The line was long and convoluted. Saturdays were always busy days for shops and retailers. The gentleman standing behind me was tall. He wore a cowboy hat and boots. He wore straight cut jeans and a twilled shirt. His shirt was buttoned up and decked with a silver brooch. This was not a common site in Croydon.
“Sir, I like your outfit.”
“Oh thanks” he responded.
“It is distinguished” I said.
“Maybe to you. To me this is how I dress most of the time.”
“Are you from the country” I asked.
“No I live in Beckenham.”
“Oh I see!”
Beckenham was about five miles from the Curry store we were at. I had come into Curry to get some white goods for my new home – washing machine, dish washer, fridge/freezer and the likes. These items were to be bought on hire purchase. So paper work had to be filled out, credit checks done on you and then the agreement printed and signed. Because it was a Saturday, and majority of the folks were off work, the queue was longer and dragged out a little bit in playing itself out.
“So tell me what do you do on weekends apart from queuing in Curry’s store?” the gentleman asked me.
“I go cycling in the morning then, do some errands and settle down in the night to do some grading.”
“Grading, did you say?”
“Are you a teacher?”
“You guys ruined my life”
“Pardon me” I said.
“Yes, you heard me right. You guys ruined my life”.
“How if I may ask?”
“Well throughout my days in the primary school, I was never good at spelling and I thought I was the dumbest kid”.
“What made you think so?”
“Because I could not get most of my spellings correct. The teachers gave me hell. Bad reports and all kinds of stuff, oh I was deflated.”
“Oh, I am so sorry to hear this!”
“I wished I could stop going to school, yet at high school I went through the same torment.”
“So, immediately after high school, I did not have any desire to further my education because I thought I could never make a success out of it.”
“What a shame!” I responded.
“Now I am fifty five years old going on to fifty six and I only just found out that I am dyslexic.”
“Really! That’s interesting. How did you get to find out” curiosity got a hold on me now.
“Well you see my granddaughter couldn’t seem to spell correctly and had to see a specialist. A few tests were administered to her and she was diagnosed with dyslexia and then some strategies were put in place to support her. Out of pure inquisitiveness I decided to follow up on myself, only to discover that I am dyslexic.”
“I am really sorry to hear this” I remarked.
“Shattered dreams, deflated esteem, guilty feeling and above all growing up with the weight that, you are the dumbest person around.”
“I can imagine”.
“By the way I am Staccon. Staccon Mason.”
“Oh yeah, mine is Nkaniko, Nkaniko Ufok”.
“That’s a bit of s strange name” Staccon commented.
“That makes the two of us, just like Staccon is strange too. Mine is actually unique.” I stated.
“But remember Staccon, the time you went to school, education had not advanced like it has now. A lot of things were still in infancy stage.”
“I know and am fully aware of that.”
“I think the problem was with your teachers. Even though things may not have been that advanced, they could have supported you to still aspire to be whatever you wanted to be.”
“Exactly! I ended up in Halfords repairing bicycles which I did enjoy but I had lost confidence in myself. I did not want to venture out or try anything that would involve me writing anything because I was afraid people would pick up my deficiencies.”
“So how did you fare in other subjects if I may ask?”
“I did pretty well in science and math. I had wanted to be a materials engineer or metallurgical engineer. The school system killed my dream. My parents did not know any better either and I watched my dream fade before my very eyes.”
“Ok, now that you have known this, what have you done?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Are you going to still be that materials engineer?”
“Listen mate, I am fifty-five, ain’t I too old for that?”
“I disagree. You are not too old for that. It means that dream ain’t that important to you. Or that dream isn’t relevant anymore. If it was, you would be on the road to achieving that dream than standing here with a pair of cowboy boots and chatting to me about shattered dreams. Is that the message you share with your children and perhaps grandchildren?”
“I was thinking it’s too late to achieve that.”
“No, it’s never too late to achieve anything in life if it means that much to you.”
“I see what you mean.”
“Or you can dream another dream and pursue it to an end.”
“Yes, you are right. I will chase my dream.”
“You are better off trying to achieve your dream even if you don’t succeed than let fear of failing keep you away from it”, I remarked.
“At least you would die nobler and not accused of cowardice” Staccon concluded.