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The ‘special ones’ in our lives


The story of my vacation in the village sometime back will not be complete without a mention of my “special friend”, a boy whose life and that of his mother touched me a lot…just by observing them while we were in a luxurious bus taking us to Lagos.

It was on the morning of my departure from the village, I got to the bus station early enough to buy my tickets, the officials of the transport company were yet to start attending to people, so I sought for a seat to sit down, and did find a bench whose only occupant was a little boy. I made my way to the seat, nodded a polite hello to the boy (having caught his friendly glance in my direction) and sat down, he smiled at me and I practically pasted a smile on my face for his benefit as I was not particularly in a friendly mood.

As if on cue, the boy made a blabbing sound, I had a puzzled look at him…my moodiness momentarily forgotten.

I began to observe the boy closely. That “blabbing” sound he made was my first inkling that it is a less than normal situation that I was observing, otherwise he’s a plump, healthy looking boy, dark skinned and well dressed in his blue jeans, red t-shirt and white trainers, with his knapsack on his back.

His friendly chatter to his mother kind of got me interested in his person, by then we were all in the vehicle taking us to Lagos, and somehow I made a conscious effort to understand some of the things he was saying(they are usually pronounced strangely).I found him to be a very lively and happy child and it was not difficult to deduce that the love his family has shown him is responsible for his happy disposition in life.

I mean, from my brief observation of him and his mum on that trip, one could see the graceful and patient manner with which the mother was handling him, it’s not easy handling a vivacious kid, let alone a ‘special one’, he seemed fascinated by the scenery and asked lots of questions and the mother answered all, patiently and was actually relating with him on his level.

The father or grandfather, whoever he was, called them several times and, on each occasion, he was given the phone to speak and he would say ‘’hello papa’’ (sounded more like pao-pao) and then he would proceed to ask ‘’how are you’’, make a few more talks and say goodbye. It was really fascinating watching him and the mum, the love between both spoke volumes, even to a casual observer like me. On a few occasions, he would cup the mother’s face in his hands, whisper something to her and both will start giggling, he showed delight in everything the mother gave him, ever saying ‘’thank you’’ and he would throw himself at her in appreciation, sometimes dosing off on her bosom.

That woman and I never said much to ourselves but her dignity, gracefulness and quiet mien in carrying what seemed to be her ‘cross’ spoke volumes to me and I never stopped asking how many of us can be that unruffled and warm with a child with special needs.

Eventually, the vehicle stopped for the passengers to observe a few minutes break for refreshments et al. I seized the moment to get to know him better, it was then that he told me his name is Chukwudi (he pronounced it more like ‘udidi’ and I concluded he meant Ndidi, since that seemed more reasonable a name to me, but the mum explained that he meant Chukwudi.

I remember the kids in some of the special homes that I have visited; very few of them inspire awe like Chukwudi. Your first reaction is to feel sorry for them, not because of their circumstances but because the society seems to have given up on them.

A trip to one of such homes recently opened my eyes to the other side of these kids. Besides the physical, they are very friendly, highly gifted in handicrafts and a very organised bunch. They had their labour divided and each did theirs diligently, they related very well with their instructors and that spoke volumes to me.

My point is that, they may not live their lives like you and I, but they can at least be helped to experience what I call a worthwhile living.

Their talents should be encouraged and whatever material, emotional or financial support that is needed to make this a reality, should not be held back… that effort can only come from you and I.

I have never stopped thinking that “it could have been the other way round”. Nobody is immune to the circumstances of life.

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