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  • These are the hands that taught me sign-language.



    Although these hands are now nothing more than ash in an urn at my father's bedside, they lifted me yesterday, as they have done so many times in the past.

    I went to the London Underground Lost and Found office on Baker Street before heading to work, because I lost my travel wallet a few weeks ago and a kind person had turned it in.

    The gentleman at the desk took my details and asked me to sit and wait for my name to be called.

    That's when a mental patient walked in. He shouted, "WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE IN THIS PLACE?" "THEY'VE INJECTED ME AND I DON'T NEED MEDICATION. I DON'T NEED IT. THEY'VE INJECTED ME. DO YOU HAVE AN INJECTION FOR ME? AND YOU? AND YOU? GIVE ME YOUR INJECTIONS!!"

    The few people in the office were visually uncomfortable but no one tried to call the police or anything. He walked around the confined space frantically and then approached the front of the queue. The lady at the front eagerly offered her space. He turned around and headed for where I sat; a young woman between us.

    "I AM NOT SICK! I AM WIRED. I HAVE WIRES ON ME." That's when the young lady left hurriedly, leaving me exposed with now only an empty chair separating us.

    He calmed. "I have no wire. But I have a camera on me. You just can't see it. I will be fine and you....all of you....will be....just....GOOD."

    Don't make eye contact, Anne.

    "WHERE ARE YOU FROM?"

    "MISS! WHAT. COUNTRY. ARE. YOU. FROM?"

    I acknowledged him when his body turned with the second questioning. After all, his movement caught my eye.

    I signed with my hands. "I am deaf. I cannot hear you."

    He fell really silent and he empathised. "You are deaf. I am sorry. You can't hear." He kept his distance but he leaned both sides to look at my ears. "You are deaf. I am sorry for shouting. I was shouting." I signed, "It's ok." And gave the thumbs up.

    I rose and moved across the room where I would be in view of the the customer service advisor. If he called my name....I was supposed to be deaf, so I needed to be within view. My name was called...twice. The second time, I acknowledged with a bit more pronounced body language. The mental man looked on quietly.

    He got up and calmly walked out of the office.




    Photo credit to Ernest Che Rodriguez
    My Mother's hands - February 2009
    9 months before sickle cell finally claimed her
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