Oh Nescafe! This is brilliant and humanizing.
Alright, it’s time for a confession. Not many people know that I’ve struggled with stammering throughout my life. They are surprised when I tell them and I get comments like-“oh! But I never noticed..you speak perfectly fine”. Well, of course you didn’t notice because I’ve devised insane methods to avoid stammering in public. Sometimes, I switch words, replacing a difficult word with a seemingly easy one. Sometimes, I yawn at a problem word. Don’t ask me how many times I have played hookie from school to avoid presentations and oral exams. It might seem an insignificant problem, but the fear that I’ll stammer has consumed my life and affected all my decisions. You are so obsessed with fluency that you’ve no energy and will power to focus on other aspects of your life. People think I am an asshole with a massive ego who refuses to mingle with the junta, only if they realize that introducing myself is pretty much a torturous experience, which I wish to avoid, even if it has huge social costs.
The shame and inadequacy is compounded by the messages sent out by our society and media, especially the massively influential cultural medium, we all know as Bollywood. Take any character with a stammer from any movie, and I’m sure the sole purpose of that guy would be to provide cheap humor. Except a few sensible movies, which I can count on one hand, every single one of them portrays a PWS(person with stammering) as a fool and a god gifted clown sent for our amusement. We don’t realize how intellectually strapped Bollywood writers are till we gain the capacity to critically analyze the content they dish out.Think about a young kid, 6-7 years old, who is fascinated by the movies. He believes Movies teach good values like honest, loyalty, courage and love. He believes people can be sorted into different categories- there are courageous and kind heroes, loving mothers, cruel step-mothers, perfect heroines with untarnished characters, and nasty and spoilsport villains. All of them, if you’ll notice, have significant presence and a major impact on the storyline. Then there are jokers and fools, the sole purpose of their existence is to be laughed at. What could be the impact on the kid, if he has just started noticing that there is something wrong with his speech. He might try to emulate his cherished heroes, but the only person he could identify with is the bumbling stammerer who is insignificant to the story and is only there for shits and giggles. What’s the message being planted in his subconscious? That he won’t matter as a person because he stammers? That all his character traits are insignificant if he can’t speak fluently? I knew that kid. I was that kid and it did wonders to my self-image.
This is why this video matters, which is at least a sensitive and human effort to portray something which has always been ridiculed by the popular media. My stammering, fortunately, is not as pronounced as the guy featured in the video but my fear of stammering is even bigger. When you’ve been trying to portray the image of a cool, perfect guy for so long, the effort wears you out emotionally. The shame quietly builds up inside you, turning you slowly into an emotional wreck. Then when you see someone embrace and accept their vulnerabilities like this, it strikes a chord somewhere in your heart. It did moist my eyes.
Thanks Rohit Kaithal for sharing this.