Sun Oct 23 05:28:45 CAT 2016

It's depressing being in bed - but no pity please

By unknown | May 13, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Nothing sickens me more than being bedridden because I feel so helpless and disabled and ineffective.

Nothing sickens me more than being bedridden because I feel so helpless and disabled and ineffective.

My lifetime mentor, Aggrey Klaaste, may his soul rest in peace, used to be infuriated whenever I defied doctor's orders by returning to work prematurely.

On one such occasion, a few days after I was discharged from Park Lane Clinic, he called me into his well-decorated office. I walked slowly, with a visible limp. I dropped my weak chest between him and his document-filled table.

"Do you still want your job, my son?" he asked sternly. He did not pause for my response. I had never seen him so angry. He always went out of his way to comfort me and make me feel welcome.

His demeanour was always fatherly and he never stopped to offer advice and counsel.

My infected heart skipped a beat. I was confused. I was in pain and he could see it. I was dying to be strong. I wanted to be brave. I was determined to defy the wrath of this incurable virus.

He was so impatient and upset that I did not get the opportunity to relate a story about fearlessness that my grandmother, Noyishada Kamaqhoboza, always told me, especially when she thought I needed to be uplifted and inspired.

She would conclude her anecdote by proudly saying, Isotsha lifela empini mfana wami, which loosely translated means: "A soldier dies in the war, my son."

Klaaste did not wait to hear that I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for me. After all, I had taken a historic and unprecedented decision to disclose my status like no one had done before in my country, in Africa or the world.

"We need you when you are well, Lucky. The country needs you to be well," he said softly as he wiped the tears from under his glasses.

Linda Frampton, his secretary, who later became a good friend, joined us in prayer.

Many years later I am still learning from his words of wisdom. I am making sense of the truth he was conveying at that crucial time.

His message was simple yet profound - you are no use to anybody when you are dead. We need you to be alive and strong. Go home and take good care of yourself. My doctor, Pupuma, said the same thing, though not in so many words.

I have heeded their well-meaning advice but the sight of my bed and staying indoors is very depressing.

The fact that I cannot write my column from my workplace is not easy to accept. Having to cancel my public engagements feels like a dagger piercing through my battered heart.

Like the brave soldier in my grandmother's story, I promise to die on the battlefield. I miss my people.


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