I am a skeptic when it comes to reading what I could call ‘inspirational’ stories. Not that I do not like being inspired, but I like to read a good story without the pressure of learning something even though you always do. There’s always something new to learn when you read. Thrice I Fell, even though somewhat characteristic of an inspirational book, does not fail to deliver a good story as well as inspire. I hope it is politically correct to call a story about someone’s pain a good one. Phionah Barungi, author of this book and founder of Touching Lives Initiative, bases this on her life story.
The question on my mind was; why thrice? Because I imagined it was maybe a reference to the particular biblical text that says seven times. We all know it, yes? I’m judging you if you don’t. The author says she was born thrice; as a baby, as a young woman who had found love and as a wife without a husband. All these make for an enthralling story of love, loss, but most importantly for me, the spirit of community. Actually, if there’s a point to this book it should be that. The very uplifting spirit of community that are sometimes referred to as angels by the author. Community, that is not necessarily family.
In all sincerity, this book excited, infuriated and also made me happy. You cannot begin to imagine. There are some things of course, I do not agree with as we are all fundamentally different human beings but they are told in such a way that I did not fail to see the humanity, and sometimes irony in them. But also, this is real. It actually happened, so how can I disagree? I need to have a conversation with the author to get some of these things in perspective. It is also written in such a way as talking to a friend. It is not high-sounding and so far removed from the realities of life. For example, when she talks about how she gets married to her husband almost with no hand in the whole arrangement (the irony in having no hand in the arrangement yet it is your hand being taken is not lost on me). As much as we’d like to bury our heads in the sand, this is happening. Around us. To people we know.
Earlier in the book, the author asserts, “Consequently, stories often pack more punches than a sermon.” And for me, what fills my heart is women building communities to uphold each other which is what I believe the Touching Lives Initiative(TLI), founded by the author, is. Women who have decided that their struggle should not be another woman’s. That they will use their resources, their stories, their loss, their experience to make the world a little bit better for the next person. What better way to live life? This is for me, the message of the book. Albeit stamped and sealed by Madeleine Albright who once said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” because the reality is, and as evidenced by the book, the world is not so very fair to the fairer sex.
On the whole, Thrice I Fell is a good hope-giving read. And I want to add that especially when God doesn’t make sense because as it is, God did not make sense to the author in the experiences she writes about. Also, 30% of the proceeds from this book go to the Touching Lives Initiative.
Article By Esther Mirembe