“Reading is like breathing in, writing is like breathing out” – Pam Allyn
I just checked my JAMB (Joint Admission Matriculation Board) examinations result. I was so sure I wouldn’t get anything below 250. Imagine my surprise when I saw 199, out of 400. Haba! This people are wicked o. Just in case you don’t know, anyone who plans to attend a Nigerian university must pass JAMB. This meant my hopes of going to the university that year was dashed. I began sobbing pitifully. I went outside the house, away from the pitiful stares of my parents and siblings to mourn my failure. After about 30 minutes of non-stop tears and mucus running down my nose, I suddenly came to a realization. The tears were just a waste. Immediately, I cleaned my eyes and stood up. What I did next might surprise you. I read. Yes, that’s right. I picked up a book and read. Just as Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are”, reading that night consoled me like liquor. There is something soothing about sitting outside, reading a good book just when the sun is setting, enjoying the cool breeze, without distractions (Ooops, I forgot the mosquitoes also take their dinner around that hour). Well, I stayed outside reading until I couldn’t see anymore and couldn’t ward off the mosquitoes any longer (although a few got a sip or two of my blood).
My love for books has always been a part of my existence. Ever since I can remember, books have always been a part of my life. Thank God for my parents, especially my dad who taught and encouraged me to read. Being a reader himself, the house was always filled with books. From spiritual, to motivational, self-help and biographies, there were books of all kinds around me. This was where I became sucked into the world of literature. Thanks to books like the adventures of Tom Sawyer (which I read and re-read until it tore) and other African literature books, my imagination was always kept busy and active. I can remember clearly that once our English text book for the term comes in, that same day, I would sit down with the book and finish reading every comprehension passage in it.
My parents told me that ever since I could read, I read everything and anything with words. From newspapers, to magazines and even manuals that come with appliances. There was never a time I didn’t read. This was where I fell in love with my long time love, Words.
You would think that I would have written lots of short stories during my childhood like everyone around me seemed to be doing at the time (including my closest cousin). Till today I can’t tell why I never thought or bothered to write stories in exercise books like most people did. I just knew that I was content in consuming the beautifully woven words of great writers like Cyprian Ekwensi, the author of Sugar girl, and Chinua Achebe. These beautiful words fascinated my young self (they still do) and they were so powerful to me. I was content with my books. I guess my parents found me easy to please. I knew that if I did well in school, my dad would buy me a book or two as reward and boy did I try my best to excel. I also remember in my primary school days that those who took the first, second and third positions in their respective classes were usually gifted with story books (I usually finished them that same day or by the second day). Those were moments to be treasured. I’m sure you can already guess by now that I failed woefully in mathematics. As much as I worked hard to be first in my class, I was always beaten to second place by the girl who did well in math.
Fast forward to twelve years later, I finally decided to try my hands at writing and I decided I quite liked it, almost more than reading. I realized that writing had a cathartic effect on me and allowed me to express myself freely without judgments. Reading helped me escape from the world, sometimes from reality and I am grateful I had that. But writing has given me much more, beyond what words can describe. Writing has given me a gift, an outlet and a passage. And to think there are a few who bother to read this blog amazes me.
Let me leave you with a few titles that have inspired me so far this year .
1. The Long Walk to Freedom: The autobiography of Nelson Mandela
2. The Traveler’s Gift – Andy Andrews
3. The Noticer – Andy Andrews
4. The Smart Money Woman – Arese Ugwu
5. The Manual of the Warrior of Light – Paulo Coelho
Please check these books out, I promise you won’t be sorry.