Every Single “They” of the Week

– my assistant’s speech defect drives me crazy.

Tooth Truth Roopa Vikesh
4 min readSep 15, 2023


Me at my dental clinic. Photo by my assistant. 😉

My assistant can’t pronounce “T”. Or “D”.

If she appoints someone on a Saturday, she says “Satur-they.” Her tongue hits her front teeth instead of arching back to hit her palate for the “day” part of Saturday.

Unfortunately, for me – every single day of the week ends in they.

If you pronounce the word tomato, you find your tongue touching your teeth for the first “tomato” and going backwards to your palate for the second “tomato”.

She’d keep her tongue firmly against her teeth for both. Say it once to experience the horror. Hit the back of your upper front teeth twice during the pronunciation of tomato.

I know, tomato, tohmato, they-may-tho!

Physically, her tongue and palate are fine and capable of pronouncing the sounds correctly

Before she became my assistant, I examined her teeth as her dentist. She has no tongue tie or roof of the mouth irregularities. Yet, her T’s and D’s continue to annoy my sensitive ear.

If speech clarity means so much to me, why do I have her on my staff anyway, then?

I owe her dad. He was my mom’s pallbearer.

Her dad sells fruit from a cart.

Her dad was one of the men who went with my dad to the cremation ground. He helped me arrange the marigold flower garlands after I dressed my mom in a pink silk sari.

He helped hoist my darling mother’s body onto a bamboo frame that four pall-bearers carried into the truck that left for the cremation ground.

I owe this family.

Vendor push carts in my city. Photos by the author.

Times are hard. Her family works hard.

Her mom manages the home and sometimes makes breakfast items for her dad to sell from the cart in the mornings when fruit sales…



Tooth Truth Roopa Vikesh

I don’t just create smiles, I inspire them! Dentist, mom—Jamshedpur, India.