Talk to the Hand
I’ve had a cough for more than a month now. A nasty hacking cough that, when I go into a paroxysm, sounds as though I’m going to die on the spot. I’ve been to three doctors to figure this out and have taken so much medication that I’m convinced I’m the sole stay and support of the Indian pharmaceutical industry. Yet the cough clings to me like a limpet.
So last night I threatened it with the worst. Listen, you nasty lump of congestion, I said to it, wagging my finger sternly. If you’re not out of here in the next 10 minutes, I’m going to charge you rent. Bombay-ishtyle, complete with brokers’ fees, stamp duty and hours and days of standing in line to get the lease registered. That’ll teach you, you dirty little squatter. Space comes at a premium in this city and don’t imagine you’ll get it free.
And after that lecture, I felt better. Really. I didn’t even cough for the next 10 minutes. That showed that the nasty lump of congestion was taking me seriously, I thought triumphantly. And then of course I started coughing again and sounded as though I was dying and all as it had been before the lecture.
Now, of course I didn’t expect the nasty lump of congestion to actually listen to me. (For one thing, I don’t think nasty lumps of congestion even have ears.) But I’ve realised – partly thanks to this blog in which I tend to ramble to not much purpose, which means that I pretty much talk here the way I do in my head – that I have a habit of talking to animals, inanimate objects, natural phenomena (such as the climate) and, in this case, a nasty lump of congestion, just as though they were people I could have a conversation with.
This confession could well send me into the nearest loony bin even without a doctor’s certificate, but I don’t care. It’s fun talking to animals, inanimate objects, natural phenomena (such as the climate) and even a nasty lump of congestion. Aside from the joy of coming up with inventive combinations of expletives if necessary (such as I cannot mention on this blog – but I wish you could have heard how I ticked off that nasty lump of congestion, that was a doozy), these conversations happen in my head, so no one knows how eccentric I really can get. And finally, but really importantly, animals, inanimate objects, natural phenomena (such as the climate) and, in this case, a nasty lump of congestion, cannot talk back. And that is perfect when you’re being stern.
I don’t know when I started holding these conversations with non-people. Possibly during a very lonely period in my life some years ago when I was in one city and most of my friends were in another. Most likely though, I’ve always done it and just never noticed it.
I figured this out a few weeks ago when I was patiently explaining the art of using commas to an intern and I told her to read the sentence aloud and place the commas where she automatically stopped to draw a breath.
After she left, I thought about what I’d told her and realised that when I read, it’s not just that my eyes scan a page. I actually hear the sentences in my head. It’s like I’m reading aloud to myself.
I don’t know if this is the case with other people when they read, but with me, there are definitely voices in my head. From that to having conversations with non-people – well, really, I’m just thinking aloud though it’s all happening in my head.
Do you do this too?