This is how Mafalda got up every morning: big smile, stretched arms as if she wanted to hug everything, and a happy greeting to that hugeness we call “the world”.
I am not Quino’s heroine but I am quite alike her. I always was an uncommon little girl. An only child, my abusive parents never let me play or be in contact with other children, other than school time. I spent the evenings and weekends alone in my room, doing my homework, thinking, dreaming… My friends were my books. My toy was imagination.
Life decided to provide me abundantly with both. I grew up in a house full of books. More than eight thousand volumes for my sole enjoyment and delight. When I was 10 years old I read Oscar Wilde. At 11, Treasure Island. When I was 12, Jane Austen. 13-year-old me could recite the first chapters of Don Quixote by heart. When I turned 15 I was already a huge fan of Dickens, Charlotte Brontë and nineteenth-century British literature. I even ventured to read the versions in English, not being very successful. It wasn’t until I was 18, thanks to a bestseller about the adventures of a wizard boy, that I took the final step to read books in their original language. After that, it was the turn of dwarves, elves and halflings with big and hairy feet. But that’s another story.
Imagination was not scarce either. I always was exceedingly curious and enquiring. My body couldn’t get out of those four walls, but my mind and spirit could. And they did. Alongside the characters in my books I run, I jumped, I played, laughed and danced… I traveled to England with Lizzie Bennet, to the Mississippi River with Tom and Huckleberry, to 1860 Massachusetts with Josephine March, to islands swarming with pirates beside Kim and Sandokan, to the north of Canada with White Fang, to Africa with Allan Quatermain… I even went to the center of the Earth. I traveled to the end of the world and I came back, much to my regret, because in all those places I was happy.
Books and imagination made me an emerging little writer. When I felt inspired I liked to take ink and paper and express my thoughts, my doubts, my worries and fears, my joys and sorrows… All that my restless mind wanted to say to the world, and couldn’t. Or didn’t dare to.
Also when I didn’t feel inspired. I always loved to write for the sake of writing. To draw blue letters on white paper. Round, kind letters, a little tilted to the left. As I loved to draw landscapes and distant sceneries. I wrote tales, poetry, I even started the first chapter of a novel. But my studies started to require more and more time. And my writing wishes ended up cornered by piles of books and notes on Romans.
More than ten years have passed. I’m not that little girl anymore. I have traveled, laughed and played with my body, I’ve made real friends, I’ve even been an amateur actress and filmmaker. My life is more similar to that of my fellow human beings. But there’s still much in me of that little dreamer whose only joy came from the books she read and imagined, of that little writer who turned to paper to pour out her thoughts and feelings.
It’s time for me to start writing again. And I hope you enjoy it.