A couple of days back I found myself in a pretty embarrassing situation. I was listening to songs and solving quizzes on Facebook, when my dad came in the room and asked me to come out and meet some guests that had come from Benaras for a visit. I made a face and languidly got up. Now, meeting relatives and being formal isn’t my thing. You have to wish them and sit there, answering their questions and smiling so demurely.
Anyway, my bro and I went up to meet them. Wished them and answered their questions very sweetly. Then my grandpa asked me to touch their feet. And there were four of them, mind you. Well, anyway I did and felt highly dumb doing that. There were 2 kids as well. The boy seemed to be around 16 and the girl was about 13. Mummy asked me to take them inside and entertain them. As we were going inside, my dad mumbled something which I couldn’t hear and like an idiot I didn’t even ask him what he had said. We went inside and I switched on the TV. We sat there watching MTV and the girl had this awfully sweet smile throughout. And the boy didn’t say anything at all. These aspects made me a tad uncomfortable.
Then to give the ball a roll, I asked them what grades they were in. after a pause, the boy said “I’m in 11th and she’s in 7th.” I stared at him. He had literally squeaked those words out. His voice was more high-pitched than an opera singer’s. Then I noticed. He was hare lipped. Bummer! He had a vocal problem. I kept mum after that but I kept talking to the girl (so that the boy may not have to speak and be embarrassed). I told her about a movie they were showing and said things like,
“Oh this is a good show!”
“You know this song has been shot in one day.”
Out of the blue the boy said, “She cannot hear…or speak.” I was stunned. I looked at her. She was still smiling. I felt my face redden. I muttered an apology and excused myself out.
That was what dad had tried to tell me! How foolish could I be?! Well we had dinner afterwards and I couldn’t help looking at her all the time. She was talking to her mom in sign language. She was serving food. She was even laughing. She seemed so…..used to it! I mean, obviously she doesn’t know what sounds are, so she probably doesn’t complain. But, God, she doesn’t even know what she is missing. I cannot even imagine myself not talking to anyone. (I blabber nonsense all day). And I have to listen to music daily. Even though she couldn’t speak, she was a very likable person. My cell rang and as I spoke into it, I looked at her and realized that she can never use one. How tough things must be for her. I felt blessed that I had the ability to hear and speak. How do deaf and mute people deal with it I just cannot fathom. And we take this ability of ours so much for granted. We say things which we shouldn’t. We hurt others by what we say. We listen to the latest gossips and then spread them around. It is said “Its better to be quiet and seem like an idiot, than by opening your mouth and proving that you are one”.
They went back after sometime. She sat in the car and grinned and waved at me. I smiled and waved back. She was deaf and dumb. And I had made, as kids say, a big BooBoo. At that time, I felt dumber.