Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Je parle francais
He enters the room and I freeze. Suddenly I stutter, I pause, I slip into English. I introduce him to the person I was talking to. He continues the conversation in French. I smile and nod. A word. And then I slip away to strike up another conversation. In English this time. When he joins me, we carry on in English. I rediscover my wit, my humour, my sarcasm. My punch line is greeted with laughs. And the rest of the evening is fun. In English.
I pour out my soul to him - if not all of it, at least more so than to most other people. I laugh with him. I cry with him - sometimes at least. I open myself up and let him into the corners of my heart. I talk with him in my different accents. I am myself with him. And then he walks into the room and the French just dries up on the tip of my tongue. Self-conscious doesn't begin to describe it. Pour a little wine into me and my tongue might loosen a bit, but still.Nothing like a dose of D to sober me up when I'm speaking French.
Why, when in all other ways I can be myself with him, can't I do this? "You're fine" he says. "You'll get better and better if you practice with me - why can't we just talk like we would?"
Because. Because I cringe when I hear my faults next to his. Because I stutter. Because I can't find the words. Because I make mistakes a four-year-old would be ashamed of. Because that's just one part of myself that I can't seem to open up. Because I can't bear to see him being patient. Because I can't bear to transform our easy conversation into a series of halts and stumbles.
Because I still hold on to the comforting yet probably misplaced notion that he thinks I am perfect. And because opening my mouth would destroy the illusion. Not, perhaps, for him. But definitely for me.
Posted by Maithili at 5:19 PM