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THE SOLDIERS WITH A PEN

Disclaimer: What you are about to read stems from my personal experience. If writers can relate then I can confidently say I have spoken for us all.

I am a writer. I am almost tempted to write that about ten times so it can sink into your minds but I won’t. I believe it is clear enough. Writing choose me. I was wee babe in my mother’s arms when my father who is a great bookworm decides to name me after books. He dared to give me a controversial name then he sits back, folds his arms to watch where this would grow. My people say that names have a way of influencing your life. I think I am a typical example. I started reading at age 4 and my greedy fingers stretched to adult books older and wiser than I was. I read stuff I knew were not meant for me. I knew they weren’t meant for me so when I see an adult coming, I’d close the book and pick something my age to read instead.
I didn’t understand it, this passion to read and read and read some more. Until I started imitating books I borrowed to read. I wanted to preserve the stories somehow, so I’d rewrite a poor imitation of the story from my memory.

I did this till I had about 5 notebooks filled with stories that weren’t mine. Stories that were meant for my eyes only. Hmmm…as time went on, I began to write my own original stories. Most of them were childish and really bad. Yeah, they said intelligent children should be in science class and that was how I found myself in the science department.
Chemistry and Physics were a mystery. I read them any ways, I struggled to pass but Biology was easier. It was pure reading and understanding so I could flow with that. A science student who did so well in English and Biology but the rest was a sorry case. I returned home with a bad result each term. Whether my parents realised that I was on the wrong track, I can never tell. In the end, I pushed myself to at least read physics and chemistry with so much effort, I was able to pass WASSCE and UME (now UTME).

I opted to study Biology Education because along the line I fell in love with teaching. So yeah, I was going to the university to study something I felt was quite easy for me.

In between the four years, I managed to write one novel which I have abandoned for years. Please don’t even ask me to show you, I can almost weep when I read it now. Did I write that?

After school, my reading and writing passion stuck with me like a glue. It kept coming to me like moth attracted to the flame and I knew it, this is it. The path for me.

Writing became my solace in a noisy world. It became my way of escaping the demons that threatened to rip my soul out of me. It became my best friend.

Sometimes, when I come to Facebook, I have many things to write. So many thoughts swirling through my head but it won’t come in short note. It will come as a very long letter. A very long note. How do you guys cope with me, really?

I’m afraid for my wordiness at times. So instead of writing something very long, I settle for a few jokes and a few words and move on.

Writing is a passion. It consumes the heart and sets you on fire. It burns in your heart and you can’t stay away. It keeps calling for you even in your sleep. Writing is like falling in love with the man or woman of your dreams. You wanna hear them speak, you wanna be with them, you wanna love on them and when you are apart you can’t wait to get back to them.

Writing is not cutting your vein open and letting blood flow, yet it is lifeblood.

There are stories that come to me. They come as though they are human long forgotten, they whisper in my ears and ask me to write. For instance, I was reading when I heard, “Nana”. The whisper was in my heart but it was loud in my head. What about her? I questioned as though I cared. Well, the series is on and you are reading the story as I get them.

Sometimes, I try to ignore some words that keep coming to me. When I do, I am setting up myself for headaches and soul assault. When I write them, they let me be. I told my Dad about this recently and he says it is a prophetic gift. Whether he is right or wrong, I don’t know but I can tell you how this feels.

One day, scrolling through my news feed, Ayosojumi Adeniyi writes, “Never date a writer or an activist.”

I was almost enraged. Why will he open such a top secret. Who shoots himself and his fellow comrades in the leg? Arrrrgh!
Then I encouraged myself with these words, “Na person marry Stephen King, na person marry Karen Kingsbury, na person marry Suyi Davies, na person go marry me too.”

Ayosojumi explains it like this:

“A writer’s mind is fertile. Too fertile.

When insecurity becomes a plague going around, he or she feels it the keenest.

Because of their highly imaginative mind, things that don’t exist for real grow there.

And that might spell trouble for when they are dating someone. Especially someone they find “not so transparent”.

A writer builds characters, memories, stories, even endings, in their work.

They run the risk of doing the same in a relationship where they feel their partner is “unclear”.

An activist, on the other hand, is already consumed by a passion. It might fill you with envy if you are dating them and have to compete with their cause for attention, especially if you are unable to share their attention with anything else, or anyone.”

Yes, the love for words consumes a writer so much that they take time to read a Facebook post this long, read the comments and the comments inside comments before walking away.

So they say the world can be healed by these words. They say we can attain whatever, we want with these words. We can expose, enlighten, break, mend, kill, destroy and even threaten with these words. My Dad tells me fondly of a great man, Tai Solarin who was mighty in pen. He wrote an article no one wanted to publish. No newspaper wanted it. It was those days when democracy wasn’t this free and one could die for writing some words. Tai Solarin typed the article, made photocopies and went to newsstands. He slotted pamphlets of the article into every newspaper available. He titled the article, “the beginning of the end”. He shared it by himself along Ibadan-Lagos expressway and he got arrested for that article.

My mother fears for me. She will say, “no matter what you write, please don’t put mouth into controversial issues. Please Booky, many have died for writing.”

Of course, I try to obey this warning as a good daughter. She’s afraid for my life and I’m glad she’s not even my Facebook friend. I’ve not written much but I guess I’ve dealt with controversial issues here and I’m not really everyone’s darling like we all want to believe.

Zorochi, a friend on this space visited me a few weeks ago and asked me, “why do you read? For knowledge or exams?”

“I read to survive,” was my reply. I didn’t say more and he didn’t ask for more explanation. I think he got it.

I liken writers to soldiers. Our lives are at stake each time we try to heal the world with these words no matter what angle we come from. Why is the West feared? Why are some countries holding a tight leash on the media of their countries? Why was the Nigerian senate asked to pass a bill on these social media writings? We are an engendered species. Many have died for these words, many have run for their dear lives because of these words. Many have lost their families for these words. When we write, we are righting the wrongs of the world. We are reaching out to the troubled soul, we are changing the world as we know it. To every soldier out there, using a pen, I want you to know that I identify with your struggles and I wish you the very best. Keep changing the world.

Posterity needs it.

Booky Glover

Until next time,

Blessings!

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