A story of a young boy confined to a wheelchair and his words misunderstood
| Melior Amicus Amegia
It was a cool afternoon in the fall of the year when Banjo saw a big white car stop in front of the little three-room house him and his Mom called home. This was the only home Banjo had every known in his short 8 years on this earth. Banjo was a very sick little boy and was confined to a wheel chair. On the outside he looked like a normal little black haired boy. Banjo enjoyed so much the days that the farm hands worked the fields close to his house. He would watch all day and dream that he was beside his Mom working every day.
Mr. Majors owned the big farm and little house him and his Mom lived in. Banjo knew very little about him except he was a very kind man and his Mom and Granddad had always lived and worked there until his Granddad had died a year earlier. Now it was only Banjo and his Mom.
Banjo knew very little English so he never talked around anyone except his Mom. She told Banjo a lot of the English words were bad and to be very careful what comes out of your lips. Banjo was very well taken care of but he spent his days alone while his mother worked in the fields. His days was spent alone just looking outside dreaming of running and playing in the fields. He kept beside him a little box that contained possessions more valuable to him than if it were to have been Gold.
There were three little objects that would have meant nothing to anyone except Banjo. He also held on to his Granddaddy’s Banjo. That was where he got his name. He had been playing it since he was 4 years old. His Granddad had modified the neck so his little fingers could cord. He made music just as if it came right out of heaven itself.
A little tear formed in Banjo’s eyes as he watched Mr. Majors and the young lady get closer to the house. Banjo could remember when his Granddaddy died Mr. Majors and a young lady made their way to the door. Then his Mom stayed home with him. He didn’t understand the words they spoke but Oh how he could remember the tears of his Mom as they helped her to the chair. Little Banjo’s heart ached that day but he didn’t know why until later his Mom said Granddad would not be coming home.
Banjo watched as they got closer then he picked up his box and removed one of the items and clutched it to his heart. He could remember that day as if it was yesterday. His Mom taken out his little bible and read to him. Then there was a gentle knock on the door and it opened and Mr. Majors and the lady entered. They talked to each other very softly but Banjo couldn’t understand. It didn’t matter, he knew his Mom was not coming home.
Mr. Majors kneeled down in front of him and Banjo saw a tear in his eyes as he gently spoke. Banjo didn’t understand but he could tell his heart was not the only broken one that day. Banjo handed Mr. Majors his little bible for him to read to him. He taken it and opened it up to read but it was written in Spanish. Mr. Majors gave it back.
Banjo felt more alone now than anytime in his short 8 years on this earth. Banjo heard the words that were spoken to the lady with Mr. Majors but he didn’t understand. He told her he would have someone from the farm stay at night with Banjo and take care of him. They both watched as Banjo opened his little box and put away his bible. Inside were two small pictures. One was his Mom and the other was a very beautiful young lady.
For the first time Mr. Majors heard the three words that anyone except Banjo’s Mom and the girl in the picture come from his lips. He held to the picture of the young lady and said, “Melior Amicus Amiga”. Those words seem to make Mr. Majors angry. The lady with him became red faced. Banjo’s Mom didn’t like for him to speak those words because they seem to brother everyone. Banjo’s Mom had told him a long time ago if you can’t speak kind words say nothing at all. Banjo chose to say nothing because he didn’t know what was wrong with those words.
His Mom had promised to tell him when he was older but that day would never come now. The phrase that Banjo spoke while he had that picture in his hand sounded to English speaking folks was “MY WHORE AMIGA”.
If they would have taken the time to find out the meaning of his words that day. Mr. Majors and the Lady left after checking for food in the house. They found plenty and they told Banjo someone would be there soon to watch over him. Banjo didn’t understand. All he knew was the three people he loved the most was gone. Banjo was scolded that day for his words. Now his heart hurt and became heavier as he touched the picture of his Mom.
Then he ran his little fingers over the picture of the Lady. He couldn’t hold the tears back any longer. He picked up the picture and clutched it to his heart. Softly through his tears he whispered “Melior Amicus AMIGA. The back of the picture was signed Ellie. Ellie worked for Social Service and Banjo spoke those three words to her when he was just six years old. She scolded him that day and walked out of his life. That’s why he never spoke in public.
