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Tongue Twister or Thought Twister….. (The best way out of a difficulty is through it)


(This post has been contributed by Riddhi shah, a friend and colleague of many years. She also writes in Gujrati.)

I was playing with my 4 years old son yesterday. Playing various games with him is one of my favorite activities of daily routine, specially the language games. My son speaks and understands three languages, Gujarati, Hindi and English and he loves exploration of new languages. We were playing ‘tongue twister’, which is known for improving pronunciation.

Betty bought butter but butter was bitter so,

Betty bought better butter to make bitter butter better butter!

We enjoyed speaking the tongue twister with various methods and laughed a lot. It was great fun. After playing this game for some time, my son asked me about the meaning of the sentence. I tried to explain the meaning to him that one girl named Betty bought butter but because the butter was bitter, she bought another butter to add in the bitter one so that the butter will become better or we can say sweeter. After listening to the answer, my son was satisfied and got engaged in another activity. However, after some time he came back and asked, ‘but mama, if the butter was bitter, Betty could have either thrown it or add sugar in it, why did she add another fresh/better butter in it. What if the fresh butter will become bitter too? The entire butter will be wasted then?’ I did not have any immediate answer to his question. I replied to him gently, ‘you are right in a way, my son but there must be some reason behind Betty’s decision. Is it alright if I give you answer after a while?’ His agreement gave me some relaxation.

First of all, I was so amazed on my son’s question. He not only thought about the question but also tried to find solution as per his understanding. Child Psychologists believe that children till the age of five, cannot differentiate much between real world and imaginary world as adults do. Perhaps this is the reason, children can accept complex situation better than we adults. If the entire discussion can be seen with broader perspective, this tongue twister teaches us a lot.

Today, most of the people specially youth are very busy. Thousands and lakhs of people like me are running for something. Some towards their aspirations, some for their children, some for their needs and few might be running just because others are running, but everybody is running. I am also one of the participants of this marathon. We have everything except time. We do not have time to learn from our Past or to learn from the incidences happening around us. Hence, sometimes we do not pause to examine the bitter incidences around us or even in our lives rather we waste a lot of our time in preparing sweeter butter from bitter butter. The reason behind this is we limit our perspective in ‘busy life’ that we don’t think to throw the bitter one and start with the new one. A very well known physiologist, Mr. M. Scott Peck has written in his book, ‘The Road Less Traveled’ that the problems are never that huge as we make them. One requires a sense to look at them and understand them. Many a times we do not understand the problem and also we avoid the pain we might need to face while addressing the issue because confronting and solving problems is a painful process. He also said,

“Our view to reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.”

How true it is, isn’t it? But are we born with these maps? Not really, we have to prepare these maps and it needs to be constantly changed with time and need. But unfortunately, the young generation today has stopped preparing their own maps and that is why they are lost in their own circle. We have forgotten that there are multiple ways of making bitter butter better. And sometimes mindlessly adding more butter may result in all the butter being wasted.

I think I am also lost while writing, experiencing a bombardment of thoughts from all sides. But fortunately till I have completed this blog, my son has forgotten his question. Again I am relaxed as I really do not have an answer to his question.

Was this tongue twister or thought twister? Very COMPLEX ! Anyways you also try to play with this tongue twister tonight ….

Betty bought butter but butter was bitter so,

Betty bought better butter to make bitter butter better butter!

Link to her Gujrati article


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