A 10-year-old, Middle Earth, and Attila the Hun

If you ever find yourself staring at a map, have a look at the continent of Africa. Right at the bottom of the tip of Africa, there’s a little spot of land that is known as South Africa. Right spot bang in the middle of this country, exists a little town by the name of Bloemfontein. Or as we like to call it: Middle Earth. The summers there are scorching hot with minimal shade, and the surrounding environment reflects the feelings of the population that reside there, as everything is either dead or dying. Drought during these months is more common than the livestock that roams the surrounding farmlands (and that’s saying something). Middle Earth can get pretty wild once a month, when a sheep nearly escapes and everybody loses their minds. Except for this occasional occurrence, the remote little town is pretty much a non-event.

It was in this deserted desert that a young ten year old boy, who responded to the name Kyle, fell head over heels in love with, not a girl, nor a sheep (a more common occurrence in Middle Earth than anybody is comfortable admitting), but instead with books. It was on one of these particularly hot and, as always, rather boring summer days that I was taken to the local library and told to pick a book so that I could be kept busy rather than whining away about the worst thing that can happen to a ten year old: the dreaded boredom. Low and behold, as I walked through a mass of books, non of which really interested me, I caught sight of a tremendously thick book with only three words on it: Attila the Hun.

Now I wish l could recall or go back and relive what ten year old me, who had never read more than a few short books that mainly consisted of large colourful pictures, was exactly thinking at that present moment. What ever it was, it was enough for me to pick up the book and check it out of the library. What ensued was me spending the rest of the summer neglecting my cousins’ desperate pleas for me to play with them in exchange for devouring every word in Attila the Hun. And there I sat, this little kid trying to digest a book that was definitely out of my grasp, in every regard of the word. It took me ages, and I’m quite sure that I couldn’t have understood half of it, but I was enthralled at the fact that these words could take my mind on a journey to a land I’ve never been, hundreds of years ago, with warriors, battles, romance and trickery. The adventure bug had bitten my imagination, and now 16 years later, it still has not let go.

And so started my reading journey. After Attila, I discovered Hogwarts, Narnia, the Edge, and a myriad of different universes as well as the stories that they contained. And onward I shall explore the lands of literature, sometimes with stories of real life and actual events, but more often, especially in my heart, fiction will always comes first.

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