He could remember when his Granddad would read from his little Bible. He would tell him the tongue was sharper than a double edge sword. Banjo put the pictures and his bible back in the box. He made his way to his bed. He slid out of the chair and put his wooden box under his pillow. Oh how his little heart was broken again that day. All he had was the pictures and they were priceless to him. Banjo held to his box and cried himself to sleep.
The next few days had been very hard for Banjo. He had just lost his will to live. His Doctor was amazed he was still alive anyway. He predicted him not to live past his 6th birthday but Banjo proved him wrong. The only medication he was taking was one pill in the morning and at bedtime.
Mr. Majors made sure that Banjo was cared for and Maria spent the nights with him. She read to him from his little Bible each night but Banjo never spoke a word. He was afraid his words might drive her away so he kept quite. She would plead with him to speak but he would only drop his head and pull away. In the morning she would prepare his meals for the day before leaving for the farm to work.
Some days when the weather was bad Mr. Majors would make her stay in the house with Banjo. She would here him playing his banjo and singing the most beautiful words she had ever heard. If she came in the room with him he would stop playing and singing until she left. This sad little boy was so afraid to love because all the ones he loved were gone. Then one day Maria realized Banjo was singing to the picture in his box. It was a picture of Ellie.
The Lady that was with Mr. Majors that day when he found out his Mom wasn’t coming home. Now she made her visits once a week.
Some days Maria would be there and some not but there was always food prepared for Banjo and he was never alone more than 4 hours at a time.
Banjo knew her as Miss Ronda and she was very polite to him. He knew a lot more English than she thought. Banjo would only smile and nod his head yes or no. She would think how cruel it was for someone to teach such a sweet and kind little boy such fowl words. She knew that day he talked about My Whore, he didn’t understand what he was saying.
A few more weeks rolled by and on one of Ronda’s visits she was surprised to see Mr. Major’s car parked out front of the house. When she went in she found Banjo in his bed. He had his box clutched to his chest but he was asleep. Mr. Majors and Maria were next to the bed. When they saw Ronda Mr. Majors led her in the other room. He said, “We can’t get him to eat and I am so afraid. Can we get him to the hospital?” She agreed and called and made the arrangements.
They loaded him in the ambulance and Banjo never released his box. Mr. Majors and Maria followed the ambulance while Ronda returned to her office to take care of all the paperwork that would be needed at the hospital. That day when she entered the Social Service building there was a young lady standing at one of the desks. She looked very familiar, but Ronda was new and never had met any of the other workers. Then she remembered, it was the lady in Banjo’s picture. It was Ellie.
She stopped and said, “Hi. My name is Ronda. You are Ellie aren’t you?”
Ellie smiled and said, “Yes but I don’t think I know you.”
Ronda said, “I’m sorry, you don’t. I met a very good friend of yours and he showed me your picture.”
She looked puzzled for a minute but then she remembered. “Have you met Banjo?”
Ronda answered, “Yes.”
Ellie said, “He is such a sweet little boy. I haven’t seen him for a couple of years. I had so many cases then I had to give some up. He had a grammar problem and I just didn’t have the time to work with him on that.” Ellie said, “I don’t think he liked me much anyway he never told me.”
Ronda said “Oh you are mistaken. Today we rushed him to the hospital and he will not turn loose of your picture.”
Ellie said, “I am sorry, how is his Mom taking it?”
Ronda replied, “She was killed in an accident a few months ago. He has nothing now but a picture of you and his Mom. Mr. Majors let’s a girl from the farm help with him. She says he plays his banjo some but only when no one is around. He just sets and holds that little box and looks out the window. He loves to watch the kids play and the fields being worked.”
Then Ronda taken Ellie by the hand. She said, “Banjo is in very bad shape and we don’t know how long he will last.”
Ellie said, “I guess I should go see him but he probable would not recognize me.” Ronda assured her he would.
Ellie left that day but she didn’t go directly to the hospital. She was sure that Banjo didn’t care about her. It would be so embarrassing if he called her a whore in front of total strangers. She thought if she could slip in and see him and him not recognize her. She did care about him. She cared very much.
