By Yinka Fabowale
The Waiting Room’, written by Bolatito Adebayo, is a fascinating novel that intrigues right from the first letter to the last ink jot on the 301 paged narrative which tracks the typical travails of couples in childless marriages, particularly in Africa.
Early in the book, the reader is introduced to the three pairs of protagonist- couples: Nkechi and Shola; Yeni and Tunde; and Tale and Kunle Thompson with their peculiar troubles, which, one is made to gain the impression will quickly be over.
Thus, the reader might be pardoned if he anticipates a swift denouement and conclusion of the story on the next few leaves, and wonders what the author still has to say in the incredible mass of more than 200 pages left.
Suspense: That is one of the powerful literary tools Adebayo has in common with accomplished writers and which she employs to weave a thrilling fictional story out of her own life experience, battling infertility. The female journalist was married for seven traumatic years before having her first child.
In “The Waiting Room”, she packed and unpacked the harrowing experiences, fears and agonies the hapless women and their husbands who find themselves in similar situations suffer after a brief life of bliss together, in their desperation to escape the stigma and shame of being barren, amid prejudices and pressures from families, friends and the society.
Adebayo’s offering is an interesting reel of love scenes, of romance, betrayals, mysticism, superstition, power of religious faith and its often fraudulent exploitation by fake prophets which all come to play in the affairs.
The book is also a revelation of great modern advancement in medical science and technology as well as several orthodox and unorthodox (if not dubious) child-bearing methods and helps available to seeking couples.
With breezy, warm, engaging prose, Adebayo tracks the stories of the victims, and gets the reader to acutely feel and share in their pains, sensitivity, secret fears and the effects of the vulnerabilities of the married couples on themselves and their conditions.
She also highlights the danger and harm poor handling of the problem, especially externalization of their problems or caving in to interference advice and pressures by friends and relations sometimes cause, either by compounding the crisis or threatening it with tragic end.
But the three heroines- Nkechi, Yeni and Tale are dogged fighters. They resiliently fought and won their battles against physical and mental torture, suffering and mocking despair, to cuddle their own babies in the end.
For a book that simply explored love and relationship issues, “The Waiting Room” scores high in its lucidity, graphic and gripping narration that forces the reader to keep flipping the leaves at the end of every page, every chapter!
It is also remarkably rich in information and education on reproductive health, while boldly exposing different nuanced scenarios, developments and challenges that normally arise from or related to such troubled marriages and love relationships generally.
There is also much to be said about the author’s prowess in plumbing and dissembling for the audience the inner emotions, sensitivity and feelings of the characters. While this could owe to Adebayo’s predisposition to connect with their experience, having been in their shoes before, her adroit rendition in making the reader to empathize with the victim, bear evidence to her versatile talent not only as a prose stylist but also a seasoned movie script writer.