“Tears are building up in my eyes. They always do when I stare at what is left of me. They are blurring my vision and are slowly rolling down my face in an agonising rhythm like the beating of the devil’s own drums … ta … ta … ta … dropping down one after the other, painfully slow, painfully gradual, onto these two flabby, floppy drooping things I call my breasts, my tired graceless bosom. I fear what I see when I look at myself. I shiver at the sight of my sore cracked lips which still show through the multiple layers of the glossy crimson paint I apply to hide them.(p. 2)”
Life without plenty does not mean life without love. Beyond the Horizon centres on Mara journey’s from her home in the village where she lived quite a normal life to join her husband in the city. In her naivety she assumes that whatever she is presented with in her marital relationship is her lot. The leaking tin house, the constant beating and the servant treatment were for her a part of the marital contract.
When she returns home to deliver her unwanted first child, her husband gathers all of her precious ornaments for the purposes of safekeeping. She returns to find that her husband has sold all the items in a bid to travel to Europe so he can be regarded as a “been to” and accorded all the respect that comes with travelling to Europe. Her raging madness is calmed when her husband tells her about the awesome things which happen in Europe including people who threw away cars and fridges. He additionally promises to come back to get her to join him in Europe as his wife if all goes well. Awed by the promises her Husband makes, Mara allows him to get away with selling her items. He eventually raises sufficient money to make the trip.Mara waits expectantly for her husband, her confidence boosted because she’s about to travel to Europe. What happens when she eventually travels to Europe is really unexpected. Her husband forces her into prostitution to raise funds to finance his mistress, Comfort whom he had flown from Ghana earlier to join him in Europe. The rest of the book chronicles how Mara wakes up from her naivety and deals with her husband and his accomplices.
I loved every bit of the story. I found Amma Darko’s Beyond the Horizon really riveting. There’s something about the way she weaves her words and describes scenes that carries you along chapter after chapter. The reality of the situation she presents even though fictional, makes it really easy to relate to.She does a great job of making the characters in her book come alive.
Several lessons are drawn from this novel. The primary lesson being the troubles associated with illegal immigration to Europe in search of greener pastures. She also ridicules the behaviour of African families who hail their kin for sending them huge amounts of money without questioning the source of the money. She also points out in an extreme case the naivety with which people generally enter into marriage, accepting what is not normal as part of the marriage package and questioning very little.
Just discovered kinnareads and I think her Africa Reading Challenge sounds exciting.