Suddenly something happened to her shoe. There was a seat just down the street a few more feet. She barely got there without falling. She set down and removed her shoe. She could find nothing wrong with it so she put it back on.
Then from no where she noticed a lady setting beside her. Ellie thought she was going crazy. Her mind was playing tricks on her.
Then the stranger spoke. She said, “Aren’t you going the wrong way Ellie?”
Ellie broke down in tears and she sobbed,” I can’t go there, who are you please tell me?”
This strange lady said, “Don’t be scared, I am your friend. I am also a friend of Banjo.”
Ellie cried harder and sobbed, “If I go there he will embarrass me. You don’t understand.”
Softly this young girl spoke “I understand Ellie, It’s you that don’t understand. Banjo said MELIOR. The last two words were AMICUS AMIGA. It is not the word you thought. Today I bring you a gift directly from God himself.” She said, “Behind us is a Library. I want you to take this tape and go inside and put it in a player. Put on the earphones and play it.”
Then as suddenly as the young girl appeared she disappeared. Ellie didn’t know if she dreamed this or not. Then she realized she had a tape in her hand. She went in side and did as she was directed. The words hurt so much she had to stop the player just for a minute. She was drying her teary eyes when employees of the Library came to her.
He asked, “Are you OK Miss?”
She answered, “Yes Sir I am sorry.”
He politely answered, “Its no problem, Please bring your tape and follow me.” He led her to a small private room. “Go in there and play your tape, it’s more private,” he said. “Stay as long as you like and if you need me I will be in the front.”
Ellie thanked the nice gentleman and he closed the door. She pushed the play button and it was Banjo’s voice in perfect English. Ellie closed her eyes and just listened. After Banjo finished talking his song, the soft banjo and the beautiful Spanish lyrics continued. Then the song played over except this time it was perfect English once again.
ELLIE, MY ELLIE
FORGIVE ME FOR HURTING YOU
I PRAY EACH DAY
AND I THANK GOD FOR SENDING YOU
I WANT TO GO OUTSIDE
I WANT TO RUN AND JUMP WITH YOU
I WANT TO JUMP IN THE WATER
AND SPLASH IT ALL OVER YOU
THEN I WOULD STAND STILL
AND YOU COULD SPLASH IT ON ME TOO
I WANT TO CLIMB A TREE
THEN I WOULD JUMP OUT AND YOU CATCH ME
THEN I WOULD TELL YOU
MY FRIEND FOREVER YOU WOULD ALWAYS BE.
Ellie removed her tape and she clutched it to her heart. She prayed and begged God for one more chance to talk to Banjo. There was something she had to say to him if he would just give her one more chance. She wiped her teary eyes then she rushed to the hospital.
When she got in the room she found a lot of people. There was Mr. Majors and Maria. Also the lady from Social Service and two doctors and two nurses were present. As soon as Ellie walked in they all recognized her from the picture in Banjo’s hand. Mr. Majors motioned for her to approach the bedside.
They all stepped away and Ellie set beside her little friend. He was asleep. Softly she called his name. Slowly he opened his eyes. A tear fell from Ellie’s cheek and landed on Banjo. He only smiled at her and grasps her hand.
Then Ellie touched his little cheeks and softly whispered, ”MELIOR AMICUS AMIGO.” Banjo’s eyes opened in disbelief Ellie said it louder this time. “MELIOR AMICUS AMEGIO.” Then she pulled him close to her and held him.
She kissed his cheek. Ellie looked into his big eyes and he whispered back, “MELIOR AMICUS AMEGIA.”
Ellie cried, “Yes Banjo, always and forever. Listen to me Banjo I love you. Do you hear me”.
With tears in his eyes he whispered back in perfect English. “I love you Ellie. I love you.” Then he gently closed his eyes and ran outside to play.
Everyone was heartbroken that day. Each one in the room begged Ellie to tell them what he said. They held on to Ellie and she closed her eyes very tightly. She whispered I said, “MELIOR AMICUS AMEGIO”. In English it means My Best Friend is Boy.”
He answered back “MELIOR AMICUS AMEGA which means My Best Friend is Girl. MELIOR AMICUS is Latin. All he was trying to say the last few years was that I was his best friend. Please forgive me God, I have lost my best friend.”