This would alarm you, just as it has alarmed everybody who have heard it from me, but at an age where most people were probably struggling with Ali and Simbi or Queen’s Premier, I, and my elder brother were dismantling bigger books. I remember reading authors like Jeffery Archer (whose book KANE AND ABEL, remains my best book to date), Frederick Forsyth (FOURTH PROTOCOL , I couldn’t drop), James Hardley Chase (actually I was attracted by the women on the covers of his books, but the stories in MALLORY and JUST ANOTHER SUCKER excited me more), Williams Shakespeare and many more while I was still in primary school.
You don’t believe it? Well now it still baffles me too. However, unlike an housewife caught in bed with oga landlord, I can explain it. Maybe it’s genetic, because my father was a bookworm and my mum, a literature teacher. I grew up in a house full of books, so it wasn’t long before I too started reading these books. My dad and I are similar in many ways, but the greatest parallel we shared was our reading habits, and our love for books. I love my books, and I’m over protective of them, if it’s a good one, and not a textbook (gosh, I hate textbooks, I always wish they’re written like novels). I hardly give my books out, and if I do, they must be returned -and in good condition. I remember when my mom said she’d get rid of my books, because they were becoming too much and littering the house. It made me so angry that -in my childish mind – I thought of moving out to my own house with enough room for my beloved books. Yes, I loved my books that much, and so did my dad love his books.
Hence, when he married my mum and started his own family, part of the family was a massive bookshelf containing lotsa books. Textbooks, notebooks and (thank you dad!) novels, books from his childhood, books he read in secondary school, his university books and many magazines and journals. It’s no wonder that my brother followed in his footsteps and read the same course, I too would have but I received another calling and rebelled.
I remember ransacking the bookshelf alongside my brother, opening every single book in it and reading the ones we could. Before we’d turned ten, we’d read almost every book in the bookshelf, the few that weren’t read spared because they couldn’t be read, they were probably too advanced for primary school kids like us.
We broke my dad’s heart too, desecrating his revered bookshelf and destroying most of his books. We fought over them, read them in awkward places like in the bathroom and under the rain (yes, till date I still read in the rain). We hid them from each other (because when someone picked a book and it was good, the other will want it) in odd places, like under the mattress I’d later wet. I remember when we had to divide Jeffery Archer’s KANE AND ABEL because it was so interesting and addictive we just had to read it simultaneously.
In the end, we damaged most of my dad’s precious book, lost lots of them, and I even gave some out to my teachers in school who were amazed that I’d be reading big novels instead of “readers” like most of my mates. My dad tried all he could to stop us, he flogged, he punished, he scolded, he even had to lock the shelf, still our scourge continued. We didn’t know how much hurt we were causing, we just wanted to read books not minding how many were collaterally damaged.
It’s only now that I’m a big collector myself with my own bookshelf, and massive collection of literature that I jealously protect, that I understand how my dad must have felt. Apart from blessing us with that bookshelf, my dad also bought lots of kid storybooks for us when we were much younger. I remember reading the numerous Tunde Bakare’s Tortoise and the… my dad bought then.
Today I’m a medical student with the ability to read anything anytime anywhere and anyhow. Sometimes I show off by reading upside down. My classmates can’t really pinpoint my reading schedule or hideout, it could be anytime and anywhere. I’m also a writer with many prizes in English Language and a few for creative writing. I’m also a part time English teacher and tutor. People say it a lot and I agree, I’m more literature inclined than science. Truth is I just love to read, I love books. This is my book story, beginning in the yesteryears of my childhood and featuring a very principal character; my dad.
To be continued…