Book Review: In Search of Equilibrium by Theresa Lola

Theresa Lola’s effortless ability to weave family and faith and explore the nexus of the familiar and distant in the Nigerian culture makes this collection one that I can resonate with .

In Search of Equilibrium transpires its names from an almost circle-of-life likeness where when one life passes on,  another is ‘wailed’ into existence. The essence is capture in the ‘Equilibrium’ piece where Lola recollects her grandfather forgetting his name as her new born brother was ‘crowned with a name’.

This collection details very poignant and personal pieces on the heartbreaking impact and effects of Alzheimers. Lola paints the reality and starkness of the condition by taking us on a journey of her reality as she celebrates and remembers the life of her grandfather to his death and how she copes with it.

Despite death, family and faith being the key themes within this collection, it contains an element of humour in some of the deepest senses. In ‘Tailoring Grief’, she states:

‘Imagine if Mary wore Gele for the Funeral of Jesus
tied it so tight she was dizzy
enough to feel absent from her body.’ 

This description is humorous because it looks at how Nigerians prepare for a funeral and invites faith into culture in a playful way. 

On the note of culture, I believe that the piece ‘Rebuke The Bad Death’ highlights how indeed most ‘language has no translation for suicide’. To me, if a word doesn’t have a translation, it means people do not have the tools to talk about it. So, if people do not talk about it, they cannot help or invoke change, The lack of understanding of suicide leads to redundant explanations such as ‘voodoo‘. Even if the explanation of the causes are palatable such as in the  line ‘We think it was a halo failed by gravity’ . There is no attempt to resolve it. The questions asked in this piece is centred on whether the subject is from ‘our tribe’. Lastly, In this culture, names also bear meaning and acknowledges the importance of names so how can the subject Dami rejects his own name? This piece subtlety highlights the stigma of suicide in the Nigerian culture and perhaps subtlety paints a poor picture on how it is dealt with. 

My favourite piece in this collection is Blessed are the mothers of a dead child’.This is because i find this piece to be very moving. it is written in the almost-style of the Beatitudes. Although sad, I am moved by the line:


Blessed are the mothers of a dead child
for they manage to recover
after eating the fruit that grows
from planting your child’s casket in the ground.

To conclude, this collection resonates with me because I relate to the cultural and faith references and I am mesmerised by the journey that the writer takes the reader on in this collection. Even if it may not be something you relate to directly, it offers perspective of her personal experiences which teaches the reader the importance of listening to the writers perspective which is something we can all gain more insight from. 

****This book was sent to me by Nine Arches Press. Thank you @NineArchesPress @Theresa_Lola

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