By Steve Caloo
He steadily reached for the door and with one twist on the knob, he was in his room. He felt rejuvenated, a stark contrast to how he was, earlier in the morning. How times change! He went straight to the sofa, for a rest before preparing his meal. Staring blankly at the ceiling, the events of the day started rewinding in his mind.
He had woken up, feeling quite low in moods. Today was the day, he was to launch his second book. No Moon Tonight. A collection of short stories he had written for over a year. He was really discouraged by the returns from his first book, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? An inspirational book. The book had been well received, at least by pirates, who went and republished it in softcopies and were busy selling them online. It felt bad that his hardwork was illegally being exploited by these faceless beings.
Now, he lived on loans from friends and the bank. It was not long before the bank would come calling. His friends kept reminding him to pay the debt he owed them. Moreover, the landlord had already served him with a notice for him to pay the outstanding rent, or else he would have to vacate the premises.
`Peter Kamau is a celebrated author all over the country,’ he thought to himself `But I live like a beggar’ His life was not reflective of the status he was accorded countrywide.
Thus, he felt no motivation for today’s book launch. After all, there will be little or no royalties. The pirates were on high alert. He would just attend the launch, just like any other event, say a word or two then retire back to his normal life of misery. Thus, he prepared himself and within minutes, he was on his way for the book launch.
The hall was already packed to the brim. He had to jostle his way through the crowd of journalists at the entrance, stopping, at times, to make brief comments. He was used to this life. A life of flashing cameras.
The ceremony went on well, as planned. When he stood up to speak, he did not do so with the same vigour that he had, during his first book launch. He encouraged the audience to buy his book, smiling sheepishly to hide the dissapointment in his face. It was not long before the ceremony was over. It was time to return to his normal life. He signed a few autographs and made his way to leave the venue.
`Mr. Peter Kamau, can I talk to you?’ A voice called from the back, just as he was about to step out of the main door. He turned back to see who it was. It was a lady, probably in her mid-twenties, seated in a wheelchair. She had no legs. For the first time, Peter felt sympathy engulf him.
`Yes, you can, Madam. How may I help you?’ He answered as he moved closer to the lady.
`Peter, thank you very much for what you have done to me’ she answered, trying to control back tears from dripping down her cheeks. Peter was taken aback with this statement. What had he done to this lady, to evoke such emotion from her? After all, this was the first time he was meeting her.
`What have I done, Madam?’ Peter answered back, puzzled. He sat down on the chair adjacent to him, in order to listen to her.
`My name is Prisca and I am a fourth year student in a local university.’ She began. `During this period, I have been the captain of the university basketball team, winning many top awards individually and as a team, both regionally and internationally. I had both my legs and was the best player in the squad. My team members always looked up to me for inspiration and I never dissapointed them either. Helping them perfect their basketball skills. Even our coach had so much faith in me.
Earlier last year, I was involved in a tragic road accident, of which two other passengers lost their lives. I sustained serious injuries on my legs and the doctors had no choice to amputate both of them. I became confined in a wheelchair. My whole world came crashing down on me.
When I went back to the university, things did not get any better. I could not get back to the team due to my condition. It hurt me so much to see my former team mates train and participate in competitions. I became depressed and contemplated suicide.’ She continued, as tears flowed freely from her eyes.
Peter rose to console her and gave her a handkerchief to wipe the tears off her face.
`It is okay. All is well’ She mustered her strength and continued.
`I went and bought rat poison in order to end my life. I hid it inside a book which I had been gifted by roommate while I was in my second year of study. That book was titled `Who says Elephants Can’t Dance?’ I had never read it since I was never into reading books.
On the day that I was to end my life, I picked it up, from where it was hid, in order to get the rat poison. For the first time, I was fascinated by the title. I cannot recall what happened but I found myself reading it.
It is through the book, that I found new meaning in life. Especially in Chapter four on self-discovery. It was an eye-opener. You may not believe me but when I reached the page where I had hid the poison, I took it and threw it out of the window! I was never going to take away my own life, not after getting such inspiration from the book. It took me a whole day to finish reading it.
Ever since that day, I have accepted the way I am. I may not return to how I was earlier but that will not stop me from pursuing my dreams and doing what I love most. In fact, nowadays, I am the assistant coach for the basketball team. Even if I cannot play as I used to, I can still coach. This has brought more life and happiness into me. It has never been the same again’
Peter could not control himself as a tear left his eye and rolled down his cheek. This was unbelievable.
`Peter, you gave me back my life and I cannot thank you enough. Allow me to purchase a thousand copies of your two books and I will distribute them among my friends in the university. I will also distribute some in the nearby bookshops. My uncle has a bookshop and I am quite sure he will be excited to have your books in stock.’
Peter could not believe his ears. He had no words to say.
`Sure… You can get the copies. Thank you very much.’ He replied after a while. Everything was happening so fast that he could not believe.
`Kindly assist me with your bank account details so that I can process payment,’ she inquired. Peter wrote down the details in a piece of paper and gave it to her.
`Thank you very much. You will receive payment in two days’ time. I will keep in touch. After all, I have your number, it is in the book’ she said, smiling.
`It is okay. Thank you’ Peter said, as she turned back and rolled her wheelchair away.
As he stared on the ceiling, he felt a surge of happiness engulf him. Suddenly, a thought flashed through his mind. He smiled to himself. He now knew what to do.