Saturday, October 16, 2004

nous ne retournerons jamais

the sky tonight is a lunging concrete dome, an ever stretching, never ending arc of grey. my soul is a fluorescent pink tin spray can, and i think "fuggit" and tip it up towards the blank sky. but lately, i've been at a loss for words. call it disillusionment, call it heartsickness, call it a manhole in my skull through which all my linguistic skills escaped from (they swung down my neck on a rope made out of knotted dendrites.)

my father sits in the dark, his only light a television - a fuzzy television program showcasing a news broadcast from china via satellite. he makes a face, as if his eyelids are crumpled paper tossed down onto the dusty carpet. nothing is said, just the words he tries to say.

i am now sitting at my desk, staring at a blue scissor.

my asian am professor leans on his leather chair and somehow our conversation goes from the politics of culture to his daughter in middle school enrolling in a French class. He sighs, and then hesitates. he pauses his story and casually asks, "don’t you speak French?"

and I look at him and say, "I do... and it hurts very much."

my tongue is a blemish, an evolving scar that marked in my mouth. each word i speak is a reminder of what i can't say, the way my parents used to talk about water, earth, love. i speak english and french, not vietnamese and chinese.

after "discovering" the angkor wat, many frenchmen believed that france should be the legitimate heir of the khmer civilization. "indochina for the Indochinese means the slaughter or enslavement of all Cambodians, Laotians, Mois, Hmongs, and others… we, the French from Asia, we, the Western peacemakers of the Far-East, are the legitimate heirs of the ancient Khmer civilization, we are better than anything that succeeded it until our arrival on those distant and sacred shores" piped many french in the 1960s.

my mouth opens and closes, opens and closes, on and on, on and on, and for a second, I look back at the blue scissors.

je veux decouper ma langue et la transformer en oiseau. L'oiseau volerait dans le ciel et picoterait tous les yeux des ├ętoiles qui n'ont rien fait pendant la meutre de notre language. je veux que son coeur se transforme en fruit mur qui, une fois que mange, donnera tous les muets une voix.

(i want to cut off my tongue and turn it into a bird that would fly into the sky and peck out the eyes of the stars that did nothing but watch as our language die. and when the bird dies, i want its heart to turn into a sweet fruit that, once eaten, will give all us mutes a voice.)

but, of course, there are no stars, no birds, no fruits. there is only a tongue, a muscle, a boat that knows no shores.

(il y a seulement cette langue, ce muscle, ce bateau qui connait aucun abri.)