The ability to read and write is often taken for granted, but have you ever stopped to consider what it must be like? Over the years I’ve know several people who for various reasons were illiterate, and it’s helped me understand a little of the daily trials they face.
Do you want to know which train to catch? Read the information board.
Does this bus go to your destination? Read the panel on the front.
Fancy a meal out? Go online, look up the reviews, opening hours and directions.
What do you want to eat in the restaurant? Look at the menu.
Have you been overcharged? Examine the bill.
Need the toilets? Follow the signs, then pray they have the little pictures on the doors, and not just ‘male’ and ‘female.’ Try explaining that one away if you pick the wrong one.
What’s happening in the news? Buy a newspaper or read online.
Want to keep up with friends on social media? Hard luck!
Use your phone. Fine unless you need to look up the number, or someone sends you a message.
And that’s just for starters. What restrictions does it place on your job opportunities? How do you manage form filling, household bills or the myriad of other things making up normal life? These thoughts sprang to mind after I saw a prompt to write a story of exactly 100 words on the subject ‘Love Notes.’ Here’s what I came up with.
I was surprised to discover he was illiterate.
‘I don’t understand. You’re intelligent, we have great discussions. You built those fantastic units. How could you do that without being able to read or write?’
‘When I was growing up Dad needed my help in the fields, so I missed a lot of schooling and never caught up. Then I felt too embarrassed to learn, until I met you.’
‘What difference did that make?’
He handed me a box with a diamond ring and a handwritten note. Picking up a pen I wrote my answer.
‘Yes, of course I’ll marry you.’
© Voinks March 2018