Title of Nove: The Paths That Take Us
Genre: Prose, Thriller Fiction
No. of Pages: 440 (inclusive of Acknowledgement)
No. Of Chapters: 25
Publisher: Print Doctor Africa
Year of Publication: 2022
We are all victims of this scheme of ploy orchestrated by different ideologies. While some ideologies align with the principle of good conscience as enshrined by the laws of society, others can be the very opposite of it.
In The Paths That Take Us, a crime novel written by Aliyu Baba-Ari, the author establishes that man is the architect of his own desperate desires. The only fiction about this novel is the reality of time and events of which the author’s narration is flawless. As a reader, I see the author capturing the Boko Haram Saga through the lens of his pen; a fictitious narrative that is too real to be fiction.
Assim brings to its knees, the good reputation and beautiful name of his family when he goes to the University of Maiduguri after a failed attempt to secure admission to the NDA. Mama supports him as she would not want to see her fragile son suffer in a military drill as Isa her first son is already recruited into the Nigerian Army.
Assim never gets on Baba’s good records until when news comes in that his son, Assim has been found dead.
Baba and Isah travel to Maiduguri to find his son’s corpse which he buries in tears before returning back to Abuja in deep emotion and pain, he would never forgive the culprit. Baba is happy when Isa informs him about his deployment to the Northeast where his brother was brutally burnt to death; a death caused by the dangerous Boko Haram. He vows that Isah will avenge his son’s death.
Assim takes a path that left him brainwashed. In the company of his friend Musa, he’s initiated into a deadly sect believed to be fighting for the cause of Islam and humanity, he gets a new name – Amir a title he’s proud of and works assiduously to prove. When he was ordained as Amir, Assim knew there would be no turning back.
He‘s now the photographer that captures the gory images of innocent girls and boys and even the army with his camcorder. He is the powerhouse of communication that conveys messages to the Nigerian Army and the government.
When Assim misses home, he pays a visit to his parents and informs Mama about his new ideology. When his parents resist him, he kills his father in a fit of anger.
In Paths That Take Us, we are ushered into a life of chaos as the first set of girls were abducted by the Boko Haram elements. The character of Camsi, Habiba, and Easther Darisu are unforgettable as well as the episodes that changed their life forever. While they were set up by the dreaded hands of insurgency, most of these girls will become child-mother errand detonators just as the young men will be recruited into the occultist life ripping them of their innocence.
“Take off your hijab,” he ordered. He was holding a bag
of what looked like loaves of bread.
She reluctantly raised the hijab over her and he
immediately slung the bag over her. It was much
heavier than it looked and Camsi felt her shoulders
slung under its weight.
“Do you know what this is?” Amir asked as he
straightened the bag around her waist.
“No,” Camsi said. The bag’s weight made it difficult for
her to speak.
“It’s a bomb,” Amir Said- pg 337
As the novel progressed, both the Nigerian Army and the Boko Haram records heavy casualty as Isa leads the battalion on the instruction of Chicharito that eventually killed one of the ring leaders like Sakhir.
Baba-Ari points to us that when danger lurks in like we are witnessing the universe of this novel, man is quick to take advantage of the situation and dabble into the business of it.
The tone of this novel is that of suspicion. When Chicharito asks Isa to empty the prison by freeing the prisoners, Isa had no idea what was about to unfold. His superior’s countenance is that of suspicion that has dire consequences.
Isa picked up the letter and skimmed the words. His
mouth was wide open as his eyes shifted from the
words to the Chief of Army Staff’s official letterhead.
They had been given 48 hours to “empty” the prison
cells in their barracks or face prosecution themselves.
“I need you to empty your cells,” Chicharito said, with
a mischievous look on his face.
“What do you mean sir?” Isa asked, understanding the
order but need to hear the exact words
Aliyu Baba-Ari is a crime novelist per excellence as the visual effect of the story is visible before the eyes of the reader in a compelling way. The Paths That Take Us is thrilling and keeps the reader at the edge of their seat as there are always layers and layers of problems in twists and turns.
It is almost difficult to think that a country like Nigeria can metaphorically become a ground for creative faction which the author captures aptly.
I will recommend this novel to every reader especially those who love crime novels. The novel can also be an excellent adaptation for a thriller movie that can compete with any of such movies in the world.