Last week I fell while running and rolled my ankle. It was a blinding pain and I immediately thought I had broken it. I was alone, just outside my neighborhood at 6 in the morning. I had my headphones in and was wearing my usual running gear. I’ve been running this route for about a month. I have no idea how it happened, but I was in pain.
People have gotten used to seeing me running, most have stopped laughing at me, some even encourage me, and most just ignore me (thank goodness!). But when I fell, it was like all of the feelings of loneliness I’ve been fighting off for the past few months fell on top of me. I was flustered and lost control. There was no familiar face around to help me out, I was stuck. I couldn’t walk and I didn’t have moto. What was I going to do?
Before I fell, I passed a woman on her daily walk. She eventually caught up to me and tried to help me up. I could barely stand. She hailed me a moto and helped me get on. I was SO grateful for her. Then the moto guy let me hold on to him because I couldn’t balance on my feet as I usually do. He drove me right to my concession door. I hopped off and fell almost immediately. I asked him to wait as I struggled to get to my house and get his money.
At the same time, my neighbor was putting her daughter on a moto for school. She saw me suffering so she wrapped my arm around her and helped me into my house. She paid the moto driver with her own money and came back to my house to help me take off my sneakers. She rubbed my ankle and asked if there was anything she could do. She even refused my money when I tried to repay her. Pure kindness.
After a day of rest things got a lot better. I ventured out into town the next day to run errands and go to my meetings. I wrapped my ankle in an ace bandage and was limping around town. Strangers saw my ankle, stopped to ask what happened, and said very Cameroonian things like, “patience,” “ashia,” and “du courage.” All of which mean some variation of “hang in there.”
I was touched that so many people were concerned for me. Every step of the way someone was there to help. Strangers, neighbors, and friends were all there to help me out and care for me. I had no reason to feel lonely. Even if people didn’t always show it, they cared. It took falling on the road to fall in love with this country all over again, but I’m glad it happened.