Flower Jiya sat on the floor of her father’s old library. Before her were several cartons of her old text books, novels, hand outs and examination scripts which she had used throughout her time in university. Finally graduating, she would have no use for them anymore. She had discovered some free book-shelf space in her fathers’ old library and was attempting to put her books away. When she saw the old books again and started flipping through them, she was lost. An hour flew as though it was nothing. She abandoned her mission to sort her books and started to peruse the paper back treasures one by one. She had put some books in a pile. Her fingers were covered in dust but she did not care. She just flipped through different kinds of books, reminiscing about the ones she had read and seeking for new worlds worth escaping into.
This was the place where she had realized her dream. Located at a concealed part of the house, most people never put much mind into the dusty room full of books. But to Flo, this was where the spark was ignited. The fire of her ambition. She had ‘discovered’ the room when she was just eleven years old. Uncle Suleiman had brought his kids, Ene, John and Baby Esther to spend the long holiday with her family. They were playing hide and seek. She went to hide in the library and didn’t come out for the next three hours. As the distracted mind of her cousins caused them to forget her and play other games, Flo buried herself in the pages of a worn-out Gulliver’s Travels. She fell in love with books that day. The idea of reading other people’s imaginations and experiences excited her.
Flo would disappear for hours into her father’s library, reading books of divergent genres. Fiction, Travel, Religion, Biographies, Poetry, Science. The place became her hide-away. Flo remembered the day that her parents had caught her hiding in the library. It was during her mid-term break and first thing in the morning, she had made it to her hide-away. She started the day by reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, when she was through, she picked up Arrow of the Gods, then she explored No Longer at Ease. She was so carried away by her Achebe fever that she had lost track of time. She enjoyed how the words flowed. She wondered how writers managed to make characters have their own voice. The books were magic and they had cast a spell on her because she couldn’t seem to stop reading. In the middle of A Man of the People, she heard her mum call, but she just couldn’t drop the book. She felt satisfied as if reading those books cured a hunger which she had not even experienced yet. Eventually, her dad found her. Apparently, her mother had been searching for her seriously. (It was the period when a lot of children were being kidnapped.) When her father saw her sitting on the floor, reading with other books sprawled around her, he smiled. Her mother who was fuming behind him did not find it funny though.
“Didn’t you hear me calling you!” She said furiously.
Flo looked up through reddened eyes expecting one of her mother’s famous thrashing. (For her mother had a special talent of expressing her worries through thrashing.) Flo’s father calmed his wife down. He entered into the library, locked the door behind him and sat next to Flo.
“You like them don’t you?” Flo nodded expecting him to scold her. “These books are very special to me. It’s nice that you like them too. It takes a lot of patience to be an avid reader and it takes a lot of humility to be willing to learn from a book. I can tell that you have both of them. Patience and humility. Korola, let me tell you, patience and humility can break down any door in life. You can achieve anything, you can chip away any obstruction.” Her father then started to narrate to her how he got all these books. Many from his secondary school days, many as gifts and prices, many he stole from the school library. Flo would confess that that was the first time her father had regarded her with so much respect, enough to reveal fragments of himself to her. And it made her all fuzzy inside, She felt proud that her father appreciated this new passion of hers. Before he left her that evening, he said to her. “Have you considered writing. Reading is great in itself but if you find a way to channel all your new thoughts and ideas into works of your own, it will even be better.” Her father planted a seed that day. From that moment, Flo was driven to make it as a writer. She wanted her own thoughts to inspire others as so many other authors had inspired her.
Flo finally stood up from the library floor and put her school books in the empty shelves. “I’m through with school now.” She thought “What is the next step to becoming a writer? How do I make this dream a reality? What practical steps do I take.” She exhaled. She honestly did not know. In fact, she did not know what to write about. Now that she had graduated, she knew exactly what hitting a brick wall felt like. How was she possibly going to achieve this dream? “This is the hard part.” She said out loud as she sighed… To be continued.