This post will be discussing Damilare Kuku’s Nearly All Men in Lagos are Mad: ‘Cuck Up’
Book Review Cuck up
“One night, you will calmly put a knife to your husband’s penis and promise to cut it off”
Damilare Kuku gives a spicy opening.
The short story ‘ Cuck Up’ is one exciting and thrilling piece, that gives off an enthusiastic vibe.It is the first story in Damilare’s short story collection: Nearly all Men in Lagos are Mad. It portrays the mixed reality of love marriages while dishing out a wholesome entertaining experience. Cuck up depicts the issue of over-pampered men, who turn out to always hide behind their families, as well as the malevolent inlaws that never misses a chance to curse at the daughter-in-law whom they disapprove of.
The story can be structurally divided into three parts, of which the first part is the introduction of the initial conflict which the story revolves around, the second part gives a rather adventurous and exciting thrill, a pack of sensation and mixed emotions. The last part is the resolution, which ends with a smirking smile.
The author’s meticulous narration, which almost seems complex yet simple, creates a unique style. The reader’s attention is first intrigued by the author’s manner of narration; the use of the pronoun ‘you’, as though the author is without consent making the reader a character in her story(though you refers to Isioma). I think no narration beats this kind, as the use the stylistic use of the pronoun ‘you’ leaves the reader unconsciously engaged.
The diction is simple. I however noticed that the author uses individual words to express a specific idea or behaviour rather than the use of sentences. Words like Kinkier, Savvier, Slurp etc are striking descriptive words.
Damilare’s descriptions are quite vivid and dramatic, that you could almost feel things happening while in your imagination. The author didnt give a chance for boredom, maybe because the story is relatively short yet interesting. The story flowed with excitement from the beginning of the narrative and at the end, we are left hanging and induced by excitement.
This might be a SPOILER! So you can ignore it if you can’t afford to have spoilers or you can choose to see it as a teaser.
The part which intrigued me the most is Isioma’s intimate affair with Ehozie. The mild manner in which the author presented the entanglement, most especially the descriptions of the body movements, the flow of emotions, gives off an ecstatic impact. I was lost in the emotions expressed, I wasn’t thinking of right and wrong and just enjoyed or lived in the moment and only got back to the lane of right and wrong when the author took us back to the room raided by Isioma’s inlaws, then and there I got myself out of the lines of ecstasy. This is what I call manipulative writing; the power an author has over the reader!
Plot Summary Damilare Kuku’s Nearly All Men in Lagos are Mad: ‘Cuck Up’
The story begins at the point where after Isioma threatened to cut off her husband’s penis, he reports this to his family and they storm into isioma’s place to confront her for committing such an abomination. The author introduces the family members of Isioma’s husband Lukumon; a set of dramatic flock whose reaction to Lukumon’s report is aimed at criticizing and cursing Isioma.
The story takes a quick turn as the author employs flashbacks while exposing to the reader the reason behind Isioma’s decision to cut off Lukumon’s penis. A better picture of Isioma’s past is revealed to us, she falls for Lukumon because of his charms and skill at writing love notes and making her feel that all love song was sung for her. Isioma gets married to Lukumon despite her parents refusing to accept their daughter settling with a teacher. Isioma leaves every other man and settles for Lukumon, her first love. Due to her decision to marry Lukumon, she is now brought down to selling roasted corn and sometimes Boli at the junction of Unilag to provide for her daughter and Lukumon.
As the story proceeds, Ehozie is introduced. Ehozie is one character that provides a twist to the story, he is a queer character, whose relationship with Isioma led to the initial conflict presented at the beginning of the story. Ehozie and Isioma’s relationship first take an ordinary shape, as Ehozie displayed his generosity to Isioma. Soon enough they developed a better understanding of their companionship and soon realise that their consistent chat is only an escape from their real worlds. Things gets a lot more complicated when Ehozie asked for her to spend the weekend with him while proposing to employ her husband and give her enough money to sponsor her dream.
The peak of the story is at the point where isioma spends time with Ehozie as initially proposed. Things got nicely messy and she sweetly gives in to Ehozie; giving herself and her emotions.
Another twist! Turns out Lukumon kept persuading Isioma to go ahead with Ehozie’s proposal for the money and a better future for Kitan. However, Lukumon treats isioma badly after her affair with Ehozie, he refuses to touch her and sleeps around with other girls, even after he spent the money given to them by Ehozie. The resolution of the story leaves us hanging; with isioma’s inlaw shocked at this startling revelation.
Characters Damilare Kuku’s Nearly All Men in Lagos are Mad: ‘Cuck Up’
Isioma also called Isi is the main character of the story. She is described as the daughter of an ex-soldier and an ex-military nurse. She is married to Lukumon, who is her first love. Isioma is a loving girl who gets so attached to Lukumon because of the romantic love letters and songs which Lukumon presented to her. Despite her parents warning not to end up with a man who cannot provide much, she settles down with Lukumon who ends up becoming jobless a year after their marriage. Isioma is the mother of Kitan, she loves and cares for Kitan so much that works hard to provide for her, enough to send her to a private school, as she decided not to send her daughter to a public school.
Isioma is faced with hardship in her marriage and soon gets entangled with a man named Ehioze. Initially, her relationship with Ehioze was based on a polite trader- generous customer relationship, until Ehiozie proposes for them to have an affair, a proposal that comes with a wholesome benefit for her to achieve her dream and a job opportunity for Lukumon. Isioma rejects this proposal and feels insulted by it. However, on Lukumon persuading her, she engages in an illicit affair with Ehozie. Her husband Lukumon starts treating her bad due to her affair with Ehozie, and Isioma is annoyed by this development since Lukumon was the one who persuaded her to do what she initially rejected. Isioma threatened to cut off Lukumon’s penis as a result; this is the point at which the story began and resolves around.
Lukumkon is the husband to Isioma and the father of Kitan. He is the last and only son of his family, and as such was pampered by his family. He is described as good but a bit too lazy. He hides behind his family and is unable to call out his brother for stealing. He was a teacher and eventually becomes unemployed one year after his marriage to Isioma. He is however unwilling to look for a new job as he depends on the income from his wife’s job as a Boli(roasted plantain)seller. He is an opportunist and a hypocrite. He persuades his wife to sleep with another man for money and later turns out to punish her for doing what he asked her to do.
He is a wealthy and generous man in the middle of a painful divorce. He is one character that goes for what he wants, he is sincere and open-minded. He is appealed by Isioma’s polite manner of speaking and soon realises that his consistent visit to isioma serves as an escape from his troubled mind. He offers what he has,(which is money )for what he wants to have. He believes in negotiation and has this calm aurora that makes him take things rather lightly and never forcefully.
Olaoluwakitan ( Kitan)
Kitan is the six-year-old daughter of Isioma. She is as polite as her mother and is the major reason Isioma seems to be holding on to her marriage despite its ugly shades. Kitan seems to provide her mother with a calm spur, which depicts the very reasons most women endure an unfulfilling marriage.
He is the elder brother of Lukumon. He is portrayed as a thief, who pokes around Isioma’s home picking up what does not belong to him.
He is Lukumon’s uncle and is depicted as having a potbelly and a nasty temper. He feels himself and seems to have a bias over Igbo women. He is a devious man who always seeks opportunities to embrace Isioma’s bosom.
Lukumon’s elder sister. She is the only one who tries to appeal to Isioma’s emotion, but only to point fingers at her face for not being a good woman.
Mother of Lukumon and mother to Azeezat and Mufu. She appears indifferent to Isioma and never accepted her son’s marriage to Isioma. She doesn’t like Isioma and always speaks with an impassive appearance.