Short Story #28. Passion (Doreen Baingana)

Deal Me In Reading Challenge: I drew the queen of diamonds.

Story: Passion, by Doreen Baingana (from The Granta Book of the African Short Story)

Comments: This is perhaps the best story I’ve read in this collection so far.  It is told in the person of Rosa, a seventeen-year-old high school student in boarding school in Uganda, who decides to conduct a juju experiment on her (male) English literature teacher – ostensibly because she is rebelling against the anti-juju teaching that is being hammered into the students, but in reality because she is a seventeen-year-old girl/woman fascinated with sex, men, passion.  How the teacher deals with her not-very-subtle [except to her] attempt to seduce him, encouraging her, in a slightly clumsy but effective way, to channel her passion elsewhere, via literature, makes this a classic rite-of-passage or coming-of-age story.

The author captures the voice of a seventeen year old girl excellently, with just the right mixture of alleged boredom with school and disdain for her so uncool teachers (admitting, nevertheless, a certain amount of respect for them), rebelliousness, fascination with sex and sexuality, and independent thoughtfulness.  The dialogue with her classmates is as authentic as the passages which take place in Rosa’s head.

I had no idea when reading the story that it is from a collection of interlocking stories, Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe, involving three sisters (Christine, Rosa, and Patti) and their experience of growing up in Uganda in the years immediately after the rule of Idi Amin.  The story certainly stands very well on its own.  But I’m now interested in reading the whole collection.