Monday, February 18, 2008

Names

I enter the Malian consulate like a Bflat in the key of E major. All around me full lips close and part again speaking urgently in a language I do not know. Skin glows aubergine, bottoms bustle with cloth-wound babes bobbing on their ridges, and what I understand as order is replaced by chaos.

A thought: Our child is going to look like this.

The experience of sitting in that room with a hundred Malians is far from the conversation about Dogon art I had with friends in their Saint Germain apartment the night before over a Puglian pasta dish and a white Burgundy.

Another thought: Our child will not have Julian’s soft blonde curls. Nor my silky brown hair easily tied into a ponytail.

My name is called. I slide my documents under the window.

‘Come back in ten days.’
‘But…?’
‘You live in Paris?’
‘No’
‘Wait here.’

I look at the girls’names in the marriage announcements that are posted on the wall: Alissala, Typhaine, Opheline, Djenebou, Aminata, Nina…

The man on my right asks me to address an envelope for him. The man on my left holds his grandchild close as he breathes lungfuls of air in through spacious nostrils.

I can hear my documents being stamped. I will be out of here in no time and on my way to the Agence Française de l’Adoption with all it’s pretty pictures of Asian and African children in villages.

A question: ‘To which culture will our child belong?’

I think about Sarkozi’s instruction that every ten-year-old pupil should know the identity of one of the 11,000 Jewish children who were deported from France to their deaths at Nazi hands.What about the Iraqi children who were killed? I wonder. And the American soldiers too poor to have any choice other than to go to war? Sudan? Ireland? Brixton? The bird shot down for sport? And would such weight be helpful on a child's shoulders?

Another thought: Every life is sacred. Not just the victim’s.

I can see my papers waiting to be picked up behind the glass window, but my name has not been called. I continue to wait.

Now a memory from a film: A Janinst monk walks Dartmoor. ‘Forgiveness is love’ he says.

Another memory: Sitting in a café in Mexico trying to have a conversation about forgiveness with a Jewish friend whose family were exterminated.

How much longer can we keep separating ourselves out into cultures, countries, colours and religions?

People are elbowing their way to the window where our now fully legalised adoption papers sit. No numbers are being called. I look around. Things look different. I see parents loving their children, people laughing as they exchange gossip, smiling as they greet one-another and concentrating as they fill in forms. I see people. I see people being people. How could I have seen anything else?

I elbow my way to the window, and take my papers from the man with the trim moustache and large lapels.

I walk towards the metro, bound for Bastille. We are going to be a family, I think.

That night I dream: I am lying on the hospital bed. Cold blue gel is being spread on the huge dome of my jet black pregnant belly. I look at the image on the screen. Inside me there is a baby that looks like Joni Mitchell sketched by Matisse.

Joni Djenebou, I think. That’s a nice name.

8 Comments:

Blogger Kaycie said...

That is a gorgeous name.

My husband is not the biological father of two of our children, but he is indeed their Daddy. It comes, in a lovely, natural way. You just let it develop.

You will be a wonderful family.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Dale said...

(o)

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What could be more self-aware, more descriptive, more authentically YOU than the flat five / Lydian raised 11th in the key of E they told you always to avoid. go for it, play it strong and make it last!

11:53 PM  
Blogger ruth said...

thank you everyone for your support!

i guess i feel if we are not willing to look at our own prejudices and fears, even if they are inherited or merely absorbed unconsciously from our culture, we won't be able to deal with anyone else's.

1:29 AM  
Blogger ruth said...

in response to jenna's question a while back (sorry, i have been on tour!): our dossier is sent to bamako now. the next 'commission' is held there at some point (bamako style), the last having been in January, 2007, and if they choose to 'retain' our dossier we have a chance to have a child attributed to us. There is no order or waiting list; they simply choose the people into whose arms they want their abandoned babies to go. When a child becomes available (usually a baby abandoned on the street) and it's our 'turn' (in the turnless sense) we will be notified. IF we are chosen (and they never tell you if you aren't) it will probably be 18 months to two years. If we are very lucky and our contacts and planned trip help, a year....

1:38 AM  
Blogger Lin said...

My step-father is black and when we first met, I was surprised that I was so very aware of color. Not in a negative way, just an aware sort of way. But then, so very quickly, we became family. As will you.

Best of luck with the whole process and may speed be on your side.

xoxo

10:53 PM  
Blogger Robyn said...

It is such a privilege to follow you on your journey, uninvited as I am. Your experience is so moving and the anticipation of your joy has become part of my life.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

hi Ruth
has your husband's site Postcards from Provence been claimed at Technorati as I cannot find it ...
I would be happy to add if you can give me the URL of the blog at Technorati :)
regards Kim

11:37 PM  

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