Kazi was overjoyed when I whispered her name. My throat barely worked I’d been quiet so long it took several tries just to get her name out. She called me Mina Rinkishikamitaku. Kazi can’t keep the secret for long that I’m awake and I hear Mina Rinkishikamitaku repeated over and over. It has a nice ring to it. It is a holy name. I don’t want it.
“Please, just Mina. I’m just Mina.”
They sneak in when Kazi, Luru, and Noki aren’t watching and ask for “Zutakuari, blessings.” Who am I to bless? It’s just a word and I hate to keep up this pretense that I’m something special but I say it. At first when I refused the hurt in their eyes cut deep, it looked too much like betrayal. So I repeat it to anyone who is brave enough to sneak in.
Noki is convinced I can walk again. I try to humor her but I really feel nothing. Nothing from just below my bosom to my feet. Even my arms don’t work that well and Kazi feeds me. I’m worse than a baby. Noki finally gave up on my walking and now has focused on my arms. If I can use my arms I can start doing for myself. It becomes an idea I latch on to. I even dream about using my arms. I can feed myself, wash myself, move myself from the bed to a chair.
I’m obsessed with moving my arms and visualize it happening over and over again. My finger twitched. “Look, Kazi!”
Kazi’s face went pale, she thought I’d hurt myself and came running in a panic. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, look.” I moved my finger again.
Kazi and Luru were happy. Noki who expected so much more said I was making progress but she didn’t visit as much after that.
Gumus is in pain. His breathing is faster and there is no rhythm and it makes me afraid.
I work harder at moving my arms, then realize I need my words. So many words to explain what I’ve been thinking. Kazi and I read together and I talk more and more. Luru made me a chair that can be carried. She’s still working on the wheels. Luru says it’s because she’s afraid they’ll fall off. I think its more there are so few places wheels can go. Could I have wheeled across Sanddyner?
It’s more than that. I’m crying now. Just blubbering away with Kazi and Luru looking as if they’re going to break down any second.
They made wheels and they made roads. Almost all of Mikanokichikata has been redone to include smooth paths that my wheeled chair can roll across. My eyes water every time I think about it and when I go down a new path and Mikachiari stop what they’re doing and wave. They didn’t abandon me. I’m sorry I can’t say any more without bawling. It’s just that I’m so grateful.