What’s in a word?

Synopsis : What is in a word? Sometimes it can change your entire life. Good words have a positive impact on someone who may be inspired by it and take measures to improve his life. Bad words on the other hand can have devastating impact and can demoralize a person so always speak good words but not harsh truths.

I often think about what words mean and how they can impact someone’s life in a positive or negative way. A kind word, a kind gesture, a kind sharing of a book can change lives in a manner that is very interesting and gratifying.

I have written about a very kind and friendly person called Kaloda who lived in our neighborhood who one day gave me a book to read so that I could develop the habit of reading English books. I read all kinds of books and get to know and enjoy knowing all kinds of things I wouldn’t have had I not been given this gift by Kaloda so long ago.

I try to share my experience with people because I always hope that people can learn something from it and apply in their life the lessons learned. Some of my lessons I learned in a hard way so I can warn others not to repeat the same mistakes I made as a younger person.

I will share with you a few cases where someone listened to me what I had to say and did what I asked them to consider that changed their lives forever.

Case 1. I lived in El Obeid in Sudan where there is a sizeable population of Syrians who are Catholics. It is a dusty, drab and featureless town of cement hands holding a Koran in one and a gun in the other decorating the town squares and where all the mollahs compete with each other in who can shout the loudest five times a day. But in this dusty and drab town is a Syrian club which is like an oasis in the desert where the Syrians get together, play bingo and celebrate Easter so I used to go there and join them because they were so friendly.

Here I got to know a beautiful girl of 17 whom I will call Esther. She was a vivacious young girl who liked to play volleyball and enjoy life. All these Syrian children were fond of me because perhaps they found in me a sympathetic person who would listen to the stories of their dreadful life under a very strict Sharia Law abiding country where the mollahs never stopped castigating the Syrian girls for wearing short skirts.

One day Esther invited me to her house for a party which her father had organized for celebrating Esther’s engagement to a boy I knew so I was very surprised because she was just a child. How could she think of marriage so early? So I went to her house and found her father a bit downcast. When I asked him why he was not happy, he said his daughter is a very hard headed person who does not listen to him and is now getting engaged at this early age. Esther’s mother had died so he felt helpless and almost pleaded with me to put some sense into her because he felt that she might listen to me so I sat down with her and explained that she was too young to get married and she should wait at least one year or two .

I did not ask her to cancel the engagement and said that the waiting time will be good for her if she could get some computer training in the mean time and learn how to type. She did not react and kept quiet but her father who was listening was very appreciative and thanked me profusely.

My time in Sudan was ending so I returned to the Philippines but one day I received a letter from Esther that made me very happy. She wrote that she took my advice seriously and has gone to Khartoum to take up computer science and enjoying it too. She had broken her engagement to that Syrian boy because she realized that it would have been a big mistake to live in El Obeid all her life producing numerous kids who would have no future in a Moslem country like Sudan.

I encouraged her to continue her studies and wished her good luck. A few years later I received an e mail from Sydney and it was from Esther. She and her family had immigrated to Australia where she found a good job as a computer trained person. I couldn’t be happier and congratulated her.

Case 2: When I was in Vietnam working as a volunteer agronomist, a college mate but not a class mate who was from South India joined our agricultural team and was assigned to work in areas near Saigon. He was a specialist in animal science so he set up poultry projects etc. but he was homesick and craved for his Tamil food and language so he started visiting the Tamil temple in Saigon where he met with his countrymen and was happy because he could speak his language with them who also shared their food with him. Later I came to know that it came with a price.

We used to often talk about our future plans after leaving Vietnam and he learned that I wanted to go to the US for higher studies so I was saving all my stipend to pay for my education there. He then confessed that he was in trouble because the Tamils took advantage of him and borrowed money from him that he was having a very hard time collecting. He asked me what to do so I said that he should forget about the money he had given because these Tamils are very crafty. Instead he should save from then on every penny he can and prepare for his education somewhere.

Strangely enough my words had the desired effect and he started saving his stipend and asked me where he should apply for admission because he too wanted to study at Calpoly in California where there was a very good college of animal science. Again I suggested that he should apply to several colleges just in case Calpoly does not accept him and said that the University of Wisconsin has a very good reputation in the animal science there so he applied and got admitted there. Calpoly did not accept him but it did not matter and he was very happy to go to Wisconsin.

The last I heard from him was that he had graduated and found a good job somewhere although he had to struggle while a student just like myself but somehow made it through and is happily settled in the USA somewhere. I have lost contact with him but feel that it was a happy ending for him just like Esther.

Case 3: A couple had a child who was born with a genetic disorder and her brain filled with water that had to be constantly drained. She was a beautiful child and about ten years of age, vivacious and lively girl except that she had this problem that had no solution and she died of it. The couple was very sad and heartbroken but I happened to be visiting them this time and felt their sorrow. So I suggested that they should find a healthy baby somewhere to adopt and give him or her all the love they can and raise as their own. A child always brings joy to the family. The adoption in India is not very popular because of built in bias and tradition while in other countries it is not so.

After some time had passed, I received a letter from him that he had found a healthy baby girl and adopted her. Now the couple is very happy and the baby is growing up fast. Just the other day I received an e mail from her that said she is in high school and doing very well. I had given the couple a lot of money so perhaps that too helped. Again happy ending.

Case 4: My sister was a school teacher somewhere so I suggested to her one day that she should take some time off from her job and enroll in a Masteral program in her chosen field of geography so she did and got promoted to a higher position in her college right after her MS so that too ended well because she followed my advice.

Case 5: A classmate of mine in college was a real rascal who always skipped classes and was not prepared for the final exams that were due in April so one day he told me that he will surely fail because he fooled around so much and now the exams were coming soon so what to do. I told him to come to our house at night and study together so he used to come every night and we studied hard whole night month after month sitting inside the mosquito met with a table lamp in our outer porch .This hard work paid off for him handsomely and we graduated together with good grades. He then got a MS and Ph.D somewhere and found a good job in Delhi and lives a successful life.

Case 6: My brother lived in the old house that my father and I had built but I said to him many times that he should sell it and move to Delhi to be near his only daughter and grand children so finally that is what he did and is very happy so that ended well as well.

Case 7: Our daughter is a computer expert and an IT specialist who graduated from the University of Canberra but found a job not related to IT and not a well paying job either so I gently suggested that she will be happier if she found a job in IT because that is her line so she applied and was accepted by an Australian government agency out of several hundred candidates and she really shined there in her profession because she listened to me. So what is in a word? It is a whole lot more than one gives credit for but there is a catch. It is worth something only if people listen and follow. Those who did do not regret it as seven above cases prove.

Note : My blogs and biography are also published in the links given below.


Blogs in Spanish

Blogs in German

Blogs in Japanese

Blogs in French

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Anil’s biography in French.

Anil’s biography in English.

Anil’s biography in Spanish.

Anil’s biography in German



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Amal Chatterjee

Amal Chatterjee

I am the village bard who loves to share his stories.