Books I read as a kid – a journey to appreciating Literature

For some reason today I found myself reminiscing about the books I read as a kid. And I am not talking about Books like Jelita and Mulenga, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, or even Cinderella. I am talking about books that I picked up from the library out of my own volition – not because school or my mother wanted me to read them.

IMG_1052I am looking back at how innocent I looked at things then. Back then it was always about the good and the bad guys from the book or if there was a happy ending. It was such great fun seeing a plot unfold right in front of your eyes…or should I say through the imagination? It didn’t matter then the complexities of characters, the plot devices employed by authors or how an author’s life might have impacted his/her written works. I didn’t know what symbolism meant or such things as style, diction, themes, motifs, and point of view yet somehow the stories still managed to make a lot of sense!

But now, reading has become a little more complicated because of so many things I have come to be aware of. At some point in high school during a ‘Literature’ class, I remember thinking…I think from now on am going to hate reading novels. Why was the teacher trying to make everything so complicated? Fortunately, that was never the case. As it turned out, I became even more absorbed in reading books it was insane!

Before my mind became corrupted by the hideous plots from most Mills and Boon stories, I think I read quite a number of impressive books that are somehow still embedded in my schema. Here’s me looking back to those old beautiful days when literature was simply….what’s that word again…? Anyway, I have decided to revisit all the novels I read as a child…simply because I am curious and I think it would be fun! Here’s a list of the most notable ones whose titles are still stuck in my head:

Anne of Green Gables – by Lucy Maud Montgomery 

Dear Lord! This was my very first novel and I will never forget this title. I had picked this particular one because of the name, obviously! However, one look at the synopsis and I was completely taken in! I was drawn in by how so similar and yet how not so similar the character Anne Shirley was from me. Unlike her, I was not talkative as a kid yet I found myself celebrating every time that kid opened her mouth and spoke her mind. I was strangely inspired without knowing exactly why.  I can’t remember much of the details of the story but there are scenes that are still play out in my head…images of a little red-haired girl overcoming life’s challenges in her young life until she gets her happy ending. Suddenly, I am curious about Anne’s character, how did she manage to set her two worlds apart – one her imagination and the other her reality. I want to revisit every scene and look at it with these very eyes…after so many years.

Little House on the Prairie – by Laura Ingalls Wilder  

Although this one came from the Little House Series, I only got to read this particular one. I can’t remember what attracted me to it but back then if it was not about a namesake, it was mostly about the picture on the front cover if the synopsis was not as captivating as I expected. I remember having a little trouble with this book because there was so much history involved. Looking back, I think I enjoyed reading dialogues the most and not additional information from authors that sought to give more meat to the plot. I only got to the end of the book because I was never one to give up half-way through. I wanted to see events unfold all through the end! But since I will be reading it again, I look forward to gaining an in-depth understanding and possibly delve a little more into the mind of Wilder.

Oliver Twist – by Charles Dickens

Now here’s a reason I fell in love with Charles Dickens! I remember for the first time back then wanting to know more about an author because I was impressed by the things that went on in his head. I was totally hooked! Oh, I remember hating Fagin and how scared I would be every time Oliver was caught up in one of his criminal activities. I had never despised a character like this before. Even Cinderella’s evil step-mother and sisters had nothing on this nefarious nitwit and growing up, those three (Cinderella) were the epitome of evil itself in my very young mind. I think it was after reading this book that I slowly began to appreciate literature in a deeper sense. After this one, I went straight ahead to read Great Expectations. And I don’t know why I am smiling right now. I am sooo looking forward to reading this again!

Sherlock Holmes – by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I honestly think that this collection of Doyle’s works really robbed me of my childhood! Seriously! I found his stories intriguing, captivating, and extremely funny. Once I started, there was no stopping me. I hated being anywhere else but in the bedroom reading my life away. If before I had been anti-social, after this book I became a “high-functioning sociopath…” but without the violent aspect of the definition of course! I started reading this collection of stories in my search for effective ways of dealing with a father who had psychopathic tendencies. Of course I didn’t know much about Google then…and we thank God for that! Here is where I fell in love for the first time with a character – Sherlock Holmes. To this day, these stories still hold the same place in my heart and because I have read them over and over again over the years…it wouldn’t hurt to read them again, right?

