A Sultry Childhood Journey . . . .
The dictionary says sultry means to be hot with passion or to be capable of exciting strong sexual desire. But sultry can also mean sweltering or torrid.
Not me. When I hear the word sultry I’m taken on a journey back to my childhood, seventh grade to be exact. That year, my teacher placed a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird on my desk with a simple note, “Read this. I hope it opens many doors for you.”
At the time, I thought it a strange note, but then Miss Holmquist was rather strange. (Picture a short, stout woman with flabby upper arms that jiggled when she worked the chalkboard). Still, the woman piqued my interest with her odd message. How could books open doors? Why would I want to read about an old lawyer in a southern state I knew nothing about? And, what’s more, what kind of a man would name his children Jem and Scout?
I took the book home and several days passed before I opened it and read the first line, "When he was thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow." Hmm, this Ms. Harper Lee, whoever she is, has my attention now,” I said aloud. Who is Jem and how did he break his arm?
From that moment I was hooked – mesmerized over the story, in awe over the character names, Boo Radley, Aunt Avery, Dill, Atticus, Calpurnia, and even the white girl who was supposedly raped, Mayella. And I’m still in awe of the plot, the personalities, and the vivid neighborhood descriptions.
So why does the word “sultry” remind me of To Kill A Mockingbird? Because for the first time in my life I realized that by simply turning the pages, I could feel the sultry heat, taste the prejudice and agonize over the hatred between black and white.
“So what did you discover in this book?” Miss Holmquist asked me two weeks later. I didn’t know where to begin. Should I tell her about the rollercoaster of emotions I went through while reading? Do I dare ask her why the jury convicted Tom even though I prayed they wouldn’t? Or maybe I should tell her how brave Scout was when she diffused an explosive situation between Atticus and the old-timers of the town with a simple, “Hey there, Mr. Ewell, how’s your boy, Henry doing?”
I didn’t ask her any of those things, but I did tell her about every sentiment I felt. Mostly I told her about the bitter taste in my mouth over a word called prejudice, and I told her I felt the hot, sultry sun of Maycomb County.
Some days, I wish I could go back to 7th grade and ask Miss Holmquist if she knew that one day To Kill A Mockingbird would be one of the best-loved stories of all time, that it would earn many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. I’d ask her if she thought it would win the Pulitzer Prize one day and be translated into more than forty languages. And Miss Holmquist, do you think it will sell more than thirty million copies worldwide, and will it be made into an enormously popular movie?
You know, I think Miss Holmquist would have said, “Yes, I do think Miss Lee’s novel will achieve all those things and more, but the most important thing, Keta, To Kill A Mockingbird will transport you to the sultry heat of the deep south and take you to places you never dreamed existed.”
And I would say, “Thank you, Miss Holmquist.”
About Where The Rain Is Made:
A decadent-looking savage has captured Francesca DuVall and her brother Marsh. Now she spends every waking moment planning an escape. She didn’t count on the powerful draw of desire interfering with her scheme while in the clutches of the brutal Cheyenne Dog Soldiers.
From the windswept plains of Colorado and the harsh life of a Dog Soldier to the placid life of a curator, their love was fueled by passion and kindled by destiny.
You can find Keta on the Web at the following places:
Keta’s Keep, http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com
Author Home, http://www.ketadiablo.com
The Stuff of Myth and Men, http://thestuffofmythandmen.blogspot.com
Join her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/KetaDiablo.Author