What is ageing like? What does it mean to age? Is it ever graceful?

The folly of youth is invincibility. That one will never age, develop a pouch, never lose motor or cognitive functions.

Perhaps it is this that inspired Sarah Ladipo Manyika to ink Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun.

Published by Cassava Republic, a recently founded printing press in London for and about African writers, the author tells the story of Dr Morayo Da Silva, a former professor of English, originally from Jos, Nigeria living in San Francisco.

The ex-wife of a diplomat, lives in a sturdy apartment with view to die for. She longs for home, the way pleasant memories cause longing, but would not move back because she would miss her adopted American city.

Lost love

On the eve of her 75th birthday, she suffers a fall, hurting her hip. She undertakes her convalescence in an old people’s home.

With her independence under scrutiny and with no one but hospital staff and a friend to visit, Dr Da Silva finds herself reminiscing about her past; her marriage to her diplomat husband, discovering years later she was the second wife, finding herself after the devastation of lost love with no children, but students to fill her days and while her time away.

The book is easily written, perhaps conversationally with the intention of a story told by a grand parent. The author hops from one character to another drawing out each one’s main subject matter. From the homeless girl with her dog, to the yogi friend who cares for home and visits her in hospital to the ex-husband.

She manages to draw out each of them well enough to halt any confusion that might arise from the first person narration.

Tongue in cheek

The blessing that comes with old age is captured in the book, perhaps more easily than anticipated.

The matter of the ageing woman’s desires are laid bare unashamedly as part of the story, introducing her younger passions and intimacies to when they cooled and how she handled it.

We cannot end the review without mentioning something about the title, perhaps the reason I reached out for it in the first place, besides the fact that it is a 2016 publication.

The tongue in cheek title stresses the fact that a snail’s or tortoise pace is not particularly ideal for delivery ice cream on a hot summer day!
Ms Manyika is a writer to look out for and worth the discovery.