I was sitting in my small corner in the prison factory that very day busied myself with self education strategy I fancied when Ogu trotted towards me with his thick wide black book. Those type I avoid mechanically whenever I enter the district library for books.
They look to me like those yellow colored illustration Bible that was so common in primary schools in the 80s in Nigeria. Full of cartoon like drawings to aid the kids in assimilation.
I never regarded those thick hard cover books as novels. They looked more to me like research books, and those books written specifically for a particular project. They looked like those project papers works like they refers to them here in tertiary institutions instead of project diaries. They’re too heavy to pass as novels.
“ You needs to read this novel, this writer can write I tell you the truth”
“ Ah, please take this your diary away. There are excess books to last me my stay here”
“ I have been watching you, you like detective novels, you would like this one, it’s investigative work”
“What is the name of the author, is he famous?”
“ Maybe, I don’t know who’s famous and who is not. All I know is that the work is so good and I have read 50 percent already within three days”
“ When am through with the one am reading, I will try the book”
“ Shit, white people can write oh!, They carry out research even before writing fiction books”
“ Of course, they consult places that relates to the work they had in mind, ask questions and channel their work to suit what they were told. That is reason it looks so real in real life”
“ The author name is Howards. You know these white people, unisex name is so common there that you can’t tell for sure if you’re reading ‘he or she' work”
“ I see those thick books there in their section. Truly, whenever I enter library in search of what to read, I don’t go near that section. I am for fiction works not projects”
Five days later when I was through with the book I was reading, I entered library without going near the thick works section. My modus operandi there was to take two books anytime I entered there. When I was new, I have seen many good books I tick as the next work to read only for the books to disappear without resurfacing throughout my stay there.
Initially, I was surprised only to figure out what was happening later. Some inmates would enter the library, pick any book that match what they are after, disappear into their cells to decorate their room lockers with the books. Some of these inmates I have not opened a book in last three decades and they had no intention of doing that in prison. Yet, about five to six wonderful books are perennially in their lockers. Some in their room lockers and some in their provision lockers in the store room.
The manner of things that happens in that district would surprise any sound outsider. The officers are only interested in their source of points to aid their promotion and since hygiene is one of the major sources they’re tested on, they pay most attention in the arrangements of lockers, how tidy and organized everything is in the cells and store.
They’re not interested on any complaint from anyone on misuse of books as far as it’s in connection with tidiness. You personal development would come later. That is their mantra there.
Jerry, the inmate in charge of the library is more interested in knowing which side the officers were in and queue up that line. Any inmate that has complaints should forwards them to the officers especially those inmates that never contributed in the build up of the library in the first place. 98 percent of the books in the library was bought by ex and current inmates. Central authority the rest. All the books and movies in existence there were courtesy of the inmates families.
Two weeks later after my factory encounter with Ogu, I finally went in search of his recommendation. As I entered the library, there was Chika who I knew to be a regular in the library rummaging through the drawers. Immediately he saw me returning the book I finished reading, he came with his own recommendation.
“ Have you read these works, try them, they are interesting”
Immediately i eyed the books he was indicating, cartoon Network came to my mind. The cover is illustrated in cartoons drawings.
“ Cartoons? Christ, they are not for me. Why do you think I am for cartoons?”
“ Never judge the content by the pictures on the cover”
“I have been seeing those books about six of them in that same position since i came here. How come no one ever goes for them”
“ Because they see them with the same mindset you saw them for years now. I know the type of books you go for and those books are one of the best in that field”
“ let me see the back”
I went through the summary to see what the cartoon illustrated cover book is talking about. What I read surprised me. I picked two from about six in there, went back to my room for trial run. I had concluded that only half way into chapter two was the only allocated time from me for the books. If they don’t impress without that period, it’s not my fault.
Half of chapter one was what the book took to hooked me. Personally, I like the work of any good storyteller based on middle East history of colonization or encounter with the Western powers. That was what the work is all about and the author is a fine storyteller.
I was virtually living in 18th century Afghanistan in my head. The content of the book is far different from the illustrations on it’s covers.
“ How would a man suffer for months if not years to come out with a wonderful work of this nature only to chose cartoon as it’s cover's illustration. Even the colors is also nothing to write home about” I mulled.
I spent minutes trying to figure out the reasons behind the man’s choice for the cover illustration and the colors. I found none. The colors were plainly off colors and the pictures on the back is what you see on cartoon Networks.
The contents of most works in that library couldn’t match the work and yet, their covers were first thing that draws you like magnet.
I concluded that first impressions are at times not accurate judge of anything. I decided there and then never to pay attention to what is written on a bus before entering it.
A book that kept me turning pages and taking notes non-stop for about a month must be something. I believed truly.
After a month plus in the man’s works, I went for Ogu's recommendation and they were something else too. The author’s setting is in the modern mostly. They were in the apex class of their own. Investigative rinsed in sex and it was a non-stop page Turner of highest order. I eyed what was no longer diary in my hand and the name I saw there was: LINDA HOWARD.