Speechless and Silent..!

My voice is playing truant again, and I remember an incident a few years ago, just before a choral concert, when my voice took a walk! “Come back!” I shouted silently, but only a hoarse guttural sound came out of my tired throat. “Laryngitis,” said my doctor wife with a professional tone.

“What do I do?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she said with a glint in her eye.

“Salt water gargle,” said my daughter vindictively. I tried. Salt water trickled down to the stomach below and t’was the dreadful sea sickness all of a sudden, with tummy adding to my voice box woes.

“Brandy,” said a fellow choral singer.

“Brandy?” asked the wife.

“Yeah,” I said, opening a bottle.

“No need,” said the wife, firmly closing the bottle.

“Good for my throat,” I shrieked shrilly.

“Don’t squeal!” she said matter of factly.

Friendly medical book gave me a week to recover. “A week!” I shrieked to the hardcover and looked at diagrams of larynx sketched neatly in a descriptive page. The vocal cords in the book looked angry red, I wondered whether mine were deep purple. ‘Exposure to certain harsh chemicals or toxins can cause vocal cords to swell,’ said the book. I grabbed a homeopathic book, ‘Garlic is a good remedy for toxins,’ it said. I rubbed garlic on my throat, inside my mouth, on my teeth and nearly onto my vocal chords.

“Strange smell,” sniffed the wife.

“Dead rat madam,” said the maid knowingly.

“Garlic,” I mumbled sheepishly.

“Yuck,” said the wife.

I looked up. “Give me back my voice,” I prayed.

“Listen,” said the Lord.

“I’m listening!” I said.

“Just listen,” said the Lord. “Listen. Listen. Listen!”

I did.

“No voice,” I croaked as my quiet neighbour got in step with me for my morning walk. “No problem,” said the neighbour. “My father passed away last week and I can’t get over the grief.” I listened as he poured his heart out. I couldn’t say a word. “Thanks,” he said at the end, “I feel better.” I hadn’t said anything, just listened.

That evening at the choir recital, I stood dumb. The man at my side, whose voice I normally drowned, sang out. It sounded old, papery thin. But somewhere in the audience I saw a woman smile. She waved. She had heard her husband’s voice, at last. At my side I felt him smile. His slouch disappeared, he stood straight, his tired voice now sang out loud and firm. I felt a God above smile.

That night I knelt in prayer. “You know Bob, there’s so much I have to say to you each day,” said the Lord. “Why don’t you?” I asked.

“Because there’s always so much you have to say to somebody or other or even to me, now listen!”

And I’m doing that again, but don’t pass a ‘no confidence’ against me for my silence; I have a genuine reason..!

Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at bobsbanter@gmail.com