Title: Women Are Different
Author: Flora Nwapa
A story about the trials and tribulations of Nigerian women from their early childhood through their adult lives
This book follows the lives of three girls – Rose, Agnes, and Dora. It is a bittersweet story filled with sadness, happiness, warmth and betrayals. From the beginning, I loved the three MCs. They were so normal, free and wild with a lot of plans for the future. One by one, their lives are showed in third person POV. From Dora’s marriage to a man much older than her, to Agnes and her deceptive husband Chris, to Rose’s loneliness. Another character that spiced the book and made it the more hilarious was Comfort. Oh Comfort! That lady is a no nonsense girl, always speaking her mind no matter what and not minding what anyone will say.
I liked the 60s setting the book was written in and how the girls moved with their lives even though they were struggling. All of them were really brave, taking the reins of the family and doing their best. The Biafran war was a very sad time and it was portrayed really well here. Reading it left me feeling disgusted and devastated. It was an awful time and I can’t imagine how those that lived in it felt. The anguish, the fear, feeling helpless…
A lot of conflicts were portrayed and I felt for both Agnes and Dora when their daughters practically turned against them. It was horrifying to see the tough mothers suddenly helpless.
Something that annoyed me was the mindset of the characters. It’s something that I see even today and it saddens me that more than five decades later, our people still think like that. That mindset is “A husband completes a woman”.
It’s so annoying and infuriating but I’ve seen it in the book a lot. First in Dora’s life. She discovered her husband whom she was forcefully married to was sleeping with her stepmother and she packed up and left. Years later, after she had become a businesswoman all by herself, she actually brought this man to live with her in her furnished house simply because, “people will talk. Her husband must stay with her.”
Then in Agnes’ case. She put in all her money for her husband Chris to continue his legal studies abroad. All of a sudden, he disappeared. The war was coming. There was nothing she could do with three children. Upon going to their house in his village that they recently built, she discovered that he had sold it. The shock was too much for her. She still had hope in him. However that tarnished years later when she heard he was in Germany. She went and saw him with a German woman. He shouted at her and practically insulted her. She came back home and continued with her life while grieving.
The worst thing in all this is that Agnes actually still wanted him to come back into her life. Can you imagine?! More than a decade later, he appeared out of nowhere and she was joyous to the extent of organizing a party for him. In her words, “my husband is back. That is all that matters.”
What impudence! I was shocked at the girl’s behavior. What is more saddening is that till today, a lot of people still think like that. I’ve seen and heard stories exactly like that. Why will a lady think a man completes her? She is complete with or without a man. Yourself is all that matter! Why stoop so low as to welcome back someone that humiliated you, insulted you, discarded you like filth? Grief and move on. But welcoming them back is a total No-no!