“Mummy, please can you read a bedtime story to us.” “Moyin, don’t you think you’re a little too old for bedtime stories, really, you’re almost twelve years old.” “Please mum, just one story. Perhaps, on how you became so RICH! I thought dyslexic people aren’t smart.” Mope (Moyin’s twin sister) questioned her mother. In shock with what her daughter told her, she replied “What does dyslexia have to do with success? Who gave you that impression that dyslexic people can’t be successful?” “It’s nothing, just some senior guy in my school who keeps picking on me for no specific reason. He told me I can never be successful because I am dumb and dyslexic, but I promise I never listened to him.” Mope replied sobbing “Sorry about that sweetie, he’s just a bully and you shouldn’t let him get to you, okay. You are smart and being dyslexic doesn’t make you less than anyone and if anything at all, it just makes you unique.” “It’s getting late, let me quickly tell you your bed time story, close your eyes and listen with an open mind.”
Back in 2002
I once faced a similar situation to this, Mope. A long time ago, I was seen as the ‘dyslexic girl’, ‘the girl who found it hard to solve a simple two plus two maths equation, someone who found it difficult to write a simple sentence, like her own name!’ People laughed at me, mocked me, threw things at me and constantly reminded me that I had a “condition”, I was dyslexic and for that reason I should be considered dumb and incompetent and that I could never be seen hanging out with them. It all got to my tiny little head, ringing that bell and reminding me I was different. Yes, it made me cry myself to sleep most nights because at that time no one knew what dyslexia was and I just thought I was simply a ‘stupid’ child. My teachers made it a duty of theirs to mock and tease me every class by telling me to either read out loud or solve maths equations on the board. It didn’t really get better but I put myself together and worked harder on myself, so that people wouldn’t only see my weak side but would see my creativity and how good an artist I was. An excellent actor too.
There was that time when I was in school that I remember as if it were yesterday, when a senior guy who believed he was the best in everything and was the number one person in my school at that time; his name was Toyin Williams, he was average height, dark skin, with low black hair. He seemed to only pick on those who had certain conditions or disabilities, knowing that they couldn’t stand up to him and actually tell him off. Then one day he walked up to me and pushed me to the ground and started laughing at me, insulting me, calling me ‘useless’ and all sorts of names. I walked away from him and never listened to him, but I did one brave thing by shushing him up and stepping on his toes and since that day he never thought of coming near me again. But it didn’t stop that easily, a few weeks later I was casually using my phone and the next thing, I got a text message from Toyin. I became furious, nervous and also confused because I didn’t want to have anything to do with him, I had no idea how he got my number and I really wondered why he sent me a message. So, I opened the message immediately and read it. The message had these exact words:
“I feel really guilty for the way I put you through so much pain and I would like to plead for your forgiveness. You see, a while ago, I saw a couple of videos discriminating against people who were autistic, those who had down syndrome and most especially those who had dyslexia. I believed it would be cool to join them, especially because I didn’t want anyone to know I had dyslexia myself. So, I started bullying the junior kids who had conditions in school, to make me feel unstoppable, cool and among. I deeply regret my actions and wish I’d never spent so much time on my phone watching such stupid and useless videos. Please forgive me Moyo (my dyslexic angel).”
Ever since that time Toyin and I hung out more and figured out ways on how we could manage our dyslexia.
…So Moyin and Mope, don’t ever feel inferior or treat yourself with self-pity because you’re dyslexic. Dyslexic people can also be successful and rich just like your mummy.
Okay kids, I think that is enough story time for one day. Goodnight Moyin and Mope, sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite. Love you and don’t forget to pray.
“Okay Mum, goodnight mum”, replied Moyin and Mope.