My Voice

I've never talked about my voice in the open.

Growing up, I thought I was just like every other boy out there until I was big enough to tell apart between smile and snigger. If you ask me, I cannot quite recall the first travesty that I got about my voice. Either it was a little too many to decide which one was the first or I opted to be oblivious to all the demeaning words.

But I certainly remember by heart all the funny looks that people gave me when I spoke up.

It would start with their eyes wide open in mock shock, or they would turn around upon hearing my voice and let out some supposed-to-be inaudible snigger but somehow it would always reach my ears. Or better still, if two people happened to be listening whenever I spoke up, one person would quickly turn to the other and whisper something unintelligible. But of course, it could not get any clearer who they were 'whispering' about when they did so before me.

So one day I realized that I did not sound like other boys did.

I've never bothered to find out what I sound like but I've heard enough to know that I have a girl's voice. Back then, I remember one teacher was passing by when I was in a class and apparently I was speaking to a friend when he came to a complete halt.

How did you do that?, he asked.
Did what?, I replied.
That voice. How on earth did you do that, mocking a girl's voice?, he said.
That is how my voice sounds like. I'm not mocking it, I told him.

He didn't say anything back after that. His face was deep red and he walked away.

On another occasion, I remember one time I let my younger sister use my cellphone for a few minutes on urgent matter, so she said. So when I took it back, the phone rang and I answered it.

Hello, I said back. It was a boy.
Is that you, Liz?, the boy on the other end asked.
No, she's not around, I replied.
Oh, okay. So who is this then? Her mum?, he asked.

I was too stunned to say anything back. So I dropped the conversation.

These are just little fractions of memories that I can cast my mind back on as I am writing this entry. Of course you are right to be guessing that there are several other occasions pertaining to this unique voice of mine. And I do not judge you for thinking that I might have been living with shame for owning a girl's voice. Yet I was raised by a rough hand. My parents, particularly my mum has always made me see beyond my flaws. That explains why I had the guts to take part so actively in numerous oration contests back then despite my lack of manly voice and quite miraculously I constantly ended up as the last man standing.

And that also explains why my mum was not happy when one day she found out I had drunk something in hope to own a more boyish voice when I was about to represent Sabah in one national level oration contest. The very reason I did so because one officer in the state educational department urged me to do something with my voice if I were to stand any chance at all to bag the national title. It was kind of peculiar when he told me that because he was the chief judge when they voted me to be the state champion. My point is, if he was really annoyed with the way I sounded, why did he bother to pick me as the winner?

So my mum asked me to stop drinking whatever I was drinking.

And the strength that I've got now to brave people's demeaning words and sniggers was actually bequeathed by her. When she knew that I tried so hard to change my voice, she uttered this one magical line that I will never forget:

If you are meant to win, you will, no matter how you sound like.

I did not win the national competition, but this one wisdom has lived in me ever since and has aided me to live my life as a winner every single day. From that moment on, I've never attempted to change my voice. I know all my mum was saying when she uttered that magical line is that, people want to hear what I say, and not the voice that carries it.

I knew this was true when one day, during my practicum days, three lecturers came to evaluate me instead of the usual one, and later on I was informed by one of these evaluators that I was a possible candidate for distinction.

Right in that instant, there was a flash of fears that I felt on the first day of my practicum. The fear to be laughed and jeered at my by students. The scornful way they would look at me when I finally opened my mouth to speak up. The names they would call me. The disdainful looks they would throw my way upon hearing my voice. Those demeaning giggles I had known so well. The humiliating whispers at my back. All these that I had grown accustomed to.

And how I braved through these when they all occurred precisely the way I had expected it to be. The courage that I owned to weather these on the first day of my practicum and how I eventually got there, on the list for distinction.

At that time, I thought of no one but my mum and her magical line.

So now, I do not really flex my forehead muscles as much whenever people ridicule the girlish way I sound. I might get irked a little, then I know that I have to pity them. Pity the short judgment that they have. The glaring lack of reverence that they possess for what I truly am. Pity them for failing to see beyond people's flaws, like the way my mum has always taught me.

And my voice is not a flaw. It is a gift ;)

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safwan said...

Muhamad Safwan likes this

Ibrahim Ismail said...

Ps. So you know, you always have the best, living quotes! Remember your final day of practicum speech? ;-)
Pss. Am your avid reader!

Ibrahim Ismail said...

Oh yes, Safwan somehow has promoted your blog via his wonderful crib.

Aziz said...

Safwan: You do realize that there is no way you can 'unlike' this after you have liked it, don't you? ;)

Im: Humbled ;)
Yes, I do remember and I'm happy to know that this blog has a reader! Hehehe.
Oh, yes, his latest entry. Safwan has really put those polka dots right up on either side of my cheeks, you know :)

Herne said...

I have goosebumps reading this.

Aziz said...

Herne, good luck for your practicum :)
Be afraid not!