WE ARE ABLE
Mrs Omotayo enrolled me and her children in a school
for special people. She arranged a taxi to be taking us
to school and bringing us back everyday.
It was already second term but I had to begin with
them like that.
Toyosi had also found something doing, therefore she
wouldn’t be home every time, unlike before.
I was enrolled in Jss 1 with Laide, the lame daughter of
Mrs Omotayo, while Biodun was in JSS 2. We all had our
different classrooms. Biodun was in the class of the
blind where they had to use Braille for reading.
Whenever we were back from school, we would stay
within the compound and have fun. I began to fall in
love with Biodun, not minding the fact thay there was
no way we could communicate since he had no eyes to
see my sign language and I also had no ears to hear his
speeches. Love is blind indeed, I thought, since the
love of my heart, Biodun, is blind. Having true love is
not when you fall in love with people with riches or
with people in perfect conditions, but when you fall in
love with those who are not perfect, overlooking their
Laide became our middleman. She would relay anything
I wrote on paper for Biodun by speaking directly to him
and Biodun would speak back to her, then she would
write whatever Biodun said in a paper and give it back
I also had my functions. I would lead Biodun around,
holding his hands. Sometimes I would put my left hand
around his neck to show affection but he would recoil,
removing it for me. I would feel embarrased.
Are we not old enough to play love? I thought. I am
already thirteen and Biodun is fourteen, so what else
are we waiting for before starting a relationship? I
I also helped Laide push her wheelchair around the
house. She loved being pushed around because it
always gave her the feeling that she was walking.
However, we always came across one confrontation
and that was Bode. Whenever Bode was back from
school, then for sure trouble was around. Though the
youngest, he would brag around us, trying to show
Bode was just eight years, but his wicked acts seemed
too much for his age. Bode would pinch Laide on her
back and push Biodun out of his way. They would shed
tears sometimes and curse him.
I couldn’t do anything to him because of his mother.
Each time he was oppressing us, I would clench my fist
as if to punch his face, but my muscles would relax
again at the thought of what Toyosi could do. Toyosi
could pull me out of school again, despite the fact that
it wasn’t her but Mrs Omotayo that was paying my
My childish love for Biodun developed so much. I had
already derived pleasure in leading him around.
I had watched the television and had learnt how to kiss
in it. I was going to practise that on the love of my
heart, Biodun. But each time I wanted to do it, my heart
would thump for fear.
I knew what to do; I would tell him that I loved him and
I wished to be his wife in the nearest future. I
wondered how Laide would feel.
That particular day, I entered the toilet to pass excreta.
Laide and Biodun were in their parlour because they
wanted to avoid Bode who was a thorn in their flesh.
I had to rush everything I was doing so that I could go
to them and have fun with them. Perfunctorily, I
cleaned myself up and began to rush to their room. I
met a mess–both Biodun and Laide had fallen down. I
had to quickly help them up. It was an accident; Biodun
fell while he was walking around in the room. He fell on
Laide who was on wheelchair and both of them fell to
I couldn’t show Laide the loveletter again. I was
disappointed. The loveletter was supposed to be read
into Biodun’s ears, but since they were not in a good
mood, I couldn’t do that again.
Biodun and Laide began to speak to themselves,
weeping profusely. I couldn’t hear them but I perceived
they were depressed. It seemed they were very bitter
against someone, perhaps against God for not
preventing them from the evil which befell them when
they were still babies.
I made a signal to Laide that she should tell me what
happened. She understood my hand movement so she
requested a pen. I got it for her. If Laide’s left hand was
also paralysed like the right one, there wouldn’t have
been a way the three of us could communicate. I
thought that was something to thank God about; he
would always leave a space of thanks in everything.
Laide was left-handed so she had no problem writing.
She passed the note to me when she was done. I
began to read:
Rose, this life is too hard on us the disabled people.
Why are we not able to do what able people do?
Imagine, if danger arises how do we run? I have no
legs, he has no eyes and you have no ears. Why? We
are tired of living, Rose. Yet Bode would keep
complicating issues for us by beating us up and kicking
us. I and my brother wish him nothing but death. Bode
would not stop at that; he would also call us names and
make us go mad…
I felt their heartrending pain. I wept with them and
began to write something. Laide would read it in
My write-up was geared towards making them know
that if they put their minds on something, they would do
it better than the able people. At that juncture, I
remembered my class-teacher and my mother who
kept telling me that I was able, but I kept telling them I
was not back then.
Now, I needed no one to tell me that I am able, having
lived without my parents and guardian for over ten
months. I had even checked Mrs Oyin in her home
some weeks back but I met another family there. I got
a note and asked them where she was. They told me
she sold the house to them.
I left with the understanding that she had travelled to
London to join her family there.
Laide read my write-up and began to frolick on her
wheelchair as she read it in the ears of her elder
brother, Biodun. The boy was also happy, laughing with
all his strength.
Oh how I missed my teacher, Mrs Oyindamola. She is a
honeycomb with sweetness. She is an eagle with
foresight. She is an elephant with intelligence. She is a
Lion with courage. She is a horse with strength. She is
my mentor and my monitor; my hope and the reason
why I could cope. Last year, when I didn’t stop calling
myself a deaf and dumb, she told me to stop saying
that. She even told me that I could hear and speak. She
told me that there are too things, either everybody is
deaf and dumb or everybody can hear and speak. I
disagreed and asked her to show me the practicality of
My clasteacher did something funny. She invited a
normal person who could speak and hear to our
classroom and told us to ask him questions in our usual
sign language. We began to bombard him with a lot of
questions but the man appeared dumb to us because he
couldn’t respond a word. He couldn’t understand us.
