Yasmine is a clever 10-year old girl who is loved by her family and popular with all her friends. But Yasmine is very sad! Yasmine used to be very happy, very bubbly and very chatty girl, until her problem started.

Yasmine woke up one morning and found she could hardly talk! She could say unusual words like: “perhaps”, “definitely” and “diabolical” but she was not able to say simple everyday words like “mum”, “dad”, “please”, “hungry”, “cool” or “and”.

During breakfast, Yasmine’s mum asked her: “Yaz, what would you like in your lunchbox today?” and Yasmine tried to say what she always says: “cheese sandwich, a banana and a Kitkat please mum” but she couldn’t! Her mother asked her the question again and finally Yasmine said: “Pastrami on Rye, Baklava, Pomegranate”. Her mother was shocked and said: “don’t be silly Yaz; we don’t have these things in the house and next time say please when you ask for something”.

Embarrassed, Yasmine smiled at her mother and shrugged her shoulders by way of saying sorry. Her mother thought Yasmine must be in one of her funny moods so, she made her a cheese sandwich, put a banana and a bar of Kitkat with a carton of orange juice in her lunch box. Yasmine kissed her mother and went off to the school bus stop with her 8-year old sister Zadie without saying another word. Zadie knew not to say anything to Yasmine or she would get a ‘mouthful’ from her!

On school bus, Yasmine met with her two friends, Annika and Clark and they sat in the usual place at the back of the bus. Annika asked: “did you see ‘I am a Celebrity’ last night?” and Clark said: “yes, wasn’t it funny when those worms crawled up Jason’s nose?” Yasmine smiled and wanted to say she saw it too and found the worm scene very funny but all she could say was: “absolutely hilarious”. Annika and Clark looked at one another and wondered if Yasmine was in one of her funny moods again.

Mrs Windrush, Yasmine’s teacher was explaining fractions to the class and she asked the class: “can anyone tell me what is one quarter plus another quarter please? A few children raised their hands and Mrs Windrush said: “Yasmine, what is the answer please?” Yasmine wanted to say “half” but couldn’t bring the word out and all she could say is: “segment, madam”. The class fell about laughing and Mrs Windrush said: “what do you mean ‘segment’ Yasmine?” Yasmine blushed and said: “segment plus segment equals whole madam”. The class laughed even more at Yasmine’s second answer and Mrs Windrush was getting irritated; she said: “Yasmine, are you in one of your funny moods again? Since when do you call me madam?”

Yasmine’s day didn’t get any better. During lunch break, she annoyed her friend Clark who invited her and Annika to come back to his house after school by saying: “Possibly, must validate with parents”. During Art lesson, she said to the art teacher: “sir, perspective, terribly difficult” and Mr Constable had to ask her to repeat what she said twice before he could work out that she was saying it was hard to draw the Fruit bowl on the table.

That evening, over dinner, Yasmine’s dad asked: “so Yasmine, what kind of a day did you have today?” and Yasmine thought for a while then said: “rather bizarre, male parent, gratitude”. Yasmine’s mum and dad looked at each other and frowned. Her father said: “are you feeling alright darling?” and Yasmine replied: “uncertain male parent”.

After dinner, Yasmine went to do her homework and her parents sat down in the lounge for a chat about Yasmine’s strange behaviour.

Dad: what’s up with Yasmine?
Mum: I am not sure; she has been acting funny all day
Dad: since when does she call me male parent instead of “Daddy”?
Mum: she came home and said ‘greetings female parent”
Dad: I also heard her call Zadie ‘junior sibling’, poor Zadie looked perplexed, I wonder if she’s ok?
Mum: oh, I am sure she is. It must be a funny phase she is going through. She will be back to normal after a good night sleep
Dad: yes, but she has gone very quiet and only speaks when spoken to
Mum: I know! We are always telling her to keep quiet and when she does, we don’t like it.
Dad: I think I prefer her to be a chatterbox rather than a quiet girl who calls me male parent!

At this point, Yasmine walked in with the tablet her parents gave her last Christmas and sat on the sofa between them. Without saying a word, Yasmine opened the tablet and wrote:

MUM DAD PLEASE HELP ME – I CANNOT SAY ORDINARY WORDS ANYMORE

Yasmine’s parents looked at her, looked at each other and they too seemed to have lost the ability to speak for a minute! Finally, her mum said: “are you actually saying you can say things like female parent but not mum?” and Yasmine nodded. Her mum said: “don’t be silly Yaz, repeat after me: my name is Yasmine” but Yasmine couldn’t say these four simple and very familiar words including her own name! Her father said: “Yasmine, if you are in one of your funny moods, the joke has gone on for too long, now stop it”. Yasmine said: “Earnest, Male”. Her father said: “this is just great! Now she calls me male without the ‘parent’ bit!”

