I read the message again. My mind contemplated on whether I should attend.
I was a member of Toastmasters International for over 10 years before my accident in 15th April 2016. I have fond memories of my club, Bayan Baru Toastmasters Club. It is a public speaking club, to improved communication and leadership skills.
A senior member has invited me to attend as a guest.
When I was at the burn ward, I remembered telling a member that I will only return when I can walk by myself into the meeting room. It has been 3 years since the explosion and I can walk again. Looks like it is about time for me to make my appearance.
I wanted company, I asked another ex-member whether she wanted to attend. She agreed and on the said day, picked me up from my home.
As we entered through the door of the meeting room, the Registrar of the day greeted us. Someone whom I have not met before.
The room still looks the same. The chairs and the tables are probably the same too. However, after 3 years, I didn’t know most of the members. Only a handful of the senior members were there.
The program ran as usual with the same schedule as I remembered. Then it came to the Table Topic part. Table Topic is a session where a person would be asked to make an impromptu speech for 2 minutes on any given topic. A topic that the Table Topic master will select. It's challenging to answer especially when the question is something that a person has not thought of before.
The Table Topic master was looking at my direction. She then called my name. My heart skipped a beat. For a few seconds I had to fight my urged to say “No”. I mustered enough courage to walk to the middle of the room. This would be the first time I spoke again after the explosion. I know that I am no longer the same person as I was the last time I set foot in this club. They say that most people fear public speaking more than they fear death. Having face both before, I still prefer public speaking.
As the table topic master stated and then repeated the question; I felt a sudden sense of calmness. I can do this! Just speak from the heart. I knew what I would talk about for the next 2 minutes; building a burn survivor support group in Malaysia.
After my speech, I felt relieved. I knew that I could have done better. However, public speaking is one of those skills that needs practice, the more the better and I felt “rusty”.
Before the meeting ended, the President gave out awards and prizes for the night. He surprised me by calling my name and presented me with the best table topic speaker ribbon. I was happy to accept the ribbon.
The ribbon that was presented to me
What overwhelmed me was this thought: I had finally attended a Toastmaster meeting after 3 years. I am humbled by how far I have come and reminded myself that I should not take for granted the simple things in life like the ability to talk, to walk and the ability to do things for myself. It is indeed a blessing. The ribbon was merely the cherry on the cake.
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