Did I Stutter?

by Waleed Ali Khan


It’s a big day. I am putting my best foot forward. I dress the part and practice in front of the mirror several times. I even say the prayer that Prophet Moses used to say when he used to stutter. Everything seems perfect. As I am about to talk, my chest holds me back. My lungs feel too constricted to let my words out. I tell myself to relax but it is no use. My palms get sweaty. Sigh, not again…

They say that stuttering has nothing to do with one’s psychological state.According to scientists, It is something that occurs during development, and may be due to a genetic condition or a traumatic event during childhood. Yet, I have not heard of anyone in my family or ancestry who suffers from a stutter, neither can I recall any childhood trauma. Speech therapists encourage stutterers to look at “background” careers where there is limited social interaction. Bummer.

The funny thing is, I never believed in what people say about the stutter. Wikipedia gives a million biological reasons for the stutter, and yet I believe the cure is in my hands. Thanks to the tremendous support from my friends and family, I’ve gone a very long way.

Not long ago, I could barely complete a sentence in public. And, as you can imagine, I was the victim of ridicule by many. I never figured out why specifically the word “yes” during roll call was so hard. The entire class used to wait for me to mess up again, and that just heightened the situation. They y-y-y-esss’s changed to y-y-y-y-yess’s. And I can’t say I’m ridicule free, even in university! Fatima & Maria still use my “uhhh uhhh” as a comeback to any argument I am having with them.  Hiba says Lady Gaga’s P-P-Pokerface should be my song.

On a serious note, things have truly turned around for me. The monster called The stutter, though still alive, has been tamed. Techniques such as pauses, synonyms and body language help divert people’s attention from my stutter. To my surprise, many people don’t even notice it anymore. My public speaking abilities have dramatically improved, and I am on my way to becoming a more publicly outspoken person. I truly believe in mind over matter when it comes to my stutter, no matter what anyone else says. And it’s working; I aim to be stutter-free in another 5 years. I refuse to do “background work” because of my stutter.

That’s the power of mind over matter.

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