Jacob Matthews ran out of the school grounds, his ears ringing with his classmates’ laughter. He ran to the park nearby and made his way to his favourite bench. He flung himself on it and started crying his eyes out. He sobbed harder and harder, unable to stop.
“May I sit here?”
Jacob looked up. A tall man wearing a trench coat and dark glasses was standing in front of him. With all the noise he had been making, Jacob hadn’t heard him approach. He nodded and said “Sure”.
The man sat down and turned towards him, “Bad day, huh?” he asked.
“Y-You wouldn’t be-believe it,” Jacob replied drying his eyes.
“Try me.” The man said, smiling slightly.
“M-My name is Ja-Ja-Jacob. I have a stuttering p-pr-problem and my f-friends laughed at me fo-for it. W-we were talking about wh-wh-what we want t-to become when we grow u-up and I said I w-wa-want to be a si-sin-singer. They all st-started la-laughing at me saying th-that st-stutter-ers can’t become singers. It re-really hurt.” Tears started rolling down his cheeks again.
“How old are you?” asked the man.
”E-E-Eleven” whispered Jacob.
“Do you really want to become a singer?”
“Oh y-yes! More than anything eh-else in the w-wo-world. But…I can’t. M-My friends we-were right. St-stutterers can’t become singers…” said Jacob bitterly.
“Do you really believe what they said?” asked the man.
Jacob did not reply.
“You know, Jacob,” the man said. “There is nothing in this world you can’t do if you set your mind to it. Absolutely nothing. All you need is patience, perseverance and the right attitude. If you have these then you can overcome any obstacles which are in the way to your dreams.”
“But m-my stutter-ing…”
“Nothing but a minor setback. You can overcome it by practicing daily. Practice saying a few words over and over again for an hour every day until you can say them without stuttering. You’ll be speaking normally in no time.” The man smiled at him.
There was a pause. Jacob was thinking hard about everything the man had just said. Suddenly the man spoke again.
“You know, you remind me of someone I know. He is blind from childhood. He too went through all of this. You see, he wanted to play the piano but everybody ridiculed him. He never gave up though, for music was the only thing that gave him joy, gave him something to smile about in his life. He practiced day and night and in the end he succeeded. He now teaches the piano to little boys and girls like you and he is completely satisfied with his life. If he could do it, so could you.”
“Yes! Yes I ca-can!” Jacob was ecstatic. He would try his best. He would practice day and night. He would become the world’s greatest singer! “I will do it! Thanks S-Sir, for e-evr-everything. You ha-have changed my li-life.”
The man smiled. “Remember Jacob, patience, perseverance and the right attitude… Well, I have to be off now. My students will be waiting for me…”
Before Jacob could say a word the man took out a foldable walking stick from his coat pocket and got up.
“Bye, Jacob. It was nice meeting you.” He started walking away, tapping the ground with his stick.
Jacob saw the blind man walk away with tears in his eyes. “Thank you.” he whispered. He got up and ran back to the school with a smile on his face. Today was the beginning of the rest of his life.
Ten years had passed since Jacob had met the blind man in the park. Today he was receiving a standing ovation from a crowd of people for a prestigious singing competition he had just won.
“Thank you” he said after accepting the award. “I want to thank my parents for their support without which I wouldn’t have been here. But most of all I want to thank the stranger I met in a park about ten years ago. He ca-came to me like an angel in distress. He told me that even a stutterer like me can become a great singer. I took his advice and now I can talk without stuttering for mo-most of the time.”
Jacob raised his award in the air.
“Wherever you are stranger, thank you. I owe this award to you. Thank you…”
Jacob got down from the stage with tears in his eyes, his ears ringing with the thunderous applause from the crowd.