January 23, 2021

Shruthi Rao on winning stammering through Manya learns to roar

This is an interesting and inspiring story of a mum who faced with a particular condition chose to overcome it and has now even penned a book on a little girl who stammers in her latest book ‘Manya learns to roar’.

Meet Shruthi Rao, a mum, an author and someone who is surely inspiring to a lot of people who truly understand the trauma of being ridiculed for stammering.

She shares with Mums and Stories, “I had a happy childhood. I studied in the same school and lived in the same public sector township all my schooling and growing up years. The friends I made then are still friends with me (plus I have collected lots more along the way.). Surely I have mostly good memories from those years.

I’ve stammered for as long as I remember. I didn’t really face discrimination generally. My younger sister was a cute, bright child who talked quickly and cleverly, so mostly, people compared her with me and I hated that (but loved my sister!) Some classmates and friends laughed at and mimicked me. Some teachers ignored me in class. Many relatives and strangers gave me weird advice on “curing” my stammer. Strangers avoided talking to me and talked to my companions even if the question was for me, as if I can’t understand anything (people still do that.)

I coped because the majority of people around me didn’t do any of that. Besides, like I said, I had a happy childhood generally. Besides I was good academically, plus I was good at music, art, sports, writing. So, I gained confidence from these abilities and didn’t get bogged down by the fact that I can’t speak fluently.”

On why kids begin stammering, Shruthi shares her point of view, “There is a combination of factors why a person might stammer. It is still not completely understood, but broadly, it is a neurological condition. People who stammer do not stammer all the time and in all situations. Plus, the intensity of stammering also keeps varying. Besides, some people who stammer as children stop as they grow older. It is extremely complex and that is why it is so less understood.

But yes, when people mock us, we become conscious, and generally, the more conscious you become about your speech, the more you stammer.”

Talking on her book, she mentions, “ My book ’Manya Learns to Roar’, is published by Duckbill books. It is about a girl, Manya, who stammers, and wants to be Shere Khan in the school play. But her classmates laugh at and discourage her, and some teachers don’t trust her to do well. What will Manya do?”

“I have lived in India , in Bangalore for the major part of my life. I have been in the San Francisco Bay Area only for the last two years. Since the place I live in has a majority Asian population, I don’t see any difference in the parenting styles prevalent in urban India. If anything, it is a more extreme version of the Indian urban style – immense pressure, a million classes, no free time.

However would like to mention that the children there are, generally speaking, much more expressive and communicate better than the children in India.”

On raising her daughter to be a secure and confident child she shares, “Basically, I’m trying to give her the same things as my parents did – unconditional love and support, security, and lots of different experiences. The difference- I can’t say so myself, but my mother says that I have more patience with her than she had with me. I’m not so convinced, though! My daughter is ten years old and is much more assured and confident than I was at her age.”

We thank Shruthi for sharing this interesting story with us and if you want to meet Shruthi or know more on Manya do mark this event date -There’s a free meet-the-author event scheduled on Aug 12, at 5 pm at Light room Bookstore, Cooke Town, Bangalore.

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