Simbithi Scene Spring Ed’s Note: Be a Miss Honey

I have always been a bookworm.

My love of reading is genetic, methinks. My Daddy, a teacher by profession, always had his nose in a book. Mind you, his father, my late Pa, was much the same: a bookshelf in his study was stuffed with all manner of books and scribbled-in notebooks.

When I was eight years old, my father took my sister and I to the Grosvenor Library (yes, I’m originally rough and tough, from the Bluff *wink wink*) and got us our first library cards. We would race to the children’s section, each claim a little stool, then pore greedily over the colourful books until it was time to leave. Every two weeks, we would excitedly shoulder our book bags and wait for Daddy to take us back.

The other day, he sent me a photo of a Topsy & Tim book and I teared up. Those were the first books I ever read on my own, and it took me back to those precious moments discovering a love for words.

It also made me remember my grade three teacher, Mrs. Bailey, who introduced me to the wizardry of Roald Dahl. She would gather us on the carpet on Fridays and take us to the magical worlds of impossibly fantastic chocolate factories, inside giant peaches and to a world where giants could swivel their ears! Sometimes, she would let us play with her pretty brown hair and I would peek over her shoulder, lapping up the words as she read them.

My favourite Roald Dahl book is Matilda. I see so much of myself in the character: her feistiness, her determination, and her peace with the fact that she was different to other girls her age.

Of course, everyone who read the book or watched the movie fell rapturously in love with Matilda’s warmhearted teacher turned adoptive mother, Miss Honey. Her kindness, strength and gentleness made us all wish we were in her class. She routinely pours courage into Matilda, once telling her: “I know you are only a tiny little girl, but there is some kind of magic in you somewhere. I’ve seen it with my own eyes!”

Whenever I feel scared, out of my depth or dwarfed by the challenges that sneak up on me, I imagine Miss Honey whispering that to me. I want you to do the same.

Words are so powerful. Those we speak others and – most importantly – those we utter to ourselves. This Spring, I challenge you to be a Miss Honey. Look for the magic in those you meet and then tell them about it. You might just make their day or, in the case of Matilda, inspire them to be even more magical.

When you’ve done that, be your own Miss Honey. Call out the magic you see in yourself (it’s there, I promise) and wear it proudly.

Happy Spring!