This is a story about Patel Uncle and his son Subakta. Patel Uncle’s family has been staying next to our home since last 30 years. Patel Uncle is my Papa’s childhood friend. Though my Papa is 5 years elder than him, both are more than friend to each other. Both of them studied in the same school, same college, same university and coincidentally both worked for the same Bank at the same place for their whole life.

Papa used to say “Patel was a very good speaker throughout his student career.” He had the capacity to motivate the public through his speech. He won many State and National level awards in debates and public speaking competitions. Because of his speaking capability he was elected as the student President of the University. He had a dream to be a motivational speaker. But during his graduation, his father expired and the responsibility of the whole family came onto his shoulders. Finally he had to stay away from his dream and joined a safe government service.

Rout Bhai, I want my son to be the best speaker of the world. So, I named him as Subakta – Good Speaker. You know I have planned everything for Subakta. Nothing can stop him to be a good speaker. I would send him abroad for attending public speaking courses in good universities.

Patel Uncle used to call my father as “Rout Bhai“. Subakta and I are of the same age. I am the youngest son of my parents and Subakta is the only son of his parents. Patel Uncle always tried to see his image in Subakta. The day Subakta called him “Papa” for the first time, he brought sweets to our home and said Subakta started his career today 🙂 .

That day Patel Uncle could not control his emotion when doctor told “Subakta has some problem in his throat, he needs an operation. It’s a minor operation. Nothing to worry but Subakta would stammer for rest of his life.” Subakta was 5 years old at that time.

Father and Son by Sea

But Patel Uncle did not lose his heart. He encouraged Subakta to participate in debate competitions in school. On the days of competition he used to take leave from his office and come to school with him. None of the occasion Subakta could finish his content within time. Sometimes judges had to stop him, sometimes he had to stop his speech in-between. But every-time while coming back to home by Patel Uncle’s car, Uncle used to say me “Subakta improved a lot than the previous time, what you say Sidhartha?” I used to reply “Yes, much more improved.

I and Subakta were in the same class. Other than speaking, he was far ahead of me in every aspect. He was our class topper. He was a good painter, dancer, sports person; in short the best all rounder of our batch. He always helped me a lot in my need. I could never think of a single minute in the school without him.

When we were in high school, one day after school while sitting on the play ground, I asked him:

Subakta, You are good in everything. And you are matured enough to understand that you have serious stammering problem. Still why do you participate in debate competitions? Don’t you know people laugh on you at that time. I feel bad about it. Why don’t you talk with Patel Uncle that you don’t want to be a speaker.

He replied:

Sidhartha, I don’t want to and I won’t be a speaker in my profession. But I can see my father living his dream while I speak on stage. It has been always an embarrassing moment but also a proud moment for me to be on the stage and speaking and watching my father enjoying the moment sitting in the front row. I like to see him happy.

He again asked:

Why you have never participated in the same debate competition in which I participated?

I smiled and told him “It’s too late, we should go back to home.”

It was the day of annual function. Patel Uncle vanished away just before the on-stage debate competition started. Subakta stood silent for two minutes on the stage. He stammered and stammered, probably 10 times more than his usual problem. He came back to home with me after the function.

I and Subakta entered his home. Patel Uncle was already there in the drawing room. He smiled and asked me “How was Subakta’s speech today, must be improved than the previous time.” I was speechless, Subakta too.

Subakta did not speak to him thereafter. In next three annual functions, same story repeated. Subakta was silent and Patel Uncle too. Patel uncle used to keep Magazines and Audio cassettes regarding “How to be a better speaker, How to improve your speech etc.” in Subakta’s study room. I was thinking why Patel Uncle is doing all these. I was clueless.

We finished our school. Subakta cracked IIT JEE and went to study in IIT Bombay. After his B.Tech he got an opportunity in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for his MS. No one was surprised on his achievement. Everybody knew he got what he deserved . After his MS, he joined as a PhD research scholar in MIT.

One-day while taking a cup of tea in our drawing room with Patel Uncle, Papa asked him:

Papa: Have you tried talking with Subakta?

Patel Uncle: No

Papa: Patel, are you mad or what? Subakta is a gem. No-one in our locality can even think of achieving what Subakta has achieved. Look at Sidhartha; he is still struggling for a job.

I: Papa!!! I am trying my best. Why are you repeating the same everyday 😕 .

Papa: I know how are you trying with your everyday evening show 👿 . Anyways, Patel! Do you still feel bad that Subakta could not be a good speaker. But he is a good researcher. You must be proud of him.

Patel Uncle: I am Rout Bhai.

On that day Patel Uncle came to our home with a packet of sweets. Congratulated me for my new job. He told my Papa, “Subakta completed his PhD and joined as an Assistant Professor at MIT.

Papa told “I knew it, I am proud of him.” It was nice to see Patel Uncle was very happy for Subakta’s success.

While leaving, he told “Next month 28th is my retirement day. Rout Bhai, you should be there in my retirement ceremony. Without you, I could never complete this 32 years of professional life and last 20 years of lonely life.

Papa smiled and replied “I would definitely attend the retirement ceremony of the best speaker I have ever seen in my life.

Subakta was there to attend Patel Uncle’s retirement ceremony. He came to take Uncle with him to USA after his retirement. I went with Papa to attend the function. Patel Uncle was felicitated for his sincere service to the organization.

The Branch Manager requested Subakta to share some words about Patel Uncle’s contribution for his success. Subakta went onto the stage, looked towards Patel Uncle and said:

Thank you Papa” without stammering.

Papa, you wanted me to be the best speaker of the world. I could not be. But today When I SPEAK the BEST MINDS of the WORLD LISTEN to me.

He stood silent for one minute, then he said:

On that annual function day, I could notice you sitting on the chair in the last row of the hall, waiting for me to speak up. I could not. On every next annual function day you did the same, hoping that I have to speak up myself, but I could not. You did every thing which you could do to make me the best speaker. I could not be the best speaker, but I became a better speaker. Today, Dr. Subakta Patel can deliver his lecture in the best technical University of the world to the best minds, only because of you.

We all stood up and clapped with raised hands. After 5 minutes Patel Uncle went on to the stage, held Subakta’s hand and told, “I still hope, YOU WOULD BE THE BEST SPEAKER OF THE WORLD.

This post has been written to promote “Apno Ko Apne Dum Pe Jeena Sikhao” initiated by HDFC Life in association with Indiblogger.

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