“I feel breathless when I meet strangers. While the other person says hello to me , I am not even able to respond. My heart begins to pound .I am unable to hear anything”,says my good friend , Ranjitha. A young mother,she is particularly afraid of having to speak in any language other than her mother tongue. When I tell her that the English man who does not speak Malayalam and the Malayali who does not speak English are equal in terms of knowledge and ignorance, she nods her head, unconvinced.
“I teach my daughter at home, my husband teases me for my heavily accented English. These days even my daughter makes fun of me, says Deepa.
While I manage to speak in English, I am very conscious. Is it schedule or Skedule? Is it restaurant or restauront?,Suma wonders.
We are a group of women meeting on Sundays, working on our communication skills.
“Much has changed. The tasks that seemed impossible do not look so difficult nowadays. Coming to Bangalore from my native place was the biggest and best change in my life.It has opened up so many possibilities in front of me,” agrees Preeja. “In fact, I do most of the shopping alone, I even venture out into the city, manage to communicate in my broken Kannada+Hindi+English+Malayalam+Tamil and get the task done, what ever it may be,laughs Vidya.
As we discuss, debate and learn,our conversation touches everything from family to the government to movies and what not. What brings these young ladies to the session at Velsaid is an overwhelming desire to learn and improve. The desire is augmented by their anxiety over the academic performance of their children. Escaping avoidable ridicule over inability to converse in English at home is another goal.But more pressing of all these is the urge to do something for oneself. To add value to one’s own life.
Any learning community has a spirit and an enthusiasm that is contagious in itself.It spreads a positive vibe that touches every one.That is one reason why a Toastmasters Session is always so enriching. Imagine the power of individuals taking out time to learn, to introspect and grow. Like everything else freedom is something to be earned and never without some difficulty.
the chains loosen
the tangles break
one step forward
one hand stretches
one smile blossoms
freedom from fetters
from festering wounds
freedom to explore
freedom to risk
freedom to fall
freedom to fail
and to decide when to rise and how.
To our efforts to seek freedom in our own ways, many cheers!