Never have I ever felt like slapping some sense into the protangonist of a novel, like I felt whilst reading ‘A Sackful Of Wishes’ by Azizah M. Idris. Gosh!
This book evoked a myriad of conflicting emotions in me. I was pissed off with the accepting character of the protangonist, laughed at some of her antics, but I also found myself shedding a tear for her and all the women in her situation worldwide.
Title: A Sackful Of Wishes
Author’s Name: Azizah Idris M
Number of Pages: 207
Published by: Parresia Publishers Ltd under its Origami books imprint.
Year of Publication: 2018
Hadiza Musa, 25 years old, has been through hell. As a bubbly, fun loving teenager, she marries the impulsive Abdurrazaq Zanna, known as AR, and for eight years suffers starvation, rape and mental abuse from an increasingly obsessive husband. The death of her beloved father, followed by the death of her young son from neglect, brings matter to a head. Hadiza determines for a divorce just as AR insists they are meant for each other forever. A battle for survival ensues in which scars come to light and allies come from unexpected places: the prize is a chance at a new life for Hadiza Musa.
A Sackful Of Wishes is the first book in the Hadiza Trilogy.
First off, let me start by saying I absolutely love the book cover. Jeez! The book cover looks like a fancy gift bag and to be honest with you, it was one of the major reasons why I doled out money to buy the book. I could just imagine how colourful it would look like on my book shelf.
A Sackful of Wishes is narrated in the first person by the protangonist, Hadiza. However, this story isn’t just about Hadiza. It is also about Abdulrazaq alias AR. Hadiza and AR’s whirldwind courtship and turmultous marriage forms the catalyst for this novel.
The novel begins at a fast pace, with Hadiza telling us a brief history of her father and his marital woes. Originally from Taraba, her father has been married to a total of three wives, but Hadiza’s mother is the love of his life.
“And this was where I was born, into a house filled with hatred, conceit, and agony. Growing up, I did not play in the courtyard like other kids. Instead, I kept to my mother’s room, the only room where I had freedom in my father’s house.
My earliest memories have always always been of seeing my mother in tears and that of my father’s sad eyes. I had never seen my stepmother smile in her life, not once.” Pg 10.
Maintaining the set pace of the novel, Hadiza proceeds to tell us the main crux of her tale. Her marriage to AR.
As human beings, we sometimes have premonitions or warning instincts that a proposed course of action we are about to embark on might result in dire consequences, but we still go ahead anyway, ignoring our instincts and the screaming danger signs.
This is exactly the case with Hadiza. Right from the very first conversation, she knew that AR was a psychopath and had maniacal tendencies. But she still goes ahead to marry him.
“I understand why you’ll be worried, Inna, he has threatened me with a hard life if I don’t do as he wills. He has asked me to stop going to school, and I defied him. He has asked me to stop going to the hospital on my own, and I failed to listen to him. Inna, this man has plans. The moment I step into his house, I’m afraid you’ll have to forget about this innocent daughter of yours. Because there will be a war. I might either come out of scathed or die in it.”
As a result of her marriage to AR, almost everything bad that you can think of happened to Hadiza in a Sackful of wishes. Rape, poverty, hunger and starvation, the loss of her child which could have been prevented, assault and battering at the hands of her husband, divorce, etc.
While reading the book, I closed it and took sometime out to cry after convincing myself that I was crying because I was having a bad day and I hadn’t cried in a while.
But I’m sticking with that lie.
The main theme of the book is one that is very common. Domestic violence. Domestic violence in one form or the other is present in atleast one in every ten homes. Please, don’t even ask me where I got my statistics or the data I used in carrying out my research from. We hear about these things.
The build up of the antagonists character AR ‘Abdulrazaq’ is the perfect textbook description of a psychopath or someone battling with bipolar disorder. That is the only logical way to explain his maniacal behaviour and tendencies. One minute he is all lovey, solictious and considerate in his actions towards Hadiza and the next minute he is harsh, brash, delibrately wicked and downright evil. It’s almost like switching off and on a lightbulb. The only difference is Hadiza cannot rightly place a finger on exactly what triggers his psychoperanic traits .
Unfortunately, our society is one that does not fully take into cognizance mental illness awareness and treatment. It is either you are stark-raving, roaming the streets naked mad or you are not. Shikena. And so mental illness is excused, explained away and allowed to fester until the person becomes not only a danger to themselves, but also a danger to all those who are unfortunate enough to come into contact with them. This is what they mean, when they say; “Many are mad, but few are roaming.”
Having given you an insight (a spoiler if you want to call it that), into the sort of toxic relationship AR had with Hadiza and how terribly he treated her, I guess I am going sound like a major jerk when I say that I was low key rooting for AR.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not in anyway endorsing or supporting domestic violence, but I didn’t hate AR the man. I hated all that he stood for and represented, and the shabby treatment he meted out to Hadiza and his own children, but AR the man I pitied.
The impact of upbringing and the environment in which a child grows up cannot be overemphasized. This is subtly portrayed in A Sackful Of Wishes.
AR grew up in an abusive environment, where is his mother was a victim of domestic violence. He had no formal education, was overpampered, overindulged, enabled in his erratic behaviour and made to feel like some sort ‘god’ who ought to be worshipped, because he is a man. And that gave birth to the monster that AR became.
One would think that as a victim of domestic violence and spousal abuse herself, AR’s mother would support Hadiza and at the very least attempt to curb the excesses of her son. Alas, that didn’t happen. Instead she expected Hadiza to suck it up and take whatever evil AR dished out to her in her stride, and when that didn’t happen, she began to blame Hadiza for AR’s behaviours.
One of the things I love most about ‘A Sackful Of Wishes” is its portrayal of what daily life looks like in the Muslim Hausa society.
Interspersed with Hausa words and phrases, Azizah provides an abudance of descriptions of the local environment, food, marriage rites, life in a polygamous family, divorce proceedings, culture and familal relationships .
Asides from reading for relaxation and entertainment, I love to read novels from which I can learn a new thing or two about different cultures and traditions.
And so, the author’s vivid descriptions of the marriage rites made the book so much more enjoyable for me.
I found it particularly intriguing to learn that after the solemnization of the wedding Fathiha, the bride is usually conveyed to her new home by the Kususu – women from the groom’s side.
Also, according to Hausa-Fulani tradition, the bride brings all the furniture and household stuff while the husband buys her a set of boxes filled with clothes and cosmetics.
Azizah Idris M. is a brillant writer. The way she spins her tale so beautifully, her choice of words, made the book so captivating.
Both AR and Hadiza need psychotherapy. I can’t wait to see how Hadiza will pick up the remaining pieces of her life and start afresh because PTSD is inevitable in her case.
Patiently waiting for the other two books in this trilogy. This is one book I will definitely be rereading.
I highly recommend this one. Pretty good stuff.
Have you read ‘ A Sackful Of Wishes ‘ by Azizah Idris M? What did you think of it? Feel free to let me know what you think in the comment section.