Yasmine opened the tablet again and wrote:

NOW I CAN’T SAY THE WORD PARENT ANYMORE!

Yasmine’s mum said: “but you were able to use it all day today!” and Yasmine wrote:

YES, I KNOW! OH, MUM I AM SCARED!

Yasmine’s parents were absolutely confused and didn’t know what to think. Finally, Yasmine’s mum touched Yasmine’s forehead to check her temperature and said: “you are not running a fever and you look fine to me. Look, why don’t you go to bed early and have a good night sleep, I am sure you will be fine in the morning”. Yasmine kissed her parents good night and went to bed.

Yasmine’s dad said he was concerned and wondered if she was being bullied at school. Yasmine’s mum said he was being very silly because Yasmine is the most popular girl at school and no way she was being bullied but promised to keep an eye on her. She also said that she questioned Zadie who confirmed that Yasmine was in one of her funny moods but, Zadie was happy because she can say whatever she liked without being interrupted by Yasmine

The following day, Yasmine woke up, washed, dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. Her mother asked: “how are you feeling this morning darling?” and Yasmine replied: “unaltered condition, senior relative”. Her mum said: “I see, now look Yaz sweetie, if you are playing a game on us fine but, you must stop it because we are getting worried about you”. At this point, a tear rolled down Yasmine’s cheek and her mum rushed to her and said: “oh Yaz darling don’t cry, it will be alright. I am not cross with you; I just want to make sure you are not playing a practical joke on us. Now, sit down for breakfast before you go to school”.

Yasmine had a bowl of cereal, kissed and hugged her mum and left with Zadie for the school bus. An hour or so later, Yasmine’s mum called the school and asked to speak to the head teacher Mrs Backgammon.

Mrs B: good morning Mrs M, I am glad you called
Mum: good morning Mrs Backgammon. I take it you too noticed Yasmine’s strange behaviour
Mrs B: we certainly did! Is she behaving like this at home?
Mum: she is and at first, we thought she was being silly but I am sure she is not. We don’t know what it is though
Mrs B: mmm, I had her teachers come to me yesterday saying she is behaving oddly and I called her in. Do you know what she said to me? She said: “plenty regrets, behavioural alteration unavoidable, senior educator”. In all my years in education I have never heard anything like it
Mum: if it makes you feel any better she started calling me ‘female parent’ and now she calls me ‘senior relative’
Mrs B: be it as it may, what I want to know is what you are going to do about her behaviour? She was such a good girl until recently and I cannot have her talk to my staff and me like that
Mum: okay Mrs Backgammon, let’s see how she gets on today and if things don’t go back to normal, I will take her to see the doctor
Mrs B: the other thing we can do is to get her to be seen by a child psychologist here at the school if you wish
Mum: well, let’s see how she gets on today
Mrs B: I hope this doesn’t affect Zadie as well, such a lovely girl!

By lunchtime, Yasmine’s mum had a phone call from the school and Mrs Backgammon was in a worse mood than before.

Mrs B: Mrs M, I think you had better come and collect Yasmine
Mum: oh dear, is she sick?
Mrs B: she is perfectly fine physically but her behaviour is getting odder by the minute. Her teachers are unable to communicate with her any longer. She hardly talks at all and when she does, she comes up with strange utterances like I have never heard before! She called Mrs Windrush today “Lady Breeze Hurry”! I cannot have my staff insulted by ten year olds Mrs M. The other children are going around calling one of my best teachers “Lady Breeze Hurry”. Mrs Windrush is very upset and is threatening to resign
Mum: very well Mrs Backgammon, I will come and collect her straight away

When Yasmine’s mum arrived at the school, she went straight to the head teacher’s office and found Yasmine sitting outside the office looking miserable and dejected. Yasmine ran to her mother’s arms and cried uncontrollably. Mrs Backgammon came out of her office and said: “hello Mrs M, Yasmine can go home for some rest and my offer of a child psychologist remains open as an option should you wish to take advantage of it. Yasmine, you are a good girl, now go home and have a rest and remember that we all care about you here and wish you a speedy recovery. Good luck”. Yasmine turned to the head teacher and said: “Gratitude and profound regrets Lady board game”.

