I do not need to tell you I love books, or that books give me wings and take me to places I might never see.

Books will take you anywhere…

I have sat on camels with Bedouin traders traversing the Sahara before it became a desert, in those simpler times when the bodies of my sisters and brothers didn’t dot the desert as their dreams for a better life died with them, sat in flying motorcycles as we pored through NYC in 2060 in search of murderers even as I found that human nature will remain the same no matter how far technology tilts us.

I have found all kinds of treasures between the covers and sometimes in books without covers, I have found trash as well but the less said about that… I have wept as characters died, jumped and hugged the nearest person as a character triumphed and I have stayed up several nights to finish a book that had to be returned at sunrise.

I have loved and hated in equal measure, people living in black ink and white-ish paper and the people who created them. So much emotion I have given to the intangible, my whole heart sometimes for a person whose life disappears when you close the book.

Books have been great teachers, there are things I would never have learned if it weren’t for books. No, not the letters and figures of academic knowledge bound in scholarly colours and pored over to pass exams. I have learned about life and human nature and all the ways a heart can be broken and the ten million ways to die.

Life’s paths were first trodden in books, conversations and scenarios will always remind me of a book or a character or a plot point that the author has long since moved on from. If I had past lives, I carried books across them all.

Some of my most pleasant memories have been tied to books, lying down on my grandmother’s bouncy bed during the weekend with a book in hand and Ikenna afoot with a thousand questions. Getting into secondary school and finding the library at Bida with all the books I could have wanted. They helped me feel less homesick, I didn’t miss Mama’s bed so much.

Terrible memories came from books too, throwing away The Joys of Motherhood as I finished the last page and refusing to waste my tears for Nnu Ego, wondering if being gap-toothed wasn’t a bad thing as I read The Concubine and weeping for Obi Okonkwo as his story ended.

I read No Longer At Ease in primary 4, I remember discussing the book with my class teacher Miss Obogwu and we talked about life and how the unfairness of it. She and my teacher in primary 2 (Mr Biodun who turned 50 a few days ago and I do not how to begin to write about his influence in my life) were the two teachers who nurtured my mind beyond the subjects we did in school. They let me read in class during the break period (I didn’t see the point in jumping and running when I had all the books in the world yet to read) and they were interested in the books I read.

I would remember our discussion some years later. I realised how unfair life was when my father returned from a trip to the east and told us that he’d run into a group of women going home for the burial of one of their members who had died in childbirth. It was the face on the poster that drew him to their bus, it was my teacher’s face.

I was in secondary school when she passed on, she had been single when I left her class to primary 5. Her children were so young, I am not sure the oldest was six years when she passed and there were four of them. I think of her when I sing, she loved singing and she taught us many songs and we did many plays and musical performances during our year in our class. I think of her when I am in a roman catholic church, the hymns remind me of her.

I have stopped reading sad books though, life is grim enough.

What would life be without the magic and wonder of books? I do not intend to find out.

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