Prancing between plots of a troubled Northern region and a university whose chapel’s choirmaster is facing revolt from the clergy and the choir, Iduma’s prose Farad reeks of exciting characters. With well-cut language, subtly revealing its writer’s knowledge about classic books and topical texts, Farad takes the reader on a journey across the minds of converging characters living by on a cliff; they needed help. Help to the wayward lady whose memory sank after meeting Abacha in bed or to a confused life of young man whose sister was run over by a bus while listening to her short songs. For those who sought help from the thugs of an election violence, Reverend father Muna was a harbinger of hope in a polarised Jos community. Little could a Reverend father do to redeem souls of a violent clan as he also sought salvation after handing over his mother to death.
The novel assembles people who tried to affirm themselves of their true calling but fate hanged them by the balls. Being contrite after seeing their loved ones who seemingly pursued happiness gone, a brother suffers a career crisis after losing his music-drunk sister to a running truck; another one longs to preserve the museum collections of a sister-in-law run over by a bus; an overbearing father goes weary after his son left on a journey never to be seen or heard.
Farad comes with superb narratives quickening the pulse of a reader to find knots of characters in the loosely connected chapters. It reminds of one Helon Habila’s Waiting for an Angel which combined fine prose with sweet scent of poems. Farad disrupts a love story usually found between the sheets or trysts under an apple tree. Rather, it outlines an uncompleted love anecdotes in Frank, Goody and Ella or Chika and Mosunmola. In a stream of thoughts, it could bring despair when you think erotic love story has just begun – of a Reverend father Muna and Taibat in an hazy night of flying emotions or of Chika and Mosunmola, denied another kiss by cancer.
Center to the prose is a university chapel and its worshippers reliving thier past lives and how it connects the struggle of veteran choirmaster in his silver jubilee of stewardship. After caught filling his seed into a female chorister, Dr Addo led a plot to save his friend, the choirmaster, from the weight of Okon’s pen. A mirror of the society as after spent energy of the youth to replace a veteran choir leader, another old Professor takes up the mantle again.
Farad ends with the beginning, leaving its middle as a shuffled jigsaw. It blurs the lines between insanity of Lekan at the end, extreme irrationality of Moyosore at the middle and memory gaps of Ella in the opening pages. Born 1989, Emmanuel Iduma proves to be of the Generation Y as he polished his lively tenses with a stream of tweets.
Wake up in the morning. Bear your silence. Do some face washing. Find Farad that gleams with fine printing. In the end after reading this swift and gorgeous piece remember the referenced words of Colm Toblin ‘We saw nothing, not because there was nothing but because we had trained ourselves not to see’.