Mrs Backgammon and Yasmine’s mum were shocked. Mrs Backgammon’s face went purple with anger and she walked straight back to her office, slamming the door behind her.

At the surgery, Dr Fishbone checked Yasmine’s temperature, shone a light into her eyes and ears, looked at her tongue and listened to her heartbeat. He finally said she was suffering from stress and gave her a week off school for a complete rest.

Yasmine stayed at home and at first, her friends Clark and Annika came to see her after school and downloaded their lesson notes and homework onto her school tablet. But Clark and Annika found it harder and harder to talk to her because firstly Yasmine wasn’t saying much and when she did speak, she used weird words which were difficult to make sense of. By the weekend, Annika and Clark stopped coming to visit poor Yasmine. Only Zadie kept visiting Yasmine in her bedroom to talk non-stop; an unusual experience for her to be able to do that while her big sister remained practically silent.

By the same weekend, Yasmine’s parents were getting seriously concerned. Their daughter was talking less and less, even the weird words she was using were disappearing from her vocabulary. On Sunday night, they sat down with her for a chat. Yasmine by now, wouldn’t go anywhere without her tablet.

Mum: Yaz darling, you are not getting any better, are you?
Yasmine: NO, I AM FINDING IT HARDER AND HARDER TO SPEAK
Dad: how do you feel physically sweetie?
Yasmine: I FEEL FINE DADDY, I AM JUST FED UP, THAT’S ALL
Mum: we need to sort something out; you can’t miss school for too long
Yasmine: I KNOW – AND I MISS MY FRIENDS A LOT
Mum: how do you feel about seeing a child psychologist?
Dad: I am not having my daughter be seen by a shrink, no way! She is not a loony
Mum: You’re a doctor, how can you not respect other doctors? Child psychologists deal with all kinds of conditions. Anyway, there is no such thing as a child loony; only dads can be loonies
Yasmine (laughing): I DON’T MIND – I JUST WANT TO TALK NORMAL AGAIN
Mum: I will call Mrs Backgammon tomorrow and arrange it with her. Why don’t you go up to bed now darling?
Dad: I hope you know what you are doing darling, these so-called doctors can make things worse, I have seen them operate!

A few days later, Yasmine walked to school with her mum and they went straight to the head teacher’s office. Waiting for them was Mrs Backgammon and a short gentleman with thick pair of glasses who was introduced as Mr Benchmark, Department of Education Child Psychologist. Yasmine, her mum and Mr Benchmark were given a small room near the library for a private chat. Yasmine’s mum explained to Mr Benchmark Yasmine’s symptoms and he took plenty of notes in his yellow tablet. He had an annoying habit of making a strange noise of breathing inwards whenever Yasmine’s mum said something he thought was interesting. Finally, he said he would like to ask Yasmine one or two questions.

Mr Benchmark: so Yasmine, can you tell me in your own words what you think is the matter with you?
Yasmine: I CANNOT, SAY…
Mr Benchmark: no Yasmine, can you actually talk to me without using the tablet?
Yasmine: incapability uttering meaningful dialogue
Mr Benchmark: you mean you are unable to say simple words
Yasmine: imprecise. Incapable common dialogue
Mr Benchmark: you are unable to speak everyday language?
Yasmine: approximate
Mr Benchmark: I see. Yasmine, are you upset about something?
Yasmine: Inaccurate
Mr Benchmark: are you happy at home?
Yasmine: nodded
Mr Benchmark: are you happy at school?
Yasmine: nodded
Mr Benchmark: is anyone bullying you Yasmine?
Yasmine: pointing at her tablet
Mr Benchmark: okay Yasmine, use your tablet
Yasmine: I AM REALLY HAPPY AT SCHOOL – NO ONE IS BULLYING ME – HONESTLY EVERYTHING IS COOL
Mr Benchmark: very well. Mrs M, I would like to give Yasmine some tests if that’s okay with you
Mum: please go ahead

For the next two hours, Mr Benchmark carried out a number of psychological tests. He showed Yasmine a number of cards with random ink spots and asked Yasmine to tell him what they looked like. With each card, Yasmine would open the tablet on the appropriate words that described what the ink spots reminded her of. Here are some of the descriptions Yasmine came up with:

Old Man Trousers
Fat Chicken
Smelly Nappy
Pretty Dress
Summer Holidays
Old Woman Handbag
Dead Fish
Zadie’s Hair
Hockey Stick
Toast
Daddy’s Socks

