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Let me tell you a story
Once upon a time, I used to be a lyricist. I used to spend hours coming up with words that rhymed across multiple syllables. Poems were simply experiments in making flesh from the rib of a single sound, phrase or idea. I was the kind of girl who used to make up stories.
Just give me three words, any three off the top of your head: fish, blue, German.
I’d come up with an on-the-spot story about a fish that lived in the Tobago waters, who learned German from all the tourists who came to bathe in the sea, and who began to have conversations about declensions with a corbeau who, against all assumptions about corbeau, used to fly to Venezuela just to hear the rustling of trees in a true-true jungle and who learned Spanish from the pink dolphins who liked to laugh by the riverbanks.
Corbeau would sit on the Maracas coconut trees and whisper in different tenses to the blue crab, who’d scuttle back and forth to the ocean, and translate to the fish.
In this way, when all three met Ziya one day at the beach, they each taught her about Tobago reefs, river mammals and moonlight runs across the sand, but because no one would believe that birds, crabs and fish could talk to little humans with curly hair, they told her to keep their stories a secret.
That’s how she first learned what a secret was, first in Spanish, then in German.
When Mummy asked her how she came to know those strange words and what they meant, Ziya just acted like she had a gundy, and as the crab showed her to do, she put it to her lips. Then she made a funny face like a fish and pretended to fly away, fooling the silly adults into thinking that she was suddenly discovering childhood imagination.
Maybe this is what happens when you survive the first two years. You begin to find again the parts of yourself that you lost in the deep wilderness of utter exhaustion. You begin to hear your voice breathing lightly in your chest and tickling your ear. You remember you loved words, stayed awake at night twisting in sheets of poetry, rested your head on the softness of stories, dreamed of pens chasing letters across recycled pages that floated out from the bedside table.
Words are returning like distant friends to an old self, when I had more time and less adulthood, before saving for a mortgage, staying on top of work e-mails, and managing the negotiations of marriage.
These last few days, as I make up stories to put Ziya to bed, I’ve caught glimpses of them in-between the curtain shadows.
All of a sudden, Zi has begun to discover words, and so, in the midst of the blur of motherhood, it seems like I’ve rediscovered a bit of myself that has nothing to do with her but has found an opening to emerge anew.
In this way, the rhymes return shyly, slipping in with the cool night wind and I remember how Ziya’s mummy has not only love, but also words hidden in every chamber of her heart.
Zi knows the cadence of a story even if she doesn’t know how it starts or where it ends, but the words will come to her, hopefully waterfalling into stories, and loving experiments with rhymes and life, just as yet again they are coming to me.
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