A cacophony, many voices, but nothing in focus.
A nudge, then silence.
“I asked you a question! Seriously, are you deaf?!” A resonating exclamation, then an outbreak of laughter.
She raised her head, a ghost of a smile slowly creeping up her face, sadly, solemnly, silently. “Yes, I have hearing disabilities in my left ear.” She paused, “Sorry and what was your question again?”
Just when you thought your words wouldn’t kill – you broke someone all over again.
I may be hyper-sensitive, but how often have we said something that apparently meant so little to us but hurt someone else so deeply? Insensitivity – that’s it. I say this because I’ve once too often encountered such incidents, one of which was the occasion above. I am blessed to be all good & well in most aspects – many of us are – and this makes us forget those who aren’t.
Despite the restless crowd, he tried to explain some complex graphs on the presentation deck: “This blue line represents x, the black line below represents y, and this … I don’t know what colour this is, this fuzzy funny looking coloured line represents z”. A shout-out came from the audience “It’s the green line you’re talking about, right? What, are you colour-blind?”
Without hesitation, he answered, “Yes I am. So I can’t see the colour. I’m sorry for not having described it better.”
Why should they have to apologise for what had not been their fault? I don’t think chose to suffer. I am in no way supporting self-pity or self-victimisation. I just wonder how little we care about the feelings of others. A slight migraine could make my blood boil – what amounts of frustration will one feel when one’s hearing is partially affected, or when vision isn’t entirely clear the way we see it?
I wondered how I might react if I were ever diagnosed with a terminal illness. Will I have the courage to embark on treatment, or might I avoid the endless needles and side-effects of various medications? Many muster much strength to face their conditions, some manage to laugh it off, several live to encourage others, and the least we could do is to accommodate, understand and maybe help.
Curb your impatience for once – repeating a question or giving a little more explanation won’t cost you a thing.
When it was all over, she shook her head, slightly bemused as she told me, “They asked me if I was deaf. Everyone always does. How do I explain that I used to be able to hear everything they did? How do I tell them about the dreams I had to give up when I found out I had lost my hearing? Maybe I would’ve been a different person if things hadn’t turned out that way.”
Just when you thought your words wouldn’t kill. Think again.