This is something that should have been done in 2020. But as you know, shit happens. And God’s timing is the best, they say. So I’m sitting here in the dark at 2 am, struggling to find words for an assignment I should’ve completed last month. In case you’re wondering why I’m writing at 2 am using a candle, it’s because the caretaker disconnected my power after I refused to pay an over-inflated electricity bill. In case you’re wondering why we don’t have prepaid meters, I’m also wondering the same. Anyway, it doesn’t matter much. Because I know I ain’t paying shit.
Back to business.
As I was saying, this should’ve come out in December. It’s a follow-up to our last post- The Good Boss(es). You can (re)read it on this link. Towards the end, I gave a shout-out (is it still legal to use that term in 2021) to Austine Arnold’s Candle In The Wind. In an attempt to boost our readership, because we had put our three readers in such a prolonged dryspell that one of them gave up on us, I sent him a link to the post. Like our other two remaining readers, he replied with “nice read.” Then he asked me to do a review of the book. You never say NO to a childhood friend unless he is asking you to take part in an MMF threesome. Threesomes should be strictly FFM. It’s somewhere in the constitution.
But there’s a problem. I have never written a book review before. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever written anything serious in my life. Besides job applications, of course. Which, going by the ratio of applications sent to interview invites, aren’t taken seriously by potential employers. That’s why you’re almost done with this book review but is yet to read anything remotely related to the book. But as I said, you never say NO to a childhood friend. So here we go.
Candle In The Wind is a memoir of Mr. Omondi Were’s battle with cancer, his subsequent passing on, and the family’s struggle to cope with the loss of the gang leader. The cover literally tells you that it’s a “brokenhearted memoir of my hero.” That means you should expect sad stories and motivational speaking, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s a lie.
If you want to read something sad, read about Daddy Owen’s love life. This book is full of life, light, and positivity. It’s more than a brokenhearted memoir of losing the only hero he has ever known his entire life. Candle In The Wind is one of those books that will leave you feeling a certain warmth in your heart instead of heartbreak.
At the end of it all, you’ll start appreciating the memories you make with your loved ones and the little things that often go unnoticed. But it also prepares for any eventuality for your loved ones. I was going to say death, but it’s a taboo in the African culture to mention death fwaaaa. Not that anything can ever prepare you for the loss of a loved one. But he helps you to realize that no matter how alone you seem to be during that painful period, you are never alone.
Austine talks about his father in the same way everyone would love to talk about theirs. A man who provided leadership to his family, guidance to his children, and protection to those under his care. He narrates how his father once confronted rioting students and singlehandedly drove them back into the school when they came to the teachers’ quarters to throw stones at his family. Let’s be honest, would you care about a fictional Lwanda Magere and his shadow treatment when your father can deal with hundreds of pissed off students by himself?
Austine doesn’t talk about his father in a way that makes you wish your dad was like his. He makes you realize how much your father is also a hero in his own right. He makes you appreciate your own. In this world where flexing is the order of the day and everything we put out into the public gallery is to make others feel inadequate while making it seem like we’re living the life, this book is a welcome relief. It opens your eyes to your world and makes you appreciate the people around you. At the end of it all, you realize that it’s the little things that matter. The funny way they laugh. That nickname only they get to use for you. Their favourite sitting spot at home. Their Sunday best. Etc.
I understand that there are people whose mode of self-preservation is to avoid reading sad stories or tales of death. But trust me, death tales make less than 10% of the book. And even then, it’s told in a way that you want to hear it. So if there’s a book that should get on your reading list in 2021, then it is Candle In The Wind.
The only downside to the book is that Austine references too much to other books that touch on the topic. Or so I think. There’s a chapter with about five pages quoting Paula’s book. If that’s your thing, well and good. If it’s not, then skip the pages like I did. I was so engrossed in the life of Omondi Were I didn’t care about what Paula had to say about grief and mourning. But I noted down the books for reading some other day. So it’s still a win for him recommending other books to add to your reading list.
I think I’m out of words. I should stop now. But I really hope you get to buy the book and enjoy it as I did. You can reach Austine on 0758242612 to order the book. Or reach out to him on social media platforms. His Facebook page is Austine Arnold, Instagram omondi_were, and @arnoldaustine on Twitter. And when you reach out, say you were convinced by this article to read the book. So that it looks like I am the chieth kwa hii choo. We both know it’s a lie, but what do you stand to lose?
One more thing, your copy will get autographed by Austine himselfu.