Friday, February 8, 2008

The Joys of Rowing

Rowing is a sport that has not only been a source of enjoyment for me but also a source of inspiration. One of the most important things I learnt from rowing is that mental strength is more significant than physical strength. Participating in regattas and practising on the ergometers, I realized that in the last few seconds of any race, when everyone is tired, only those who have the mental strength to push themselves beyond the limit can win. From the very first day I joined rowing, I saw that teamwork played a major role for success in rowing. The greater the coordination among the strokes of a team of rowers, the faster the boat moves. In fact, complete lack of co-ordination may even cause the boat to overturn. But there's something more than the educative values of rowing that drives me to the Bengal Rowing Club every morning. Whenever I go forward on my seat and paddle, I feel an aura of self-confidence. The immense power with which every stroke pushes against the water gives me the courage and hope to carry out each day's work. Thus rowing is something that has had a positive impact on my life.

So what...... if I stammer!

My stammering started as a vague repetition of few letters when I was six years old. I thought this was a temporary speech impairment; therefore, I became ignorant of my stammering. Contrary to my expectations, the initial subtle repetition became more and more intense and conspicuous with time. I underwent treatments by a string of speech therapists, but unfortunately all of them were unsuccessful.
Now I began facing a different kind of problem. Every time I was about to speak, a voice inside me said, "What if I stammer". Images of people amused or sometimes even shocked at my stammering flashed across my mind. This very rumination prevented me from speaking and I started staying quiet all the time.
Soon I realized that my quietude was harming none but me .I was in the sixth grade but except for a few greetings I was still scared to converse with my teacher. Hence, my innumerable doubts in science and math remain unanswered .Because I never shared my ideas ,views or aspirations with anybody, my friends would stop accompanying me after a short time in which there would be just a one-way flow (as not from my mind) of ideas and experiences.
This realization made me think that my line of thinking was wrong. Now there was a more difficult task in front of me – how to get rid of the "what if I stammer" question. The more I tried not to think about the adverse consequences of stammering the more I ended thinking about it. Ultimately I tried a new strategy: I would speak out as quickly as possible before that morale-degrading thought entered my mind.
This scheme put me in lots of amusing situations. In our English Literature class, we were studying an extract of Daniel Defoe's 'Robinson Crusoe'. At the end of the class, our teacher questioned us on the extract. Earlier in these circumstances, I would keep quiet and pretend not to know the answer. But now I tried out my new stratagem; I didn't think about the question the teacher asked but instead I was on the lookout for an opportunity to speak as soon as I could. No sooner had the teacher finished asking "How did Robinson Crusoe reach the island", than I spurted out "By bus". There was an incessant roar of laughter in the class, but my teacher was shocked and furious, and I ended up getting a week long detention.
In the long run, my strategy did work. I soon started interacting with everybody. Gradually I felt easier, even with my stammering, to talk to others. I realized that many of my imaginations regarding the reaction of my listeners were quite unreal. Most people encouraged me to go on speaking and not be concerned about others. I never carried hard feelings against those few who did make fun of my stammering. A couple of years back, a group of my classmates tried to mock me by stuttering on purpose as they called out my name. Stuck in this awkward situation, I myself began to laugh. Thus I managed not to lose my friends or create an ill-feeling against others.
Today, though my stammering is not fully cured, I am proud of the fact that I faced the world and did not cover up my speech impairment. Because I accepted my stammering and spoke out, the world also accepted me (with my stammering) with open arms. This has given me courage to believe in myself and has affirmed to me that I am the best judge of my views, thoughts and feelings. Even today, in the rarest of circumstances, that "What if I Stammer" question does come to my mind but I simply get rid of it with a brief recollection of the past.