It was one late afternoon. I was in a bus traveling from Accra to kumasi and sat beside me was this man with one leg amputated. I named him “The One Leg Man”. Usually, I will be friendly to the person next to me in a bus if only she was a lady…and beautiful (don’t judge me).
This time around, the one next to me wasn’t a lady. Just a plain man in his fifties with one leg missing. There was no need for me to hustle my mind on the pick-up lines I was going to use to chat him up. He was no lady; why should I care?
Then the bus moved. I picked up my laptop and started typing. I was trying to finish up an article I was working on for a magazine. Some minutes into the journey, the man turned to me and asked; “are you a journalist”? I answered ‘no’ without even turning to look at his face.
He never spoke a word again. About 45minutes into our journey he asked again; “you are not a journalist so what do you do”? Ok, it seems this man wants to talk. I turned to him and gave him a blank stare. I didn’t know how to answer him. Usually, I struggle with questions of such nature; what do you do?, Who are you? and the rest of the who and what type of questions.
I said to him; I’m a Health and Safety professional working with one of the mining companies in Ghana. He exclaimed; “you’re in the mines?” I calmly answered; “I’m not in the mines, I’m in a bus right next to you”. Then he gushed out with a loud laughter. “That’s one hell of a funny thing I’ve heard all week”
You know, I lost this guy (pointing to his amputated leg) whiles working in the mines. It was one terrible accident. It’s not a story I talk about often to people. The flashbacks I get whiles talking about it isn’t splendid. I’ve learnt to live an awesome life since. I’m a happy person regardless of all the things I’ve lost; job, wive, security, home, friends and all others.
Don’t present yourself to people as blank sheet; They will paint you with their preferred colours. Then your life will be in problem. Choose your own colours, paint it the way you want the world to see.
We had a long chat and laughed throughout the journey. We were like some old friends who just met out of the blues. We shared stories of working ethics in the mines and some safety procedures and slogans that are very popular even till today.
In all, I learnt a lot from him not only as a man but as a man with only one leg.
5 Things I learnt From Him During the Trip
#1. Some Problems don’t go away. Learn to coexist with them. At some point he said to me; “The day after the accident, I regretted every thing. I regretted waking up that day and even regretted my existence. Boy I was a sad man. But then I knew my leg wasn’t going to come back, so I learnt. I learnt to be peaceful with the burdens of my life. Losing one leg was my burden but I learnt to coexist with it. Now we are friends.”
#2. Certain situations will change your name but it’s alright, accept it. He told me people no longer refer to him as Peter. They call him “the man with one leg”. At first it was his pain. It even became like a crown of shame upon his head. He said to me “now I’m ok. In my heart I’m still Peter. Peter with a piece missing and some other people who went away. I still have my essence and each day I find a purpose to be useful
#3. Don’t present yourself to people as blank sheet; They will paint you with their preferred colours. Then your life will be in problem. Choose your own colours, paint it the way you want the world to see. Make it a little brighter so you stand out. When he lost his legs, all manner of persons told him what he could and what he could not do. All they only saw was limitations. He said; “if I ever gave in to what they desired of me, I might have ended up a beggar by the road side. I chose my own colours and painted my life the way I wanted it”
#4. There is still some kindness in humanity. All is not lost. He said people have been kinder to him especially strangers; “They see my limitations and learn to open doors for me. Some give me smiles when I’ve actually done nothing to deserve such. They even make me skip a line or two in a queue. You see, it’s not all negative all the time. The bright sides are brighter and brightens everyday”.
#5. Every face you meet have their own stories. If you only have ears and ready to listen, they’ll tell it. Then you’ll learn. Then it improves your outlook towards life. Then you become a better person than before. Anytime, anywhere, I try to pick up conversation with people next to me(not only beautiful women). When I succeed in making them smile, they open up their heart to me. Then I get to know their stories. Then I learn.
When we got to Kumasi and about to part ways he said; “When I buried my leg after the amputation, I got a bragging right. I became one of the very few people to be able to say; I’ve got one foot in the grave – and that’s a fact!
We both laughed it off and off we went…Oh the things you learn when you listen.