Sunday, 28 April 2013

Lucha de gigantes

A friend has come to visit from Mexico, and now it is as though my brain is playing an evil game of  hide and seek with any remnants of Spanish vocabulary. It hides all the correct words behind layers of French; it hands me verbs that sound right when pronounced differently but aren't; it makes me look up a lot in reflection; it forces me to speak slowly, as one does to a small child who has been woken by a nightmare and needs calming down; and it makes me go in search of something deeply buried beneath years of other languages and growing-up. 

I feel old not only because the wine I drank at yesterday's braai propelled me to my bed at 7.30, a time when my mother is still awake and torturing me by a) seeing her daughter drunk as a skunk and b) wanting me to look at photographs whilst all I wanted to do was sleep it off. No, I feel old because Spanish was a language learnt in innocence, when we went on holiday trips in the big grey Buick to find pyramids in jungles whilst listening to Celine Dion for the 100th time because I had only chosen her CDs to bring along. 

Spanish was something that came freely, that did not have to be learnt. Spanish is getting up in the dark to catch the school bus. Spanish is when my Spitzi was still alive, when we had a tiny garden but an enormous house, when my father ripped off his own finger (by accident), when children were dressed as clowns at traffic lights and when we went for horse riding lessons twice a week. Spanish, basically, was the bubble before it burst. 

In hindsight the end of the 'perfect family' was the better thing to have happened. It was not easy to suddenly be left √† trois, but it meant no more fighting, no more patriarchy, no more lies, no more betrayal. Lives lived in separation was the right choice. 

And now Spanish is back, with a vengeance, in pursuit of past recollections. 
Come on brain, we don't mind remembering. 

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