Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The real shame—now I know—is to consent to silence

The doors of my chamber open before me. Supported by my son I labor one step after another, till I make my way out. This is like no sunrise I have ever seen before. A sphere of fire, in which I spot innumerable flames of orange, red, and purple, rolls over the dark hills, setting their outline ablaze. 
Below, somewhere in the women’s quarters, children are starting to awaken. I hear their voices: some cry, others call for their mothers. One of them, a young girl, runs out to the courtyard, then stops and turns her head back. 
I squint against the light, which allows me to recognize her: she is my grandchild, Absalom’s child.
Now she waves at me. Her laughter is so pure, so melodic. It is full of silvery notes, which reminds me of my own daughter, Tamar, and the way she used to laugh, before silence overtook her. 
I want to go down to the child and put my arms around her to keep her safe, now and in the future—but I know that it is not in my power. Even so I murmur to her, across the distance, “Let you never surrender to silence, because if you do, it would leave you with the rusty, poisonous taste of shame.” 
The child has opened the gate. Like me, she is watching the sunrise. I wonder what it means for her. Perhaps, hope.
One day my daughter, Tamar, will stop listening to the dictates of those who wished to hush her. She will no longer obey the words, ‘Shut up,’ which she must still be hearing in her mind, in the voice of Amnon, who raped her. Nor will she obey the words, “Be silent for now,” in the voice of Absalom, who sought to protect her. 
The real shame—now I know—is to consent to silence. A day will come when she will transform her suffering into meaning, into words. 

Excerpt from The Edge of Revolt


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