My Love Story with Words

Once upon a time, lived a girl, in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. She had her primary contact with books when her father used to buy children books for her and her siblings.

They had to read them and recite French poems. But at the age of 12, she discovered the true magic behind stories. That night seated around imbabura, a charcoal fire, their eldest sister was cooking isombe (cassava leave stew) and ubugali (cassava paste). This was their most favorite food when their father was not home. They used to eat this food in their dad’s absence because he would never allow his beloved children to eat two cassava products, not even for a single night. He considered them very unhealthy.

That night around the blaze, cooking took hours because the young children were all ears listening to the captivating narrative of their sister. It was a story about a book called “Paris-Londres”. Unfortunately, she didn’t remember what the whole story was about, but she did remember very well the connection that started from that instant. She was in love. Instead of seeing books as an obligation to read, her conscience awakened.

That story tickled the young sister’s curiosity. The feeling was comparable to a scary route that needed street lamps. From then, the young girl was scared by the pleasure that stories could bring to her life. She slowly and fearfully started opening books; the smell of old pages was like standing alive in the middle of virgin forest. Reading was unbelievable. It was an experience sweeter than love itself.

During her adolescence, she never needed to date any boy, books were her lover. She was surprised that every single book had a uniquely different and astonishing narration. She was amazed at the same time by the human brain. How could people come up with such true, captivating and educating stories? She just bowed before that human genius. Then, she realized the power of words: the power to heal, to comfort, to care and sadly the power to hurt, to reject and to kill.

That power to kill had murdered the image of her beloved Africa and she would dedicate her words to recover that lost dignity.

So, when she was seventeen, she tried her first novel writing. She had always only written poems to her close friends. The handwritten manuscript was about a young girl “Célia”. The story took place in an unknown province of France. Célia was falling in love. The young writer was just imitating love stories that she read from so many authors including Konsalik, Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts, Johanna Lindsey, ….

As she was reading different novels, words penetrated her heart and settled at the centre of her life. They started burning her. Words were like a volcano that needed to urgently erupt and evacuate that fire from her heart. And the stories that she writes now are that magma flowing from deep inside.

Back in High school, she recalled that one condition of choosing a female friend was that she should share that passion for literature. So, during break time, the discussions were almost always around books:

- Cet auteur est cruel; J’aurais aimé que l’histoire se termine bien…That Author is cruel; I wished the story to end well…

- Je ne lirai plus Barbara Cartland, on peut deviner comment le roman se termine à la dixième page….I will never read Barbara Cartland again, you can guess how the story finished when you are at the tenth page…..

- Je ne peux pas lire les romans SOS, Dieu me punirait car ils sont plein de depravation de meours…I can’t read SOS books; God will punish me because they are full of insanities…..

- We should remove Sabrina from our reading club; she likes to borrow novels but is never willing to share. She really sucks.

Of course they were all in love with the charming eyes of Enrique Iglesias but books were at the centre of their teenage years to the detriment of physics, algebra and chemistry courses.

She also remembered to have a nkunda amahoro brand notebook where she used to write all the titles and authors as treasures to cherish.

Years after that period, manipulating words to tell a story has revealed to her to be a force to build or destroy. She embraced that consuming path that required her to empty her mind and heart. Writing enabled her to share that precious and intimate piece of her life: her thoughts.

Sharing her own thoughts seemed arrogant and daring especially when telling stories that touched on others’ lives. Although scared by that power, she knew that she had the responsibility to narrate. Every single story she narrates, leaves her terrified, naked, and vulnerable; but on the other hand, when she gets a comment from even one reader, she just feels empowered and forgets her doubts.

Beyond that simple fact of writing a story, words have been her best way of communicating, engaging and connecting with others. She feels misunderstood when people don’t share the same emotional language. Like all women, her emotions have always been affected by words; either spoken, written or sung. They have made her heart beat and cry. But when too sad or too happy, the same words bring her to her normal mood.

Words allowed her to dream, to remove skepticism and pessimism from her life. Growing up, she has seen how people use words as sharp weapons to dominate others and make them invisible by denying them the right to love and to belong.

Words helped her to escape from the dark thoughts that the future brings, and if her future life falls, if her marriage fails, if her whole world ever collapse, words will be her everlasting companion, her most faithful lover and her genuine friend. She will only feel lost if she ever has to lose that intimate touché with words.

That girl is me and this is my love story with words. 

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Published in Life