A story is told of a young girl who was forced into slavery. She is not named when the story is told though, but I’m telling it this time. So, let us call her Ophelia. Her village was ripped apart and many were killed while some were taken into slavery. Ophelia was one of the few that were alive. One could say being alive meant that she was lucky, but she did not have a say over her life. She had become a slave and she was under the control of her mistress. Ophelia had been given to the army commander’s wife. Her life was not even in the woman’s hands as even her life was in the hands of her husband. The young slave girl, Ophelia, worked hard and did all that she was told. Her obedience meant that she could live to see another day. It also meant that she could stay in that household instead of being sold off or being killed. Her silence and detachment from the family was pivotal. Like a fly on the wall, she was not meant to make a sound or be noticed, although seen.
As life would have it, things in the household changed. The commander got very sick. They tried all they could, all the medicine and doctors that they could get from all walks of life, but nothing could cure the commander. I still do not know why she did it. She was not even supposed to open her mouth in the first place, but one day she did. This nobody of a person opened her mouth, the slave girl spoke. Speaking was forbidden.
Ophelia was a slave, she was not meant to speak to her mistress or the commander unless it was in response of something directed at her. Yet on this one fateful day, she initiated conversation. However, as much as the fact that she opened her mouth put her in danger; what she said saved her life. Ophelia knew the moment her mouth opened that she might not see the sunrise again but the humanity in her compelled her to speak. She told the mistress of a healer from her people and how the commander could be healed. Maybe she saw the pain in her mistress’ eyes when she looked at the commander in his pain. Maybe she was thinking that death is more liberating than slavery. We’ll never know but what we know for sure is that she was a nobody in this environment. She was simply a slave, at the very bottom of the social chain. A voiceless mute who was never meant to express her opinions at all.
The healer she spoke of was so great that even this enemy that had torn her life apart knew of him. The fact that the commander had tried everything possible except this healer was undeniable as her people were not desirable. After hesitation and tactics, the commander finally went and did exactly as he was told by the healer and he became well. He never came back to express gratitude to Ophelia for her advice. She saved his life anyway.
Like Ophelia sometimes we find ourselves in positions where the mere sound of our voices could mean life or death. But speaking up could save someone, even if we are not at peace with that someone. Sometimes we can save our oppressors, enemies and friends simply by speaking. Being a nobody does not always mean that you are useless to everybody. You know something that even the greatest people around you do not know. You possess wisdom that others do not as each one has a different view and experience of life. Never doubt your voice because those who surround you have loud voices. Never doubt your knowledge just because someone disregards you. Take the risk, open your lips and let yourself be heard. We learn by falling and finding ways to get up again. Say something, do something. You are a nobody to somebody but you are somebody to someone. Be brave like Ophelia, it will pay off.