The Famished Road By Ben Okri A Chapter By Chapter Summary

The Famished Road is a story about a spirit-child Azaro. After so many experiences in the living world, ”the great cycles of time” had finally tightened around his neck. This is his story:

Chapter One

At the beginning of this piece, there is a narration about a mystical world. In this world, spirits can transform into whatever they want to be. They also mingle with the unborn. There is plenty of music, food, and happiness. The spirit world has a king who usually appears in the form of a great cat. As a king, he has transformed into numerous creatures and lived a lot of lives in the physical world.  More often than a lot, the spirit children will embark into the physical world as newborns.

However, before leaving their world, they make promises of coming back. So, in the end, their stay on earth is short-lived, making their mothers cry and leaving their families in dejection. They are in turn given razor incisions in specific places on their bodies. Usually, they hide their marks with beauty spots or beautiful discolorations. If they appear in the same family they are welcomed with sadness.

The happier they become in the land of the spirits, the closer they are to their birth. Also, the more anguish they cause in the land of the living, the closer their cycle of rebirth.

A Resorting To

This time, the narrator promises himself to disregard the temptations of his spirit friends and also break his promise to them.

I was born not just because I had conceived a notion to stay, but because in between my coming and going the great cycles of time had finally tightened around my neck… it remains an enigma how it came to be that i was born, smiling.

Chapter Two

As a child, Azaro had a  lot of visions. One time, he sees his father being swallowed up by a hole and then his mother dangling from the branches of a blue tree. He goes through several experiences most of which he is confused about. He does not know whether he is re-living his past lives. Constantly, he is dreaming of several creatures or his life in other worlds. Occasionally, he hears voices asking him what he was doing on earth. Then, the voices threaten to make his life unbearable. At one time, his mother caught him screaming in the air and stared on at him as if he was delusional.

Azaro’s spirit friends are always making sure he gets into trouble. On several occasions, he had escaped certain deaths. He grew sick after his spirit friends lured him into a gutter with music. While he is alternating between the spirit world and the living world, his body starts depreciating. In the spirit world, Azaro began to plead with his spirit friends to let him be. However, he does not know that the longer he stays trying to negotiate with them, the more time they have to drag him to their world.

When it was time to leave, Azaro realizes he cannot go back to his body. His cry gets the attention of their King who intervenes and opens the gate to his body. He wakes up in a coffin and starts to scream. His parents who had given him up for dead rejoice and celebrate again. His parents name him Lazaro.  However, his mother shortened his name to Azaro after so many jests and the affiliations his name has to Lazarus in the Bible.

On His Sick Bed

During the period he was sick, Azaro’s parents had run in debts. After consulting so many native doctors, the last one had stated that Azaro is a spirit-child. Also, even though he did not want to be born, he is willing to fight to the last to stay alive. Because Azaro had a lot of visions, he was able to save his parents from a fire disaster in their home which burned down the whole place. The landlord is deeply upset. Then, he calls the police. The policemen came beating up everyone and getting reinforcements. The policemen arrest a lot of people including Azaro’s father.

This chaos eventually leads to a riot and everyone including Azaro and his mother start to run again. In the middle of the road, Azaro’s mother drops him to adjust her wrapper. However, a mass crowd rushes in, separating him from his mother. Azaro starts wandering about looking for his mum. The whole street is in a disastrous state and even worse are spirits lurking about. However, his search his cut short when some women who smelled of ”bitter herbs, appeared out of the darkness” and carried him away.

 

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