English is our second language. We arrived in America knowing 3 words. Eight days after leaving Spijkenisse we found ourselves enrolled in 6 classes where we did not understand anything. We cried that first day in Math. The road ahead looked long, the climb steep. In those early days of E.S.L. there were times we felt despair. Words like vegetable were our undoing. Who came up with the pronounciation of that g? Why was it not pronounced vegga-table? And those soft t’s! A Dutch t requires a firm press of the tongue against the teeth. Suddenly now our tongue was expected to go limp. Eventually though, we got it. But some words we just never warmed up to. Some words we just decided were simply wrong. They did not fit us. We do not approve of their existence, the extra work they require to say them correctly. This was the falling out we experienced with ‘idea.’ We find ourselves struggling to transition from the e to the a. It’s a word that just absolutely vexes us. It ruins our day having to pause mid-sentence, thinking through the weird throat movements involved and then with great trepidation trying to get through it. But we never get through it. It feels like a date with someone you wrote off long ago, but in a moment of weakness, you still agree to go to coffee. Right away you feel regret. It’s so clear there is no match. You run away at your earliest opportunity mostly angry with yourself for breaking down once again. We want to run away from idea. It makes us feel like we are still in E.S.L. Thus, the relationship has come to an end; unlike our capitulation to vegetable, we refuse to submit to idea. We have decided to pronounce the word the only way it makes sense to us – I.D. No more hesitation, no more stop and go. No more pre-pronounciation anxiety. To us it will always be I.D. We find it far easier to endure the weird looks, the giggles, the comments we face after saying it than we find the uphill battle of actually trying. We thought we would offer our readers the joys of making fun of us by writing the word the way we would say it, starting on our ‘About’ page. Laughter is always a good I.D.
Archive for March, 2009
2009, you’ve already spoiled us. You gave us 5 weeks in Suriname, 89 degree days, mornings that began with the barking of dogs, the chirping of birds, the cackle of all manner of fowl. You gave us the sweet sounds of sranan tongo, the bauxite roads of Afobaka, the gorgeously intertwined mangrove trees of Warrapa Creek, and everywhere the warmth of a beautiful people. You gave us the foods we have missed: bami, nasi, roti, pastei, maisena koekjes, sopropo, antroa, pietjil, ham taw, manja, birambie. And, oh, how we danced as we celebrated those last days of 2008! You gave us such joy, such pride, so much laughter. You reminded us that when Sranan gron e kari oen, we must listen, we must go. And you gave us back the song; the song that we had searched for, for many years. The song we did not know the name of or by whom it was sung. We did not understand why it was important to us or what answers it might hold. And we had not even yet thought of the song when we first felt that warm air, and walked on the lush Surinaams land. So it was a complete surprise when we found ourselves on our second day in Suriname at the javaanse markt, our hearts pounding fast as we heard the song. We would have run over children and the infirm to locate its source, but there were not meant to be any obstacles to our receiving of it. After all, we had waited many years and we had traveled long and far so that finally it could be ours. With every note we relived those early years in Suriname, we saw again our house on Johannes Mungra Straat. We saw our grandmother, our aunts and uncles, we saw so many family friends. We saw parties at Krasnapolski, we saw us dancing with our father, our little feet on top of his. We saw all the things we had missed, memories we were afraid we might lose. And when we heard the song it was then that we understood that somehow it had been for us a sort of capsule. A safe place where our memories would always be stored. The song was for us affirmation of what we had lived, what we had loved, what we had lost. But now we have “Wooi mi Debar.” And we do not have to fear losing that particular place in time, that particular place in our hearts. Now we close our eyes, we press our lips together, our hips sway gently, slowly. One or two teardrops fall. We always finish the song.