Sunday, May 23, 2004

Douce France

My friends F. and I. are visiting from France. They were there for a conference and will leave tomorrow. We're walking through the streets chatting and I am enjoying the sound of my mother tongue. The ability to feel the words and not just saying them. For each word a story, a hidden reference, a known association. The subcontext of every word, their deep sound and real flavor, the images they awake in the listener or the reader. This is still inaccessible to me in English.

We've taken a short cut, walking on darker streets, far from the Saturday night crowds of this popular neighborhood.
A small boy exits a big building. He says to us proudly "Look at my tie!". I. does not understand English. F. speaks it hesitantly.
I turn around and compliment him. He is about 7 and he is beaming and tells us that this is a gift from his father who is just standing outside. I compliment him again and inquire of the way he thanked his dad for that gift. "I said "Thank you! Dad"", the boy answers as if he was not sure he had understood the question. I laugh and agree with him that this was the only answer possible.

We walk away and I translate the exchange for F. and I. They both agree that this would have never happened in France. I'm not sure why but their remark fills me with pride.


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