“The world has never found the need to depend on stories this strongly. Stories to keep us updated. Stories to remind us who we are, or at least, who we were before COVID-19 erupted. Stories to channel feelings we can’t easily talk about, because we’re not used to discussing feelings on phone, over the internet, because feelings aren’t recipes and gossip and Rotten Tomatoes ratings. Stories to reduce boredom, to give us somebody to talk to, to think of, to care about, to wake up to, to sleep on. Stories to be saved for posterity, to remind us in the future of what we’d survived, how strong and resilient we are, made to survive fire and ice and sandstorms and volcanic eruptions.
Throughout history, stories have been the only honest yet deepest way to communicate. Essays, statistical analyses, reviews might present clear facts, but will a story not connect you to the fact, by showing you how colourful, how bland, how wild, how utterly beautiful or bizarre that fact is? A newspaper article may cover the experiences of a man diagnosed with COVID-19, but will a story not take steps further, describing how the man felt, how his wife cried her eyes out, how his children huddled in their rooms and listened to the rain plummeting against their roofs?
This is what the fifteen stories in this collection offer you—the luxury of feeling, and hey, feeling encapsulates all other senses be it sight or taste or smell. You hear the anger in the characters’ voices as they fret over having to wear nose masks. You feel the smoothness of their palms doused in sanitisers. You even smell the alcohol: it tickles your nose and you guard yourself against sneezing (lest someone puts the NCDC online, haha!). You see Anuoluwapo’s wrinkled forehead as she complains about Ms. Rosa’s fluctuating network in the first story. In “The Missing Ingredient”, you can’t help but feel for Mr and Mrs James as they’re being taken away after contracting the virus. Sophy in “Sophy’s Tears” can’t have her baby in a standard health facility due to the lockdown, and you don’t want to draw in a breath until you reach the end, until you find out what happens to her and her child.” Read Ola W. Halim’s complete review here.
REEL Foundation Writers gave an offering to the world. They got pupils of ages (please ages?) to create stories from their experience during the lockdown. This anthology is the first of its kind. We at ARTmosterffic are pleased to publish their voices.
We invite you, dear reader, to read and enjoy flawless art from kids. This anthology is what children’s voices read like, delight in it!