“It was only occasionally that Antonio and I would meet and stray out of sight of others, and although
we always kept things within the confines of kissing and fondling, stopping short of undressing, this prolonged restraint made us all the more desperate for each other.
We both knew that one day we would go further, that in some highly erotic or romantic moment we would jettison all the reasons that got in our way and just get on with it. We
might find ourselves rolling in an English meadow or on some breath-taking Mediterranean beach or, for nostalgia’s sake, in the back of a cinema a few empty rows behind
everyone else. Or, what the hell, we would sit wherever we
pleased. Let anyone who found us too distracting move to other seats. Or let them stay if they wished and watch us: bodies entangled and moving as two, then one, while the
film danced off our backs. But in the end, of course, the location for our first lovemaking was neither glamorous nor risqué, but in Antonio’s nondescript Parisian hotel
beneath instructions of where to run in the event of a fire. There, in room 212, behind the hastily hung ‘Do Not
Disturb’ sign, I undid my gown and let it drop to the floor before reaching to steady Antonio. Holding him gently, I
stroked the lapels of his pale blue shirt before ripping it open, surprising a dozen white buttons that popped like champagne, as the two of us stumbled, hungrily to the carpeted floor.”
We find old people around us, and relate with them in different ways. Sometimes the interactions are borne out of pure love, at other times it’s non-endearing respect, on some occasions it’s duty, and then there are times where things are done in a bid to just avoid the aged. We do not always know how they think, and when someone attempts to write about that, it is worth the attention.
Sarah Ladipo Manyika was raised in Nigeria and has lived in Kenya, France, and England. She holds a Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley, and currently teaches literature at San Francisco State University. Her writing includes essays, academic papers, reviews and short stories. She is also the author of the book “In Dependence”.
“Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun” is a contemporary work of fiction set in San Francisco, U. S. A. In less than a hundred and fifty pages, Sarah takes us on a journey into the lives of individuals whose lives somehow find a way to connect. There is Morayo, the book-loving, seventy-five-year old ex-wife of a diplomat; Dawud, the widowed Middle Eastern immigrant who runs a shop with his sister Amirah; Sunshine, Morayo’s neighbour and close friend married with two sons; Sage, a homeless, divorced, Grateful Dead – addicted lady who owns a dog; and Reggie, a Guyanese man whose wife, Pearl, battles with Parkinson’s disease.
The book has us see the world through their eyes, while having their respective stories represent a larger perspective of things. Through Morayo, we see the fear of growing old, with all the accompanying thought processes and incidents; deteriorating eyesight, mild forgetfulness, bone dislocations, driving difficulties, memories of a failed marriage and an affair with a much younger man, feelings of nostalgia for places once inhabited like India and Jos, and subtle yearnings to be desired. Reggie’s relationship with Pearl is an example of love in the face of hopelessness, while a little light is shed on racial tensions too. Dawud’s thoughts represent aspirations towards the American Dream, while the friendship between Morayo and Sunshine is a classic example of a cross-generational interaction. Sunshine’s marriage to Ashok, where she struggles to raise her sons Zach and Avi while fighting for the approval of Ashok’s Indian family, reflects the complexity of interracial unions. For Sage, her struggles are an insight into the socio-economic disparity that we do not see on CNN.
The narrative is scribbled in a way that causes the emotions to be palpable, and makes readers identify with the story. The pace draws you in, and while critics may argue that it is too academic, it is a lot more meaningful than stuff for classrooms. Words are not wasted on too much description, each character is a hero in his (or her) own right, and when they yearn, we yearn with them. “Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun” is soulful, a right blend of style and content, and the pages are worth their weight.