On March 21st, 2013, the world lost one of its best storytellers. Chinua Achebe achieved what many authors - aspiring and veterans alike - will never manage. He created fictional pieces that entered the elite world of the literary cannons. Case in point is Things Fall Apart, a story about a man and indeed a people grappling with a changing world and its consequences for the world of old.
The news of Mr. Achebe's death hit me particularly hard as I have always been a fan of his writing and only introduced my three small to his works a month before he died. My eight year old daughter devoured Girls At War, a collection of short stories for young adults. She immediately demanded more. My seven year old son has slowly read Chike and The River. He read a few pages to me each night for a series of weeks, reveling in the tale of the main character, his experiences and the River Niger, which is the life blood of many Nigerian communities.
Much of what I know about Mr. Achebe I have learned from some of his peers, who shared fascinating stories of a young writer challenging long held ideas, exposing the Nigerian psyche and taking his readers and naysayers along for the ride. I have also learned a lot from the tales he created and shared with the world.
I always hoped I would meet him someday, somehow. But I am glad that like many others across the globe I have had access to his writings. I like to think that many of these writings also gave a peek into the inner thoughts of a brilliant mind.
My condolences to his family, his friends and all those who are filled with a bitter sense of personal loss by his absence.
He left a mark on the world that will never be erased. Something many could only dream to achieve.
Rest in peace.