I am the active generation of questions.
I begin from the words. They are like my mother. They surround me, scold me.. love me.. they comfort me when I am hurt and alone.
I am at my mother’s feet. I stare at her, my mouth open. She squats and sets me on her knee. She makes up words for me, one by one. She teaches me when to say them and when to not. When they are appropriate.
I am asked to question. I begin with the words I have been given. The word ‘mother’ is the first. I ask it. I beg her.
She shakes her head. I repeat the word, press my face into the soft wool on her belly. She gives a whine and her warm breath pepper-corns my back. I say it once more.
I slide from her knees. The ground seems far below and I clamber up to her again.
She holds me tightly. “Darling, now wait, listen, no. Yes, go say MOTHER!”
I do not understand the idea, but I repeat MOTHER, MOTHER, MOTHER. I cry and cry, willing her to say other words, to assign me to other tasks, to remold me.
She shakes her head. She is very older and very tired and she has too few fingers on her hands. I am too small to understand. I wonder. I cry into her and sob for the words, struggling for them. She shakes her head. I cannot fail my mother. I arrange the words in my head, collecting them up a-piece. I stand. I wriggle and twist and stretch. I make the exact number of sounds I want.
She holds me tightly to her. “Darling, we all have to be loved. We all have to ask questions. You have to ask the questions, and keep asking them until the busy people respond. When they do, they are all yours. Darling…”
I say the word, my only word, over and over.. She rocks me to sleep. I am very small. I have hardly any words. Too few to carve myself from.