I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul, I repeat to myself over and over while standing on the window ledge of our home, eyes closed. We live on the third floor and I have a full view of the street and market below from the comfort of my room.
I would sit by the window in the boring afternoons and look out into the street, at children playing or at women that were friends a minute ago now trading abuses. Bored still, I would move my gaze to a shop few buildings down the road where a television set was placed outside and various musical videos or movies were being showed and I would allow myself to be distracted by that for a moment, until I grew bored again and finally decided to look into the market, at the various people who had come to shop. I would classify them based on gender, the type of clothes they wore – English or native – their height and size.
On fuller market days, animals often got into the mix, until I finally grew weary of that, too and got up from the window, to lie on the bed and close my eyes and dream.
That’s what my world revolves around. I’ve read books about places, some filled with so much water, that people often needed boats and ferries to move around, and some, so far away only an airplane could get you there. I’ve read about people, some white some black like me, some poor and some rich. And I’ve read about the professions of these people, some were doctors, some carpenters, some engineers and some lawyers.
And then I would put the books down and dream some more.
My personal dream was to become one of those people in the books, but I never really thought I could actually be like them because in all those books I read, the people – young or old, tall or short, man or woman – were always healthy, just like the ones I see in the market and on the streets everyday.
But none of them are like me.
It doesn’t matter that I am not old enough to understand what is really wrong with me, I know nonetheless that I am not like everyone else; normal people got sick and used drugs, then they got better – that wasn’t me. It was as though, the more drugs I took, the sicker I got.
And then I got so sick that I had to stop going to school. And soon everyone knew that I was sick.
Family friends would come to say hello and I would see pity in their eyes as they talked to my parents and looked over at me occasionally. Mother would start to cry at times and the visitors would have to leave.
Then father said it would be best for me to stay in the room whenever visitors came.
When the visitors finally stopped coming, I was used to being in the room, I never wanted to step out again.
The truth is, I really wanted out of that room, I wanted out of our home and out of the city. I wanted to go far away to places over the seas and enjoy the sight, but I didn’t want to see mother shed another tear, which she seemed to shed whenever she saw me, so my room felt like the only escape with all the books I got father to buy for me on his way home from work.
I was reading one earlier today and it was saying something about science and religion.
I got interested in science after reading about the mind in one of father’s gifts. I was fascinated when I found that everything that could happen to man lies in the mind. The kind of enormous power the mind has, only to be limited by our fears – also product of the mind – and our body – which has to follow certain rules of nature.
Digging deeper, I found that certain religions believe and preach the power of the mind and of positive thinking. ‘You’re what you say you are,’ they wrote.
I want to be a traveller and see the world, learn different cultures and see different places, but I am trapped in my body – my very sick body, so sick that I was growing weary of siting up for long hours and had to lie on my back, and keep dreaming.
Then the idea struck me. I was trapped in a sick body, but my mind is the power box. I can be free!
All I need is to get out of this body and I can become whatever I want.
I mustered up the remaining strength in my frail body and stood on the window ledge. I repeat William Earnest’s words – I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.
I know of a truth, that everything I want would be mine if could take that step off the ledge.
I squeeze my eyes shut and smile as I take a triumphant step.