We arrived back in Lopburi late this past Wednesday night from almost 2 weeks of travel, beginning with a visa run, and finishing out with a wonderful bit of rest in Southern Thailand. The next morning, we (grudgingly) woke early to head for school and jump right back into full-on language study. My throat was a bit raspy and dry, but I didn’t really think much of it. After all, I’d spent a good portion of the day before sucking in the dry air of airports and flying machines. Though stressful, our first day back wasn’t too bad. It was good to see our fellow students and friends again, swapping stories of what all had gone down in the past days.
Friday morning held much of the same, though my voice was a bit squeakier than the day before, rendering itself quite useless by lunchtime. My lessons therefore consisted mostly of writing, listening to my teacher, and the occasional soft words from myself in an attempt to rest my throat and protect what was left of my voice. Frustrating, yet still workable.
Saturday. I woke to find myself completely without the ability to make sound. Usually people will say “oh, I lost my voice,” yet they are still able to at least softly mutter these words themselves. But for me? No. Nothing. Absolutely nothing at all.
I have never been to the point where a whisper, sounds only made by breath, are all that will willingly come forth from my mouth. Needless to say, I had to cancel my lessons for the day, as it is pretty much impossible to have a one-on-one session in conversational Thai when one member of the party is unable to actually converse. The funny thing was, though, that I still had to go to the school to cancel, because I had no voice to call it in! Irony in some form, I suppose.
I spent the day mostly in silence, no longer even trying to communicate for fear of damaging what ever was already going on even further. Fine, whatever, I’ll just stay home and let the Mr. make jokes about not being able to hear me. No big deal, right? But wait, I had wanted to go out to visit our neighbor at his fruit stand tonight and find out how he’d been while we were gone… I’ll just make sure Brook is along so he can do the talking. Perfect.
So, on our way out for supper Saturday night, we planned to stop by and visit with Thaweep, our older neighbor from across the road. He was with a customer, so we opted to wait until after supper. Eat, pay, finish, time to walk back home. He was free when we passed the second time, and to his delight we stopped to visit with him. He was all smiles and had questions ready for us about our trips and how everything had gone for us. Trouble is, when he looked at me for a response, I didn’t quite know what to do. I tried to use hand motions and mouth the words in Thai to him to explain that I had lost my voice, but it took Brook saying something to confirm the details for him. He was instantly concerned for me, and began giving me tips (in Thai, of course) on how to soothe and remedy my situation. He really is a kind man. A few minutes later, he dismissed us as he deemed I needed to rest, and we said our goodbyes for the night.
There are times when I (ashamedly) will avoid seeing people as a result of my fear and lack of confidence in speaking Thai. There are times when my anxiety over getting only so far in a conversation before my vocabulary runs out, then ending it an awkward and abrupt manner, keeps me from stepping out when I probably ought to. Strangely, I thought this sudden illness could be my way out, a way for me to still be interacting with others, yet have an excuse not to say anything to embarrass myself.
But, this is one time where I really wanted to be able to speak.
I had the words. I had the vocabulary and grammar structures. I had the sentences and answers all right there running through my mind. I had a friendly neighbor waiting to hear from me… but, I had no voice.
My ability to make sound is slowly returning this morning, though I still plan on resting my voice until school tomorrow. I want it to heal properly and smoothly. But, you better believe I’ll be going to visit our neighbor again to both thank him for his advice on how to get better, as well as to continue building the friendship we’ve started. I think this was some strange sort of motivation for me to not hide my ability to speak anymore…
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