Mr Benchmark then said he would like to play a word association with her. He said he would mention a word and Yasmine must say the first thing that would come to her head. Because of her condition, Yasmine was allowed to write the word she thought of instead of saying it. Here is a sample of the word associations they exchanged:

Morning – Breakfast
Ball – Game
Horse – gallop
Music – iTunes
Chicken – Cluck
Television – Homework
Cinema – Popcorn
Funny – Auntie Faye
Shoes – Auntie Rosy
Car – Sickness
Dinner – Spaghetti

Mr Benchmark asked Yasmine to go and sit outside for a couple of minutes while he talked to her mum. He then asked Yasmine’s mum about life at home and she said: “Mr Benchmark, I can assure you that ours is a very happy home, my husband and I are happily married and we have no stresses in our lives, we love our daughter very much. Yasmine is normally a well-adjusted child who is top of her class in nearly every subject. Until a week or so ago, she was a popular child with no care in the world. She was lively, chatty, too chatty sometimes, happy go lucky little girl”.

Mr Benchmark said he was extremely puzzled by her condition and he would like to speak to some specialists about her to see if they can help.

Over the next three weeks, Yasmine was seen by professor Weavle of Oxford University, Dr Greenleaf from Great Ormond Street and Mrs Bozofsky a visiting professor of child psychology from Harvard. They asked her a million questions; gave her IQ tests; showed her more ink spots and played more word associations; gave her model toys and building blocks and asked her to make up stories with the models and bricks; played her classical and modern pieces of music and asked her to tell them how she felt after each piece. Professor Bozofsky had the most interesting test of all; she asked Yasmine to eat two slices of toast and drink a cup of hot chocolate using her left hand only and observed her behaviour while eating. Being right handed, Yasmine spilled some of her hot chocolate and got the giggles while eating her toast clumsily!

By the time they concluded their tests, Yasmine was hardly able to speak by now. Even her weird words were getting fewer by the day and her only way of communicating with everyone was through her trusted tablet.

The Great Ormond Street doctor recommended a brain procedure where they would insert a very thin laser probe and fire laser rays deep into her brain, which would stimulate the part of the brain responsible for speech. The Oxford professor recommended a course of drugs, which would also tackle the same part of the brain. The Harvard professor suggested they took Yasmine to the USA for a revolutionary treatment of six months living on a pig farm in Colorado. Needless to say, Yasmine’s parents were not impressed with any of these suggestions and declined any of their “loony recommendations” as Yasmine’s dad called them.

Yasmine’s school continued to be supportive but the head teacher couldn’t see how Yasmine could return to the school in her deteriorating condition. Yasmine’s parents decided to home school her for the time being. Luckily, Clark and Annika, who by now understood what poor Yasmine was going through and they went to visit her at home and vowed to stick by her until she got better. They even joked with her about her inability to speak by saying this would be their chance to say things without being interrupted by her!

One Saturday, Zadie was staying over at a friend’s house and Yasmine’s mum took her out for the day. They went to the countryside for a picnic. They ate their sandwiches and Fruit, drank their juice and lay in the sun for a while. Finally, they collected their things and went back to the train station for the ride home. The train was on time and they got on for the 30-minute journey back home. They found two empty seats and sat down feeling very cheerful. Just before the train began to move, an old Chinese man walked up and asked if he could sit opposite them. He looked frail and Yasmine’s mum urged him to sit down straight away before the train moved. The old man bowed and thanked her. Yasmine’s mum turned to her and said they need to go to the supermarket to get a few things and asked: “what do you feel like eating tonight Yasmine?” Yasmine opened her tablet and wrote ‘spaghetti’, her mother said they had spaghetti a couple of days earlier so, Yasmine wrote ‘fish fingers’. A couple of minutes later, Yasmine opened her tablet and wrote ‘dessert?’ and her mother asked what would she like so Yasmine wrote ‘rice pudding’. All this time, the old Chinese man was watching and smiling kindly. Every time they looked at him and saw he was smiling, they smiled back at him and then he would bow to them. This went on for about fifteen minutes or so.

