The storyline of Regina Amollo’s A Season of Mirth is set in a village in Eastern Uganda. The events revolve around Okanya’s chauvinistic and domineering nature. He beats Abeso, his wife once in a while, even for the wrongs committed by Ikiso and Anaro his two daughters.
Abeso is a worried woman. Her worries stem not from her own situation but from Okanya’s constant yearning to mould a marriageable woman out of Anaro.
“…. every mistake by the girls was blamed on the mother. He [Okanya] was there to supervise, guide and correct what he thought big mistakes and with the stick.”
At one point, Okanya almost kills her, after coming from a drinking spree. This situation forces Abeso to make a concoction she believes will enable her to forgive, love and care for her husband even in the face of the brutality meted out on her. She gets this concoction fron Lakeri, her future in-law, after Okanya batters her. She argues out that if it were not for Lakeri and the leaf she believed would help mitigate the violence directed at her from Okanya, she would have run away from her marital home a long time ago. “I would not have gone back to him.”
Okanya is a bitter man, disappointed that his wife has failed to bear him a son, whereas his peers all have sons. He had actually stopped hoping that his 33 year old wife would ever bear a child.
In a society webbed in superstition and backward beliefs, Abeso is convinced that some woman with an evil eye could have ‘hidden her uterus’, the probable reason she has not borne a son yet. She directs her suspicions to the late Okanya’s mother.
Adding to the pressure, the people in this society believe that sons would look after their sisters in case the parents died.
“A brother was most important. When a girl married, her brother was guaranteed to get married because he needed the dowry to marry as well.”
Meanwhile, Anaro is in a fix. She foresees the recurrence of her mother’s situation on herself after she gets married to Ewiu, the son of Lakeri. She is faced with the dilemma of where to run to in the event that Ewiu, who is a police constable in Kampala, decides to batter her. The only hope she gets is from her mother’s advice:
“If you show him respect, he will feel good and will not beat you unless he is a natural woman beater.”
The mother also offers Anaro the leaf she was given by Lakeri, arguing it would tame Ewiu’s anger and he would not batter her.
In A Season of Mirth, Amollo highlights social vices like domestic violence, male chauvinism, backward and degenerate superstitions. She emphasizes the essence educating the girl child, as the only way of empowering her and pulling her out of the cultural yolk that enslaves her.