Twisted Love and danger of favouritism in nuclear family
The story of Jacob’s family is a popular tale among religious families, but there is an aspect of the Biblical story of Joseph to which people do not pay attention. There are many aspects to that story, but the one that seemingly gains less attention is Jacob’s favoritism of Joseph over his brothers. The eventual end of Joseph’s story and the portrayal of Jacob’s bias, as a part of the larger plan to see Joseph become a governor in Egypt and the saviour of his people, makes it difficult to critique the Jacobian bias. If Joseph had not aligned himself with the set plans for his life, he could well have perished due to his father’s bias for him. As often as this critical part of the Joseph story is neglected, the truth remains that the cons of favouritism in a family — nuclear or extended, monogamous or polygamous — outweigh the pros.
What happens when parents, in a typical Jacobian move, favour one child over another? What happens when parents do not allow for individual differences in their children? What happens when all children are scrutinised from the same high pedestal without factoring in their individual strengths and weaknesses? What happens when parents overlook a child’s flaws just because such a child seemingly covers up for it with excellent academic performance? What happens when parents flippantly ignore concerns of heightened sibling rivalry?
In a world where the sad news of sibling-rivalry-induced vices such as killing, injuring, or kidnapping is prevalent, Adetanwa Odebiyi’s seven-chapter Twisted Love explores these salient questions in a way that exposes the grave dangers of open bias for a child over others. True to the maxim that literature is the mirror of society, Twisted Love is a social commentary wrapped in the skin of fiction, and its comments touch primarily on the overreaching and dangerous effects of singling out a child as the continual recipient of biased familial love. In 208 pages, Odebiyi explores how sibling rivalry, if left unattended to, can degenerate into a lifelong hatred among siblings and go as far as murder. She does not waste time on unnecessary themes; the subject matter is clearly treated from the outset, and her level of expertise in seeing that such a subject matter is sustained to the end, without losing readers’ interest in the book, is worthy of accolades.
Twisted Love is a book set in early post-colonial Nigeria, and it opens with a description of life in the family of Mr. and Mrs. Adeoti, a middle-class family with both parents as top civil servants in the educational sector. The Adeotis have four children: Funmi, Ronke, Bayo, and Lolu. From the beginning, the reader is made to understand that the Adeoti’s family places primacy on intellectual prowess and excellent academic performance.
They are blessed with intellectually sound children, save for the second child, Ronke, who is not as academically bright as her siblings. The other children are indulged, and their excesses are overlooked because of their brilliance. Mr. Adeoti does not mind when Funmi shies away from house chores, and he sees no wrong in Lolu being a spoiled boy, as long as they keep their excellent grades. Also, Mr. Adeoti does not hide the fact that Funmi is his favorite of all the four children, and he expresses this by showering her with gifts. Ronke, having noticed her parents’ bias for Funmi, learned to throw tantrums and circumvent her parents’ decisions. So she can get a new pair of sandals, Ronke destroys the used sandals passed down to her from her sister. All through their childhood, Ronke strives to be as accepted as Funmi, but she does not possess the qualities that Funmi has, and her parents are not ready to give her the same level of attention, not minding her person.