Loss is gripping and to come to terms with it means accepting change.
“This place was like the slow and tentative reawakening of a beautiful childhood memory, once cherished, now forgotten.”
The pang of loss never seems to come in terms with the cycle of living human lives. Loss is lonely and excruciating. Avinuo Kire’s latest book, “Where the Cobbled Path Leads” addresses loss in an alluring and enchanting narration. A blending of folktales and traditional tribal mystics, Where the Cobbled Path Leads is a fantasy fiction. Kire, being the tribal she is, chronicles the spirit world of her ancestors by weaving a story that’s central to tribal identity.
“Vime used to love reading but of late, she found that no story could sustain her attention for long. This worried her sometimes— that perhaps something alive in her had died along with Mother.”
Vime, a young girl is mourning her mother’s passing for exactly a year now but she can’t seem to come in terms with the reality. As an act of consoling herself, Vime loves exploring the forest which the cobbled path near her house leads. In melancholy, she finds comfort and encouragement in the place where the cobbled path leads. In contrast, Kire uses Vime to voice the reality. Vime, the second daughter of a widower seems to be living under the shadow of her perfect, feminine elder sister, Neime. Often times Vime is compared and contrasted with Neime. It was in times like this that Vime misses her mother. For, her mother would never compare her to anyone but would appreciate Vime for who she is.
“The keepers of the forest would never allow it. But I was able to take you to the fringes bordering the human and the spirit world. We call it the in-between. That’s where human souls stop to rest before their final journey to paradise.”
“…the in-between is ever changing; coalescing, expanding outward, inward, evanescing…Tei’ voice trailed off…..” The essence of the stories of spirits would always be a part of a tribal Naga. You have the forest spirits wandering around singing forest songs and sometimes making conversations to humans; the great tree Kijübode that talks and Miawenuos, diminutive female spirits that roamed the forest. But in a parallel world the Indian armies are going after Naga Armies and Khriebu, Vime’s best friend’s uncle who serves in the Naga army had to hide. It is a nexus of reality and an enchanted world. Avinuo Kire whisk her roots in a fantasy narration which makes this book even more memorable.
“Stories go to the bold, Vime, to those who seek it. I was too timid to become a storyteller.”
“…oh we women are different. We’re more independent…”. Loss is gripping and to come to terms with it means accepting change. Vime’s father is ready to start a new life with Khrielie after his wife’s passing. But to the two daughters it mean a new but different life. This bitterness is felt in great part in Vime. She is still coping with her mother’s absence and she would do anything to bring her mother back. …how could father do this to Apfo?. It’s too soon. We don’t need a stranger in our lives…… Vime would then find comfort in the enchanted forest where Tei, the forest spirit showed her the portal to the in-between.
The in- between
“And certainly, grief is a beautiful child of love, undying, borne out of love after all. And yet sometimes, when human sorrow is unyielding, it consumes all else that is still good.”
“…..it would be arrogance to deny the existence of the supernatural world….”. Kire creates a subtle contemplation on the existence of spirit world when the father questions Vime after her venture into the spirit world .…Vime, could it be possible that you had dreamt the entire thing?….. Well, at the end of the day what you believe in is the ultimate truth. But disregarding the spirit world would also mean shedding away part of an identity. Well, you have to read this to book to determine the existence of the spirit world!
The last word
Kire’s writing is crisp, informed and symbolic. Themes of loss, family relationship, loneliness, acceptance and identity are explored in this book. Kire’s book is enchanting and continues apace. If you love reading fantasy and folklores, this book is ideal.
Where the Cobbled Path Leads
By Avinuo Kire
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Random House
Genre: Fantasy Fiction