If only Tilly talked less or talked just when he needed to, he would make such a wonderful friend.
By Yoginder Sikand
Tilly was the most talkative boy you ever saw. “Yackety-yack, yackety-yack!” he would go on all day. Not for a moment would you find him silent. Things were so bad that everyone in his class was sure that one day Tilly’s lips would simply fall out of his face!
Now, it is nice to talk when you need to—to greet your friends, to have fun once in a while, to ask a query. After all, you’ve been given a tongue and lips to communicate, and humans simply have to speak with each other if they are to live together. But, like everything else, there’s a limit to talking. You don’t have to talk if there’s no need to. Sometimes, it is wonderful to keep silent—try it out and you’ll see what I mean. You need to give your tongue, lips and mind some rest, just as you do to the other parts of your body. If you keep talking when you don’t have to, you are bound to talk nonsense or to gossip—and that just isn’t good for you as well as for others around you.
If you talk non-stop, you are also bound to irritate people around you. After all, no one likes being subjected to long, boring lectures. And that’s precisely what happened with Tilly. He had not a single friend in class because his classmates simply couldn’t stand his incessant chatter. It gave them all such a terrible headache! Some of them were just too polite to tell him to talk less—they would take to their heels the moment they saw him. Others would holler at him to keep shut. But this made no difference to Tilly. The boy seemed to have an irrepressible urge to constantly speak—and most of what he said was just silly banter and empty boasting.
Sim shared a desk with Tilly. Unlike the other boys in the class, Sim had a soft corner for Tilly. He knew that at heart Tilly wasn’t a bad sort, and that it was only because of this one bad habit of his—non-stop talking—that no one wanted to be friends with him. If only Tilly talked less or talked just when he needed to, Sim thought, he would make such a wonderful friend. Surely, Sim said to himself, there must be some reason why Tilly couldn’t seem to stop talking.
One day, Sim hit upon a brilliant idea. He logged onto the Internet, and scanned a number of websites to find out more about people like Tilly. To his great delight, he found that ‘compulsive talkers’—people who just can’t stop talking—can be cured of their problem. They don’t have to live with it if they don’t want to! Sim also discovered that there were several reasons why such people can’t seem to stop talking. Some think no end of themselves, and want to be the centre of people’s attention. They love hearing their own voices, even if others don’t. Some suffer from considerable agitation. Talking non-stop is their way to release their tension, otherwise they might just go mad. Others talk incessantly because they are bored and have nothing else to do. Such people love talking about the faults—real or imaginary—of others because it makes them feel good about themselves. Typically, these are people who actually have a low opinion of their own selves. Yet others talk more than they need to because that’s the way they want to attract the attention of other people. They feel they aren’t loved enough, and constantly talking is their way of telling others, ‘Please notice me! Please befriend me! Please be good to me!’
Reading the material he downloaded from the Internet, Sim realized that behind Tilly’s non-stop banter was a plea to be befriended, for the poor lad had not a single friend in the entire class. The more he stuck to his bad habit, the more his classmates mocked him. In turn, that made him even more lonely and even more desperate for friends, which made him even more talkative—that was his way to call out to his classmates to notice his presence. It was a vicious circle that seemed to have no end.
Sim shared what he had learned from the Internet with his classmates. The agreed with him that Tilly wasn’t the harmful sort, and added that they would love to be friends with him if only he talked less. ‘For that we will have to show Tilly that we really are fond of him. Then, he won’t need to keep on talking simply to get our attention,’ Sim explained.
It took the boys some days to get over their fear of Tilly because people don’t change all at once. As the boys began treating Tilly as one of their own, including him in their games and pranks, Tilly began to change, too—and all for the better! No longer did he need to keep up his meaningless banter in order to win their attention. Since he now was surrounded by friends who enjoyed his company, he didn’t need to keep talking to make his presence felt. And so, if you meet him now, you won’t have to fear being subjected to an endless, tearfully boring harangue, as his classmates once did!