My Love Affair With Books

Though I have a faint recollection of that day, some details are ever so clear. I was in class five. The tuition program we were to attend had backfired so we were told to borrow books for our holiday reading. I picked ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’. Like any 10 year old, I was enchanted by the images on the cover: a man who was blowing a pipe was being followed by a ‘delegation’ of rats. The book was begging to be read, itching to tell its story. 

I couldn’t resist the charms regardless of the fact that 1. I had read it before. 2. I was perhaps too old for such books. 

So I confidently took the book to the classteacher to have her indicate that I was borrowing the book. 

To cut the story short, she never let me take that book, saying that it was too short. She had me borrow a copy of ‘The Boxcar Children’, a novel. For one accustomed to reading storybooks, this was very overwhelming. How was I supposed to read that giant of a book? I took it  heavy heartedly and commenced the herculean task of reading it. I was excruciatingly bored within the first few pages, to be honest. My mum encouraged me to read on, saying that a time will come when I would not be able to put the book down. 

True to her word, I was hooked once I reached the middle. What I had previously termed as a herculean task turned out to be very easy and aggressively entertaining. You should have seen how dejected I was when I finished reading it. 

That is how my love affair with books started. Little did I know that in this part of the world, most people conclude that you are a very boring person when you tell them you are a reader. How can you read during your free time? Don’t you have a life? 

That became very apparent in high school. Not wanting to be associated with boredom, I stopped reading. I would be lying through my teeth if I said that I did not regret this. This, in fact, is my biggest regret. 

I was determined to get back to reading after high school. It was a struggle at first, but I got back on track. I vowed never to let people’s opinions dissuade me from doing what I really love. 

Books have really helped me in a lot. They helped in my grammar, opened my mind, allowed me to have a better understanding of areas that I was not familiar with before. It is always refreshing to read books whose characters you can relate to. The advantages of reading are just so many. 

Next time I say I enjoy dancing and you tell me ‘To books?’ ‘To poetry? ‘ I will proudly tell you I wish I could, and that I adore books. 😂Try reading too. You never know, you too might fall in love with books. ☺

Flo-Rida Teeth

One day they brought a feature on TV that I could very much resonate with. They were showing the plight of people of Baringo who were suffering from dental fluorosis. Brown teeth. Though I only have a faint recollection of the feature, I remember one lady’s story very well. 

“Urembo anao, umbo analo lakini ni kitu kimoja tu ambacho kinamfanya akose mchumba…”

The reporter’s voice bellowed as they showed us a very beautiful woman with  perfect figure. Until. Until she smiled and revealed her set of teeth. Discoloured. Brown. Her teeth were the bane of her life, the only impediment to getting a boyfriend, she said.

There’s usually that excitement when your permanent teeth start growing, right? I, like many children, watched permanent teeth fill the gaping holes left by milk teeth with so much excitement. My excitement quickly turned to sadness when I noticed that my teeth were getting discoloured. My two front teeth were particularly affected, while the rest were a pale shadow of their former colour, white. 

What do you do when you notice that? You start covering your mouth when you laugh. You smile without showing your teeth. Your photos would do well without any evidence of brown teeth, you tell yourself. You are tempted to cover your mouth whenever you talk, but then you tell yourself that it would be too much work for the hand. The only time people get a glimpse of your teeth is when you talk. 

Little did I know that my mum was not going to give me an easy time. There was no way she would let me cover my teeth. 

“Laugh freely,” she said, “your teeth are perfect the way they are. Why are you making you complicating your life? It is not your fault that your teeth got discoloured. Don’t let people’s comments and looks make you deny yourself a chance of having a good laugh.” 

And so I stopped covering my teeth. Most of the people around me in primary school had brown teeth, so I didn’t stand out. In fact, few people had white teeth. The intensity of the brown colour was different in different people. Others were lucky to have an almost invisible mark at the corner of one of their tooth, while others teeth were deeply discolored. 

One day people came to talk to us about fluorosis, and what causes it. They told us that it is the water in that area that was responsible, it had high amounts of fluoride. While fluoride in itself is an important element and helps in the strengthening of teeth and bones, excessive amounts lead to discolouration of teeth, they added. 

All hope was not lost though, they said. They showed us a water filter, which worked by filtering the excessive amounts of fluorine and hence made the water very good for drinking. Whoever drank the filtered water would not get fluorosis. 

One pupil’s hand shot up. “What if your teeth are already discoloured? Can the filtered water help to restore the white colour?” 

We all waited for the answer with hopprehension (hope and apprehension). 

