Eriye Onagoruwa reads from “Dear Alaere” at Rovingheights August 1

One year ago on August 1, 2020, Eriye Onagoruwa’s first novel, Dear Alaere, was published. The author will host her first physical book reading Sunday, August 1, 2021. The long wait, she says, is no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Please join me at Rovingheights (inside Landmark Mall) Oniru by 3:00 pm tomorrow, as I read excerpts from Dear Alaere, interact with the audience and sign copies,” says the author in an email announcing the event.

Dear Alaere is a social commentary on Nigeria that captures a woman’s quest for the much-elusive work-life balance and societal acceptance in the commercial city of Lagos.

Eriye Onagoruwa is a creative writer, author, lawyer and financial literacy expert whose passion for women’s causes, especially financial literacy and investment, is the pedestal upon which she addresses some of the largest and most influential women clusters in Nigeria and across Africa. 

She is a member of the Nigeria branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. 

Read an excerpt from Dear Alaere:

Alhaji Wasiu is off work today. Thoughts of my blue patterned bed sheet illuminate my mind as I hesitate between taking an Uber or the yellow bus. I picture the dreary-looking passengers on the buses whom I have become accustomed to seeing on my drive home. I hop on a bus that seems in decent shape, comparatively. The yellow scraps are held together by four battered tires. Duct tape holds scraps of cardboard on the edges of windows. A handheld mirror serves as the driver’s side mirror, taped to fit the frame.

There are more standing passengers who hold on to the levers than those sitting on makeshift chairs. The air is a mix of stale sweat and bad breath. Luckily, I find a seat beside a full-bosomed woman who looks like she can feed several babies and still have some milk to spare. I try hard not to stare but other passengers are less discreet. A big-eyed man in a ragged suit ogles her chest, he starts a mundane conversation about the shape of the driver’s head. He keeps his eyes on her chest rather and seems not to notice her blotchy face and the garish pencil lines drawn in place of her eyebrows. She pays no attention and seems used to gazes from lecherous men.

The conductor growls, “Sango bus-stop, get ready to jump!”

The woman stands up and moves closer to the door as the bus slows down. As she prepares to jump out of the bus, the man’s gaze is still fixed on her melons. He cries after her with angst in his voice, “You mean you’re leaving me? So soon?” The bus driver revs and drives at full throttle while the lady and her melons fade away in the sooty smoke.

Soon, a thick-set woman with an unnatural yellow complexion and dark knuckles appears and holds up a tube cream for the passengers to see. “You see this cream? It is called Zazako. Zazako is the number one tried and proven cream for impotency. How many men’s things have stopped functioning? Raise your hands! Don’t be ashamed. God sent me to you.”

A number of men, seemingly fascinated at the thought of their libidos returning, raise their hands as if hypnotized. The woman rambles on, “If you rub Zazako twice daily, your thing go harrrrddd! Na your wife go beg you! E go stand kakaraka like baton. Na only one thousand naira. Buy am today and save your marriage. Save your affair with that fine girlfriend.”

I laugh out loud until my sides hurt. She pays no attention to me as Zazako cream is exchanged for rumpled nairas. She counts them with an undisguised ingratiating smile. She puts the Zazako cream away and waves a slender container in the air. “This one is called Anamabia…”

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