LIGHT By Lesley Nneka Arimah - Memories we Lost and Other Stories Study Guide

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Lesley Nneka Arima was born in United Kingdom and grew up wherever her father was stationed to work. This was sometimes in Nigeria or even out of Nigeria. She has been published in the New Yorker and Granta. Her story, the light was winner of the 2015 commonwealth short story prize for Africa. Her work has received grants and awards from Commonwealth writers, AWP, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Jerome foundation and others. She is currently living in Minneapolis.

The Light touches on key issues, which revolve around education and parenting. Having grown up separated from her mother, Nneka understands what this kind of schism can do to relationships: Mother to child and wife to husband.

The story handles effectively the themes of separation, parenting, technology and emancipation. It is an exciting story about expectations for both teenagers and young couples. The author ridicules parents who abandon their parenting responsibilities and expect their children to be straight. Therefore, the story is about how good relations and understanding can be maintained between parents and the teenagers in our modern society.


Lesley Nneka Arima revolves around Enebeli's family. Enebeli ha, sent his daughter to the world expecting her to maintain her innocence "dew". He lives with his daughter in Nigeria while his wives studies master's in Business Administration in America.

Enebeli and her daughter go through a lot when his wife is out including blooming of their daughter who apparently gets shocked by her first menstrual cycle and being summoned in school for a case involving his daughter who is accused of writing a love letter to a boy. Enebeli promises to chastise his daughter and assures the head teacher that the same would not happen again.

The wife and the husband keep communicating through Skype and the mother plays her role of nurturing her daughter. The relationship between the mother and the daughter is smooth at first but soon changes and none is excited as before. This comes when the mother reprimands the daughter in attempt to make a better woman than her.

During the first holiday, Enebeli's wife comes home but has with her visa during the return journey. This leads to a decision studies that at she would never come home again until she finishes her studies however, Enebeli's wife decides to live there. She goes with her daughter.


The story is set in Southern Nigeria. It is set in modern times as seen by use of advanced technology in communication; the Skype. It is set in contemporary Africa, as it addresses contemporary themes like education, emancipation, parenting and technology.



Education in the hope to emancipate and liberate Africa, education Is critical. Enebell's wife goes to study her Masters degree its America. She hopes to get a good job when she gets back. This translates to good pay and increased living standards.

Enebeli takes his daughter to school to learn and grow. This has effects however as she comes back changed. Among other things she learns how to write love letters.


The author addresses the theme of parenting as a role of every parent. It should not be left to either the male or female parent.

Light' is a warm story, beautiful and deeply felt. Fluid and delightful, its theme of parenting across continents will strike a chord with readers throughout the world Enebeli demonstrates poor parenting when he still washes dishes and cooks for her daughter who is now fourteen (p 29) He does not teach her responsibility as they still share house chores. 

On the other hand, Enebeli's wife does not spend quality time with her daughter and yet expects her daughter to be morally upright.

The few attempts she makes over the phone to teach her manners only widens the gap between them.


It is said that change is inevitable and it is as good as rest. Change is the act or instance of making or becoming different.

When Enebeli sends his daughter to school he did not expect her to change. According to him, she is well brought up and appropriately cultured. However, she soon changes and learns how to write love letters. As a result, he is summoned by the head teacher to discuss the changes in her daughter.

Similarly, Enebeli's wife goes to the USA to study so she can get a good job back in Nigeria. Her taste changes and she looks for a job in the US and comes for her daughter.

Techniques and Language

Narrative voice and point of view

The author has used third person narrative voice to narrate the story.

This is the omniscient narrator.

Enebelis parenting ways are smartly highlighted through the narration voice. He loves his daughter to an extent that he still cooks for her even when she is fourteen. He takes her to the salon for hair to be relaxed. This use of 'He' pronoun makes the narrator small president, who is ruling the world of the story, making it vividly described one.

This is the kind of narrator who is able to get in the characters thoughts and feelings besides narrating on events that happen on places where ordinary people would not venture. He is all knowing and reveals to the readers the thoughts, motives and intentions of different characters. He gets into the mind of characters and reveals to us their intentions.


The author has used a number of metaphors and similes to develop aesthetic and fantastical descriptions that can be quite memorable.

Among them, include:

"would shrivel like a parched plant"

"he massages the cream into her scalp like lotion"

"feathery clumps that swirl into the drain like fuzzy fish"

"an elephant of mistrust and awkwardness"

"she strings his virtues out like Christmas lights"


The quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in, literature or speech.

The author uses humour to ease the rather sad mood prevailing in the Story. She uses humorous expression as though saying, this is so funny but take it with a lot of seriousness. For instance:

"Buki, I love you. I will give you many sons" (p 29)

"It happens two or more times before the girl learns to paw notes better"

We expect the girl to stop writing love letters after -be reprimands her but she only learns how to pass them secretly'



He appears to be comical. However, he is concerned, remorseful and loving. He loves his daughter to an extent that he still cooks for her even when she is fourteen. He takes her to the salon for her hair to be relaxed (P.29)

He is also depicted as being a true domineering man. When his wife wants to go with the daughter, he refuses the idea and stands firm on the decision.

Enebeli's wife

She is depicted as being a caring and a loving mother.

She is indeed helpful, supportive and a concerned lady, who cares for her daughter and although she is away tries to bring her up in the right way (p 32)


  1. Discuss the character traits of the following characters
    • Enebeli
    • Enebeli's wife
    • Enebeli's daughter.
  2. Discuss the theme of Emancipation as brought out in this short story.
  3. What are the effects of distance relationship to good parenting
  4. Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.
  5. Our parents get a lot of challenges when it comes to balancing career and parental responsibility. It is like serving two masters at a go. Discuss some of these challenges.
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