“Unfortunately no. The damage has already been done. However, we can  prevent dental fluorosis is other people, now that we are armed with the information.”

We were disappointed, but at least we were salvaged from our ignorance. 

Fast forward to high school, when I noticed that I was one of the three people in class with brown teeth. Most of the people there had white teeth. Exact opposite of primary school. Insecurities crept in again, but I reminded myself of my  mother’s words. I had to love my perfect imperfections. Whenever I felt like laughing, I laughed until my last tooth was seen. After all, people only notice the difference in your teeth the first time they see you, and then they get used to it, and they don’t seem to notice it anymore. 

If you have brown teeth, don’t worry. You can afford a white smile though, if you can afford it (terrible pun). If you go to a dentist, they can cover your teeth with a layer of filling (if there is any dentist reading this, forgive my utter ignorance of terminologies). They can also use other methods such as microabrasion where they scrap off a thin layer of enamel. You are spoilt for choice. 

Of course there are those people who go the herbal way. The said herbalists use a mixture of herbs to scrub your teeth. Well, I hear that those people scrap off a large layer of enamel and your teeth become very sensitive. I have not heard any story first hand though, so there is a chance that the herbalists are very efficient. 

You know how dentists are expected  to have flawless teeth; white and perfectly arranged? There is one dentist I saw on TV who is challenging the status quo. His teeth are discoloured. Being a dentist, he obviously can afford to get his teeth whitened but he chooses not to. Isn’t that the quintessence of loving your imperfections perfectly? He inspires a lot of people. When was the last time you were treated  by a dentist with brown teeth? I bet never. Unfortunately, his name escapes me but I salute him for being brave. 

Let’s go back to where I started from, to the woman who claimed that she cannot get a boyfriend because of her teeth. How many people with brown teeth are married? You see how a terrible mindset can put one in perils of their own making? 

Whoever has read this to the end, thank you. I hope you shed all the misconceptions you had before about brown teeth. No they are not rotten, they are just discoloured. Do not assume that people who have them do not brush their teeth. 🙂 

Haha, I’ve just remembered that in high school someone asked  me why I don’t use Colgate. In university too, someone told me that they thought I smoked cigarettes. I have gotten to a point where I can just laugh off these comments. 

Did you know? People with fluorosis are relatively resistant to dental carries. 

ALONE

via Daily Prompt: Desire

Image result for sad lady drinking tea and reading a book alone

She relished in her guilty pleasure; imbibing highly caffeinated coffee while reading a book. Books were her safe haven, her friends, her family. They were a hiding place from reality, the bitter monster that refused vehemently to leave her side. Reading had become more than a hobby, it was her life. She was all alone at a restaurant table but that was the least of her worries at the moment. Her book had immersed her in a completely different world.

As she reached out to grab her cup of coffee for yet another sip, Bianca could not help but stare at her freshly-manicured nails. A YouTube video, dubbed ‘How To Love Yourself’ had convinced her to go get her nails painted. It was an act of showing appreciation to oneself, the feisty YouTuber had said. She beheld the tiny nails, now coated with red nail polish. They seemed to be drowning in a sea of meat. She had imagined that the manicure would make fragile as an adjective qualify to describe her fingers. To her dismay, they had only exaggerated the stubbiness of her fingers. She chuckled and sighed inwardly.

Out of the blues, laughter erupted in a table next to hers. On other days, she would not have bothered, let alone heard any sound. However, on that day, her nails had bewitched her into leaving the books world and entering the real world. She found herself throwing a glance at the table. An extremely beautiful woman was seated facing a man whose face Bianca could not quite see. The woman’s eyes never left the man’s face. Giggles punctuated all her sentences. A couple in love. The sight of that couple left Bianca with an overwhelming sadness. To her, love was a sensation cursed into oblivion. The feeling of loving and being loved had become completely alien to her.

She had to force herself to look elsewhere. The picture of the happy couple had become too much to bear. She tried reentering her favourite world, the books world, to no avail. Her eyes were left to dart from table to table within her vicinity. All she saw were happy couples, amazing families and great friends. Everyone was having a time of their lives. No one was seated alone.

She was the only person in this world shackled with loneliness, she concluded. She was engulfed in a fervent desire for good things in life, yet continually slapped by bitter reality. There was not a single soul she could call a friend, not a single person she could call family. Her only companion was lack, not luck.

Still reeling from the fresh wounds reality had afflicted upon her, she left some money beside the unfinished cup of coffee, and stomped out of the restaurant. As soon as she left the restaurant she broke into a run, tears streaming down her face. She did not know where she was going, but she could not stop running.