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Voicing Silence 7

Monday, November 07, 2016

Die Der Das

I lived in the same house for the first quarter of a century of my life. And I knew every crevice on the floor and every dent on the wall like the palm of my own hand. It was as if the house had gently shaped my own self, in much the same way as waves make their imprint on rocks, sanding down its edges to soften it over time. When my well-worn self then stepped out to live elsewhere, the angles of my shoulders and the curves of my feet didn't find their own groove for a long time. I would find my rhythm with a house and a few years later move again. My last move was eight years ago and this August I packed my bags and relocated again.

This time to a new country, to a place whose language is alien to my ears. And it is a struggle to find my bearings with it. The house is big and its belongings borrowed. I don't step off the stairs knowing for sure that I have landed. My feet are still surprised by hidden corners. My eyes are still getting accustomed to the lights and shadows of the house.

The hardest has been getting used to its sounds. It is not the easiest of languages to master and my tentative attempts to learn it more than two decades ago ended in an early abandonment. And now I am forced to resume and the vowels hang uneasy. Its vocabulary obtuse and its grammar bewildering, I am unable to grasp the contours of this language. My tongue and my mind are resolutely not in sync with its pauses and its enunciations. I drop the essential and emphasise the unnecessary, it is a sea of confusion in my throat and I just haven't got the taste for it.

Truth be told, some days I yearn for the familiar and the friendly. There where I would slot right back into a puzzle. Right now, I am still reading the instructions on how to assemble and it's proving tricky.