Suddenly, the old man spoke in a soft and clear voice:

Old Man: excuse me please, can I ask you a question?
Mum: yes, of course, do you need help?
Old Man: no thank you, but I think you need my help
Mum: what do you mean?
Old Man: Sorry Madam, I think I can help your daughter
Mum: are you a doctor?
Old Man: not exactly, but I know what is wrong with her
Mum: what do you think is wrong with her?
Old Man: Her Wordpouch is almost empty
Mum: I beg your pardon?
Old Man: Her Wordpouch is almost empty
Mum: come on Yasmine; let’s sit somewhere else
Yasmine: shaking her head vigorously
Old Man: Excuse me Madam, I do not mean to offend you
Yasmine: please mum, let him talk
Mum: what do you mean exactly?
Old Man: tell me madam; did your daughter speak before?
Mum: yes, she did
Old Man: and did she lose her ability to speak suddenly or gradually?
Mum: she lost it gradually
Old Man: has she been seen by medical people?
Mum: yes, many. But none of them could help her
Old Man: I can
Mum: but you just said you were not a doctor
Old Man: Madam, knowledge is not exclusive to doctors
Yasmine: Mum – please let him help us
Mum: I will not subject my daughter to any funny medications, surgery or acupuncture
Old Man: My help will involve no medication or surgery
Mum: well how are you able to help?
Old Man: you must start by understanding the reason for the problem

At this point, the train driver announced that the train was approaching the station and Yasmine and her mum had to get off. The old man took out a card from his pocket and passed it to Yasmine’s mum. He said: “if you wish me to help you, come and see me. I live on the edge of the next town; you are welcome any time.

That evening, Yasmine and her parents discussed Mr Chin Foo, the old Chinese man on the train and the father was very suspicious of the whole thing. He said: “He is going to either give her some tiger tooth powder or stick needles in her then charge us a fortune”. Yasmine and her mum explained Mr Chin Foo assured them his treatment would involve no medication or surgery of any kind. Finally, Yasmine wrote in her tablet:

“look – this is my last chance – we tried everything else without success – I want to go and see the kind old man”.

Finally, they agreed that all three would go to see him.

The following Saturday, they dropped Zadie at her friend’s house, drove to the next town and searched for the address on the card. They finally found a small and modest house on the outskirts of town in a quiet country lane. They parked the car and Yasmine’s dad walked up to the front door and knocked. A minute or so later, the front door opened and an old Chinese woman opened the door and bowed. Yasmine’s dad bowed back in an exaggerated way and said he was with his wife and daughter to see the gentleman they met on the train a couple of days earlier. Finally, the old man emerged, bowed to Yasmine’s dad and invited him in. Yasmine’s dad turned around and beckoned to his wife and daughter to come over.

The old man invited them to sit down and his wife brought some drinks.

Dad: sir, my wife and daughter tell me you met them on the train and claimed you can cure my daughter
Mr Chin Foo: Claimed? I do not make claims for any cure. I can only help you see what is in front of you
Mum: we are ready to be helped
Mr Chin Foo: As I said to you on the train, you daughter must first understand the reason for her troubles
Dad: we all understand her trouble, she can’t talk!
Mum: Darling, please! Please go on Mr Chin Foo
Mr Chin Foo: I would like to talk to your daughter alone
Dad: just a minute, I have heard of people like you! I am in the medical profession, you know. Enough of this nonsense, we are going home, come on girls
Mum: Sit down, darling! Mr Chin Foo, why do you feel you must talk to her alone?
Mr Chin Foo: It is important that she understands her own difficulty herself without an adult clouding her understanding with negative thoughts
Mum: what if we stay in the room and promise not to say a word?
Mr Chin Foo: it will not work. You can still send negative messages to her without even knowing you are doing it
Mum: how long will you need with her?
Mr Chin Foo: not long, a few minutes
Mum: can you start straight away?
Mr Chin Foo: yes
Dad: Sweetie, have you gone stark raving mad?
Mum: no, I haven’t. Yaz darling, are you alright with the idea? We will be waiting outside in the car
Mr Chin Foo: no need. You can go and sit with my wife in the next room
Yasmine: Mum Dad – please go – I will be fine – honest

25 minutes later, Yasmine, her mum and dad were back in their car on their way home. The father was sulking, threatening to report the old man to the authorities, the mother was curious but, Yasmine had the biggest smile on her face. When they got home, Yasmine’s mum asked her what happened and her dad asked if she was cured. Finally, Yasmine opened her tablet and wrote:

Mum and Dad – please talk to me as much as possible – tell me everything – Zadie can come to my room and annoy me, if she wants – ask everyone to come and talk to me – I am going to be fine – I love you very much

Yasmine then got up, left her tablet on the coffee table and sat down again! Her parents looked at one another and her dad said: “he must have given her a happy pill or something, look at her beaming away like a loony”. Yasmine’s mum said: “Oh for goodness sake! Let’s just do what she asks”.

