Highly Commended

"To My Mother,Who Gave Me an Illness"

Mr.Hyoma Kataoka (19) Hamamatsu School for the Blind

Bang! My bike crashed into a car waiting at a traffic signal.

It was in April.I was 17 when I had the accident.Initially,there was nothing wrong with my eyesight.When I was in the first year of high school,my mother died and the stress affected me badly.I missed a lot of days during my second year,so I failed and left school.

After I quit school,I picked up some part-time work.But while I was working,I began to notice things that I never had before.I began to get terrible headaches and my eyesight was getting worse.I was worried about the headaches and the eyesight problems,but I carried on working without taking time off.

Then one morning,as I opened my eyes,it felt as if I was looking through frosted glass.I wondered what on earth to do,but without giving it another thought,I went off to work.Several cars sounded their horns at me,but I managed to get as far as an intersection close to my workplace.That's where I cycled straight into a car that was waiting at the lights.

I wasn't injured in the accident,but I was really shaken up,so I decided to go to a hospital for a check-up.The optician only said he had no idea what was wrong with me,so I went to a bigger hospital for more tests.That was where I learned what my illness was.I had had lots of tests on my eyes,but this time I had a brain scan,and they found that I had a brain tumor.

I was admitted to hospital immediately and stayed there for six months.Life in hospital wasn't as bad as I had expected,and the food was quite good! During the second month,a man named Goto was put in the bed next to mine.At the time,I was feeling a little homesick and lonely,but I couldn't trouble my family any more,so I used to find an empty place and cry alone.But with Goto around,I had lot of things to talk about.It was a lot of fun.

Mr.Goto was a civil servant.But he got sick.He lost feeling in his body and began to slur his words.He found it difficult to communicate with visitors.He told me it looked like he would have to give up work.At times like this,Mr.Goto has a favorite English phrase,"Life goes on." He has these words printed on his business card,and when he feels down,he reads the phrase to himself.

At the time,I had just lost my sight and I didn't know right from left.I decided these were just the words I needed too,so I used that phrase to guide me.

In December of that year,I left Hamamatsu University Hospital,and in May of the following year,I entered the National Rehabilitation Center for Disabled People in Saitama Prefecture.The building and grounds of this facility are very big and I found I had to walk around 5000 steps each day while I was there.

During my time in hospital,I hadn't exercise so my weight shot up from 45 kilos to almost 80 kilos.As a result,I had trouble just standing up,let alone walking around,so for me this was just the place I needed to learn new life skills.

After the rehabilitation course,as I was getting used to my new life,I found the website of the Hamamatsu School for the Blind,where I now go.After dropping out of school and then losing my sight,I thought this school might offer me the chance of a second start in life so I applied.I was worried about my eyesight,but I passed the exams with no problem.Even so,I have to make up for the schooling I missed,so I started in the first year again.It's tough,but I want to do the best I can.

In the two years since I went blind,I have met many people and I have learned a lot about life that I wouldn't have learned otherwise.Thinking about it,I feel that I have to go back and re-walk the path that I took through the first part of my life before I lost my eyesight.This is a kind of gift from my mother.If I had been able to see,I wouldn't have been in hospital and I wouldn't have met Mr.Goto.

To Mom,

I am going to live with this illness that you gave me.Please look down on me with a warm heart.

To the mother I love,from your son.

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