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32. Lost Speech

I was returning home from the Ashram. In the bus I met a friend who was also returning home from Pondicherry. By way of conversation I asked him on what assignment he had visited Pondicherry. He said he was returning from JIPMER Hospital where his brother was an in-patient for the last three weeks. I had never known that he had a brother, but I continued my general enquiries about how old he was and why he was hospitalised. To my utter surprise he explained the developments. "My brother is 17 years of age and he is in the 10th standard. Some three weeks ago he noticed some difficulties in his speech, but he had not clearly explained it to the other family members. It seems he knew that some throat trouble was developing and while speaking it manifested itself. It is not clear whether he himself was fully aware of it or not. One day we found him not answering our questions. As he is generally reticent and not given to talking, we were not initially struck by his not answering.  After some time it dawned on us that he could not talk. Everyone in the family was upset. Some made light of it saying it may be a passing phase. Others were frightened. My brother himself did not make light of it. He was frightened beyond measure. In minutes his fright spread all through the family and there was overhanging gloom generating indefinable fear. After prolonged consultations within the family and with well-informed friends, it was decided to take him to Jipmer Hospital. The face of the boy became gloomier and gloomier, as he listened to the various stories of loss of speech narrated in his presence by the never-ending stream of visitors. Some said in these cases speech suddenly disappeared but reappeared with the same suddenness. This cheered the boy up. There was a faint smile on his face. Others cited cases of speech lost and only restored with a stammer. This was worse. No one was able to control their narration. Anyway, all of us hoped that as his speech had been lost abruptly, it may be restored in a spurt. There was hope, fear, gloom and, above all, a gnawing uncertainty.

"We had him admitted to Jipmer Hospital. Now it was the turn of the doctors, nurses and co-patients to tell stories of lost speech. During the first week, the visiting doctors explained that the boy was under observation. We all anxiously awaited the results of observation. Doctors continued to visit but did not give us any explanation. In the second week we learned from the hospital staff that there was no known medical therapy for loss of speech. This smashed our hopes and we wondered why he was being kept in the hospital. Some of us felt that being hospitalised makes the patient feel that medical attention was being given and this helped to keep up his hopes. This appeared reasonable. We decided to continue in the hospital but our hopes were lost. We did not communicate our hopelessness to my brother. A few days later, one doctor suggested that in such matters one can only pray to God. We have all prayed to several gods ever since the boy was afflicted. What more is there for us to do?"

This is a friend of a friend. I know him well enough, but he was introduced to me by someone else and my relationship with him is limited. I know only one incident in his life. My friend and this man were boyhood friends. My friend graduated, but this man stopped with SSLC. After that he tried to join in a clerk's post somewhere. As he had not been selected by the Madras Public Service Commission, to secure a permanent post was ruled out. He was very efficient, in spite of his not being selected by the service commission. He secured a government clerk's post on a leave vacancy for a month. He was so efficient, so amiable, alert, and cooperative that his boss was unwilling to part with him at the end of the month. He secured another temporary job for fifteen days. Here too, his boss and colleagues were impressed by him, but how could the temporary job be continued. He disposed of twenty files on one occasion in hours, whereas the man whom he had replaced could not handle that much in a day. This sweet treatment and short employment continued. There was no office in the district that he had not served in; there was no department he missed. He was now well versed in the rules of all the government departments and respected for it, but his jobs continued to be of short duration of months or weeks as they were all leave vacancies. About ten years had passed like this. My friend was sore over this misfortune of his boyhood friend. He once explained to me that the very first prayer he addressed to Mother after coming to the Ashram was that his friend should get a permanent job. Soon a new rule was introduced by which anyone who had put in a total of ten years temporary service could be made permanent. And so he earned his permanency. My friend also explained to me that he had never spoken about his prayer to his friend.

As soon as the bus reached our town, I took this friend to a quiet corner and started talking in a serious tone. He was also seriously listening. I said, "It so happens that today is August 14 and tomorrow is Mother's Darshan. If you choose to pray to Mother, your brother will get his speech back."  He agreed. I continued, "Please come to Mother's public Darshan tomorrow and pray that your brother's speech must be restored. Take a flower petal from the Samadhi and give it to your brother. If you can persuade your brother too to pray, it will be good."

The Darshan was on a Thursday. I saw him in the Darshan. Visitors who had come to my house for Darshan all left on Friday or Saturday. On Sunday night I was sitting up late with a friend who still remained on an important work for Mother. At 11 p.m. we finished our discussions and went upstairs to sleep. No sooner had I lay down on the bed than my wife came up saying someone wanted to see me. Who could come at 11 p.m. and on what business?  Surely, it must be something important. I decided to go down and meet the visitor. It was none other than the friend whom I had met on the bus and later at the Darshan. I asked if there was any news from the hospital. He replied, "I came here to meet you at 6 p.m. to convey the glad news that my brother spoke one full sentence in a spurt this afternoon. This gave all of us hope and I thought I should first inform you. As you were not here, I returned home thinking I could meet you tomorrow. My brother and all others returned home from Pondicherry at 10 p.m., and I found his speech was fully restored late in the evening. I thought you won't mind being disturbed at this hour, if I bring this news to you."

book | by Dr. Radut