First published in 2009 by FEMRITE and edited by Ugandan author Violet Barungi, Talking Tales is a collection of twenty short stories and poems- written by different female authors. The stories came out of a number of workshops held by FEMRITE for female authors held in Kampala Uganda.
Talking Tales covers several themes: forbidden love, losing a loved one, justice or the lack of it in society, violence, corruption, betrayal, and the unpredictability of fortune among others. Needless to say, the stories are really about what happens in our society, and as one reads through, it feels as though the stories are really talking to you- maybe that’s where the title came from!
At 20 stories and given the numerous themes, Talking Tales has something for all generations. Readers young and old will connect with the stories and poems, as they learn what life was then and what it is now. This is a book in which the reader will experience so many different emotions since the stories are told in a forthright and humorous manner, most of them being written in the narrative.
The poetry section has numerous short poems also by different authors. As with the short stories, all focus on different aspects of life like love, childhood memories, death, power, corruption and friendship. One poem, “The Coffin Seller” really got my attention. As the title suggests, it is about a coffin seller, who is down on his luck. His business is not doing well – sales have been slow for a couple of weeks. His family is suffering and his children have been chased from school since he has no money to pay their school fees. As a result he hates everyone: the efficient bus driver, the fat pharmacist, the doctors, the lovers in the square, and the noisy children from school…………….all these remind him his own dilemma and “he bows his head and pleads with God for a few customers!!”
I thought it rather ironic- the people he hates are the very ones involved in saving or renewing lives hence depriving him of customers. How the saying ‘one man’s meat is another’s poison’ rings so true here!