Scrolls of the Living Night
Benjamin Kwakye’s Scrolls of the Living Night, prose poetry that is designed to explore the nature of the effect the parental environment, cleverly follows the life unfoldings of a boy subject to emotional turmoil and intense pressures and expectations in his family, using the idea of a happy child as a basis for comparison. Presented in a loose ABAB rhyming format and rife with symbols and abstractions, yet written in sentence style, this work of fiction is a nice hybrid of both poetry and prose.
Due to its complexity and use of many symbols, it takes a great deal of time, and thereby significant mental energy, to ascertain the focus and meaning of the story. The primary theme of the story doesn’t become entirely clear until early on in the second part of the book. The beauty of this complexity, however, can be found in its ability to evoke many thoughts about a variety of ideas before the intent becomes clear.
The child is subjected to marital and familial difficulties, including high parental expectations, unhappiness in the marital relationship, betrayal, disappointment, and the effects of wealth and social status on the upbringing of the child. This existence is characterized as empty and devoid of any genuine love or caring. The effect of this treatment is contrasted with the characteristics of the happy child, creating a veritable poetic experiment where the ideal child is the control and the subject child is the dependent variable.
As the story unfolds and the child grows up, the lasting effects of his upbringing are evident. He begins to interact with his ideal self and various lessons are imparted, despite the conflict between the two children. In a world where difficulty is commonplace, and so many parents have either implicit or explicit expectations for their children, it is important to be reminded that parents have significant influence over the happiness of their children. This story does that. Paradoxically, however, though the delivery method of these ideas is unique, the concepts are fairly ordinary and don’t present a fresh perspective or view of the world.
For a thought-provoking treatise on an important subject, Benjamin Kwakye’s Scrolls of the Living Night is a worthwhile, albeit familiar, experience. For those in want of a reminder of some important parental ideas, this story takes a long, hard look at some of the key facets and offers some reinforcement that parents are powerful people.
Cissus World Press