In the novel WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART,JR Alila employs a story about the trying times of two widows to lead hisreaders along an anthropological journey into some cultural aspects of marriage, kinship and inheritance among the Luo of Eastern Africa. WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART is an antsy cry of a strong-willed, unfortunate widow (Apiny) with the “spiritually-untouchable” tag hanging on her neck, who, together with her widowed mother-in-law (Awino) insist that they belong with the clan into which they married, even as their immediate in-laws consider the younger widow to be a living “a curse,” who must go. In this choice, the women have taken the higher cultural moral road than their heartless in-laws. Moreover, the women are on the right side of Luo Customary Law, which states that women and their children belong with the clan, and not just the immediate family of their husbands.
In Awino accepting a distant brother-in-law’s hand in marriage so that her burdened daughter-in-law ( Apiny) can find a kitchen in which to sleep as the latter awaits the birth of her next husband,told is a story about undying faith, courage, patience and humility, on the part of the women, and courage and charity, on the part of the widower (Misuru).
That Awino agrees to give her daughter-in-law a tender son to marry is a steep moral hill she, Awino, has to overcome amid daily echoes of laughter and ridicule of both women by their contemporaries.
But that this is eighteenth-century Luoland, in which due process in matters of birth, marriage, death has to be observed religiously, lest unsettled spirits run amok. Moreover, the Seer says that the future of a whole people is tied to the strength of arms of the yet-to-be-born children and grandchildren of the two widows.