Mrs Mahmood by Segun Afolabi
In Mrs Mahmood by Segun Afolabi we have the theme of fear, regret, insecurity, discontent, love, connection and escape. Narrated in the first person by a man called Mr Mahmood the reader realises after reading the story that Afolabi may be exploring the theme of fear. Mr Mahmood though living a comfortable life has fears and regrets from his past. He was once an above average athlete though with the passing of time his talents have not reached the potential they might have reached. Similarly when Mr Mahmood strikes the young boy for robbing the shoes. He regrets it. Though the reality is his actions would be considered to be very normal. It is also interesting that Mr Mahmood does not contact the police and only informs the boy’s mother of what has happened. This could be important as Mr Mahmood may believe in giving others (and himself) a second chance. Mr Mahmood’s character also appears to be strict. He takes his job and the job that others do for him seriously. It is as though he has no time for fun in his life which may contribute to the reason as to why Mr Mahmood feels downtrodden for most of the story. It is as though he has been beaten by life.
Something which some readers might understand considering the prospects that Mr Mahmood showed for athletics when he was younger. He also does not feel as though he deserves Isobel as a wife. This too may be important as Mr Mahmood is feeling insecure when there is no real reason for him to do so. Though it took time he and Isobel made a connection and decided to get married. The continual mentioning of Isobel having children in the story might also be significance as there is a sense that Mahmood is not necessarily ready for children. Though in all likelihood this may be the next step in his relationship with Isobel. It’s just that Mr Mahmood may not necessarily realise this. Isobel is also a calming factor in her husband’s life. Something that is noticeable when they both go for a drive. Mr Mahmood is able to relax after the events of the day. If anything Mr Mahmood with the exception of having Isobel in his life appears to be discontent. Boyhood dreams still linger in his mind and there is a sense of vacancy in his life.
Though Isobel works in a totally different type of job to Mr Mahmood. She still has the ability on a human level to identify with her husband. This may be one of the reasons as to why Mr Mahmood loves Isobel so much. Though it is true he sees faults in her. His overriding emotion when it comes to Isobel is one of love. She provides the solid foundation that Mr Mahmood needs in his life. When he is low she has the ability to lift his mood and when he is happy she is able to be happy for him too. It is as though Mr Mahmood has found the perfect match and he knows it. Even if he does like to be argumentative at times he realises that he is a lucky man having Isobel in his life. Life could be a lot worse for Mr Mahmood. Rather than being married he could be single and unhappy and rather than being a manager of the shop he could merely be an employee answerable to the manager. Life for Mahmood is very much in his own hands. He has control of his life. Even if at times he does not appreciate this.
The end of the story is also interesting as Afolabi appears to be exploring the theme of escape. By going to the park and running around the track. Mr Mahmood in many ways is reliving his youth. Trying to prove to himself that he is still capable of doing the things he was once able to do when he was younger. Something that the reader is already aware of by the fact that Mr Mahmood caught the thief when he ran out of the shop. What is also interesting is that Mr Mahmood can envisage a change in his life but that the one constant for him would be Isobel. This too is significant as it highlights again to the reader just how in love Mr Mahmood is with Isobel. No matter what changes Mr Mahmood would make to his life or if a change was forced upon him (in employment or otherwise). He would remain by Isobel’s side. Mr Mahmood probably realising that Isobel is the only person in his life that can keep him calm and ensure he feels assured about his own abilities. Not only is Isobel his wife but she also acts as a safety net for Mr Mahmood.