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

…my very first African authored novel. Oooh, such a good read and very informative too! I started reading this one because I had heard my older siblings talk a lot about it. I hated not being in the ‘know’ when others were talking about literary works. I was very young then but my curiosity was bigger than both my older brothers put together. I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about this Okonkwo. I read this book with as much innocence as can be expected. I loved and hated Okonkwo at the same time. There were some aspects of him that hit close to home and for the first time I started to understand a bit about the role of tradition in societies outside Zambia. At that time I didn’t care much about the themes Achebe was trying to drive home. It was only after studying the book in high school as well as at varsity as a literature text that I got to really appreciate exactly what was trying to communicate through his works. After this one, I went straight to reading his other novel – No Longer at Ease, another great read I still hold dear!

Right now I am wondering, to what extend did my choice in novels I read as a kid influence my character or personality? Would I want my kids to read these books too? I have a strong feeling I already know the answers to these questions! Do you remember the books you read as a kid? How did they influence your childhood or rather, your life in general? Would you read them again to read them to your kids?

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That Withering Sweet-Scented Bundle of Nature

For most people, there is that glowing moment in your heart when you receive roses especially on Valentine’s Day. Sadly…for me that moment is always short-lived; from an instantaneous feeling of gratitude towards the sender’s thoughtfulness to an extremely dreadful feeling of loss. Of course this feeling is heightened by the fact that for the next few days or weeks I will have to watch the beautiful bundle of flowers lose their battle against the forces of nature as if not so long ago they had not been a glorious part of it. IMG_1046

Unlike most people, my thoughts operate on a whole level of their own. Where most will see a flourishing love in that bright bunch of red roses sitting there…taking in the pleasure from its sweet scented nature…I mostly see death, loss…something I do not wish to associate with my love. The wilting and withering nature of roses really scares me. The hardest part is throwing away the fossils of that symbolic show of love. Even though the idea of them turning into mature and giving rise to new life should be enough to warm my heart…it doesn’t!

For a while, I have entertained the idea of receiving fake flowers for my graduation, anniversaries, and all other such celebrations. I actually think that I would love that more than I would a fresh bunch of roses! Indeed, I have on many occasions certified as an absolute strange species.

I think I need a few more reasons to start appreciating flowers a little more. Don’t you think so? 🙂

Love Don’t Live Here No More

Is it love that changes…or it is the person that changes?

broken heart

I encountered this question when I was watching a certain drama recently. I had pressed pause and pondered the question for a little while. I had never really thought much about it before until I heard someone ask the question out loud.

It has been said that the only constant thing in life is change. Unfortunately, it is not always that when change occurs, we are prepared for it or willing to adjust to it. Thus, when we look back into our past…when we look back at all the failed relationships and all the broken marriages we wonder – what or who had really changed? Does love remain constant? Can love change? If so, what causes it to change? Do people change? What causes people to change? Is it something that can be prevented or it’s simply nature running its course?

How many times have you felt like you were so in love you would lay down your life if it meant protecting your love? Those moments…when our eyes see no one else but the one…when we feel nothing in the world can pull us apart…when we love without a reason except for our feelings…when together-forever is not just a promise but fact and part of our reality. Do you think you would be asking too much if you wanted things to remain like that, if not better than that forever?

The first time I fell in love, I did not picture myself having those feelings for any other person but that one. Loving another person at that time was not even a possibility! Yet today in my life, I am so in love with one man believing for a fact that I have never felt like this for any other person before. I look at how this man loves me and I cannot imagine him loving another like he loves me. This is my present reality…a reality I do not ever want to see change, ever. But the question is, is that even possible? Can you spend a lifetime loving the same person with your feelings intact to the very end? I want to believe so!

