Look who's talking

Talking to yourself assures that there is somebody listening to you all the time.

A great many of us do it, but very few of us are willing to acknowledge it. I am talking about talking to one’s own self. When I was a child, there was a vagrant, ill-clad and unkempt, who roamed the streets murmuring the same thing over and over again.

Translated it went, “A thief called a thief a ‘thief”. Now didn’t the thief become a thief?’ No one did him any harm, but he was laughed at and looked upon as a madman. Young though I was, I sensed a message behind the rambling words, a method in his madness, perhaps. It did not stop me though from concluding that talking to oneself was a sign of craziness.

Little did I know then that such behaviour would become a part of my daily existence. When I got married, I found to my dismay that this was a trait ingrained in my mother-in-law. A volley of words all to herself would either precede or follow any displeasure that she felt.

The others around me were used to it and I was expected to fall in line as well. But it never ceased to unnerve me and my resolution to resist the habit grew even stronger. Imagine my consternation therefore when I caught myself doing it! I had misplaced my glasses and not for the first time.

“Where have you gone, you wretched thing? I know I shouldn’t be calling you names, for blind, blind is what I would be without you!” Seconds later, my servant-maid came running in and, in a voice dripping concern, asked, “Did you call, amma? I heard you say something!” Sheepishly I told her I was looking for my glasses, adding rather reluctantly that I was addressing it.

The incident passed, but I was severely shaken. Was I going crazy? Were the years taking their toll? The time had come, I decided, for some research. Thankfully it yielded some gratifying results. For one thing, I found that the tendency is rather common. People guilty of it may be regarded as oddballs, but are not considered crazy or demented.

The great American poet, Walt Whitman commented, “So I do. Very well, I am large. I contain multitudes.” Another writer asserts, “There are many ‘me’s’ wrapped up in this form called the body. How many do I know and love?”

And so I plucked up courage to discuss the matter with friends. Their reactions were quite as reassuring. One of them said matter-of-factly, “I don’t think you are human if you don’t make small comments to yourself.” Another said that it was her way of working out anger and taking weight off her chest.

A young thing pointed out that it made her feel instantly better adding, rather wryly, that talking to yourself amounted to your having somebody to listen to you all the time. The icing on the cake were the nuggets of advice that I received. “Wear a wireless earpiece and no one will know you are talking to yourself.” It was topped with, ‘The next time you misplace your glasses, go nuts.’

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