Straight from my heart
As a starry-eyed 16-year old, I had been in love with the written word for years. School-recommended text books, novels, newspapers, magazines -whether dog-eared, rat-eared or goat-eared – name it, I pored over them as if my life depended on them. Yeah, my future actually depended on them! My family members worried that I was hurting my eyes because I read even when the room was poorly illuminated.
Maybe it was the reason I started visiting the optician as a secondary school pupil. I remember, vividly, the night my elder sister hit my back repeatedly with her flat palm for reading…er…er not exactly for reading. I guess it was past midnight and the light had been switched off. It was those days when there was usually a clear gap between the floor and the bottom of the door through which light rays could get into a dark room.
Though the light in our room was switched off, the light in the corridor was on. I simply laid down on the floor close to the door, placed my book in the gap and with my chin on the floor, I read with the ray of light from the corridor. I was so engrossed in the book that I didn't know when my sister woke up and found me there. Family members said I had a problem but a neighbour who heard about that incident said I was normal.
He described me as a 'wonk'. It was the first time I heard that word and I looked it up immediately in the dictionary. He advised them to continue to keep an eye on the kind of things I was reading. What was I reading then? Romance didn't appeal to me at all. I started with the Pacesetters series and thirsted for more. I went through Enid Blyton's Famous Five series like wild fire…the James Hardley Chase series also.
I was in love with the African Writers Series. Then I laid my hands on some real matured books on CIA, KGB, Israeli Mossad, Nazi Germany and became hooked on guns, explosives…in fact security and espionage. My people got worried then. But their fears were allayed when they realised I was more interested in the minds of the writers that crafted such riveting stories. My days were crowded.
Twenty-four hours were almost not enough for me to go through my curricular and extra-curricular books! At the same time, I fell in love with music…all genres. I listened to 'em all -both foreign and African. Kool & the Gang, Dizzy K Falola, KC & the Sunshine Band, Eric Donaldson, Nelly Uchendu, Anita Baker, Okukuseku International Band of Ghana, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Stephen Osita Osadebey, Ebenezar Obey, Bright Chimezie, Oliver de Coque, King Sunny Ade, Mbilia Bel, Morocco Nwa Maduka, Dauda Epo Akara and many others. Many of them even 'old skull' as at then.
My taste for music was (and still is) eclectic. I wallowed in the rhythmic arrangement. I realised that 'sentimental music' made me drowsy. I jettisoned it and gravitated towards music with pulsating tempo. I could read through the din of music. The rhythm would wash over me while I soaked in the plot of a novel…it was heavenly then. My people saw me as a 'different child' but we were so close together.
There was no secret I never told them. The 'conspiratorial' chats we had bound us more together. That bond reined in the rebel in me. Today, I see many kids who do not relate with their parents very well. Many cannot confide in their parents who are either too busy chasing the Naira or think that 'kiddie' chats with their children and wards are a waste of time. If a child is not taught at home, he/she will be taught outside by wicked people with evil minds. When I came across the story of the 16 year-old boy who 'dissected' his neighbour's four year-old son in Ijanikin, Lagos, my blood curdled.
Is that youth a human being? What parents bore such a misfit of a child? I mulled over it and came to the conclusion that his parents ought to bear a lager chunk of the blame. If they brought up their child with love in the way of the Lord, their child would never have contemplated such a heinous crime. Even if a satanic mind like the one that paid him a stipend to get the organs of an innocent child approached him, a youth who got love while growing up would have reported such to his parents or elders around.
As parents, we are really in trouble. We need to draw our children to our chests, listen to them no matter how foolish they may sound. We need to be our children's 'besties'. That way, they can't fall prey to evil men who use 'homeless, unloved' children as fodder for their wicked acts. May God help us as we try to 'play' good parents to our children and wards.