Life on Stutter Island

First Person

Life on Stutter Island

Illustration: Sushant Ahire


m stuck at the window of an immigration officer, holding up the queue behind me, unable to respond to the officer’s straightforward question. He looks irritated, but I am frozen with an icy terror, aware of the arrested words that will take their own sweet time to slip off my tongue. I start – haltingly – and trip on one, my anxiety rising along with the colour in my cheeks. But unexpectedly, the officer softens, and asks me to take my time with the sentence.

This happens to me often. When you’ve lived with a lifelong stutter, you realise that everyone you talk to seems to have immeasurable patience. To listen to you. To wait for you to complete a word you’ve been trying to say for a minute, even when you do not.