These Writerly Encounters: Books In A Closet

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? :-)



11 thoughts on “These Writerly Encounters: Books In A Closet” by kayceenj (@kayceenj)

  1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

    kelechi , thqnk you for this, i had something similar happen to me. My aunt, who was my gaurdian at the time ,would scold me for reading books that weren’t part of my primary three curriculum…. My Dad on the other hand would ask me to read his books aloud to him and teach me the pronounciations, meanings and conotations of new words. Todsy, i wish i had defied my aunt’s scoldings, there is little or no time to go studying ancient Babylonian tradition, Mesopotamia’s people or Dinosaurs.
    I think this is a lesson to all new and intending parents though, let your child fly and as much as you can be the wind beneath their wings not a dead weight pulling them back. :-) . So help us God.

  2. hmmm! I never really had such problems. I was the voracious type who read anything readable and nobody did little to censor me.

  3. Your dad reminds me a bit of mine. I read widely but mostly at school. By the time I finished the ones going around, I faced my dads books. They were packed in a carton under the beds, strictly out of bounds. Of course I read them all, James hadley Chase, Nick Carter, Marie Corelli, etc. The trick was reading them with my dad none the wiser :)

  4. Hahahaha!…Reading was fun! I read and read even labels! My dad encouraged the habit. While others were in the kitchen, i had be lying down somewhere reading. My siblings hated it, cos I would read and tune every body out.
    Nothing was Forbidden to me, so long as I could read it.

    I read books very quickly too, 500 pages would be over in less than 6 hours, and that wasn’t helpful, cos I would be done with all the new books before the week ran out, and start hunting for more.

    The one teeny regret of my past reading experience is that, when i was made library prefect in primary 3, my parents changed schools for me. Oh! The ‘beautiful’ books I woulda read…*sighs*….hehehe!

  5. My experiences would fill a novel. I think I mentioned part of it on my April featured Writer interview.

  6. Hmn…interesting!

    I can hardly recollect as far back as I developed a passion for books but I caught the bug very early and I was really not hindered if not encouraged. For me, reading was like a duck to water. I really do not know hoew it started.

    My dad was a passionate reader too but he was more into the archetypal stuffs, not really into the literari or fiction. He had books on almost every subject, from Philosophy to Geography to History, Economics and all. My mom on the other hand was the romantic , she “guffawed” the Mills and Boons series by the catrton load.

    Growing up, I found an escape from the real world in books and I guess in some kind of way, I still do. Sometimes i get an adrenaline rush when I’ve just acquired a new book and momentarily seem to have frogotten about it. i called this syndrome a “book-high”.

    I may be doing something else and I’d just get excited all of a sudden.I t may take some minutes before i could trace the source of my excitement, and bang! it will hit me that there is a new book waiting to be ravished. That’s how much I enjoy reading. My university days were no different, I have a closely-knit friends who aare equally into books. I even had a lecturer friend too.

    Now back then, lecturers were supposed to be teh villain, the stealthy cat waiting to pounce on the mouse, and there i would be chatting animatedly with this lecturer in full glare of the students…..those were interesting days menhhh. Then I lived in those books but now i have come to understand that books are no substitute for real life and I have been able to strike a balance. I guess it became impossible for me not to try and write something after reading all the books I had read. I have to make sense out of the world too and writing is the way I do it or try to do it .

  7. Wow, I read and read and read and read until I tought ‘hey, time 4 someone to read mine too’ thus writing was born. HeheheB-)

  8. I also read my dad’s books. He is a journalist but I never imagined following his path. I just loved reading. At first it was just to pass time but I soon discovered the joy of reading. The time came when my dad would hide some of his books so that I would not read them. I guess he felt that some of the material would corrupt my young mind, ‘cos I read any and everything without reservation. I would still find the hidden books and read them with the relish of eating the forbidden fruit.

  9. Me I loved reading James Hadley Chase, and what with those semi-nude women his covers sported, my parents forbade me reading his books. So, I had to conceal them in my textbooks whenever I read them :-) .

  10. I remember putting novels between the pages of my Government textbooks! My dad obviously thought I was the most studious son. I also remember locking myself up in the toilet with my favorite books. Ah!!!!!!!

  11. I spent hours in the toilet oooooooooo!!!!!!!

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