Before I begin, let’s all congratulate Harish and the rest of TISA core team members for organising such a wonderful first Stammering Awareness Week [SAW]. Stammering is something that has been painted as a much bigger issue then it has to be because of the social stigma and people just not knowing enough about it. So this step will definitely help in demystifying the mystery that is stammering.
But I’m not here to talk about that; I’m terribly underqualified to say anything in that regard, especailly because I did not contribute in any meanigful way towards SAW.
But I’m here to talk about why I’m thankful to stammering in some ways. Don’t get me wrong, all of us — or atleast me — had have terrible things happen to us because of stammering, including but not limited to being made fun of, being thought of as dumb etc etc. Like honestly, 3-4 years back, Stammering was just a zero sum game for me, because of which I was losing everything even half decent in my life.
Then I joined TISA where I met some nice folks, and made a few friends, but for the most part it was still a zero sum game. Sure now I knew more people, and I was slowly learning to accept myself, but that’s not a path a normal person has to take. Hardly seemed fair.
But then in June of 2016 something happened, something for which I’m unbelievably grateful for and will always be and by extension, I’m grateful of my stammering; not a lot mind you (because let’s not get swept in emotions here), but enough that it matters.
So back in June 2016 I — like a stereotypical young Engineer in search of a Govt job — went to another sate (Shimla) for attempting an exam for some Adminstrative post in the state government. I reached Shimla two days before and decided to make the most out of it by roaming around, doing touristy things and clicking pictures on my trusted phone.
While I was walking up on mall road in the sweltering heat, I came across BSNL office and something ringed in my head.
“Hmm… isn’t this the place where Abhishek Kumar works?”
Well to the uninitiated, Abhishek Kumar is the co-ordinator of Shimla SHG and someone who rarely misses a workshop or NC and that is how I knew him. And since I was getting bored, I decided to call him up since I was just outside his workplace.
He picked up after couple of rings and we had a nice albiet a very disappointing chat because as it turned out, he worked in Chottha Shimla. Yeah, there is a place called Chottha Shimla. Anyways we hanged up, making the same old promises of calling each other later, but who calls after it. So having nothing to do, I started trekking, eating, clicking pictures and wasting time.
Cue evening. I go back to my hotel room for resting and get an unexpected call; it was from Abhisehk. He asked where I was staying and where my exam centers was and stuff like that. He told me that he would call me in the morning and shift me to his friends house because that would be more convenient for me. Remember, I didn’t ask him to do that; he did all of it on his own accord.
Come the next morning Abhishek, the ever thoughtful person, recharges my phone with a roaming pack — because yes back in the day we didn’t have free roaming — and gives me very explict directions and answers my increasingly dumber questions to help me reach to his workplace, where we had a nice cup of coffee. After which he took my backpack and sent me exploring all the must explore places in Shimla. In the evening, I came back from and met his absolutely awesome friend and bid adieu to Abhisehk.
He took me to his house and gave me a warm bed to sleep and amazing food to eat. Let me reiterate, Abhishek (and his friend) took time out of his busy work day schedule without even me asking and made sure that I felt welcomed in a strange new city.
But that’s not all, on the exam day, Abhisehk picked me up from his friends house, dropped me at the exam center and helped me calm down while I was freaking out from stress.
After which, anyone would assume that Abhishek has done more than enough for a pimply faced boy he had met a year ago for like two hours. But not Abhishek. He came back to pick me up at his friends house in the evening, because I had a bus too catch that night. But before dropping me to the bus stand, he took me to his home where I had an amazingly cooked dinner. Like a proper “solah pakwaan” style setting; I swear, I don’t see that many dishes even in a party!
And Abhisehk’s wife, is as wonderful and caring as he is. Like believe it or not, I was moved to tears by the sheer generosity and thoughtfulness Abhisehk, his wife and his friend showed towards a dude who is a complete stranger.
After the wonderful dinner, Abhisehk dropped me to ISBT, and didn’t leave until I was safely sitting in the bus. He did more for me then I expect my own cousins/family to do and he didn’t ask for anything. I’m pretty sure he might have forgotten all about it, but his actions have left such a deep impact on me.
And all of this was because of my stammering; have I not been a stammerer, I would have never known such a great soul. So in some ways, thanks to Abhisehk, I will always be grateful for my stammering.
I’m pretty sure there are countless other people in TISA like him, all connected by a very unlikely seemingly fragile bond. But that bond runs deeper than the bond of blood and for which I’ll be eternally grateful. There are many people in TISA who have stepped up when they didn’t have to; Prachi and Bhavana in Mumbai, Nathan in Goa, Jasmeet and Mukul in Chandigarh, Rakesh and Hemant in Dehradun etc and the list goes on and on and on.
So thank you stammering; even though you messed up my childhood, you have introduced me to such amazing people that has made all of it worthwhile.