Growing up, writing and my mother

Throughout my Nursery, Primary and Secondary School, I wasn’t that super-intelligent boy who passes exams but one thing was certain, I was among the best in all my classes when it comes to comprehension, public reading and stuff. Do you know why? My mother who wasn’t even a secondary school graduate trained us by herself to read and write. I still can’t say how she did that but I know that she wasn’t doing it out of convenience, it took her energy and time.

As kids, we didn’t spend so much time watching TV. There were weeks we weren’t permitted to watch TV. TV will be on, and the sound will be distracting but we are either reading at the Dining table or we are in the bedroom studying. Mum made sure we stick to it even if we didn’t like it. My mother was the last person that will allow you to do what you want or eat what you want. She calls the shots and we comply with no questions asked.

Yet, Mum wasn’t harsh, she was still the one we would always wish to be around, and she was the one we would always confide in. Whenever Mum was going out, we all wish she would stay back but whenever Dad was travelling, we would be asking, “how many weeks is he going to stay? Can he make it one year?” We were being childish anyways and now, I appreciate the roles my father played too.

Before I entered Secondary school, I had read and summarised,

  • The African Child
  • Romeo & Juliet
  • The Joy of Motherhood
  • Our Husbands Has Gone Mad Again
  • Man of the People
  • Chike and the River
  • The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born
  • The Incorruptible Judge
  • Without A Silver Spoon
  • Oliver Twist
  • This is Lagos

And so many other books. In case you didn’t get it, I read all of these books in my primary school. They were some of the books my Mum used in her Secondary school before she got married. I was fascinated by these books as I read them at the same time, I believed that I would do so much better if I should write my books. I was creative as a child, I would always imagine stories, imagine things and try to communicate them as stories.

My mother gave us exercise books and a deadline to summarize each book she gives us to read.

We lived in Town, we grew up in Onitsha city but we had moonlight story-times too where we gather at the feet of our mother and she would tell us amazing stories. Yes, all of this was happening inside our three-bedroom flat. We also took turns to tell stories of which I would always tell my own forged stories because I had hard times remembering any of the stories we had been told.

I wrote my first fiction after I graduated from Primary Three, I used a drawing book to write. Books were mum’s usual gifts to anyone who do something nice. We never grew up with toys, there was nothing like that for us… It was just books, books and more books.

When I entered Secondary School, I was so surprised that many of the books I read as a Primary pupil was what we were going to read in Secondary. In Secondary school, many of my intelligent classmates had issues reading in public, they required a lot of effort and trials before they could read some lines but for me, it was the easiest thing after “ABCD”.

It didn’t stop at English. We read Igbo books too and we kept using Igbo Bible as our default Bible until so much later. As a result, I was able to read and write in Igbo fluently. I may not be so great at it now because it’s been a while but I was amazingly good at comprehension, essay writing and so on.

There were days I would write my assignments and also write for more than five other students as long as it has to do with essay writing. Let me say this again, you can’t give your children what you don’t have. Parenting has a way of shaping your children’s future. You must be deliberate.

I’m taking a leaf from my mother’s style and I’ll expose my children to tech, tech and more tech so that when they grow, it will not depart from them.

I call you blessed.

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