"There is a silence that cannot speak.
There is a silence that will not speak.
Beneath the grass the speaking dreams and beneath the dreams a sensate sea. The speech that frees comes forth from that amniotic deep. To attend its voice, I can hear it say, is to embrace its absence. But I fail the task. The word is stone.
I admit it.
I hate the stillness. I hate the stone. I hate the sealed vault with its cold icon. I hate the staring into the night. The questions thinning into space. The sky swallowing the echoes.
Unless the stone bursts with telling, unless the sea flowers with speech, there is in my life no living word. The sound I hear is only sound. White sound. Words, when the fall, are pock marks on the earth. They are hailstones seeking an underground stream.
If I could follow the stream down and down to the hidden voice, would I come at last to the freeing word? I ask the night sky but the silence is steadfast. There is no reply.
-Joy Kogawa, Obasan
We had to read Obasan
in grade twelve English
. I remember thinking it was a little boring
, but more than that, feeling ashamed to be Canadian
. It's always upsetting to find out your country isn't as glorious and innocent
as you always thought it was.
The above passage is from the beginning of the novel. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. I have it posted on my bedroom wall. It speaks to me, even when nothing else does.