Redemption in Indigo – Karen Lord

Paama has left her husband. She went to visit her family and never returned. The family moved away. Now her husband has employed a tracker, Kwame, to find her.

Paama’s living with her family and has fended off the village gossip by way of just enough information to stop them enquiring and her fabulous cooking.

Besides, it kept Paama busy enough to ignore the nagging question of how she was going to tell Ansige she was never coming back. She will have to consider that question soon, for efficient Kwame has already traced her whereabouts and, not without a qualm, reported to Ansige.

And Ansige, in his desperation, will not be sending messages or servants this time. He is coming to speak to her, face to face.

The villagers are desperate to know what the situation with Paama’s marriage is. It becomes clear to the reader fairly quickly as we follow his progress to Paama’s village: Ansige is a glutton.

Truth to tell, his frame looked as of it would take far more than three days’ worth of racking to pare it down. Ansige was not flabby, no, but he was solid. Layers of muscle braced the fat around his arms, legs and shoulders. Only his belly betrayed him. He carried a prosperous paunch before him and occasionally stroked it as fondly as any expectant mother cradling her womb.

After his arrival at the village, we are told three tales of Ansige’s gluttony. In all of which he does something foolish and Paama rescues him, covering for him so the rest of the villagers don’t see the truth.

Another story runs parallel to the tale of Paama and Ansige’s marriage. At the beginning of the novel, we’re related a conversation by two unknown speakers:

‘She alone can safely wield the power that I shall take from our…former colleague.’ The last two words rode on the breath of a regretful sigh.

‘Will you really? I mean, to involve a human! Are you certain?’

These two unknown figures have plans for Paama, fate-like plans in which Ansige, if he is not careful, will be brushed aside like a fly. It is the pause point of the wave at its crest, the rumbling of a distant storm, the thrill in the backbone when the eyes of the predator glitter in the moonlight from the darkness of the trees and tall grass. Something is going to change, and it is for you to judge at the end of the tale who has made the best of the change and of their choices.

The unknown figures introduce a different world to the story: that of talking arachnids and insects, that of the undying – the tricksters and the djombis. The plans for Paama involve a Chaos stick, taken from an indigo coloured djombi and he wants it back.

Redemption in Indigo reads as an oral tale that’s being passed on to the reader. We’re guided by a narrator who interjects, pointing out the likelihood of elements of the story and making asides about characters. Lord uses a three-part structure for the tales of Angsie’s gluttony and Paama’s moments with the indigo djombi. I relate this to fairytales but I’m sure it’s typical of many other forms of storytelling too.

The fantastical elements of the book are outside of my usual reading sphere. As a result, I’m sure there are references I’ve missed but I did enjoy venturing into the world of spirits and talking animals. An interesting read.

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