Missed Interactions with Hearing Impaired

The past month, I read and completed a manga called Koe no Katachi – A Silent Voice – The Shape of Voice. It was about a boy’s journey in making right with a hearing impaired classmate whom he bullied in their childhood and making right with his other friends and classmates who bullied him after putting all the previous bully-blame onto him. It was really touching and is a definite recommended read to manga readers.

It also taught me a lot about how the life of a hearing impaired person might look, about how they could feel in relation to the world around them, and also brought me awareness to the insecurities they might have.

While reading, I fell in love with the impaired character, her heart and amazingness as a person was just irresistible.

This week, I went downtown to Google Toronto for a YouTube Content Lab workshop for creators. On my way there, a girl and her grandmother sat next to me on the train. At first, I thought they were speaking a different language as I couldn’t make out what they were saying but here and there I’d catch some English.

With my intrigue, I started to eavesdrop on their conversation and noticed that the grandmother would respond to the girl in English and whatever the girl said was harder to decipher. Though it was hard to understand what the girl was saying, I noticed that I could definitely pick up some English. I then realised that she was speaking..in English!

Some scenes in Koe no Katachi had the hearing impaired character speak in mumbled Japanese because she would speak the phonetics which she heard impaired. I found it so amazing seeing this in real life, within half a meter of me. Halfway through our ride, she also was using some sign language. In the manga, the boy trying to reconcile with his old elementary school friends also learned sign. Never in my life had I wanted to know sign as much as in that moment in this train.

In the manga, the girl would often get looks because of the way she was talking and people could not easily understand what she was saying. This was also true within the train I was riding. The character would also feel very insecure because of this and would become discouraged but would want to keep practising her speaking to improve her speech. This is where I saw such amazingness from the girl sitting so close to me.

She was speaking so loudly and confidently and I found that so inspiring and strong; that she would not let other people’s views of her hinder her improvement in speech. I really wanted to tell her that I was so encouraged by her confidence and that I had read a story within the last few weeks about a hearing impaired girl and her struggles and joys and that in the near future, I would also like to learn sign language.

I planned to tell her one or two stops before mine as I heard them speaking of a station a little after mine. I was sitting there all nervous because….well I always get nervous haha I always had moments where there were things I wanted to say to strangers but couldn’t bring myself to say because of my nerves. I knew this time, I would say this and hopefully make her more confident or brighten her day even just a shade.

The second last stop before mine came and I thought, should I just tell her now ? Maybe I’ll wait until the next stop, the one right before mine. So I sat there all nervous…waiting for the next stop.

The next stop came, they got off, and they left. They were gone just like that. I had missed my chance to encourage her. I was soooooo sad….. Even though I was so sure I was going to tell her, I MISSED MY CHANCE GAHHH

What I learned that day is that even if you have planned what and when you want/are going to say, you can never control the circumstances so when you see a chance, take it. It’ll be gone in two seconds.


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