Language No Bar

Bhoomarlal Bhammarlal Johri was the bohemian of the village. He attended school, up to nobody knows what grade, but he was very interested in geography. He wasn’t employed anywhere as such but earned some money by doing odd jobs. He was a very talkative person and very popular in his village, but he wasn’t famous for anything more than his hilarious name. No one in the village had such a funny name.

This name is a native Indian name; usually from Rajasthan. It was considered a royal name in the past but nowadays it sounds funny. Upset with this our bohemian friend changed his name to BJO. This sounded very contemporary to him and everyone else. He often used to travel to the city for his routine work and irritate his neighbor, whether he enjoyed his conversations or not. Whatever said and done, he was an interesting and helpful personality.

One day, when he was standing in the queue for the bus to the city, he noticed a foreigner sitting alone in the rear seat. He was very excited and wanted to meet this man and talk to him to know more about his country and culture. He pushed his way through the line, like a rat, and somehow got into the bus. He saw someone trying to sit next to this foreigner and out of anger he shouted and ordered the man to get away from the seat as he wanted to sit there. BJO always acted authoritatively wherever he went.

He sat next to the foreigner; fixed his colorful turban and started a conversation in his local language.

The foreigner couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying and moreover was not even sure whether BJO was talking to him or someone else. He did not pay attention to what BJO was saying. This embarrassed BJO but he tried again. There was no answer this time either. BJO did not know a word of English and the foreigner did not understand the local language.

The utmost question now in BJO’s mind was how do I communicate with this foreigner? He decided to first start trying to help the man. He helped him get the change to pay the bus fare. In the villages, usually the bus fares are very less and one needs to have a good amount of change on them. So, BJO took advantage of this situation and arranged for some change for the foreigner.

The foreigner was happy, he smiled at BJO. But this was not what BJO was looking for. He was looking for a full-fledged conversation. He was constantly looking out for events where he could help the foreigner. He got his next chance when the bus halted at a village bus stand, the foreigner wanted to go to the toilet but was worried about his luggage. BJO somehow managed to communicate to the foreigner not to worry about the luggage, he would take care of it and he really did sit like a snake on a treasure, guarding the luggage.

The foreigner came back and repeated the same smile. BJO was very uncomfortable because there was no one there to talk to, so he pointed out to the book of India he had in his hand and by using sign language asked him where he was from. the foreigner showed him a book on Europe and pointed to England. So much for BJO, but he was still unsatisfied.

He thought of an idea. He wanted to find a person who knew his local language as well as the foreigner’s language. To his misfortune, he did not find anyone but didn’t fail to carry on with his conversation using all kinds of gestures. It had been an hour and the bus halted for lunch. They had lunch together and as the bus was to leave, he saw his friend, the schoolteacher entering the bus.

BJO was thrilled, finally someone who can be a translator he thought. He requested his friend to ask the foreigner what his name was, where he was going, what did he see in Rajasthan and all sorts of curious questions? The friend did exactly as BJO said.

He threw the questions on the foreigner all at once. The foreigner was confused. He looked at the school teacher for a while, pulled out a card from his pocket and gave it to him. The card said JOHN J WHITE: Mute by birth.

It was actually a handicap certificate. The school teacher explained the man’s situation to BJO, who was shameful and lost for a while but still contended deep down because he realized that they had communicated so much using gestures that language was no bar for them.


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