Sin Is a Puppy That Follows You Home
Balaraba Ramat Yakubu
(Translated by Aliyu Kamal)
Sin is a Puppy That Follows You Home might possibly be the first Hausa (a Chadic language) novel to be translated into English, but it deals with themes all too familiar to us. Written by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, it reads like a Hindi soap opera, complete with errant husbands, weeping wives, marriages, remarriages, divine intervention and ultimate atonement. The masala plot of the novel is clearly inspired by Bollywood.
In the 80s, Nigeria witnessed the birth of littattafan soyayya (books of love) which combined Hausa’s oral traditional with the popular story lines of Hindi cinema. Yakubu is one of the bestselling authors in this genre.
Sin is a quick read, which immerses the reader in the smells, cuisine and folklore of Nigeria. The book carries interesting sayings of the Hausa people like, “sleep is a thief” or the main theme of the book, “sin is like a puppy: if you stop and play with it in the road, it will follow you home”. These phrases and couplets evoke both the language and philosophy of the land.
Centered around the story of a selfish husband who abandons his wife and nine children for a younger woman, it clearly brings out the struggles and resilience of the womenfolk. The husband will see the folly of his ways, the wife will taste independence and ultimately all will end happily, but not before fights, squabbles and a raging fire take their due course.