88: Mr. Musau

88: Mr. Musau

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive

Mr. Musau

Whether you think you can or think you can’t — you are right.

~Henry Ford

I stared at the newspaper that lay on the table, idly drumming the red ballpoint pen in my hand against my coffee mug. I had been looking through the job vacancies but none of the openings appealed to me. I looked up and caught my reflection in the window — sitting at this desk, in my perfectly tailored charcoal gray skirt suit. What was I doing here? I didn’t belong. I looked around at all the men’s suits hanging neatly in rows, the expensive fabric almost shimmering under the lights that shone on them. I had recently found myself out of a job and had taken the position of store manager for this upscale clothing store as a temporary solution while I searched for work in the corporate world. It had only been a month and my frustration at not finding another job had been growing steadily.

My attention turned to a well-dressed woman who had just walked into the store, pushing a man in a wheelchair. At once, one of the salesmen rushed towards the man in the wheelchair to greet him. “How are you feeling, Mr. Musau?” he asked. The man stared blankly ahead of him as though he had not heard the question. He was well-dressed but he slumped in his wheelchair, and had on his face a look of resignation. I had heard about Mr. Musau from my co-workers — he was a regular customer at the store and a good tipper. He had recently suffered a stroke and nobody had seen him for about six weeks.

The woman wheeled Mr. Musau over to the table where I had stood up from my chair, and said to me, “I’m going to pick out some new shirts for my husband. I’ll leave him here while I look around.” I nodded and smiled as she parked Mr. Musau’s wheelchair at one end of the table. “Hello there, sir,” I said as I sat down again. Mr. Musau did not respond. I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable. Silences made me uncomfortable and I usually ended up babbling away in spite of the lack of response.

“My father had a stroke four years ago,” I blurted out without thinking. Mr. Musau continued to stare into space. “He had a blood clot in his brain which caused the stroke,” I continued. “He was in a wheelchair too after that and had partially lost the use of his right leg. He also suffered memory loss. It was incredibly difficult for him to go from being the head of the household to being dependent on my mother and me. I think he even became depressed when he got home from the hospital, and wouldn’t speak much for a few days. Then, as though something in his head had snapped, he began to behave differently. He wouldn’t allow us to do anything for him unless he had tried to do it himself first. A couple of weeks later, he began to push himself to try and stand up from his wheelchair and walk a couple of steps at a time. He would sometimes fall down and we would have to help him up, but he always got right back up and kept trying. My father has always been a determined man. Every week, he would make it farther and farther from his wheelchair without losing his balance. Eventually, he did away with the wheelchair and was able to walk on his own without any assistance. He was back to being completely independent!”

Mr. Musau had not even glanced my way the entire time that I had been speaking. “It’s incredible what the power of the mind can do, Mr. Musau,” I added softly.

At that moment, Mrs. Musau walked up to us with a bag in her hand and said to me, “I hope he hasn’t been a bother. Thank you for keeping him company.”

“Not at all, ma’am,” I replied. “Have a great day! See you later, Mr. Musau,” I called out as Mrs. Musau wheeled him out of the store.

A few weeks after that meeting with Mr. Musau, I was offered a corporate job. I moved on and seldom discussed my short time as a clothing store manager. As for Mr. Musau, I had completely forgotten about him. That was, until one Saturday a year later, when I got an unexpected call from the new store manager at the men’s clothing store. The manager said that a Mr. Musau had been asking for me for months and had finally persuaded the manager to retrieve my contact info from their system.

Bewildered and caught off guard, I agreed to speak with Mr. Musau. “Hello?” His voice was unexpectedly steady and strong. “Hi there, Mr. Musau!” I said, taken aback, “How have you been?”

The steady voice replied, “I have been trying to contact you for many months now,” he said. “I need to tell you something. After my stroke, everybody around me, including my wife, was treating me like I was already dead. I prayed every night that God would take me and relieve me of my misery and the situation I was in. And then I met you. You spoke to me as though I still mattered, even though you may have thought I wasn’t listening to you. You inspired me with your story about your father and how he used positive thought to reverse his disability. I would like very much to meet with you and your father.”

With a lump in my throat, I said, “Of course, Mr. Musau. We can come and see you at home if you like — it may be more convenient for you.”

His next words moved me a great deal. “My dear, I want to show you what your words have done for me. Thanks to you, I can now drive myself or walk to wherever it is convenient for you to meet! I want to thank you in person for helping me to realize that it was up to me to make sure that I did not waste away.” As a tear escaped and rolled down my cheek, he asked, “Isn’t it indeed incredible what the power of the mind can do?”

~Nafisa Rayani

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