I am Binu and I am a stutterer.
Hmm … That felt funny. Even though I know for a fact that my personality, my thoughts, my choices have been mainly influenced by the dreaded stammering, this is probably the first time in my life that I have introduced myself as a “stutterer”.
It was always “I am Bbbbbbbbbinu, I am from Cccccccccoorg!” or “My Nnnname is Bbbbbbinu and I am an Mmmmmechanical Engineer”. I have always tried to remember the year I started stammering, but to no avail. I can remember few occasions, especially in school, where I have asked questions in class, answered questions, delivered Independence Day speech etc. But then I also remember very clearly, standing outside the class waiting for my friends to come so that, I could avoid saying “May I come in Miss?” and embarrass myself.
I also remember with a great deal of clarity, getting thrashed by a good old Sister (Mother Superior of our School) for a much delayed (say 10 min) “Good Morning”, after I met her in the Market. Little did she know that I had wished her 100 times in my mind, but couldn’t get the damn words out on time! I also remember crying out in anger, pain and tears, the next time she beat me for not wishing her, “I ccccccan’t sppppeeeaaak well!!” Her facial expression then, was a mixture of shock, compassion, and sorrow, all rolled into one! Bless her for not torturing me since.
I am writing these 33 years later, and guess what?? The dread and pain feels raw. It will remain the same. I have moved on in life and Boy!! How I wish my unwanted companion, The Stammering, to have moved on too. But no! It is stuck with me and it is here to stay! It has been the only constant in my life. It always popped up with vengeance at time, ruining my day, weeks and months. I have also, for brief periods in between, put up a fight and shut it out. But then, it always finds a way out. In one such victorious period, basking in the glory of blurting out happily the “kk”, “mm” and “ss”’s of the world, I decided to take up teaching as a profession. What better way to kick its ass eh?? Well, looking back, I wish I was a little bit more pragmatic. Not only did it find a way out, it has put me in situations that are dreadfully challenging. “I have survived!!!” I tell myself, but I also ask if that is all my life is going to be? Survival… Is that it? What about pursuit of excellence? Not for me, eh? Right now, caught between the financial security of this job and the constant struggle to manage a class, I drudge ahead. Notwithstanding the intermittent snigger of my students, low voiced mimic of my unique “style”, I manage to do a decent job. Feedbacks are good, results are good, but life sucks!
I have learnt a lot about my stammering over the years. The stand out finding being the inescapable link between my state of mind and stuttering. On a given buoyant day, there is no word that gets blocked. But a tiff with the wife leading to a disturbed mind will result in severity where no word gets released. The result is a total takeover of my life by stammering. Everything I do, say or think will have a bearing on how I speak and not the other way around. People talk about living in the present. Well, I am a classic example of that, but for the fact that the present is usually not pleasant. For me every second is a concerted effort to pronounce meaningful unhindered syllables. Everything else is secondary. What I speak is usually given less importance than how I speak. The result is a brazen mediocrity in my work and actions. The constant cacophony of negativity, fear, and guilt that runs unhindered in the corridors of my mind is unnerving.
Well, I can go on and on. But let me stop. Sob stories are no fun.
I cannot believe I lived the last 8 years with no knowledge about the existence of TISA, when I am an exemplary candidate for the association.
I would like to contribute. For as they say, easing others pain will ease a bit of yours.