“The world is not a friendly place”. I guess the first time I heard of the world’s harsh nature was when my mother told me not to talk to strangers because many children were abducted that way. My friends told me stories of nights they had been followed home by odd looking people although I figured that most of these stories were exaggerated all the same. I did not believe that the world was such an evil place, but I was an obedient child. One day, while walking home from school, my friends and I were stopped by a woman. She appeared unkempt, with matted hair and bloodshot eyes. Her breath stank of alcohol and vomit. She begged for food and a little water; anything we could spare. Repulsed, we quickly tried to walk past her but she grabbed my jacket and my friends had to stop. My friends probably thought that it was a con, that the poor lady only wanted money to buy more alcohol. Well, my friends could run off but I could not; after all, she quite literally had a hold on me. To date, I can’t really explain what made me do what I did. I took the lady to the nearest dinner, bought her fries and a bottle of water. In between mouthfuls, she explained that she lived on the streets but was not an alcoholic. Her alcoholic breath was due to the fact that she had drunk a bottle of methylated spirit thinking it was water and had spent the night retrenching. The world is indeed a harsh place but we contribute to its ugliness by refusing to help strangers only because we misjudge their intentions. The experience changed my perspective of the world; we are the world, if the world is harsh then indeed we are the ones making it so.
Growing up, I was never much of a confident person. I always got picked on in class and people laughed at me along corridors at school. That was bearable though compared to how I felt when they mimicked my speech. When I first began speaking as a child, I learnt most of my words and their pronunciation from my grandfather. He had a heavy tongue and could not pronounce most words properly, but since he was the only person looking after me most of the time, I learnt all he could teach. I never suspected that there was anything wrong with my pronunciation until I got to the fourth grade and moved to a new school in a different town. During my first reading in our English class, my new classmates began laughing a few seconds after I began reading. The teacher wore a frown, but he let me read to the end. Rather, he let me stammer to the end. At the end of the class, he asked me to remain behind and gently told me that I need to work on my pronunciation. I did not just have trouble with particular words; it was virtually everything. He gave me a couple of audio discs and asked me to listen to them daily. Realizing that I could not speak as well as the other kids was a blow to my fragile self-esteem. However, rather than feel sorry for myself I worked hard to make the change. I practiced every day and met with my English teacher weekly. After a year, I joined the school’s debate club and was one of their best orators. Being able to correct my speech made me believe that anything was possible and that regardless of the past, I could change the future. The best part is that after losing my lisp, my self-esteem took a turn for the better.