Published first in 2010 by Krafts Books limited
Author: Hyginus Ekwuazi
This story is written mostly in the 1st person but with a mixture of the 3rd person and the 2nd person, some interesting blend. It also mixes both present continuous writing with past tense narratives. This is actually the first book I have read that blends various methods of writing without being disorganised and confusing.
It is written from the point of view of a teenager interacting with the adult world and children too. I would call it a kind reminder of childhood memories but definitely not mine. LOL! Perhaps a regular guy would want to read this and relive the mischiefs of his childhood.
The book also has pictures so you can conveniently call it a children book, my issue though is the use of bigger words like miscreants, short tempered, armoured, menagerie etc. but I guess with the ease of access to the internet and the way the author keeps referring to the internet, children are being subtly informed that difficult words can easily be looked up on the internet. What better way to improve their vocabulary right?
The book was published in 2010 so we can safely say it covers children born in generation Z. It tells the story of a family of five, three boys and their father and mother. Simple story of the relationship between the boys and their parents, as well as their everyday life.
It goes through a lot of flashbacks triggered by current situations, an event or something as simple as a statement.
In the story we have a Father, a mother and the boys, Junior, Arinze and Nonso. Added to these three boys are the three unseen boys also UFOs that father called, I’m-not-the-one, I-don’t-know and why-are-you-asking-me.
Like father said, these were the unseen companions of the boys that committed all the atrocities in the house. Mother on the other hand called the boys ‘Bandits’ while she called father, ‘Bandit-in-chief’.
Oh the story is so full of humour. There is a beautiful relationship between their father and mother and how father manages to handle the boys. Like regular boys, these ones are real miscreants and mischief-makers but at the same time they have this amazing relationship with their parents where they are allowed to speak their minds and be properly trained by their father.
Particularly father has a way for everything, waking them up, preparing them for school, discussing with them. Unlike regular fathers, father could be asked about having girlfriends and the boys won’t be spanked. He was also very patient with their errors and found interesting ways to talk to them about the story of creation and everything about life.
Say for example father wakes them up by saying, ‘Rise and shine, gentlemen! Rise and shine…Day dawn beyond the Atlantic… it is my very painful duty to inform you, gentlemen, that there wasn’t any storm last night; and even if there was, the school would have survived it… could it be that God no longer answers prayers—or that you guys aren’t praying hard enough.’
Now in between these words, we are told that the scent of father’s coffee, which the boys long to have a taste of, has filled the room. Then we also find out that even though father says it is his painful duty to inform, there is no trace of pain in his voice or face rather there is peace that comes from the cup of coffee.
Furthermore this takes us to the story that brought about the addition of the storm to the wake up call. We are told of the hurricane Katrina that the boys watched with father and how Arinze the second boy wished the same Katrina would, in his words blow the school and teachers away. To this Nonso the smallest boy concurred and said it was a prayer worth saying every night. So father took this in as an extra material in his wake up call to the boys.
Not only this, the boys referred to their pets like they are part of the family, you could easily get lost thinking the cat or dog is another sibling or friend before you realise suddenly that the child was referring to a pet. SMH.
We also are introduced to the scuttle between the two last boys for who was taller. Obviously, Arinze the older one was taller but Nonso was competing to meet up and outgrow him, and to make sure of that Nonso would go to the bathroom naked every morning to measure his height. Meanwhile mother and her friend thought he did not only measure his physical height but also the length of his penis. LOL!
Mother called the two, the two musketeers and father described their relationship as thick as thieves and that they have their hands deep in each other’s pocket. Arinze and Nonso bantered together; they fought together and also played together. Mother also thinks that Nonso was Arinze’s twin that disappeared in the womb, apparently when mother had been pregnant with Arinze, the ultrasound had shown two heartbeats only for one heartbeat to disappear later and only Arinze was born.
That story told later in the book was that the twin was a girl and Arinze swallowed her up. And for the first time I learnt that there is such a thing as a vanishing twin syndrome. More or less a miscarriage of a baby.
This leads me to the main conflict in the story, mother had a dream that her father had come into their sitting room whereas before he died, Grandfather had one day come visiting and while he was sleeping in the sitting room he’d suddenly jumped up and hurried to take the boys out of their room. A few minutes after a trailer loaded to the brim with empty drums of oil crashed into that part of the house.
So because of this event mother was worried about the dream, she decided that she was going to take the boys to school herself despite their grumbling. She warned and warned, making them promise that they would not in her words ‘bandit’ around but in father’s words, ‘boy will always be boys’ Arinze decides to become a superman. He flies off the swing in school only to hit his head on a pole and that landed him in coma and in the hospital.
The rest of the story goes around other flashbacks and fears, you literarily see yourself praying that he does not die, as the writer takes you through clouds and clouds of beautiful moments with the boys, rocks you through near deaths and flows back to the current cloudy situation as Arinze gets worse and then better and then there is silence that makes you wonder if he would make it.
In all, it was a beautiful read, I laughed, a lot. And in the midst of the fear of whether he would survive I saw myself laughing with tears in my eyes. I had my fingers crossed, her heart on the edge hoping not to have my heart broken with news of his death.
Page 96 into 97
Mummy is often saying that Sister Ayo has everything it takes to be a priest: she is well educated, very intelligent and lives a very clean life-yet she can never be made a priest because she happens to be a woman. Each time Mummy says that to Daddy’s hearing, Daddy will say:
‘But she has a choice-even though she’s a woman. She can easily cross over to a Pentecostal church where she can rise to the level of a bishop-or she can start a church of her own and begin as a bishop!’
Mummy does not like such talk.
One time, a chapter in Nonso’s reader made mummy very angry. The chapter contained two pictures. In one picture, a man is relaxing in the sitting room. the TV is on but the man is reading a newspaper. Next to the man, a small boy, about the age of Nonso, is playing with a toy computer and other toys and lying around. The writing under the picture says:
Daddy and I are in the sitting room. Daddy is reading, I am playing.
In the other picture, there’s a woman in the kitchen. She is holding the cover over a steaming pot. There is a girl standing next to the woman. The girl is slightly bigger than the boy in the other picture. She is carrying a chopping board with some vegetables in it. Under this particular picture is written:
Mummy and my sister are in the kitchen.
Mummy is cooking. My sister is helping mummy cook.
Mummy was so angry she almost tore out the page.
‘Why not the other way round?’ she asked, shaking the reader in front of Daddy. ‘Can you imagine the arrant nonsense they stuff these children with?’
‘Arrant nonsense? I can well imagine that that is the way our society is organized…’
‘Indeed!’ Mummy turned to Arinze, Nonso and me: ‘Gentlemen, into the kitchen with you before I count three…’ And to Daddy: ‘You better join us there, pronto-or your super, tonight, will be fried television, stuffed with your Sunday Newspapers!’
I wonder why the book is titled ‘I have miles to walk before I sleep’, I was wondering if it had to do with Arinze’s love and connection with Duchess, the dog and Arinze taking him for a walk or perhaps the fact that Arinze still had a long life ahead of him and was not going to die before fulfilling his purpose. Perhaps the latter is the case.
Where to buy? Bookshops.