Sunday, April 3, 2011

B is for Blah Blah...

I have never been big on talking. My mother says I started talking very early and just wouldn’t stop. I would talk and talk and talk but only in the comfort of my family circle. In front of guests or outsiders, I would be one of those children who would speak only when spoken to.

The years rolled by and even though I would talk a lot among my friends and on the phone with them, I was not a confident talker. I was bad at telling stories and I usually didn’t know how to come to the point. More often than not, when I tried to debate with someone on a topic, the reasoning came out all wrong. Not the way it was in my mind.

Ironically, I loved participating in speech competitions. I used to work hard at preparing for them, practicing for hours in front of a mirror till I got every line and expression perfect. I have won a couple too, not because I’m a good speaker, but because I practiced so hard. It gave me a thrill to stand in front of a listening crowd and deliver my speech. I would be extremely nervous and feel faint even, thinking of what I’m going to do, but ultimately it was like getting a high. And I loved that.

Around this time I came across a prayer in the Holy Quran - Chapter 20 (Surah Taha), verses 25 to 28. The Almighty God commands the Prophet Moses to go the Pharoah to call him to the right path. It is believed that the Prophet had a problem with his speech, and hence before going to the Pharoah he prayed to God.

"O my Lord! Expand my breast; Ease my task for me; And remove the impediment from my speech, So they may understand what I say.”

This prayer touched a chord with me the moment I read it. Since that day I have recited this prayer every single day of my life, randomly and particularly, when I have something important to say, either to a crowd or to an individual.

I’m a listener. I love listening. I would remember my friends talking about how they get so bored in those boring dinner parties where their moms and the other aunties would just talk and talk. But I remember enjoying those times. I would happily sit at the periphery of such groups and hope that no one asks me anything. I would be content in just listening to them talk. It was fascinating to study the different people and the various personalities that society holds. I rarely took note of what they wore or how pretty they looked. I’m not a very good observer like that. But I would take note of the way they spoke and how they spoke it. I could make out honesty and the lack of it. I would notice subtle hints in their talk about what their lives were about. It was fascinating.

Today, I don’t attend such dinner parties because the social life I have after marriage is vastly different from that of my younger days. My best friends, the ones I would speak to for hours in my school days, now live far away. We’ve all gotten so busy with our lives that those long conversations have become few and far between, but thankfully are still alive. I’ve come to realise that I have no patience for chit chat anymore. I can manage a few minutes of polite conversation but mindless banter annoys me. I also have no patience for people who repeat things – again and again. It is such a huge waste of time. There are just too many people out there who painstakingly spell things out, things that are understood and don’t need to be put into words. I get so annoyed when that happens, I wish I could hurry the person up. The only people who are allowed to get away with spelling things out are kids.

When my daughter Zainab started to talk, I realised she was going to be very different from me. She also began early and started talking and talking. Her vocabulary grew in leaps and bounds and she spoke clear grammatically correct sentences in Hindi when other kids her age were still learning to say Mama. More than her vocabulary, her thought process amazed us. She was a keen observer and would use new words in her speech all the time. Even if she doesn’t know what some word means, I have found her trying to use the new word in almost every sentence, till it became a part of her speech. Sometimes she will be busy playing with her toys or watching television while her father and I will be having a conversation, and a little later she will mention something that we spoke about, even though we had no idea she was paying attention to us.

Zainab is turning 3 in May. Someone told me recently that Zainab has the vocabulary of a 10 year old. That might be an exaggeration but is it very close to the truth. Just a few weeks ago her playgroup teacher said the same thing about her though process and how bright she was. She also said that Zainab is quite a composed child because she often sees her ‘explaining’ things to the other children or helping them with their games. She is composed at home, at least not most of the time. She is like a regular boisterous little toddler who needs constant attention and entertaining. When she paints, she paints her face and hands more than she paints on the paper. When she’s making ‘towers’ with her building blocks, she is also throwing the blocks right across the room in order to make a big mess, just the way she likes it. When the ads appear on television she watches awe struck, and has now learnt to sing/speak along with almost all the ad jingles and brand tag lines. I’ve often heard her say which she is deep in play, “Dil jo chahe paas laye.” Or “I’m lovin it!”

She started speaking English a few months ago. We consciously chose for her to learn English as a second language because we wanted her to be fluent in her mother tongue first. That achieved, we began speaking to her in English. My husband and I speak to each other in English, so Zainab already understood the language. She loves speaking English. She tries to speak in English all the time. Even if she can’t find the right words she will say something to get her point across. It’s wonderful to see how she is learning the language, almost on her own.

Out of the blue, a few days ago, we found that she suddenly developed a speech problem. We are not sure if it is something to worry about or something that will solve on its own. We are going to speak to an expert about it and see how we can help her overcome it as soon as possible. It breaks my heart but I know we have to be strong about whatever it is. Until then, I find myself constantly reciting my favourite prayer. Best Blogger Tips

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  1. Always thought of you as a confident talker and ofcourse a chatterbox. In that way i guess Zainab picks up after is really cute and interesting to hear her conversations over the phone. Regarding her being bright..must be from Gowhar..;-)
    Really loving your ABC... blogs!

  2. Always seen you as a person of few words(in comparison to our other friends!:) )but when in conversation i don't think there were any lack of words from you,calm and composed is also your trait....Am sure there's going to be no prob with Z.She will grow up to be a wonderful orator.My prayers are with you...

  3. My three year old isn't a chatterbox early talker like my older son. We had him tested and everything and he is average where the older child was above average in verbal skills so in comparison he seemed behind...but not. He is 3 1/2 and still not fond of having a long winded conversation. Give her more time to work it out!!

  4. @Roohi: Chatterbox? Oh, how I miss our crazy, long conversations! No, she got the brains from ME! Killer looks from him :) Okay, the brains from him too. Hmph.

    @Vids: Thank you. Prayers are needed. And for me too. I've been beating myself up about this, wondering if I'm a bad mother. :(

    @Su: Welcome to the blog! Thank you for sharing this. Zainab spoke very clearly before this. We think it happened because suddenly she felt the new sibling was taking up attention that should have been hers. Will blog about it soon. Stay tuned!

  5. Insha Allah Z will be perfectly fine!! I miss her :( and i miss her witty talks...

  6. gosh sumi!!!now dont talk like ME!!!!I am absolutely sure you are an awesome mom!!!I mean it....I know what kind of person your are....this is just a phase.....she will come out of it more matured than hugs to you!