Today’s my late mother’s birthday, and before I could even visit a beach for the first time in my late teens, I appreciate that it was my mother who afforded me the privilege to travel through my imagination.
Because of my mother, I remember Tom as tiny as a thumb standing on the window seal asking the thieves how much money he needs to bring down and inevitably getting them into trouble. I remember Jack climbing down the beanstalk with the golden harp while infuriating the beast. How the seven dwarfs must have rolled their eyes at the naivety of Snow White in all the instances, she fell for the queen’s evil plans. Then the mischievous Goldilocks found mother Bear’s porridge lumpy, leaving baby Bear in tears. The poor three pigs, how would a straw house survive the huffing and puffing of a hungry wolf? But each time I read it, I would look forward to the end and that big splash he made through the chimney into the boiling water. Then, I had not been introduced to the term representation, but Quasimodo of Notre Dame was a fitting example in my eyes.
This was followed by frequent visits to the library after school with friends, where we would copy verbatim ( yes, an entire me) the autobiographies of the struggle heroes for an HSS research assignment. I took home with me “Tshidi”, a young lady who later on became a renowned mechanic in her township because of her dad. Beyond just the fascination with the story, I didn’t want to let go and return the book after the due date. How can I forget the blonde-haired Annie with piggytails, who struggled with mathematics at school? One magical night she slept with a calculator under her pillow only to wake up the next morning a numbers whiz. And yes, I did try the trick as well, but I did not end up in a national Mathematics competition as she did.
There are many other ends of the earth I reached when my parents started introducing newspapers and magazines; now I was opening up to the real world of not a lot of happy endings. My obsession with the glossy prints reached a point where I would starve to get the latest issue. I knew the entire layout of Drum magazine like the back of my hand; besides the middle page posters I pasted on my bedroom wall, I just wanted to complete the crossword puzzle before anything else. I didn’t want to miss the Bra Shakes comics at the back of Daily Sun.
For as long as I remember, my mother ensured I always had enough to read because she might have noticed my keen interest. For that, I am eternally thankful and do not in the slightest bit take it for granted. I get to also share stories with others through the seed she planted. She may not have had much, but she empowered me for life in this instance. I pondered a lot this last week on literacy day how I could easily escape into unfamiliar territory just in the palm of my hand. That Chimamanda is the reason I am curious about Jolof rice and the busy streets of Lagos; all this, I owe it all to the pages I have flipped over the years. And to my beloved mother.