September 30, 2012
Eddie uncle and I were having our Sunday evening stroll along the Kodi beach. This beach is packed on Sunday evenings and Eddie uncle and I had some plans of making money on Sundays. We were thinking of selling pork delicacies prepared by Cecilia aunty. It was just a thought. Eddie uncle asked me
“Anil. Do you think our pork plans would become successful?”
“Uncle. It would surely be successful if you don’t gobble up the dish, pretending to taste it during preparation. Ha-ha”.
“Oh shut up”. Just then, we saw Aron walking by alone on the beach. Aron was one of our parishners, who was 21 years old, a third engineering student at the prestigious MIT, Manipal. Aron had a bad stutter and found it very difficult to communicate and Eddie uncle called him.
“Aron, Come here”. As Aron was coming to us from a distance, Eddie uncle quipped “Anil, even if our pork business doesn’t take off, we can make money by making Aron talk. Just see the poor idiot won’t even be able to tell his name”
I was shocked. What a person!!!I never thought Eddie uncle would talk like this, not even in my dreams.
“Shut up, you old man. Can’t you see he has a problem and instead of helping him, you are making fun of him? I thought you were a good person. To hell with you and your pork business”
Aron slowly walked up to us. Eddie uncle was literally taken aback by my outburst.
“How are you Aron?” Eddie uncle asked.
“I am f.f.f.f.f fine. E. E Eddie uncle”. Eddie uncle did not dare laugh after I had given him a piece of my mind.
“Aron, Come lets walk. Let the old man go and find himself some partner of his own age”. Saying this Aron and I started walking. Eddie uncle who was quite embarrassed by now, started walking behind us and caught up with us soon enough.
“Why did you leave me, Anil?”
“Because you are an insensitive man, who doesn’t respect others and judges people based on their impediments. Aron, I believe you know why this old man called you”.
Aron nodded. I have never seen Eddie uncle so ashamed.
“Eddie uncle, do you have any idea how difficult it is for Aron to lead a normal life, because of people like you. People like Aron, live every moment of life dreading what may happen in the next. Moving from one sentence to the next, one situation to another, they live in a scare as what if they get stuck in the next word. Do you have any idea, what levels of self confidence they have, when morons like you laugh at their expense? Well that’s what a stammerer’s life is for you: laughing stock for the so called civilized people”.
Eddie uncle realized his mistake now and apologized to Aron. “Sorry Aron, I had no idea. Come let’s go to Kinara and talk over a beer”
Three of us reached Kinara “What will you have Aron?”.
“I don’t drink beer. I will have P.p p p epsi”. Aron replied.
“Son, I will not insult you again. I promise” Eddie uncle was being sympathetic and I realized all this came from the bottom of his heart.
“Uncle , That’s ok. You know I have a.a.a.a ccpted it as a part of my life. Ppppp.eople keep laughing at my back when I am not around. I cannot do a.a.a.anything. Cccccan I?” Aron words came out in a span of 27 seconds.
Eddie uncle did not understand every word, but grasped the meaning of the sentence.
“I know son. It must be really difficult for you. Actually we must be proud of you. In spite of your difficulties you are pursuing Engineering”
“Now it is only thh thhh tht.”. Aron was stuck and wasn’t able to complete of his sentence when I intervened “Third, carry on Aron. Try to speak a bit more slowly by making a sign of number 8 inside your pocket”
“Ww.w.w.what” stuttered Aron.
I showed him the number 8 sign and explained to him it will help him get a rhythm and help him control the speed of his speech. He tried and it really worked.
Just then the waiter came and I deliberately asked Aron to order for a Kingfisher beer for me. Aron looked at me bewildered. Here was a man who had just given him some tips and now he is trying to insult. Aron froze in front of the waiter, who did not what to say.
“Two pints of Kingfisher Premium and a bottle of Pepsi. We will order for food later”. I ordered.
“What the hell was that, Anil?”. Eddie uncle was furious.
“Look Aron, There is no need to get nervous in front of strangers. They would not even know or remember you, after you leave this place. Be calm and just talk. I know it is easier said than done, but still, if you follow “I don’t give a damn to anyone” attitude, you will overcome this problem”.
“A.a.a.anil. I froze for a moment. That keeps happening at the beginning of the sentence or sometimes in the middle”.
