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Nkima Speaks


David A. Adams


Like the little Nkima and little Lion Man, the little Tangor and little Barney shared a bedroom. Ours was filled with books greeted as personal friends and high adventure. We entertained ourselves mostly in private since Mom and Dad had taught us to read from the daily newspaper shortly after diapers were last necessary and a year or so after potty-training was complete.

My parents did spin tales of wonder and adventure. Mom related family history—as utterly fantastic as any ERB tale--to eager, impressionable minds. Dad gave us an edited version of his naval hitch during World War II, though not at bedtime but on lazy Sunday afternoons.

As long as parents spin the tales, real or fantastic, children will be enriched!

Once upon a time in those distant days of innocence when my brother and I slept side-by-side in twin beds in our father's house, stories were told at bedtime. Mother read to us, but it was Daddy who told the wondrous tales at bedtime—those strange adventures he made up on the spur of the moment every night without fail.

It would have been impossible to go to sleep without a story from Dad, and although he must have told us a thousand and one stories, I can't recall a single one today. I'm afraid that his tales were simply routines that settled us down for the night like our prayers and the glass of water we were allowed to sip at bedtime.

My own bedtime tales told to my children were another matter.

After the usual reading of two or three short story books, the real adventures began. I would grab a couple of the stuffed animals from the hundreds my children seemed to have on hand, and they began to speak.

I took my children on journeys through all the fantastic worlds with the aid of these furry beasts. A small hippopotamus rode upon dinosaur into bejeweled caves beneath the sea to rage against the Ompholomus and his evil empire. Or, on another occasion, a fuzzy rabbit filched carrots from the Bezomogath in his garden of breaky ice.

As I recall, the stories lasted a long time, way beyond a judicious bedtime, until my wife would yell up for me to tell the children it was time to go to sleep. Reluctantly, the lions and the Zookenmorphs dove under the covers, and my children pretended to sleep as I went down the stairs.

Needless to say, my grown children today spend most of their time drawing pictures and reading poetry. I suppose the fault is mostly mine, but we had a grand time while it lasted.


January, 1999