My passion for reading and writing began at a very young age. Reading was my first love; writing naturally flowed out of that.
Going down memory lane takes me back to our dinner table in my aunty’s house back in Nigeria, when I was about 7 or 8. I always used to have a book on my lap, fully engrossed in the unfolding plot of the Nigerian folktale ignoring the food I was supposed to be eating and everyone else on the table. Most of the time, I was the last one to finish my meal because I practically ate a spoonful after each paragraph.
These were great memories; soaking in each letter, sentence and page. Engrossed in the world of the book, imagining the characters, their face, their hands, even their feet… blissfully unaware of the real world until WHAM! The heavy hand of my aunty slapped my unsuspecting face. That was usually my cue back to reality.
“Put that book down and eat your food” she would say.
I used to read everywhere I went; at the dinner table, in the toilet, under my covers with a torch when N.E.P.A (Nigeria’s electricity board) took the lights, during class, in the playground and even while doing my chores. I have had many close calls to getting seriously hurt from my obsession with reading. Probably the worst habit I had which thankfully has now stopped is my reading whilst on the road. I used to go to school walking on the road and crossing the street with a book in my hand.
My passion for reading led me naturally to writing. I have written short stories, poems, notes, articles and books. I started my first book when I was 11 or 12; a fictional book about twins, boy and girl who were separated at birth but had weird experiences that united them together. Can’t remember my inspiration for that book now but I think it’s in my archives at home somewhere.
Looking back now, I am glad for the pain I’ve had because of my reading habits. The slaps my aunty gave me, the bike rolling over my foot because I had a book stuck to my face whilst walking on the pavement and the screeching car tyres from the driver slamming his brakes suddenly to avoid this unsuspecting 12 year old crossing the traffic lights with the red man flashing on her way to school in Lower Clapton.
My passion for reading exposed me to different writing styles and allowed me to appreciate the impact of a writer on his/her audience. Now I can write with colour and diversity, choosing language appropriate to my reader. Nothing beats learning from experience.
I pray the experience pays off.
May God bless and keep you in His presence forever, Amen
Dr Elizabeth F Babatunde