I Stammered And Pretended To Be Mute 4 months ago

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This is Simon. Listen to how he speaks. His speech seems flawless, right? Well, we ought to tell you that several years ago he would have found it difficult to even to tell you his name. Why? Because he has a stammer! Simon's story is paradoxical, because he started to communicate with other people BECAUSE he stammered.

Simon had this problem right from his early childhood, and it got worse as he got older. He was once frightened by a dog when he was about three, and from that moment on he struggled to pronounce every single word. Even saying his own name was a real battle for him. His worried parents took him to all sorts of doctors and tried dozens of different kinds of therapy, but nothing helped. By the time he was 13, Simon barely said more than a dozen words a day. But Simon has always been an optimistic person by nature, he chose to take on the image of an enigmatic man of few words. This worked well until his parents decided to move to a new area.

And so Simon found himself in a neighbourhood where no one knew him. Like many teenagers with problems, he felt depressed, and tried to lock himself away at home – “Who would want to socialize with a stammering creep like me?” he thought to himself.

Not far from Simon's home there was a sports ground with a basketball hoop. He saw a group of boys a bit older than him playing there. Simon had always been good at basketball, as he was taller than many of his peers, and he assumed that a good player would be welcomed by everyone. He put on his most impenetrable pokerface and joined them. He played until he felt exhausted, and after the game, and with palpable respect, the boys asked Simon who he was.

Here we go…he felt pretty nervous that I needed to speak in front of five people at once. He opened his mouth...but said nothing, unable to squeeze out a single sound. They repeated their question. Simon just stood there, as mute as a fish. Suddenly one of them had a moment of enlightenment and asked: “Are you mute?” Simon was a bit puzzled by the question, and managed to nod slightly in a somewhat ambigous manner. They took it is as a confirmation and said “Well, who cares? We’ll call you Kobe. Let’s play!”

He quickly became part of the group, and really enjoyed himself. They turned out to be very nice guys, and seemed completely unbothered by his condition. Sometimes, Simon felt guilty about pretending to be something he was not, but on the other hand it was the first time in his life that he didn’t need to struggle on a daily basis to maintain a friendship. The funny thing was that after some time, they reached the conclusion that because Simon was mute, he must also be deaf

But as you know, what goes up must come down. Once, Simon arrived at the sports ground as usual and found a group of older guys watching his friends playing. They were laughing at them in a pretty derogatory way. He realized they were drunk, but decided to ignore them and joined the game. “Kobe, Kobe, pass it on!” one of his teammates shouted. There was a roar of laughter from the older guys. “Is that one Kobe?” they howled, and moved onto the playground. They snatched the ball and began throwing it at Simon violently. He was much smaller than them – he was 13 and they were all 17 at least, so he couldn’t do much. “Don’t touch him! He's deaf!” his friends yelled out, but this aggravated the bullies even more. His brave friends stood up for him, and engaged in a spectacular battle with the bullies to “reconquer” Simon, as he was unable to get up from the ground. The drunks had to retreat, yelling offensive words back at them.

When he got up, he understood that it was now the moment to speak. He had to thank his friends. He summoned up all his will and squeezed out a stammering “Th-th-th-thank you”. They looked at him in silence, not understanding what had just happened. At that point, he burst into tears and ran away. He was suffering not because of his bruises, but from the bitter shame. He ran and ran without even knowing where he was going, when he suddenly heard footsteps behind. He stopped, and noticed they were following him.

“Hey, so you CAN speak after all?” He nodded. “And you're not deaf?” He nodded again. “I’m so-so-so…” “But that’s cool! So we can talk to you normally!” Simon hadn't been expecting this reaction, and despite being unable to say a word, he felt deep gratitude. “You don’t need to apologize, it’s ok. Do you stammer? It’s not a problem! Know what? If you can’t talk, let’s invent our own gestures so that no one understands us.” And from that day on, the boys began inventing a whole system of signs that was only for them to use.

Simon can now talk normally. After years of therapy he finally began to see positive results, and now he stammers only when he's nervous. But more importantly, he learned that true friends are those who accept you with all your problems and imperfections.

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