“I know Aron. Sometime’s when you know you have to say something, for example a reading, you will get stuck and you will not be able to continue. But eventually you will try to make up filler words to say when you are stuck. Phrases like aaaaa, daaaa, mmmmm , long pauses etc will be added into your vocabulary”
Aron also began to open up a little with me. “I recently had to a.a.apologise in front of our class for not being able to make a presentation”.
“Arre, Why should you apologise” quipped Eddie uncle “ Where the hell is this waiter gone”
“Uncle , That is how we are. We think it is our mistake that we stammer and we think because of us, others are uncomfortable”. Aron replied without a single stutter in the sentence.
“Society, uncle . Society” I said dramatically “ society comprising people like you”.
“Will you stop it now” Eddie uncle was angry.
“Ooooh . Angry old man” I started laughing. Aron too could not control his laughter.
“I have heard a lot aa.bout you two. Nice to know that you are such good friends”. Aron said.
“Yeah. What to do Aron. This old man has no one else, other than me”
“Aha. There he is, finally”. Eddie uncle had a glow on his wrinkled face.
“By the way, Aron. When did this start?”Eddie uncle asked, pouring his pint into the glass.
“I think I was in 4th standard , when I began stammering first”.
“Hmmmm, Maybe. I don’t know” Aron replied.
“Uncle. It is a misconception people have that anxiety and pressure causes stammering. Just because the body language of the person stammering is quiet and nervous, people tend to make judgments about family and what not. Actually all these are effects of stammering and not causes. Causes for stammering can be genetic, neurological: actually there is no particular reason. It is just a speech disorder”
“How will it stop?” asked Aron.
“Look Aron. It is completely up to you. If you start speaking slowly and confidently without bothering much about your surroundings, about what people think about you, you will surely overcome”
“Eddie uncle, this is for you. By being sympathetic, people actually dent one’s self confidence. First of all it is difficult for us to lead a normal life and moreover it is even more embarrassing when people be sympathetic”. Eddie uncle had a question mark expression on his face.
“How do you know so much about stammering? I thought your dad sent you to college to do MBA and not speech therapy” Eddie uncle asked.
“Well, uncle. I too had stammering and I still have. I am kind of overcoming it slowly.”I could see a shock on both Eddie uncle's and Aron's face.
“I thought you spoke fast, but I never knew you stammered”. Aron raised his concern
“Well, I too stammered for most of my life. I have even eaten Idly Vada, when I really wanted to eat Masala Dosa, just because I could not say it. I used to dread going to school sometimes or catechism as once in every two months, we had to do readings. There was an instance, when I was stuck with a word and the priest had to start it for me. It was pretty bad. Well I am really grateful to the priest for having helped me on the altar. I was frozen and did not know what to do.”
“Then how come you overcame it” Aron Asked.
“Time. I wasn’t pressured into anything by my family. To be frank I was allowed to do what I wanted to. I changed my attitude after 12th, I became more outgoing, developed an attitude of “I am good” and it really helped. I began to read about famous people who had stutters and mind you, it really helped. ‘If they could, why can’t I’ became a big motivation? I am proud to say that I have even presented in a state level presentation and recently have presented a case study to a well known Welsh media company”. I answered very proudly.
“So it is all about cccconfidence”.
“Yes, of course. If you have faith in yourself, you can move the world. It’s all about fighting. Some people just make a big fuss about a small problem they face. They say, we have to live with it and all. If you have that attitude, you can never overcome it.”
“You said some techniques……”
“Yes yes, Number eight will give you a little rhythm in your speech. People also sing loudly and sing a lot until their stutter goes away. I did not try this as I began attracting a lot of crows towards me. Speaking loudly also helps lose stutter. But I think only attitude and a conscious effort to make a slow speech has helped me”
I continued “ I know there are lot of people who stammer and are scared to come out in the open. One thing we should realize is, everyone has problems. One should come out of the shell and do things now, which they would regret not doing after a few years. I never participated in any sports or competitions because I was frightened as I stammered. Looking back at it now, I feel I was a fool. People in school, coaching camp only remember how well I bowled my off spinners and no one even knows that I used to stutter.”
“Dude, you have bbbbeeen of great help”.
“Don’t worry , Aron. It is all a part of life. Next time when someone laughts at you, laugh with them. They will realize what they have done and if this old man insults you again, just threaten that you will go and tell Cecilia aunty about Kinara”
“He is not supposed to drink and like most of the men who laugh at you, he too is scared of his wifeJ”
Eddie uncle did not mind my comments as he was moved by what we have been through.
Anil D'Souza - Archives:
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