Neil asked me, surprised, in which languages I read two novels a week. English was my reply.
I remember the first book I read in English. I didn't read it, really, was just pretending to. We were living in Niger and it was a book one of my father's étudiant forgot at home. I went through it, pretending I had an idea what it was about. How was I to know that it was in my destiny to come to a country where the official language is English and where I'd have to learn the language?
When we moved here, the teachers thought my case was hopeless. My maths teacher kept telling me to go to a French private school. That's when I fell out of love with math and been bad at it ever since.
The Librarian was a real nice guy. He looked at me with compassion, asked me what I knew in English. The Alphabets and the colours of the rainbow I said. He didn't blink. He didn't laugh. He said, wait, I have something for you.
He gave me an illustrated book. One word per page with a picture. 3 years old book. I was so ashamed. Now am grateful.
The purpose of this post is to thank. To thank all those who have, knowingly and unknowingly contributed to making it possible for me to post in English Today.
Charles Dickens. Oliver Twist. For all the humiliation I was subjected to in class while reading aloud to prove to the teacher that I could do it. I read everything in French. "Eyes" turned into "Et-yes" and "Please give me some more" sounded like "Ple-a-ce jeev meuh someh moreh". The snickers and laughter gave me courage.
Prince. Yes, the singer. "Could you be, the most beautiful girl in the world...". The first song in English I sang and realised I understood what I was singing.
Christopher Pike. The writer. It took me a month to read half of his writings. When I was done I sat and wondered. When did the transition occur? At one point did I turn from completely Englishically ignorant to the opposite? I had no idea and still don't.
Texas. The band. For inspiring my best essay. Read to the class by the teacher. She smiled at me and said to the class: Just listen to this sentence. I miss you, like the desert misses the rain. Isn't it just beautiful? I thought, Oh my God, she actually never heard them!
The Backstreet Boys. I thought they were beautiful and learned their lyrics with translations just to understand what they were saying. It turned out, not much.
Mrs J. My Indian English Teacher who, not once, treated me as an Englishically ignorant and encouraged me to write. I once asked her what does primordial mean? (It's the same word in French but I didn't know that either). She thought and said. Say you're in class now and there's a Cyclone Alert and you have to leave the class quick for a shelter, what would you take with you? I said my lunch box Miss. She sighed.
My Indian friends R. & R. I remember how I was telling them about this guy I'd seen and how puzzled they were looking and how I thought they were dense not to follow. It turned out, I said the guy was wearing yellow "sockets" and that he was "bald". I actually meant yellow "socks" and that he had a lot of nerve "bold".
Eventually, in the second phase of my English Evolution, my gratitude goes to Stephen king, Danielle Steel, Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, The Ragratz and the Boyz II Men.
I now listen to Shaggy. Can anyone tell me what he says?