For Michelle M
In between her studying of Sumerian and other tongues, a bit of fun that we talked about.
It was not a long time ago, nor very far away, and even place wasn't exactly clear. That's all right, because it also could not be published in any form. It was just a story for fun, and it was taken by an old - or rather oldish – book, that if you don't know it, then that will be all right, someone random will tell you will tell it to you. And the good thing is you don't have to believe them. It was late on in the year, not December, but very close to that. There was white on the ground, which was very unusual, people in fact are remarked that they had never seen such cold in all their lives - and for many of them that was true. Even for many of them, though wasn't true, they said it anyway - that is how cold it was.
Many of the trope, which I know is not one of those words that I can use - but it fixed with the personality of the time. “Trope” is actually word that you know, but don't recognize in its form. You know Tropics - such as the Tropic of Cancer or the Tropic of Capricorn - and don't think anything of it. Though of course, that it isn't in really the Tropic of Capricorn, or the Tropic of Cancer, because it has moved a bit in the zodiac - it is now in the Twins and the Archer, or if you are fond of Greek: Gemini and Sagittarius. But what you don't know, probably, is that the word “trope” is a word that can have many meanings - two specific ones, and also general ones in speech. So you too can decide if it's right for you.
Anyway, in this story there are two brothers and sisters. The grown-up people knew what time it was, but where not going to talk about it - because there was a war, a war to end all wars. But the younger people did not know, and wanted to believe that it was no time in particular.
The other thing which needs to be mentioned, when there was for babies in a family, they were white, or at least cream colored, now however you need to say it doesn't really matter, or tell the exact shade that they were. These were African-American, that is they weren't truly black, but mostly so, so much so that they could not realize there was a difference between themselves, and truly black children from Africa. Realize that had been obscured.
They were not particularly poor, but they did not have much to go on - this was ordinary for their times as well. Their father, or rather fathers, since each one of them had been “conceived” - what a strange word that I really should have used “born”, since it has the same meaning - were all very different. Many white people would not understand this, and a good share of black people would not either - but if you were part of the set that using African-American, you would know that there is a difference between someone who was from Ghana, and someone from Kenya. In fact there was a great deal more distance than between English and Korean. And, if I may say so, there was a lot more complacency about how much more they had in their pockets, because English people had more money, and Korean people were, for the most part, better able to take it - but the African American people were constantly given to - to put it politely - having more babies than either Americans or Korean parents.
This is not some God given truth, but a product of where the babies were brought up. From the time that they were born, before they even knew their name, they were taught that more babies were good. Where as English, Korean, Chinese, and so on - knew that only a few babies were to be brought into the world, and some were not going to have any. As I said, this was not the idea of the babies, but of rich people who instructed them as to which they were part of.
Thus in the richer sections, there would be one baby, or two.
Their mother was away, with a third job, and their aunt - who was truly their own- was downstairs talking on the telephone and watching some film. In other words, they were completely alone. The oldest boy, who was more studious, was trying to get through physics. The eldest sister, next in line, was both talking on her cell phone, and trying to do some basic grammar, though she was not getting what the example was teaching. The younger brother was not doing anything in particular, but he also didn't want to do anything. Then there was the little baby girl, who, of course, wasn't actually a baby anymore - but liked to pretend as if she was - reading a picture book from the library. It actually was due back some weeks ago, but she didn't notice it - and the eldest boy who might have, had not looked at the due date.
She was opening the book, and trying to read the text, but she had difficulty with some of the words. First she tried, then she procrastinated, or if you prefer, she was not reading but daydreaming. Then finally she would go and seek out the younger brother, who would know at least some of the words that she was guessing at.
“Can you help me read this?” She had screwed up her courage, and brightened her face to a dimple.
The younger brother, only two years older in fact, was not in the mood for such kind of games. He had, what he thought,something was more important to do. In fact it really wasn't that important, but he thought it was, which was a distinction that children would get.
