Friday, 22 January 2010

The toilet paper caper.


I've personally experienced how certain members of the public treat disabled folk as either completely helpless charity cases or heroic "overcomers." This excerpt from my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir is one of many that demonstrates how similar visually-impaired boys are to their sighted peers.

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One night as we lay in bed, waiting for the night nurse to turn off the blue-tinted central light, I noticed a lump on the ceiling. "Hey Charlie, what's that thing?" I pointed.

"It's toilet paper. Some kid threw it there a couple of years ago."

"How did he make it stick there?"

"He got it wet under the tap," Charlie sleepily mumbled as he rolled over on his side.

My mind raced with mischievous possibilities. I ran excitedly to the bathroom, grabbed a hand full of toilet paper, poured cold water on it until it packed satisfactorily in my hand, ran back to the bedroom, and hurled it upwards. To my amazement, it stuck fast. The others also caught the spirit of the moment. After we industriously wet and hurled toilet paper blobs, the ceiling was festooned with them. We settled into bed again, admiring our handiwork. I particularly enjoyed the way the blobs radiated long shadows towards the walls.

Mrs. Parker made her final round a few minutes later to see if everybody was in bed. "What's that," she barked, staring at the lumps on the ceiling. "Toilet paper," Charlie said sleepily, "Brucey threw it up there." Mrs. Parker switched the four main light fixtures on. I winced at the sudden blast of light.

"You take those down right now," she commanded.

As I began pulling off the sodden lumps, I noticed no one else was helping.

"How come those kids aren't taking any down?" I enquired.

"You were the one who started it. Stop being a complainer and do as you're told."

I obeyed but I left the original yellowed lump, from bygone years, where it was.

"Take that one down too," Mrs. Parker insisted.

"I didn't throw that one there."

"I don't care. You take that down right now."

I reluctantly pulled it off and tossed it in the now full garbage pail.

As we drifted off to sleep, I silently cursed our supervisor for blaming the whole affair on me. I knew I was guilty of starting the incident but having to pull off that old lump, besides those which the other boys threw, reinforced the unfairness of it all.

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Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. This 196-page paperback, containing 6 black and white photos, sells for $25.00 through the PayPal-equipped Inscribe writers group website. E-mail me for further information or if you don't have PayPal and still wish to place an order.