Tabut by Uju Uzuegbunam

★★★★★   In the West African city of Nzuma, Tabut’s mother, Shanti, is struck by a vehicle while out selling produce to support the family, and, as a result, she begins to periodically suffer from debilitating seizures. A young boy, Tabut is faced with the hard decision of leaving school so he can stay at home and help provide better care for his mother. But one day, when the neighborhood power grid goes out, Shanti suffers one of her largest seizures yet, and Tabut is forced to find someone nearby who might have a working telephone so that he can contact the local hospital. Little does he know that this split-second decision, meant to save his mother’s life, will carry far more dire implications for his own life, for years to come.

Tabut is a tough story to read sometimes, but only because the author, Uju Uzuegbunam, so accurately depicts the world-altering aftershocks of an abusive event. Faced not only with the guilt of letting his family down in its time of deepest need, Tabut is filled with shame over what happened to him that fateful night, and tortured by his inability to talk to others about his experience, even into adulthood. At the core of this story, though, is Uzuegbunam’s belief that resentment will just as surely poison the victim as it will the perpetrator. It is by no means an easy journey for Tabut to make, but his mission to forgive his abuser is both believable and important, and shows how essential it is for us, wherever possible, to reach out to loved ones when working through something as significant as sexual abuse.

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