STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS : As the Crow Flies – Veronique Tadjo

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“If you want to love

Do so

To the ends of the earth

With no shortcuts

Do so

As the crow flies.”

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love this book. Not everyone might get why it is on top of my list of favorites, but here is an attempt at a review (of sorts) of it, although I feel like I am not going to do it justice.

I first heard about the book from one of the most amazing professors I met as an undergrad, my Creative Writing Lecturer, Mawuli Adzei, who I know loves this book too. The question he asked was “Look at the book, does the story not start right from the cover?” while waving his copy before my curious eyes. After that class, I walked over to the University bookshop and got myself a copy. I waited till I was in my room, before I brought it out to read, and ooooh was it a long, good night’s read! I had my highlighter in hand (as I always do when reading) and by the time I was done (and I was done before morning) virtually every page was highlighted! I loved every bit of it!

Now before I get into the book, I must rise and salute Wangui wa Goro, the translator (French to English) and all those who helped him, for such a perfect job done! It is commendable how alive the work is, in a language that is not what it was originally written in. It carries the poetic essence that makes it what it is for me.

As the Crow Flies is presented by the author, as a stream of consciousness, its rich language passing it as a brilliant poetic prose work. It is a love story; not your usual happily ever after kind, nor you Romeo and Juliet kind either. It is a unique tale told of sordid affairs;

“Sometimes you feel as though it had never really happened, that all had been something else. You wanted it to be just the two of you. But you see, right from the start, it was a sordid affair.”

Good days;

“I remember that laughter that had my soul in stitches. It was like the luminous fresh rain that banished all boredom, the fleeting days, and the winter of the heart.”

Bad days;

“I do not understand this story that crosses my life diagonally, poisoning my existence and leading me towards hell. I do not understand this musty story.”

True love;

“Love is a story that we never story that we never stop telling. Let yourself be lulled by its sweet words. Adorn yourself with its multiple charms but please, do not spoil your life. True love, excuses in the name of love, sacrifices, disappointments. You must survive.”

Necessary Truths that make you wanna scream ‘Preach it!’;

“I do not understand those men [or women] who want to tear women [or men] up and kick them in the gut with evil words that hurt to the depths of the soul. They ought to be told to stop, held at bay and taught the alphabet from scratch.”

…and carries snippets of so many other stories along with the flight of the crow (our narrator), as the title implies.

For a small book, it carries so much; current political issues; poverty and crime; child labour, and the struggles of people to survive…

There are too many quotes from it I’d love to share but I might end up sharing the entire book. After my first read, I have read it more than half a dozen times after. So much so that most of the quotes are stuck in my head, especially this one;

“I want truth to convulse my whole body and rip open the straitjacket of my very flesh.”

For a moment I thought, ‘Ok, this book only worked for me because it matched my general mood at the time I first read it.’ But no, on subsequent reads, and even picking it up now, skimming through as I do this write-up, I realize, it isn’t the case. Its strong, bold, colourful language, its raw goodness, its blatant honesty, its conciseness, its compactness…all of these leave me yet again awed by it.

It may not be a happy piece, altogether…but it is balanced all the same. It captures life in motion; changes; dives, hikes…

“With you I have rediscovered simple words, rediscovered the joy of evenings spent chatting, nights spent holding hands, hoping for a city that will not leave behind a bitter taste of defeat in the mornings. Maybe together we will make it. Please do not reproach me for unleashing a storm upon this sleeping city, for mislaying dreams made of rare pearls and fetish gold.”

As the Crow Flies should go up your reading list if you haven’t yet read it. A re-read is always fun too. As for me and my love for this little book;

“Who knows? It may rot with time…or flourish like a hibiscus in full bloom.”

Cheers!

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