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10 Pages A Day - a short story by A.B.King

   Once upon a time in an inner city of America there lived a 13 year old African American girl who everyone except her parents called Dum-Dum the Tomboy. As you might have guessed, she was at the bottom of the class and all the other kids made fun of her for it.
   She didn’t like her life. She didn’t like the daily routine of being laughed at even by the teacher who tried but not hard enough to conceal her amusement whenever Dum-Dum the Tomboy got the answer of question ridiculously wrong.
   Dum-Dum the Tomboy’s only escape and consolation from her life of emotional pain came from two things.
   One was reading the bible. The bible was the only thing that had anything good to say about her. It told her that Jesus loved her and he cared about so deeply that he died for her so that she might be called a daughter of God.
   The second was basketball. The basketball court was her get away. Basketball was the only thing she was good at. She was the best in it and everybody knew it. Since she wasn’t any good in her academics, she believed that basketball was her only way out. She prayed everyday that she would be a professional basketball star someday.
   One day in the assembly hall with everyone in the school gathered. The principal was ranting about a very silly thing some students had done and while speaking he said, “... I expected more from you. This kind of stupidity is what I expect from that retard Dum-Dum the Tomboy.” It was too late. It had slipped out. The whole school burst out laughing. A principal never calls students by their nicknames. Especially nicknames that are abusive but the principal was very angry and anytime he was very angry he said things that he wished he could take back. His eyes caught the eyes of the little girl he had just insulted in the crowd of laughing students. He could see the tears forming in her eyes. “I’m Sorry” fell out faintly from his mouth. Although someone next to him couldn’t hear what he said, he knew she knew what he said.
   She turned and ran out of the assembly hall with tears in her eyes and the derisive laughs of all the students echoing through her head; following her as she ran, like it was a dark cloud around her head.
   The principal felt bad and sorry for what he had said. He got the teachers to help him stop the students from laughing. He shouted at the top of his lungs that he was sorry but the tomboy had already ran out of the assembly hall. She had already being hurt too much to hear.
   She kept running and running. She ran out of the school premises. She was going to go back home. She sat on a public bench when she got to the bus stop. She was still crying profusely. “I can’t do it – I can’t do it” she said in-between tears. She was going to quit school and if her parents weren’t going to support her decision then she would run away from home.
   Just then someone handed her a handkerchief. She looked up at who it was and noticed it was an elderly African American man. He was sitting beside her with a bible in his lap.
   “What seems to be the problem little girl”, the elderly man asked.
   She saw genuine care and concern in the elderly man’s eyes. Something she had craved to see in the eyes of everyone else. For some reason she couldn’t explain she let it all out and explained everything.
   The elderly man was outraged that everyone had treated her so unfairly but said he was glad she was a believer in Jesus and already had an existing relationship with Jesus.
   He then explained more about the person of Jesus to her. He explained what life in Christ meant in a much deeper way than she had ever heard at Sunday school.
   The more he spoke, the more she felt better. The more he spoke, the more she felt faith grow in her. The more he spoke, the more she felt she had a reason to smile again.
   He then told her the story of an African American brain surgeon who she reminded him of. He told her that the brain surgeon too spent his childhood in an inner city of America. That the odds were against him and like her, people made fun of him and called him dummy too. He didn’t like it but one day his Mum after praying to God about his grades came up with a plan and told him to read 10 pages of any book of his choice everyday and then write a two page report on what he read. He protested against the idea at first but after seeing his Mum won’t budge he decided to go along with the plan. At first he didn’t notice any changes but weeks later he had become the one teacher says everyone should be more like; he was every teacher’s favourite student, he was that student who if he didn’t know the answer to a question then there was no way that any other student could know it. He also became the favourite of the local librarian. He later grew up to be the 1st surgeon in history to successfully separate cranopagus twins (Siamese twins that are joined together at the head). The boy who everyone called a dummy grew up into the man who pioneered one of the many great breakthroughs of medical science.
   The tomboy loved the story and she told the elderly man how much the story had inspired her.
   The elderly man told her that the brain surgeon also wrote a book about it and that he knows she would love it.
   He told her to wait for her then he walked as swiftly as he could; he was practically running – to the closed bookstore and bought a book titled “THINK BIG.” The picture of the surgeon he had talked about was on the front cover.
   When he returned, he gave it to her.
   “For me?”, she shrieked. “No one has ever done anything this nice for me before.”
   The man simply smiled warmly and told her to promise him that she would read 10 pages of any good book of her choice every day. 
   She promised him, then he bade her farewell and left.
   She turned and walked back to her school. She was determined not to listen to what people say and to keep her promise. She just knew it was what Jesus would want her to do.
   Weeks later she had started to pick up on her academics but no one really noticed. She was tempted to give up but she quickly shoved the temptation aside saying she was doing it for her and not because she wanted to change what people think of her.
   Before six months passed by she had won many awards even on a state level for academic excellent and talent on the basketball court. She was the 1st one in her school’s history to be captain to the debate team and captain of the basketball team. Her nickname changed from Dum-Dum the Tomboy to Book-Girl the Tomboy.
   Although some people made fun of her for being a half tomboy – half geek, she didn’t care she just kept reading. As time passed by her ability and desire to read more pages a day crew. Now she was reading way more than 10 pages a day.
   She grew up to become a strong independent intelligent woman. She played for 3 years in the WNBA. After winning an MVP award. She decided to retire early and she made her mark in the business world and soon became the third wealthiest woman in the world and the fifth wealthiest person in the world both men and women counted.
   Then in her 30’s she decided to move to the middle-east to fight for women’s rights. She became one of the greatest women’s rights activists to ever grace the middle-east. Because of her; middle-eastern women learnt what it means to live – they learnt what it meant to be free, all because God used someone to tell a 13years old tomboy to read 10 pages of a book a day. Thanks be to Jesus.

                                                             THE END.

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