Memories We Lost and Other Stories is an anthology of short stories compiled by Chris Wanjala. It is an optional English Set Book in Kenya. The book features many literary works done by different Authors from different Countries across the World hence a wider setting.
The most featured work is ‘Memories We Lost’ by a South African Author, Lidudumalingani. The short story was nominated for and won The Caine Prize for African Fiction 2016. It is about challenges brought by mental illness to the victim and those around them. The mental illness is schizophrenia. Other issues it addresses superstition, ignorance, love, a few but to mention.
‘Memories We Lost’ is a biography. The life of a sister seen by a younger sister who acts as protector of her sister, whose serious mental health problems cause consternation in a South African village. The illnesses is first described as this thing that takes the narrator’s younger sister. Over time it robs the sister of the ability to speak and remember hence the title Memories We lost. The title is a reflection of loss and regret.
The narrator shows sisterly love and cares for the sick sister really well. They always played and worked together in all circumstances. Their mother too demonstrated love and she did whatever she can to have her daughter healed of “the thing”. Like any good mother, she had made many attempts to have the girl cured.. She had used herbs, modern medication, prayers and even consulted local medicine men – witchdoctors. An example is Nkunzi, a local man who employed traditional techniques to rid people of their demons. But the sick sister situation deteriorated as her care is entrusted to Nkunzi.The narrator opposed the practices of Nkunzi and for that sake the two decided to escape from their home village in the middle of the of one night.
The work is inspired by the writers real life experience. ‘Of Memories We Lost ’ he says, ‘I am fascinated by mental illnesses, and having seen my own extended relatives deal with it – a sort of ongoing journey – I was trying to find ways or invent ways that could help me write about how one family is dealing with it.’
Other works are:
1. ‘How Much Land Does Man Need’ By Leo Tolstoy.
2. ‘Light ’ By Lesley Nneka Arimah.
3. ‘My Father’s Head’ By Okwiri Oduor
4. ‘The umbrella Man’ By Sipphar Thagigoo
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