Well, not really. I mean, in a fight, for instance. Would you really go in, against an armed opponent wielding nothing but a LeoSmart ballpoint? But then again, I guess in the metaphorical sense, it does sound a bit true because with a pen—albeit a visually unimpressive tool—, you can do this really amazing thing. It’s called writing and nowadays, with technology, you don’t even need a pen. It’s amazing, really. When writing was discovered, it gave us a whole new realm to explore. No longer would we be held down by the cold chains of mortality, even though we would die and our bodies become little more than maggot food, writing made sure our words and thoughts lived on. Writing was humanity’s first glimpse of immortality. Writing set us free.
Okay so there’s this cool thing you can do with writing. Something not dissimilar to time travel. It’s a power that allows you to time travel…without actually going anywhere. So let’s try it, take a trip with me, to a day and time not to different from this one.
We’re in a medium sized house in Surulere and we seem to have landed right in the middle of the sitting room, nice place. But it’s really dark, what time is it? It smells like good food, though. The furniture is arranged in a weird unorthodox pattern and there are some pictures of little children with their parents lined on the wall, so it’s a family home. Do you feel what we’re stepping on? Huhn, it’s carpet, the colour of red velvet. Don’t ask me how I know the colour, I’ll tell you later. It would be best not to make any noise, I got the day right but the time was a bit wrong. The date is June 11th, 2006 and it’s about 2am so it’s still dark out. Do you hear that? There’s some kind of coughing upstairs, sounds like it’s from a child. Let’s see what’s going on. We have to be careful, though. Lots of stray toys lying around, watch your step. Okay let’s go into the biggest bedroom, that seems to be where the sound is emanating from. Be quiet and put on your cloaking tech. Didn’t bring it? I roll my eyes. Rookie. Here take mine, but only for this trip, imagine your own next time, freeloader. I’m turning the door handle but it’s a bit stiff, years of use have worn it down, I guess. Slowly now, the coughing sound is getting louder, you can hear it now, can’t you? Here we are, wait, that’s odd. We passed two large empty rooms on the way here. Then why do they all sleep in the same room? It’s a small family of four, the parents and two children, a six-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl. They’re really cute, aren’t they? The coughing seems to be coming from the male child. He’s a chubby one, has lots of days ahead of him, hope he makes each one count. He’s scratching his throat and he seems to have difficulty breathing, definitely asthma and the cold weather must not be helping. His mum rouses from her sleep, the coughs are getting louder and raspier. Without even pausing, she moves to the machine and slips the mask on his face and turns it on, he starts to relax and breathe well again. And for just that moment, it’s like everything is well again, up until the next attack.
Okay, trip over, let’s get back to present day. Those days were one of the boy’s better ones, and he would have worse ones to come. Asthma is a hard disease to grow up with, it clenches your throat, makes you irritable and suddenly the air that there was so much of, is just far from reach. It would take him about seven more years till he learned to manage it, make it easier to live with it but still, there were those bad days, were he would be transported back to those dark days. Where the night seemed to get darker and he couldn’t draw air from his lungs and the world would just get smaller and smaller. But here’s the funny thing, the very fact that breathing—a very basic ability—was beyond him sometimes, allowed him to make every single breath count, he was determined now more than ever to not waste his life.
I never did know or understand why we all slept in the same room and I never asked. Mostly because I think I already knew the reason why. The bonds of the family, curious thing it is. Curious thing.
Writing gave me a kind of escape from this world, a getaway if you will. I loved the way I would disappear in the words, becoming the pages. I grew up reading some of the most amazing stories ever told and I never even dreamed of writing some of my own, but here I am. It helped me use my imagination to turn those dark bleak nights into bright memorable days. So yeah, maybe the pen is mightier than the sword.
Except in a fight, though, that’s just stupid.