There are plenty of conteststhat people with disabilities confront on a day-to-day basis - which fashionone to become accustomed to prevailing circumstances – that are themselves ananomaly. Chief amongst these is literature: it has the power to dislodge one’ssorry plight to a level of armour and courage to combat it all. The will to winagain!

That is the lesson that Ilearnt from a total stranger!

In 2002, having beendiagnosed with Sensory Motor Axonal Neuropathy,I began to lose: I lost my job; I lost my wife; I lost a sizeable part of myfamily; I lost my peers, contemporaries and friends, and most importantly, Idoubted my ability to be positive in my engagement with society again; for Iwas angry. Angry at life for having suddenly dealt me such poor cards. When I shouldhave been atop of it all I was reduced, by barriers and societal tendencies, toa beggar: always admonishing the day I was born.

One rainy day, while I wasscavenging in my beggary in downtown Pretoria, a man in a wheelchair beckonedme to join with him in a makeshift shelter, noticing my dire straits. Thisfellow was ragged, untidy, his wheelchair had certainly seen many moons more thanmine, yet he called me in.

Despite my betterjudgement, I joined him. My host, without much ado pronounced his admirationfor his ilk: a compatriot with a disability! As a gesture of new-foundcamaraderie, he produced a many-bitten up loaf of bread and a pint of sour milkand encouraged me to join in the festivities of munching bread with milk!

I was rain-soaked, I wasangry and I was hungry: so I joined in.

Then rain stopped.

With a filled stomach, Iwas eager to leave – there was no way of cherishing any further enticement withthis charitable host post my profuse aappreciation for his generosity.

Despite my eagerness toescape, my inquisitiveness got the better of me. Thence I asked him, “Meneer,do you always kin with all people like me?"

Then came the answer: “No, I liken with anybody who needs better than I have”.

“But Meneer,” I implored, “You just shared with me what I think was your last?” I protested.

In silence, my “friend” engagedwith his bulky luggage and, after a gruntingly protracted search, retrievedfrom his treasure trove a piece of a worn out writing which read:

Andas we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission todo the same: to win again. -Nelson Mandela.

This is now the mantra that I live by and I continueto give, despite my limitations – inspired by the power of literature, equallymatched by Madiba’s indelible teachings, transcending all racial boundaries: amidchallenges, trials and tribulations, to winagain!

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