Happiness, Like Water.

‘ You are an emotionally abusive mother whose greatest function in my life has been to perpetuate your husband’s abuse. It has always been and always will be about him. About not making him angry, about taking care of him, about giving him food this way and that. He will always be your number one priority. And so you see, I have no business being here.’

BOOK: Happiness, Like Water.

AUTHOR: Chinero Okparanta.

‘Chinero Okparanta writes stories that are brave and devastating’ – Mohsin Hamid.

… and yes, I couldn’t agree less. This author tackles the reality that most of us would otherwise not say. The stories of emotional and physical abuse that we want to keep out of the picture. The struggles of self-esteem and how mostly some African women find it trendy to be light skinned. She addresses the challenges of being LGBT and in Africa, and one has to go through all this without succumbing to the traditions and expectations. Plus, so much more.

Let’s have a closer look.


On Ohaeto Street.

  • A school teacher gets married to Jehovah’s witness under the influence of her mom, only for her to realize later than her worth to him is not even as much as His Car’s. And that on their wedding day, The car should have been the wife instead.


  • A married couple struggles to get a child and this is the reason for their constant visits to the dibia. A married woman feels a pain each time she is having intercourse with her husband, and a mother in law eavesdrops on his son and the wife while they are making love, fulfilling their conjugal duties.


  • A modern mother is obsessed with the idea of being fair/ light skinned. It is for this reason that she goes to America and buys lotions and creams, and can’t stop looking at the other women on American Magazines. Two girls hide in the washroom with bleaching soap only for one of them to get burnt thoroughly. But at least, she would be fair for a while. It is believed that fairness is a beauty as even the mosquitoes prefer the fairer ones and seem to bite them more.

Story! Story!

  • A woman attends church continuously but she is burdened by not having had any males show interest in her. She has no child too, and she is an old maid. For that matter, she has been targeting new women who attend church and telling them a story. A story about a friend of hers who died a decade ago when she was in bed and pregnant. What she doesn’t reveal though is that it’s at her hand that these women die. She sacrifices them, using a portion from the dibia. She also doesn’t tell them another thing. That they are all good women, pregnant and expecting. She has killed four so far! They all die in their sleep, with their children. She stays the same. Going to the dibia out of habit!

Runs Girl.

  • A virgin university girl sleeps with a man for 1000 USD so she can treat her mother.


  • Two females are in love. That kind of thing could land you in jail while in Nigeria. The struggle is for one to join the other in America.


  • A woman abused by her husband, who is also a student at a university in America, tries to seek shelter outside his place, with her daughter.


  • A lecturer, at a university, falls in love with her student Grace. Grace is forced to get married to her Nigerian suitor but still proposes to her lecturer who is about two and half decades older. Her reason is, happiness is like water.
    ( This is one of my favorite chapters)


  • A man is torn between loving his childhood sweetheart and Celeste, his first friend at the university. What happens when his fiancee walks in on him and Celeste making love by the street one humid night?

Tumors and butterflies.

  • An emotionally and physically abusive husband and father disowns his child and bans her from the house. A woman won’t let go of her abusive husband and she is ready to blackmail her child just so she can keep her husband.

It’s brutal. It’s INTENSE!



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