You may never know how much those little words you dropped in affected the person who listened. A common saying noted that we do have two ears and one mouth so we ought listen more. I could say- listen twice as much as you speak if it were a direct proportion.
Now I tell you a story of a young beggar who sat by an express road where he could be seen by people passing and perhaps helped. He had lost his voice to a neck surgery when he was a child. This impairment obviously had so much impact on his life generally as he had lost so many opportunities to the defect.
He was the only child of a single mother, who had catered for and loved him despite the speech impairment. She seemed like the only one who understood and loved him unconditionally since after the fatal accident he lost his father to when he sustained the serious injuries that led to his neck surgery. No one else seemed to care about this young innocent child.
He had grown through his primary and secondary education with so much difficulty as his mother did all she could to see him do well. She got him into some school for physically challenged children where he obtained this basic education. He nursed great dreams of propagating campaigns, and building a foundation to support other physically challenged children someday; having gone through so much discrimination as he grew.
Few months to his graduation from High School, he lost his mother to some job hazard at her automobile company where she worked so hard to earn him a good life. This felt like the end of the world to him. He felt really lonely and devastated as the one person he could trust was no more-the only one who could ‘listen’ to him even without words. She could understand and decipher his needs with so much ease he didn’t always have to get a means to tell her. She even learnt to use the sign language just to ensure she knew all that was up with him per time. Loosing his mum felt like an end of hope, his dreams, his career and everything he ever lived for seemed to be giving way.
He finally graduated from high school, but could not further his education, for financial difficulties. He picked up courage to try seek a job with his first school leaving certificates. He had such wonderful grades he was considered in some places for some jobs. His applications seemed so amazing and with great certificates attached. All of these offers however were lost at his interviews when his speech impairment was observed. Things went from bad to worse after he had been rejected over 5 times from different jobs he knew he was capable of handling, ha had tried some petty trades but could not do so well with those either. He saw his dreams crumbling right before him and it hurt even the more. He resorted to begging as no one seemed to reason with him; hoping he was going to generate some capital to start up some bigger art firm, as he was pretty good with arts and hand crafts-which did not sell as much because he could not talk with hispatronizers.
Everyone wanted to cheat him even though his works were really creative and beautiful-they felt he was no better than a handicap who did not deserve any good pay and even doubted he did those many times. He could not even defend himself before those clients as they would not be patient to follow through a conversation with his pen, or understand his sign language which made many to even mock and laugh at him. This got him more discouraged as his mum who would have helped a great deal with advertising and exhibiting his art works was late. No one else saw this young talent wasting.
Days ran into weeks, and he just stayed out there begging. He would set out every morning with some beautiful artistic piece which he had worked so hard putting up over the night or his leisure time. Placing these works around his corner where he sat to beg, he always hoped someday people may patronise him- that seemed like his subtle way of exhibiting his art works. People dropped in ‘ peanuts’ for him as they passed which was nowhere near his expectations- they seemed to bypass his works as they hurriedly passed along to their destinations, only few stopped by to admire them and drop off some cash. This went on for several weeks until he decided to stop, refrain and re-strategize.
Just about a week after he stopped, very early one morning, a man came knocking at the door of the little home he lived in. With so much surprise as no one usually visited, he got to open the door and saw this stranger standing there. He stood quietly as he could not speak, and stretched his hand towards the only couch in there, offering the man a seat. He sat and began talking to him, introduced himself as Dr Gregg, and told him how he had traced his home. He told him he was attracted by one of his art works which looked like his dream house about a week ago, on looking more closely, he decided he was going to find out how he could get one but, could not because he had a colleague with him as they were driving back home after a very long day at work. They got discussing, when he pointed out the art work to his colleague who happened to know about this beggar and his art exhibitions, and told his friend the little he knew. Dr Gregg instantly had decided to patronise him at any cost, on his way from work the next day, but did not see him sitting there. He then got back to his friend to ask for any useful information. While they discussed, his colleague, Dr Peter who was a younger consultant thought it wise to confide in his friend and senior colleague. He was broken as he shared a terrible experience; one of the worst things that had happened to him in his career and practice. He shared how he had made a mistake in one of his early surgeries as a Registrar. It was a neck surgery for a little boy who was rushed into the emergency while he was on call. Being the most senior doctor present then, he had to start up the surgery while he had put across a call to his seniors who were going to join him up. Though kind of scared, he knew that any further delays would worsten his chances of survival, so took the risk and began the surgery. He did his very best, but was told after the surgery by his consultant who joined him up later that he had done a damage to the child’s recurrent laryngeal nerve which could cost him his voice. He had lived with this guilt all along but did not know how to make up. On hearing this, Dr Gregg filled, with compassion about the pathetic story decided to help out in every way possible, and Dr Peter was fully ready, and grateful for the kindness shown. He also told him of the most intriguing part of the tragic event was when he told the child’s mother. He had struggled with how to go about telling her that her son may loose his voice, but amazingly, when he did, her words, with the tears in her eyes, had kept him through his practise all along. On hearing that her son was alive, and had a successful surgery, but was not going to be able to speak again looked at him, and with tears rolling down her cheeks, and some confusing gaze said to him, ‘thank you so much Doctor for saving his life. His voice may be gone due to the surgery but then, leaving here with him is such a miracle to always be thankful for.’ Those words kind of mopped of the shame and incompetence Dr Peter felt, and gave him a reason not to quit practising, but get more devoted, as he could bring back hope to many and save more lives with more proficiency. He had expected the usual aggressive response from the lady, but had the exact opposite. Those words struck a bell in Dr Gregg’s heart as he heard them too and then he casually said to his friend that they reminded him also of one of his female employees in his automobile company that practically taught everyone there to be thankful at all times, and never lack kind words in their mouths at any time. On mentioning her name, it sank to Dr Peter and synchronised with the history he had of that unforgettable patient several years back. That was the exact name of his mother and so they got tracing the folders to locate them.
On hearing all of these, he was between some kind of emotional looks and smiles. He told him of all his sad experiences, and mockeries from people even while he begged on the high way. Sometimes he would ask himself why people would not just quietly pass by if they chose not to drop in anything, rather than say all manner of things as they passed; perhaps thinking he was deaf, but he could hear all of those ugly things said and only got wounded as he could not speak to any of them right there. While the Doctor spoke, he could relate with those words as his mother had always taught him to count his words and be sure not to drop off any words he would wish to withdraw- ‘once heard, the effect is as good as done’ she would say to him so always think twice before your speech, even though he was not vocal, those words always rang in his head when he wrote out his words and thoughts in any conversation.
Dr Gregg, then told him of his plans to get the art work for any price, as he really appreciated the skill put down, and his decision with Dr Peter to do anything in their power to help him fulfil his dreams. Obviously, this meant he was going to further his education, develop his art works to such professional levels and more. They also offered to take care of his medical and other needs from thence.
You may never know how powerful your words can be- they can hurt or heal, destroy or make alive. Choose your words carefully, the echoes are heard beyond the speech.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bibiana is the founder of BibiTees, a medical doctor and has an unending passion for music. She runs all day to day operations at BibiTees and has great obsession for customers’ happiness.