethe,” he says, “me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.” He leans over and takes her hand. With the other he touches her face. “You your best thing, Sethe. You are.” His holding fingers are holding hers. “Me? Me?”

And there, they re-unite…cos they are all they’ve got. And this love they come to know, this love they have, after what slavery had done to their minds, to their souls, binds them…it does. (Wipes tears)

And as for the ghost…

Everybody knew what she was called, but nobody anywhere knew her name. Disremembered and unaccounted for, she cannot be lost because no one is looking for her, and even if they were, how can they call her if they don’t know her name? Although she has claim, she is not claimed. In the place where long grass opens, the girl who waited to be loved and cry shame erupts into her separate parts, to make it easy for the chewing laughter to swallow her all the way….

It was not a story to pass on.

P.S. You should watch the movie😉 (Hehe, I’m yet to)

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