Title: Tomorrow is too far
Author: Chimamanda N. Adichie
Book: The thing around your neck
The story has a slightly reflective mood about a couple of childhood pranks gone wrong and its attendant scar on the participants. Also, not lost is the fact that the prankster was incited by feelings of jealousy aroused from preferential treatments meted out to her brother because he’s the bearer of the family name. This is a scenario that is all too common in many African societies/families but may be alien to non-Africans. Hence, it’s a story that despite its dark story line, many will find it easy to relate with. Sibling rivalry, childhood jealousies and its often under-estimated potential mortal effects. Child preferentialism and its instant ability to strike evil today, not tomorrow as tomorrow is too far before it kills, just like the echi eteka in the story. The use of the vague and slightly accusatory pronoun “you” largely portrays the story as just not reflective but accusing the unnamed prime character of the story (which could be anybody guilty of male chauvinism and child preferentialism). In a way, her conscience reminds her of her unconfessed deed as the prankster who planned Nonso’s death, not Grandmama. This is further shown by the fact that she only visited Grandma after her death, possibly out of guilt at having to see the old woman she had claimed, caused Nonso’s death.
The story is also one of the few where Adichie’s characters are quite vaguely presented. Also, noteworthy is the story’s prime character who stands loosely between being a deliberately vindictive female protagonist or an accidental antagonist (she didn’t mean to kill Nonso, she just wanted to hurt him a little).
The account of the prank and Nonso’s death is a little jarring. So jarring that it causes the reader to stop reflectively for a moment to consider if “hate” was the suitable description for the prank and the framing of Grandmama.
Most commendable is the fact that despite the vagueness of the story’s characters, Adichie manages to make the story as personal as possible for the reader to stop and consider the dangers presented in preferring children and stoking jealousy in the unpreferred. This is managed by the tone and language.
The story scores an A for characterization, a B for story-telling, an A+ for language and tone consistency and an A- for its handling of sensitive topics/themes.by