the silence

The silence. That’s what I remember most. My first lived experience of “whatever you say, say nothing.”

Me, only me. It’s just me that’s getting to go. No brother, no cousins. Me, me, me.

It’s Sunday, it’s sticky and we’re going for a run in Seamus’ car.

My auntie Mary on one side of me, auntie Helen on the other.

Newtownstewart, Sion Mills, Strabane, Lifford. There’s always buckets and spades outside the shop in Lifford.

On towards Letterkenny. Chat, chat, chat. Grown up chat. I wonder will we go as far as Gweedore? I hope we do.

Sudden quiet. They’re not even complaining about that lorry in the middle of the road.

Ah, soldiers. Guns.

Oh.

Not soldiers. Balaclavas. No uniforms. An awful lot of guns.

I don’t like this.

I can’t ask.

I can’t say anything.

Nobody is saying anything.

We’re not going to Gweedore.

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7 thoughts on “the silence”

  1. We lived in London. Boys with English accents in the back seat. Oh G.. Don’t speak, don’t speak, don’t say a word. Nobody anywhere should have to feel this silence, except to remind others. Too many who never get to go to Gweedore.

    1. Until about 10 years ago I was concerned about my accent in England. People aren’t scared of me any more; they just have no idea what I’m saying!

    1. A fascinating thing, Debra, was that it was never spoken of in my hearing. It was many years later that I discovered that everyone knew and my parents had been waiting for me to tell them about it. But because it wasn’t mentioned, I didn’t know it was ok to talk about it. The odd lessons we learn! My poor parents probably didn’t want to make a big deal of it or add to my concerns, but it became Unmentionable in my head…

  2. I know that place, I remember times of silence and tummy knots in the early years of my marriage here in Northern Ireland. I was the STRANGER in a shop, a church or a district. My accent stood out and I was not welcome. I remember being in a shop, picking up the item I wanted, taking it to the counter and handing over the exact cash – anything to avoid the need to engage in Conversation. Nowadays I talk to everyone.

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