"Aya," said Mom, "we're going to buy you a vehicle!"
She started explaining slowly. "The corridor has a handrail, but it may be dangerous when you want to go across. From a stand position, you'll have to sit down, crawl across, and then stand up again. This may cause you some anxiety when you're in hurry. And you often all over when you're changing your position. You won't be able to go outside, either, even if you want to. But it would be different if you had an electric wheelchair. You could easily operate it despite the weakness of your arms, and you won't have any problems even on slopes. It can move at speed of 5 kilometres per hour - the same as walking. So there's no danger, and it's very easy to operate. I think it would be perfect for you. But that doesn't mean you should get lazy, you know. It's not good to start relying on a wheel chair. You'll have to try to move using your own efforts as well. You mustn't neglect that. Have you been training properly?"
I was so pleased with the thought that i could freely go out. My world suddenly seemed to get wider. I've always wanted to act at my own direction. Up to now at a bookstore, I've had to show someone a memo with the title of a book written on it and ask them to go and find it for me. Fancy being able to pick up any book with my own hands! It's like a dream.
Great! I'll master the operation of the wheel chair and go out in it before I enter the school for handicapped.
Two men from a car maker delivered my wheelchair. I watched them assemble it. The wheels are moved by a motor. It has two batteries installed next to each other down below the seat.
"Aya, you have a ride. All you have to do is hold this bar and move it in the direction you want to go."
I tried sitting in the wheelchair. I pushed the bar forward slightly and the wheelchair slowly moved forward. It only makes a slight wound when it moves and turns. I practiced hard, but after a while, the tears started to flow-that's my nature, and I hate it!
"What's the matter?" Mom asked.
"I'm just so happy because I can move around again freely after such a long time!" I answered. But I couldn't express my complicated feelings very well.
I'm determined to practice until I can to get a bookstore. When I looked out through window, it was raining.
I worked very hard, including wiping the kitchen floor and cleaning the toilet. I wanted to vent my energy on something. My study is making a little progress. (I smile in glee, finding that I still have the spirit to study.) Rika calls my wheelchair 'The Chair' and my father calls it 'The Car'. And that's what it is in Japanese-kurumaisu-'a car-chair'!
I still remember something that happened when I was in the first grade of high school. Rika was about to play around with some wheelchairs lined up the corridor of the hospital. Mom said to her, "You shouldn't play around with wheelchairs. It's an insult to those who can only get around but riding in one/
I read about the prisoners in the German concentration camp of Auschwitz in the book Man's Search for Meaning. The book's a record of their experiences. Somehow, as a disabled person, I empathize with them. My experience seems to resemble theirs in terms of gradually becoming numbed.