WHY ME – A STORY ABOUT A MAN BORN WITHOUT LEGS
Jan 21, 2015
From my affiliation with people with disabilities I got to know about some of their life stories.
Back in Cameroon I was Producer/ host of my own one hour, weekly call-in radio program – Social Forum. I usually invited guest and resource persons depending on the topic of the day.
Prior to the International day of the family in May 2007 with the theme “Families with people living with disabilities” I had an interesting panel made up of the Sub-divisional Delegate for Women Empowerment and the Family, The Chief of Service for Statistic and Communication at the South West Provincial Delegation of Social Affairs an Albino, A man born with out legs, a Blind man who is a civil servant and a mother of a ten year old deaf and dumb girl.
The story below is an account of the life of the man born without legs.
WHY ME – A STORY ABOUT A MAN BORN WITHOUT LEGS
As a toddler I was beginning to appraise the world around me and realize I was somehow different from my siblings and other children.
Then I got of age when I could talk and reason and my first question to my mom was what had been plaguing me inwardly – mom where are my legs?
My mom hugs me and said “sorry my dear son for some reason that’s how you were born, I was told at the hospital you where not a normal child and was asked if I still wanted to keep you. After the pains of labour the first thing every mother longs for; is to have their baby in a warm embrace thanking God for the fruit of the womb.
I must confess I was taken aback when I saw you with no legs and wondered what went wrong knowing I had no complications during your pregnancy. However, I braced myself despite silent murmurs around me from Midwives, other patients and family members present. I inwardly vowed that if this is the child God decided to give me then he must have a reason and I have no other choice than to love and cherish him dearly. Listening to my mom I also developed the urge and courage to make her proud since she beliefs in me and does not think my disability possess any obstacles.
I got to school age which is usually between 5 to 7 years in a village setting. My father told me in their time as criteria to show you are of school age to be admitted in elementary school; they were to place their right hand over their heads to touch their left ear. Consequently if your hand were short and cannot touch your left ear properly then you were not of school age.
For some reason, I longed to attend the only school in the district like my siblings and other young folks but my excitement was shattered when the Headmaster turned me away rebuking me of not being a normal child. He will not accept such a pupil in his school.
I went home crying, my mom soothed me saying ‘weep no more all will be fine’. Yes! I was downcast and pondered with many questions hoping to find answers- why me? How can my situation be altered? How can I make the society look at me differently?
As God would have it, a couple of years later the Headmaster of the school was transferred and the new Headmaster had a different view about people like me so I was admitted into school.
My dad is from Northwest of Cameroon and my mom is from the Northern part of Nigeria and that was where my family lived. According to custom, there is a circumcision age and it is performed usually on adolescents’ boys. When I was due circumcision, I got to gather with boys my age. Again I faced yet another rebuff from those to perform the circumcision ceremony – ‘you are not a normal child so we can’t perform circumcision rites on you’.
Again I was sad and depressed asking once more – why me?
My mother as always was there to comfort and reassure me all will be well. She then promised me there is a way out. She took me to the hospital where I was circumcised.
I got to secondary school and grew up to be a handsome man as the days went by but I had no legs not even a slight limb protruding from by butts as I noticed with other cases as such, I use my hands padded with flip-flop to swing myself forward in the absence of any mobility device.
One day a lady working at the school office approaches me and said ‘have you ever tried or thought about having a relationship, I mean boy–girl relationship you are indeed handsome’
I replied saying ‘I guess no girl will like to date a guy with my condition’ but she pressed on ‘why not give it a try’. The truth is I was not just afraid of the refusal from girls, but I was scared of being insulted, I just imagine her saying to her friends – ‘see this guy with no legs, so he has looked around and saw me of all girls fit to be his girlfriend’, God forbid! Such out burst I was not prepared to encounter so I kept my cool notwithstanding I was habouring the idea and struggling to brace myself from any negative outcome if I am to venture into having a love life.
However I got around talking to a few girls who caught my interest, I was really out for a serious and long term relationship. But then for those who accepted me, when their families knew about it they asked their daughter to immediately quit the relationship or they will disown her. They considered their daughter having a man like me is bringing ‘bad luck’ or ill-luck to their family.
I was getting to the age where I really wanted to settle and I prayed to God for a good wife and my prayers were answered. I met this girl a Cameroonian too living in Nigeria and she accepted to marry me.
When she introduced me to her family it was the same reaction but she stood her ground and bluntly told them this is my husband whether you people are in support of it or not. All you people need to be concern with is my happiness. He may not have legs but he is intelligent, loving and caring, these are characteristics that make a man a wonderful husband.
Well, we got married, and I later decide I wanted to move and reside in Cameroon.
I also became interested in Evangelizing the word of God as such became a Pastor. I equally enrolled in the University of Buea and read Mass communication. Alongside I also had commercial phone call businesses known as ‘call box’ I have about four call boxes- my wife controls one and the others are managed by some disabled persons too.
I am now a father of three and one day when my eldest son’s friend saw me he exclaimed – your father has no legs! He was about to feel bad but I told him ‘ yes, your father as was created by God has no legs but has love for you and have I in anyway not fulfilled my obligation as your dad? Have you ever lacked anything because your father has no legs?
I have another friend; his is a case of polio. His mom did not give him the polio shot when he was a baby. He said his mother told him he was born normal but took ill and one day she saw his legs going limp as she was trying to make him stand up. He now moves about with the support of a small stool.
He is a very dynamic person, he is a Pastor too and a yam farmer but he does not do the job by himself. After all if normal people wouldn’t do it by themselves. During harvest he sells his tubers to wholesalers.
I am not in support and dislike those disabled persons who go about begging for money. Most of us strongly hold disability is not inability. We have also proven to be more resourceful than most people around without any disability.
Your opinion counts – As a mother, how will you react if you give birth to a disabled child? As a woman how will you react if a disabled person approaches you for a relationship? As parents how will you react when your daughter or son presents a disabled person as his or her future spouse?
As a friend or sister how will treat a disabled brother or friend?
By Cecile Enie