“Stumble, - I stumble over - the ground when I walk.”
“No, I think struggle is the word you’re looking for, David.” Ursula begins to become impatient.
“Look, Ursula. I am the author of this story.” David’s slurring worsens as his tension levels rise. “I may have Cerebral Palsy which makes it difficult for me to physically write or speak. But I am a respected scientist, I do know a little bit about the world around me.” David tries to get his breath back after his efforts to get his point across clearly.
“I was just trying to help; I know how difficult things can be for you.” Ursula pursed her lips. David may well be extremely intelligent, and acknowledged as the first UCT graduate with Cerebral Palsy, but he was trying her patience to its limit.
“Yes - I know but you are – only here – you’re only – to be – my – hands.” As David talks his head bobs up and down and his arms bend up with spasm. His clenched hands rise to steady his head. “Now – read – back – to –me – the – last – paragraph- please.”
“Very well then”, replies Ursula, “Starting from the beginning of the paragraph. Being knock-keened makes it difficult for me to walk.” As Ursula reads back what she had written, David closes his eyes and imagines himself making those pain stacking steps down his old school corridor. Has he used the right words? Will the reader understand his frustration? David is not sure, so for the time being he decides to leave the sentence as it stands.
“Even as a teenager, I would trip and fall as I walked down the school passages.” As Ursula continued to read what she had recorded, David pictured just a hanfull of youngsters walking through the considerably empty hall ways of his old high school, which catered for children with special needs. But will the reader understand him? How can he let his audience know the school he had attended was minute in comparison to the average public school?”
“Ursula – could – we – go –b-ack – and –r-e-a-d t-h-e um p-part about mme pre-ten-ding to be some - one else, pl-please?” David asks.
“No problem, just give me a minute to find the page.” This gives David a short moment to rest and refocus his attention as Ursula pages back to the early days of his extraordinary life.
“I remember as a young boy nine or ten; I would love pretending that I was someone else, anyone but me.” Ursula begins.
“No. Any – one – but – myself.” David interrupts.
“Ok, so we take out me and put in myself.” There is a brief pause as Ursula corrects the sentence.
“I remember as a young boy nine or ten, I would love pretending that I was someone else anyone but myself.”
“Per-fect” David replies.
“Shall I continue reading then?” Ursula politely asks.
“Even just for half an hour on a Saturday afternoon, I would go into my room and pretend to be a doctor or even a truck driver. Something I knew would be impossible for me to do. But in those moments I forgot that I was diferent and the feeling of freedom was amazing. Happy?”
“Great, just give a minute I have spelt the word, different wrong.” Ursula quickly corrects the word before asking, “Alright shall we continue?”
“No, - act-ually – I’ve – had – enough – for – to – to-day. Thank – you – for –all –your – help.”
“Great, I’ll see you tomorrow then?”
“Yip, tom-morrow, same time, same place. Thanks a lot.
Together they gather their papers before Ursula drives her boss home for the evening. Just as they had repeated most days for the past four months; and will continue for many months to come.
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