But the question still remains, what causes relationships to end; is it their love that changed or it is the people that changed? Firstly, I want to admit that it is very possible for love to change and by this I am referring to the many stages that psychologists have argued intimate relationships have to go through in their journey of love. That first time feeling you have…all those emotions you wish you could bottle up and take a sip from for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, because we are human beings packed with red blood cells, hormones and senses, we cannot help undergoing emotional changes in our relationships.

At the start of every relationship, there is excitement and expectation. There are things we want and things we expect. As time goes by, we get to discover all of this…the ideas we had in our minds start turning into reality or lack thereof. Sometimes we are disappointed and sometimes we are surprised when our loved ones deliver beyond our expectations. And sometimes we simply choose to be content with the life we have despite it not being up to standard. As always…time is forever moving and we are forever learning, discovering and going through numerous experiences. These too can change us as individuals and also change our feelings towards each other either for the better or worst.

The problem that most people make is never to expect change or refusing to adjust to it when it occurs. Using a very practical example – when a man starts sleeping around after his wife has given birth because he believes her body has changed or that she has been distant since giving birth. A little patience with her and support as she adjusts to her physiological and emotional changes is all it takes to make their love flourish. Any deviation from this is what will lead to a failed relationship. In this case, it would be the husbands inability to adjust to change, to live up to his spouse’s expectation to be there for her in her most trying times and to be understanding…it is these things that would make her believe he has changed and this will ultimately have an effect on her feelings for him. Likewise, if the man strongly believes that she is being unfair to him by not fulfilling her marital duties in bed (not taking into account any possibility of posttraumatic stress), from his point of view, it would be the woman who has changed. This too, if not properly communicated can result in a failed relationship.

Yes, we all want perfect relationships but the truth is that they don’t exist. The only thing we can do all throughout our relationships is to strive for perfection in what we do but never to expect it. We love abundantly, we give abundantly, we forgive abundantly, that we be understanding and all the while expecting the same from our partners. It is foolishness to expect things to remain constant. Of course this does not mean that we should love less or expect less. It simply means that we should keep in mind that how we felt about each other when we were strangers can no longer be the same once we become friends and family.

As time goes by, we will become too familiar with each other, never pretending and ever showing our true colours. However, although a familiar feeling is something that happens naturally, having a boring or less exciting life as a result of it is a decision we make consciously. Yes, it is very boring when every aspect of your life becomes routine and predictable – knowing that today when I go home she will welcome me by the door, take my bag, ask me how my day was, serve me dinner, go to bed, make love the missionary way, sleep, and when morning comes repeat steps 1-2-3, etc. As long as one does not strive to keep things exciting despite being familiar with each other, do not expect a happily-ever-after. The tendency to believe that just because a piece of paper was signed and the deal’s done then we no longer have to work hard is what leads our loved ones to walk away from us.

Personally, I refuse an ordinary love. I rebuke it in the name of Jesus! I want an extraordinary love and nothing less! I do not expect a happily ever after, I am neither a Cinderella nor he a prince in shining armor. But I expect my life to be filled with happiness MOST of the times. I want to be extremely in love even in old age. Therefore, I should…no, we should both work hard to have that because it doesn’t come easy. I should be aware that change is inevitable and change in itself has the potential to alter my feelings. I should be aware that one day my spouse will not be as energetic as he is today no matter how many times he hits the gym, that his head full of black hair will not always be like that, that he also makes mistakes, and that we will not always share the same views.

How will you feel if the man you love suddenly stopped buying you flowers or taking you to fancy restaurants because he either lost his job or because you both made a bad investment and lost out financially? Does it mean that he has changed as a person or that he doesn’t love you anymore? Or perhaps, does that mean you should change the way you feel towards him? I should prepare myself for the unexpected, to not always expect perfection and to be understanding when my spouse falls short of my expectations. And if I am not pleased, I should communicate this in the most respectable manner. It is a learning process, one I am willing to undertake for the rest of my life. Right now I believe I am falling short.

