Before you read, I’d like to state that this attempt at penning a few of my casual experiences as a writer is not an endeavour in conceit or self-praise. I do not presume that what I have to say in this matter must be of interest to you. It’s just that I really do not have much actual writing going on now – Doing mostly research – so I decided to do this meanwhile. I do hope it comes on regularly, so help me God. Its aim is two-fold: i) to ensure that my resting Muse still gets some exercise, ii) to have you, Reader, share your thoughts on like issues raised. And don’t worry, I’ll make these notes short – 600 words max!
Books in a closet
Back in the day, I feared my father – Sit, I sat, Go to bed, and I did. Whatever he forbade, I dared not do – or at least I did when he wasn’t looking. It’s curious to me now how much his strictness was overrated and I feared it to almost unhealthy levels. I was afraid to read his books when he was around; I thought he’d beat or scold me or do both if I was caught. They were his books, bought for his own use; if I wanted to read I could refer to the little shelf in the parlour which was filled with books he’d bought me and my siblings, books I’d read fifteen times each one. Now, mind you, he had before now lent me some of his books to read, notably – The Palm Wine Drinkard. A Basket of Flowers. The Wooden Horse of Troy. So to my young mind, what he didn’t give I shouldn’t take. But then the temptation was too great – Efuru. No Longer at Ease. A Man of the People. The Only Son. The Potter’s Wheel. The Black Hermit. Birthdays Are Not for Dying and Other Plays. – ah!
Passion is a strong thing. You think you are in a fix you can’t get out of? Don’t worry, just get Passion and the rest is history. Passion works like the devil and God; Passion will find a way where there seems to be no way. And so it was that Passion whispered to me what to do about the enticing titles on my father’s bookshelf.
Every day, I’d wait for him to leave for work then dash into the bedroom my siblings and I shared with him and mum. I’d pull out one book, sit up against the window and read – lost. Oh! God bless that window – she had her uses. She faced the street behind our house, affording me the chance to monitor when dad’s car might take the turn in towards the house. It also helped that – like everyone else in the house – I knew the sound of his car so well, and the moment I heard it, I’d jump up, push the book back into the shelf, and end reading for that day. Now you can imagine weekends when he would be home throughout and I had little doing – no opportunity hide and read. Wherever I stopped in, say, Efuru on Friday afternoon would have to freeze untiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil Monday morning when dad left for work. Such torture was I putting myself through! I mean, what normal father would scold his son for reading?
Anyway, this was how I managed until later when I was able to come out…
What was your earliest reading experience like?