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I Made His Day

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The book, I Made His Day, written by Uwem Mbot Umana, is a conversation, after eight years, between a teacher and his former student.

Here goes the conversation: “ I was walking down the second floor of Mushrif mall, towards Lulu’s when I saw somebody speeding down towards me on his wheel chair listening to loud music. He looked so familiar.
“Hey!” I called out.

He stopped his mobile chair and stared at me. I extended my hand for a handshake and Zaher took it and shook me. His face wore that puzzled look.
“I am shocked that you don’t remember me.”
“Who are you?” he questioned me.

“A teacher at Mettu School, eight years ago” I replied.
“Eight years ago? That’s a long time. How do you expect me to remember you?”
“I am older than you and I still remember you,” I countered him.

“But you are a teacher; you see students and remember students. Now are you going to tell me your name?”
“No, I am not telling you my name. You have put on a lot of weight. Look at you, anyways good to see you again, Zaher” I said and started walking off in the opposite direction.

Zaher was trailing behind me. “Hey wait, wait”, he called out. “You can’t just leave like that”.
“But I am leaving”. I continued to walk.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“Lulu’s.”

“I will come with you” he wheeled along.
Darn! I thought. Come with me? I had a few calls I wanted to make and catch up with myself. ‘You know what, flexibility is the key word’, I said to myself.

“Come on then.”
Then it clicked, “Mr. Uwem, Mr. Uwem, I remember you now”.
“You do?” I asked bending over him and full of smiles.
“Yes, before, every day I see you with jacket, tie, and now, I see you like sportsman wearing this. What do you call this?” he asked, touching my facial hair.
“Beard” I responded.

“Yes, beard and this one?” touching the top of my mouth.
“Moustache.”

“Yes, how can I recognize you with this beard and moustache”, he rambled on.
“You are a crazy teacher. Before you were crazy, now, you are still crazy” he went on.
“You made me crazy at Mettu” I replied him.
I increased my pace and he caught up with me, overtook me and spun his wheel chair around making the whooo sound.

He followed me from aisle to aisle; he would help push the trolley. He would tell me how I should select the very red tomatoes and soft mandarins. I almost blurted out, ‘Zaher, I have bought tomatoes and mandarins before, without you’. But I held my peace.

When we were coming down to the basement to offload the shopping into the car, Zaher held the lift door for everybody. It was impressive. He let the children, women and other people go out first. He laughed all the way.
He gave himself fun.

After offloading all the shopping bag into the car, he locked his wheel chair. He used his left hand to hold the door frame of the passenger seat and his right hand to hold the door frame of the rolled down glass.
“Let me help you to…”

“No, I am fine” he cut in.
He doesn’t like people helping him.

He collected his two lifeless limbs and threw them into the front seat and then balanced himself. He gathered his strength and hoisted the upper part of his body into the car.

He laughed heartily and instructed me to take his wheel chair to the boot of the car. When he had completed his ritual of offloading himself into my car, he commanded me to drive him to his house.
Sitting next to smiling Zaher, I asked him to wear his seat belt.

“How can I wear my seat belt?” he asked, laughing. “You are a crazy teacher,” he added.
“But you have to wear your seat belt” I insisted. “It is for safety purposes”.
“Then you have to help me. How can I wear seat belt, when I cannot turn my body to push it inside?” Zaher asked.

“Why is your belly so big?” I asked him.
“Because I don’t do anything, only to eat, eat, eat and sleep.”
“Why aren’t you working?” I asked.

“I am not working because nobody would employ me. My country is full of such problems,” he told me.
“Oh yeah, I know. Syria doesn’t have a very good standing right now.”

“Turn right, at traffic light. Take right. Take right again. Park by disabled parking,” he instructed me.
The two disabled parking bays were taken. “Idiots” Zaher cursed. “They always take my space. This space was put for people like me. Father come to drop me, he parks here. Anybody drop me, he parks here”.
He laughed. “That is life. They want a place to park and not enough parking. If they want a place like this, then they have to be disabled” he blabbed on.

Settling himself to his wheel chair, he asked me to call his phone, which I did. He thanked me for an evening well spent.

Couldn’t life be this fun? Just spending time with a former teacher made his day.

Uwem Mbot Umana©2019
Author and founder of www.enrichyourmind.co.uk


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