Thursday, 21 March 2013

An introduction... Part 1

This blog is now over two years old. It has been neglected for nearly a year, for reasons that I will come to later (Part 2). I have decided at this point, that in order to blow away the cobwebs and get my (internet) home in order, I need to take it  in a whole new direction. But before I do that, I would like to introduce myself.

My name is Adaure; I am in my late 20s. I am a doctor currently in training to become a General Practitioner  (GP) in the UK. The training takes three years to complete (after two years of foundation training which takes place after 5-6 years of medical school.... I hope you are still following). It involves a whole lot of study and some exams and a few important-but not-compulsory courses that I kind of have to do to feel like I am not totally clueless when it comes to several aspects of caring for my patients. It is full on, then a bit more; with forever changing clinical guidelines and whole system overhauls which occur according to the whims of whichever government is in power. As my mother says, 'It is a full time job and a half'.

So why the blog?

Well, the story is in two parts: one concerns the discovery of my love of books; the other, the discovery of my love of writing.

Let me start with the discovery of my love for books. I can almost narrow it down to the events of one summer in the mid 1990s. I had been feeling very bored because my brothers were not around and for some reason, before this time, I had found other ways to occupy myself (probably being pranked by brothers or chasing them around and pleading to be allowed to join their games). But this summer, those avenues were closed to me. It was hot, I was bothered and something had to be done.  Wandering around the empty house, I came across a discarded storybook which had a picture of a tortoise at the front. I picked it up, settled somewhere that had a modicum of breeze flowing through, and before long, I was done with it. I can barely remember what the story was (the tortoise was probably being very cheeky and had his comeuppance handed to him by an even cheekier spider?), but I know that when I lifted my head up from that thin, dusty storybook, I wanted more. More!

I proceeded to scour the house for books and realised it was full of them! Oh, the joy! I stopped only long enough to devour each new discovery, before recommencing my search, more ravenous each time. Not all the books were child friendly- I read my Dad's naughty joke books, and my mum's mills and boon collection, but to me they were just fodder-feeding the fire. By the time I read two or three books of the same genre I got bored and continued my crazed search.

It was an exhilarating summer for me. I lived in worlds I had never seen or heard of before; met people long dead or those who had never existed and ended up knowing them more than I knew myself. It was a sort of power. And as the saying goes, power corrupts. I was insatiable. After finishing the books at home (I stopped short of reading my Dad's Encyclopaedia Brittanica collection, but I did look at the pictures :)), I had to be taken on weekly market trips (I was living in Nigeria at the time, libraries were not an option. Oh, would that they were!), to stock up on enough to last me until the next trip. That was how I learned to pace myself. I learned that if I stopped for food and toilet breaks, the suspense and intrigue lasted longer and so did the story. I didn't have to buy five books each time as three would do just as well.

And that is how I spent the next few summers-in a haze of discovery.  I say summer, because in between I was at boarding school (with shorter breaks for Christmas and Easter) and in the first few years, there was no library so I had nothing to feed my hunger. Like a beast, it went into hibernation, in this its winter, waiting patiently for the summer.

It was during one of those summer breaks that I discovered a love for writing. Ironically, I discovered it writing one of the most  boring pieces of work I've ever had to write. I had been enrolled in summer school to give me something useful to do with my life for at least three of the the eight weeks. Unfortunately, one of my classes was agriculture science and the assignment in question was to find out and write about 250 words on fallow farming (Gah! Research this at your peril). I cringed and moaned but I did it and when time came to submit, I stood in a line in front of the teacher and waited my turn.

When it came, I placed my sheet in front of him and stared down at his bent head as he read. I must have been at least the tenth person whose work he was reading that afternoon and we had all been given the same assignment. I had watched him silently mark each submitted work; making brusque corrections with his pen; saying few words to the student concerned and dismissing them, calling up the next person to the firing line. If he had dropped off to sleep reading mine, I would not have held it against him. However, as he read my work, I noticed something peculiar happening: his voice became more and more audible as he started to read it out loud; he also smacked his lips and stroked his knee with the hand that was not wielding the red pen (said pen, remaining quiescent in his other hand). He continued reading, the tics holding forth, not casting even a glance at me, until he had finished. I must admit, I thought he was a bit weird. No one can that excited about fallow farming surely? 

When he was done, he looked up at me for the first time and exclaimed, 'Excellent!'. He then proceeded to gush for nearly a whole minute about how well written it was, how I had explained the whole process succinctly and how impressed he was that I had put in such an effort. My smile grew exponentially with each article of praise and by the time I was sent on my way, my red-pen free paper clutched in my hand, I knew that that emotion I had just witnessed was the same one I wanted to spend my life eliciting from people, and I knew I wanted to do it by writing. Obviously, I would write things that did not make me want to rip out my eyeballs and slather them in hot oil. No, I would of course write pieces that I found altogether more pleasant. And just like that, the seed was irrevocably sown.

Continues in Part 2

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