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I called my parents at the end of my freshman year in college to inform them about my decision to major in history instead of economics as was previously planned. It was my mother who first received the call and on hearing about the theme of my call, she put my father on the phone at which time I told him about my decision to major in history with a minor in economics. "What!" he exclaimed. I heard my mother in the background pleading with him to take it easy. "History dad, history" I said. "I heard you clearly". He said. "Is that why you went abroad to study? people leave here to go study medicine, law, engineering, economics, accounting and you are telling me you want to study history abroad? You could have studied history here. Anyway this is not a phone conversation." He concluded. He handed the phone to my mother and I heard him say to her, "it is all those stories your mother was feeding him." We resolved the issue as a family based on an agreement on a major in economics and a minor in history (daddy ruled). However, I retained my love for history in various ways all through my career in the financial industry.
My father was right about my maternal grandmother's influence on me during my childhood. I visited her often during my holidays when I was between the ages of seven and fifteen. I remember her fondly as a loving grandmother and an enthusiastic and effective story teller. She told me real stories of her people and other peoples. She told me made-up stories in order to convey moral lessons. Her made-up stories were rich in sea creatures (sea turtles, alligators, crocodiles, fish, sea gods and goddesses, etc) because she was born and grew up in riverine communities. Every of her stories began with the following sentence: :Ita ene ki an which in the Itsekiri language means, story we greet you. One day, I asked her why she began her stories with greetings to the stories eventhough the stories can neither hear nor respond. "Who told you stories can neither hear nor respond?" She said with a smile. "Stories are alive through the morals they convey. For example, the story of the sea turtle and the fish which I told you was about the wisdom of the sea turtle. Wisdom is alive and responds to greetings. Besides, when you greet stories in the beginning you set up a friendly mood which allows you to keep an open mind until the end of the story." She concluded her answer to my question.
It has been many years since the death of my maternal grandmother. However, her advice to keep an open mind when reading or listening to stories has remained with me and has served me well over the years. So on approach to a story, I never forget to greet the story by saying Hi -story.
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