For the next few weeks, Yasmine said absolutely nothing to anyone. She did everything else as normal. She got up in the mornings, washed, dressed had breakfast, read for a while, did some school work emailed to her by her school, painted, listened to talk radio, helped her mum round the house, waited for Zadie to come home from school and listened to the news and gossip, watched television, went to bed and so on. At weekends, her grandparents or one of her aunties or uncle would come over and talk to her about this or that and she would listen and listen like they were telling her the most amazing secrets!

One weekend, her granny was visiting them. In the afternoon, Yasmine’s parents took Zadie out to see a film, leaving Yasmine on her own with “Granny” whom she loved very, very much. Yasmine’s Granny was full of stories from the olden days, which Yasmine found interesting and funny. After tea and cakes, they went to the lounge for a chat and to listen to Radio 4, which her Granny loved. Yasmine’s Granny sat on the sofa and Yasmine stretched out next to her and rested her head on her Granny’s leg. Granny stroked her hair and started telling her about the day she got married to Granddad in Brixton over forty years earlier. When she finished her story, she said: “Oh Yasmine darling, will you ever speak again?” Yasmine said: “Granny, I can speak now!” This made Yasmine’s Granny jump with surprise.

Granny: oh darling, how long have you been able to talk?
Yasmine: since I left the old man’s house over three months ago
Granny: so why haven’t you spoken all this time?
Yasmine: because I found out that listening is more precious than talking
Granny: but will you ever talk to other people again?
Yasmine: of course, I will Granny, but not just yet
Granny: what are you waiting for?
Yasmine: nothing really but I will talk bit by bit
Granny: until you get back to the way you used to be
Yasmine: no way, I will never be a chatterbox again
Granny: why ever not darling!
Yasmine: if I show you something will you keep it a secret?
Granny: well of course sweetie, what is it?

Yasmine went upstairs to her bedroom and came down again with a piece of paper in her hand. It was an old, thick and yellowy piece of paper like those fake treasure maps you make for school projects by staining them with tea and scrunch up the edges to make it look ancient. She gave the paper to her granny and returned to her lying down position with her head on her Granny’s leg. Granny read silently:

Yasmine, you are a child of nature. You have been given the gift of life and much more; you have been endowed with beauty, intelligence and wit. But you have also been given the gift of speech to communicate with it your thoughts and feelings for the greater good of all those around you.

The day your mother gave birth to you, you knew no words at all. Every day, your mother held you in her arms, talked to you and filled your Wordpouch with precious words of love and wisdom; your father gave you precious words of humour and knowledge; as you grew up, your parents gave you words of principles and values; you went to school and you gained more words of knowledge and wisdom; your sister gave you words of fun; your friends gave you words of loyalty and friendship. All the time you grew up, you gathered more and more of those precious words for you to use as you wished. Everything you know and everything you do can only be accomplished through your understanding of the world around you, using the power of meaning behind those precious words.

Yasmine, you have been very wasteful of those gifts of words. Because of your over enthusiasm and eagerness for life, you have been over using your resource of words on frivolous things. You must realise that your Wordpouch has a limited capacity and you can only use a word as many times as you hear it. Your troubles are simply due to the fact that you have used up almost all the words you have been given.

Mother Nature is generous and she gave you the greatest gift of all: the gift of listening. From the day you are born, your ability to listen is fully developed. Foolish people lose the gift of listening because they think they know everything. Wise people realise the greatest gift of all and enhance their listening ability because they come to appreciate that you learn by listening and you teach by talking.

Yasmine, it is not too late to heal yourself. Mother Nature has given you these gifts because she loves you. Refill your Wordpouch again; start listening again and store up words of love, fun, wisdom, knowledge, friendship and principles then use them sparingly.

Granny finished reading the note.

Granny: did the old man give you this piece of paper?
Yasmine: yes. He had it all ready for me
Granny: but how did he know your and Zadie’s names?
Yasmine: he is a wise man who listens carefully
Granny: what else did he say to you?
Yasmine: not much. He just said that my Wordpouch would fill up in time
Granny: so, when will you start talking again?
Yasmine: I already have Granny!

Yasmine took her piece of paper, kissed Granny on the cheek, rested her head on Granny’s leg and drifted to sleep.