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A Conversation with ‘Nights of the Creaking Bed’

Just like the blurb rightly puts it, Toni Kan’s Nights of the Creaking Bed is full of colourful characters and as well, in my own opinion, interesting issues. These (characters and issues) come alive and die with various themes explored by the narratives. The author successfully merges the issues of the day in Nigeria with the typical Nigerian character: rough and rugged; hopeful but pessimistic; loving but lustful; meek but deadly. The writer weaves corruption, intolerance, violence and parental irresponsibility around the forbidden matter of sex. Thus, in every narration, there is an iota of sex. We will therefore examine the whole collection from the perspective of ‘issues’ and ‘characters’. Issues are those with expressions as titles while characters represent the narratives with human titles.

The Issues

‘Nights of the Creaking Bed’, the first of the stories, is a well-told narration that explores single parenthood as well as adultery with its attending consequences. The story is gripping and has a high tempo which justifies its position in the collection. The issue is simply this: Meze’s mother and her lover reap the fruit of adulterous escapade. ‘The passion of pololo’ is the third of the collection. It critically x-rays the issue of marital unfaithfulness. It is also a warning unto parents to watch their steps in front of their wards. Pololo walks into his mother and her lover’s sexual adventure in his own room and never remains the same. He turns a pervert. He later rapes his own mum. A stab at do-what-I-say-and-not-what-I-do attitude.

‘the echo of silence’ is a sort of comic relief as it is better imagined than real.

‘my perfect life’ is an expose on the psychological makeup of deserted lovers. It is a combination of lust, lusting and lustfulness. It reflects the dilemma of housewives on what to choose between having fun and keeping a family. The character, Sylvia, decides on a life of fun. She, as the story implies, goes off with her first lover in search of love, sex and lust. ‘god is listening’ dwells on the unfairness of this world. It is a riches-turned-rags story of a girl who loses her parents to death and their belongings to a wicked uncle. She becomes the opposite of all what she dreams to be in life. The question that rings throughout the story is: can God really allow a being to carry so much burden, sorrow and grief? ‘the devil’s overtime’ seems to be the longest of the collection. It reflects on how some people are so near to their destiny and yet so far away from it. It tells of smiles and sobs in the whole wide world. A mother abandons her child; the child turns to the dark underworld. At a time Daniel seeks repentance, he meets his end. It simply narrates parental irresponsibility and negligence. the phone call goodnight’ is a pointer to the high rate of criminality in the Nigerian society. Ndu, like the biblical Daniel, goes into the devil’s den, and still stays alive to recount his ordeal. It highlights how the resolve of a woman to save her husband eventually pays off. ‘the car they borrowed’ portrays Nigerian Police as bandits who rob the populace they are paid to protect. Burnor has no way of proving his innocence and honesty  as the officers in black are the agents of the dark. ‘age of iron’ is philosophical and prophetic. It looks at the present and predicts the future. It is the emergence of a renewed hope for a country a lot of people have given up on.

The Characters

‘Broda Sonnie’, a Christian conductor, falls in love with Risi, a muislim teacher-to-be. Sonnie meets his death in the hands of Risi’s brother (Mufu) and his gang. They never want their daughter as a wife to a never-do-well Christian conductor. ‘ahmed’ is a naive village boy who wants to see life as it is reported  by his brother, Yinusa. He is consumed by the very passion he has longed for. ‘Buzuzu’ is a fine officer of the police force. He sees his detective job as a calling. He is wounded in the course of seeking justice for a lover-prostitute he hardly knows. ‘Stella’s’ quest for love is quenched by the heavy burden fate has placed on her shoulder. She has three brothers to cater for after death has snatched away her parents. This is her albatross. No man wants to share the responsibility. She remains single until fate again plays a cruel joke on her: Stella dies with her private parts missing.


This anthology thrives on powerful use of language. The writer is poetic and vivid in his portrayal of issues and characters. The story is compact. The dosage of sexual revelation is minimal contrary to public opinion when compared to the level of sexual exposure in foreign texts. The Sex issues explored are as real as the people involved. It is only that our society does not want to admit them. In all, the book is a good read.


The only minus in the collection is the one-sidedness of the author in treating extremism, in whatever colour (religious or ethnic). In ‘Broda Sonnie’, the writer portrays Muslims as extremists. He also mentions the Jos crisis and put the whole blame on Muslims. I do not agree with this as both Christians and Muslims in Nigeria are aggressive. We are a religious but ungodly lot. Not too long ago, a Christian student went into the Central Mosque in UI on a Friday to proclaim her gospel in the midst of Jumat prayer. The Jos killing was a mix of Muslim and Christian connivance at denying their land some peace. As writers, we need to maintain a balance in looking at any issues let alone an issue as fragile as religion.

Toni Kan can do better!

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