I remember reading as far back as the Noddy books in pre-primary school. I was not a socially awkward child (or at least I don’t recall that part of my life). I always made friends wherever I went. My siblings however have always been more extroverted than I and as such, in keeping with what introverts often do. I kept to myself.
My mom must have noticed as early as then that I loved my own company. She was a history lecturer at a teaching college in Mthatha at the time and one day she took me to work with her. I guess at some point she needed me to be out of the way and so she dropped me off at the library, the kids section of course, and asked the librarian to mind me. That is my first memory of falling in love. In that grand old college library I met a part of me that has clung through every season of my life, clung so well, so effortlessly that it soon became who I was.
In later years I would grow up to love writing. Reading though was still the thing I loved above all else. Mainly it is fiction that I love and the escape it provides but more than that the grand worlds it can create. My dad’s mom lived in Qunu village and I remember holidays in her house where I would rampage through trunks that used to belong to my parents during their university days at Fort Hare. In those trunks I found Shakespear and Charles Dickens slightly missing their covers and corners thanks to naughty rats, but I read them anyway. I even found books with the first few chapters missing, and I read them anyway, much to my grandmother’s amusement.
She is the one who made me fall in love with stories. My grandmother was a Xhosa teacher in one of the village schools. This was long before electricity came to the village and we used to spend our school holidays at her house. Every night under the glimmer of a paraffin lamp, her grandchildren squashed together on the floor or in one bed, she told iintsomi,or folklore tales that had moral endings. Every family knows the same type of tales, said the same way and with the same ending. We fell in love with these. However for me I wondered then if I could create my own. That is the power of reading, it soon leaves you believing that you too have the power to create. This would later have a very strong bearing on my life. I even ended up taking English Literature as a minor course in university and later took a short course in Creative Writing. I cannot tell you how many book clubs I’ve been a part of. I am not completely sure how many books I even own at the moment though I have always felt I do not have nearly enough. But now that my son is nearly three and will soon be constructing proper questions I am most excited about sharing this love with him and hopefully together we will share it with his sister who is nearly one.
Hopefully you will enjoy this as much as I mean to and you too will go a wandering in the pages of the books I review.