“CS Lewis? Who is that?” he looked outside and saw four white children dressed in furs. The outside was different. Instead of the inside opening up to the outside, there was a trick of perspective, where the inside was large, and it opened up, but it was smaller. This trick of perspective annoyed the younger brother, though he did not know why. He just knew that there was something wrong, which is more than Lucy - because that was her name - knew. He was called Eddie, though, of course. Edward was his real name. To complete the picture, Sandra was the middle sister, and Peter was the oldest brother. Of course I should pick names which were different, but those are the names, mostly, that CS Lewis picked.
“I don't know who CS Lewis was. It says on the back cover that he was English, where is English?” she looked up at him.
“England. And name of the place is England.”
She pronounced it over and over again. “What kind of place is England?”
Actually, he didn't know what kind of place was England, he knew it was near to the center of the map then he was, but that's about it. He also knew, as almost the only thing he knew, that England was the center, and that they were interlopers, because he heard his mother and her sister saying that a long time ago, they were forced to speak English, only he had a feeling that it was further back than his grandparents era, maybe even great grandparents era. “That's the place where people really did speak English, as opposed to learning it from the enslavers.”
“Enslavers? What are those?”
“Along time ago we were free, and people in Africa. Then along came white people, and they enslaved us to their schemes.”
“And that was bad?” She asked.
“Definitely so.” He pronounced every single word with emphasis, that is with a pronouncement on each little word.
She thought about it, having never realized that there were any such things in the world, but that it must be so. Realize she didn't like Edward very much, though she had respect for anyone who was older. “And so the grandparents were converted to English speakers in that place?”
“I think so, but we should ask the older two, they may have a more precise opinion.” actually he hoped that they would do the talking, and he could sneak off, it was time for football, though I won't say which kind. Their are many kinds of football in the world.
So they got up and rushed in to Peter's room to ask questions. Rather she wanted to ask questions, and he wanted to get out of the responsibility.
“Peter,” Chimed Lucy, “may I ask you a question?”
Peter, willing to put beside him his own questions - where no one could answer them - and answer some of Lucy's questions - which he may be able to answer - gave a nod. Then he realized, that he would have to say something, because he didn't know if Lucy understand. “What is it that you want to know?””
“Eddie says that England, where the English live, converted us from another kind of speaker, in to more English people. Is that true?” Lucy looked at him with rounded eyes, not seeing how this could be possible.
“Yes, in Africa we spoke a myriad - that lots of different languages - and they immediately set us up to speak only one. That would be English, and only English, though in the very long past their was disagreement between Dutch, and Swedish, and other places spoke Spanish or Portuguese.”
“Like the people across the street speak Spanish, and their parents only speak a little bit of English.”
It was at that exact moment that the oldest sister came in, she had just learned how to apply makeup too make her skin look better. “What's this fuss about.” She had just learned the word “fuss”, because that was not a word associated with one's they knew. She then expired: “I'm bored, let's play a game, and not a board game - something like hide and go seek - that sort of game.”
Though Lucy protested, the other three children thought of this as a grand idea. Naturally, Peter was picked as the first to run, with all of the other children hiding. The children were not in a house that they owned, so they were careful not to scratch, or mar, the furniture. Each went off in his or her own direction, and quickly set about hiding from the other children, as much as from Peter.
While the other two children were set about on getting in to a covered area, Lucy was stuck in not knowing which way to go, and she said about using the whole apartment, which included rooms that she was not allowed to go into - normally. These were rooms set up so that they could be rented out by the week, not merely by the month. Every time the landlord took extra care to make sure that they were covered. In one room there was a wardrobe, which was unusual, and probably left by someone who had no use for. It was old, very old indeed, because it was through and through would, not of veneer of wood. She spy it and felt that this was the place to enter it, and she could hear the other children racing around, as if they were going to be caught up. So she had as best as she could, feeling that someone would be caught very soon.
She reached the wardrobe, and grasped its fine wood, smooth to the touch. She went in and closed it behind her, and thought that she would reach the back and of it, but she found there was a second row of furs behind, and then a third and forth row.
Then something spectacular happened, which you will of course, guess. There were stars.
Not thousands but millions of stars, so many much more than on earth. She reached in to space and found that there were branches, and trees, and rambles, this was not what she was expecting. Not at all.