If ever love should change, it should be for the better – from stranger to infatuation, from hate to love, from mere love to a meaningful love. I want to love like that. I expect to be loved like that. So far, I am loved like that. And in the future, I hope to love more and be loved more, not less. Is that possible?

Have you ever loved like that?

sunset-hands-love-woman-large

You have spent your life searching and hoping that this time
…that this time he is the one
You have had your heart broken,
Been trampled and cheated on,
You have been dumped so many times you’ve lost count
You have cried yourself to sleep
You have given up a million times
Told yourself you are done hurting
You have approached potential mates with suspicion
Always leaving that little space for disappointment
You have vowed never to be hurt again
You shun promises so much that even trusting yourself has become a battle
Will love ever be your friend?

Twenty years…thirty years…forty years…fi…
Stop….! Please freeze time for her
For how long will she wait for Mr Right?
Many have loved her but many have left
Many have called her beautiful
When she smiles, flowers bloom
What man has never blushed in her presence?
A sight to behold, beauty inside-out
They come into her life with roses and diamonds
And to cover the cost, she pays with little pieces of her broken heart
Will she ever find the kind of love she yearns?

She came like a storm
And swept you off your feet
She awakened in you feelings you never imagined existed
Every single day she rode with you on the wave of love
For once it was your turn to discover the meaning of life
There would be no you without her
You are convinced she is the air you breathe
Her sights have been set on you
Never to be swayed by another
A lifetime of happiness is no longer a dream for you
It is the reality you have been living all these years
Have you ever been loved like that?

He said he would love you forever
He made a promise before God and the world
He would love no other but you
And you believed every single word he uttered
His eyes…that look in his eyes that’s always whispering
“I see no one else but you my angel….”
Without saying a word, he made you feel like the most loved woman in the world
The constant phone calls
The constant I Love You’s
The fancy restaurants
The dozen roses every weekend
Yes…you have been loved like that before

It comes like a thief in the night
It creeps on you when you least expect it
A feeling so severe you dare not imagine it
It starts with a little suspicion
Others call it intuition
Before the smoke appears, the smell will
Even when your hands keep burning
You tell yourself it is only a dream
The only time they call is only to announce a funeral or birth
All the roses withered and died
The candles by the dinner table have all burned out
The only restaurant you know is that little room next to your kitchen
When did you discover that love does not live here anymore?

It is like a whirlwind
Sometimes it smiles at you
Sometimes it just walks by
How many times have you asked yourself;
Why is it happening to me?
Why does it keep happening to me?
Why is it not happening for me?
Is something wrong with me?
When will it be my turn?

When your ego has been bruised
When your pride’s been shuttered
When your love has been thrown back into your face
When you can trust nobody
When everything isn’t working in your favour
When the world has turned its back on you
When all you know to do is give up
When he does not love you anymore
When she has fallen for someone else
When you are no longer his priority
When she would rather be anywhere else but with you
When you cannot turn back the hand of time
When memories are all you have
When you know it will never be
Has love ever done that to you?

They say love is blind….
That moment when your heart stands at odds with your brain
Sometimes it happens whether you like it or not
But with love…comes reciprocity
A one-sided love – though fun can be tiring
A two-way love – it is what you should always seek
But it does not always end the way we wish it to
But still, we never give up

And then there is happiness…
It is a decision you make without seeking anyone’s validation
You can cry but still be happy
You can get disappointed but still be happy
They can try to bring you down but you will still choose happiness
Before you love another you will first love you
And if they ever leave, you will still have someone loving you
If they delay in coming, there will always be someone keeping you happy
Where the sun shines, there is always light
Have you ever loved yourself like that?

If you ever need to choose;
To stay or to leave…
To trust or to investigate…
To seek a profound love or to be content…
To rediscover your feelings or go for plan B
To give up or to settle for less…

I hope you choose happiness.