'Kanyinsola’s “The Comedian” is an inverted portrayal of grief' by Agboola Timi Israel

Kanyinsola Olorunnisola. Photo source: Writivism

By Agboola Timi Israel

The Comedian is Kanyinsola attempting to mimic a better quality of grief—a short, pithy work establishing an intimacy, a connection, between the reader and the story. It is chock-full of understatements that help us realise how much the author is struggling to cope with the tragedy of loss, a scarred reality, a gap in the place of things.

It is a randomly revolving tape of scenes timed around one event: the death of the author’s father. We are drawn to dwell in the same place the author has—to vicariously experience his emotions.

The late father is inarguably the prominent figure of the piece, as he closes and opens it. Yet, we are caught in a cloudy feeling of absence. He is not here—but there and not really there, a common theme to heartbreaking personal loss. This effect is heightened at the end, where we are made privy to a father-child conversation that is almost cinematic, captured in melodious pain:

TWO DAYS to your death, I show you the latest anthology I have been published in and a new national writing award I just won. You read my poems and marvel at the words, wondering how I conjured them. I smile sheepishly. It is a common routine neither of us ever gets tired of.

“You have such a bright future.”

“Thank you, sah.”

“I can’t wait to see how far your writing career goes. I cannot wait to see just how far you go in life.”

So we see and feel how much the father means in a few lines of text, then the despair, the sudden darkness, a hardening like the site of old wound—“I smile. You smile back. But God is somewhere mocking our foolishness. If only we knew. If only we got the fucking joke.”

Read our previous reviews of the Writivism 2019 shortlisted works:

Review of Frances Ogamba’s “The Valley of Memories” and “Ghana Boy” by Carl Terver

Review of Vuyelwa Maluleke’s “Tale” by Joshua Tyovenda

“The Comedian” is an applaudable rendition of a most traumatic event, measured, and mournful in places. In it, Kanyinsola tells us something about the nature of pain and grief that results from loss. At the same time, you cannot but feel something else in-between the lines, beneath the current. Something that the author is trying to pass to us: A ghost from the other side with a sickle in its hands, and the feeling that we are totally condemned to miss it. And God, as comedian, authors this. We laugh now, but it will be a while before we realise that the joke is about us.

Kanyinsola rises to masterful writing here, telling all our stories out of the personal■

Agboola Timi Israel is currently a short story writer who has published three novels and a collection of shorts all to critical acclaim in his head. He is often busy trying to capture the human condition in writing, photography, musings, and memes. Especially memes. He was born halfway through the year 2000.

Praxis Magazine is in partnership with Writivism this year (2019) and brings you reviews of the Writivism shortlisted works of fiction and the Koffi Addo Prize for Creative Nonfiction. Watch this space.

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