What is your name? Where do you live? What are you
here to do? Would you like to eat something? Do you
have kids? So and so went our questions but he pulled
up a confused face, then we began to laugh him to
scorn, pushing at ourselves as we used him to catch
He is dumb! He is dumb! we signed to each other that
day until the man hurried away from our presence. My
classteacher then told us that being deaf and dumb
doesn’t contain in the lack of using the mouth to speak
alone. So far we could use other means to
communicate, then we are not deaf and dumb.
So, Laide you are not lame because you could move
with your wheelchair and Biodun is not blind because he
could use his foresight and his inner eyes.
WE ARE ABLE!
On and on I lived a happy life with the children of Mrs
Omotayo. If only I could live with them forever, I
wouldn’t have anything to worry about.
I was obsessed with the love of Biodun to the extent
that I learnt the Braille method of writing, since that
was the only way I could communicate with him
without asking for the help of Laide his sister.
If only Biodun had eyes, it had been better. He would
have learnt the sign language too. I found the sign
language the easiest means of communicating.
I acquired the material for writing in Braille, the paper,
the pin, then I began to write:
I have been wanting to tell you this all the while but I
didn’t know how to express myself because I am a
female and you are the male. However, I thought it
The simple truth is that I want us to be lovers. It may
be funny, a deaf mute girl dating a blind guy. How would
they communicate with each other? How would they
protect each other? I shall do all I could to protect you,
Biodun, and no hurt would come to you while I live. I
love you as you are because Love Is Blind. Infact, love
is also deaf and dumb. In summary, I LOVE YOU. Pls
Bode was spying at me while I was writing it. I took
the paper and began to make for the garden to give
him. I didn’t want to give it to him myself, else he
wouldn’t take me serious.
I pushed Laide’s wheelchair to him and Laide gave it to
him after a brief conversation between them. Biodun
didn’t read it at once. He just held it in his right palm.
I was disappointed.
The day after, I began to await Biodun’s response, but
he didn’t say anything. I even asked Laide to ask him on
my behalf if he had read it. Laide herself didn’t seem to
understand the content of the letter I wrote in Braille.
Maybe I didn’t write it well, I thought. Perhaps my
English was bad. However, Biodun’s disposition towards
me didn’t change. He remained as he used to. I doubted
if he read the letter at all. If he had read it, then he
should either show more interest in me or show hatred
for me; he shouldn’t be sitting on the floor.
During the second term holiday, Bode did something
very annoying as he was wont doing. It was a shock
when I saw Laide lying on the floor, her wheelchair
lying upended on top of her body. She was weeping
I rushed with impulse to raise her up. When she was up,
she began to point towards the back of the house. I
rushed there and found Biodun tied to the mango tree.
His mouth was gagged such that he couldn’t shout. I
began to loose him. No one needed to tell me that it
was Bode’s doing.
As I bent to loose his feet, an elbow landed straight on
my spinal cord. I fell in excruciating pain. Bode laughed.
I began to rise with the little strength remaining in me.
Bode opened his dry lips and slotted in a mango leaf to
remind me of my situation. The chemical in my head
mixed together. I groaned like a wounded Lion ready to
Bode rushed forward to hit Biodun whose feet were still
tied to the tree; only his hands were now free. His fist
landed on Biodun’s face. His mouth went wide apart for
a scream. I knew he was screaming when I saw the
shape of his mouth. I couldn’t bear it.
I lurched forward immediately. Bode didn’t expect me
to reply his attack on Biodun because I had been living
like a dummy ever since my mother was imprisoned.
He realised how serious I was only after my slap had
rocked his cheek. I knew he felt it so much; the impact
was immense, like an earthquake.
Bode rushed at me with full force and gored me down. I
was angry. I lost my guard, else I should not have
fallen down. However, I had Bode’s cloth in my grip. I
pulled it until he was also on the floor beside me.
I turned Bode around and beat him black and blue. I sat
on his back as I turned his neck to the sun and filled his
mouth with sand. I believed Biodun was hearing Bode’s
cry. It would do me proud before him; perhaps he would
reconsider me and reply my letter. I untied Biodun at
once and rushed back to deal with Bode who had just
managed to get up his feet.
I grabbed Bode by the neck and put my fingers into his
nostrils, wanting to tear them apart. Bode pleaded for
mercy but I wouldn’t listen or I didn’t hear him speak.
But his gestures carried it all.
Biodun even came between us to stop me. I listened
for his sake and left Bode alone. The boy ran like
thunder and rushed into the room, shutting the door
I held Biodun by the hand and put a hand around his neck
as I led him to the front of the house. Biodun and Laide
laughed. They were talking to each other. Laide saw
Bode while he was running into the house, filled with
I led them inside their house and sat on a chair.
Laide tore a piece of paper and wrote something in it;
something she had just discussed with Biodun and felt I
should ‘hear’ it too. I read.
Now I believe we are able indeed. If three disabled
people could conquer Bode, an ablebodied young boy,
then it means that Bode is the disabled and WE ARE
Laide said it wasn’t all yet. She said she had a gift for
What’s that? I wrote back.
Laide asked me to wheel her towards the reading table.
I did. Laide reached for a big notebook on the table and
poured down its content. A thick paper fell. Laide
pointed at the thick paper and I picked it up. It was a
reply of Biodun’s letter a month ago.
I was shocked when I saw the date he addressed it to
me; same day I gave him mine, but Laide kept it so long
from me purposely.
I read the Braille writing style and my eyes flashed like
When Toyosi returned, she had to knock and knock
before Bode opened the door. I knew I was done for it
and my heart lurched. I had her bags on my left
Toyosi met Bode in tears. She asked him what
happened and Bode pointed to me as he spoke. Toyosi
turned to me with a wrinkled face. I consoled myself,
knowing what exactly would follow. I wouldn’t mind
since I was only doing it for love, I thought
To be continued