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Sunday Times Books LIVE

Anne Townsend

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

You’ll have to try this at home, folks

Those who are silenced scream inside. Their screams freeze and they cannot live fully in the world. But as I wander around Family Ground Zero, I notice that I feel unburdened, elated, and free. I am no longer silencing myself. Not that I wouldn’t welcome the cooperation of relatives, but it’s the insidious self-silencing that has gagged my life force all these years. I was watering my own grave.

I cannot recall all the people who have found ingenious ways to slap a clumsy fist over my mouth when I raise the issue of my past. But what I do know is that each and every time I give myself permission to ask questions, the web of confusion untangles. Every time someone does answer a question, with openness and courage, or extends empathy and kindness even if they don’t have any answers, the web of deceit uncoils, sometimes by a millimetre, sometimes by a mile.Gagged Visual

I never know in advance who will offer a stretcher and who will try and clamp stubby fingers over my halting words. But by now it matters less who listens and who silences because as long as I hear my story, the way opens. The river flows. How I wish I could bottle the exhilaration I feel as I hone my right to ask questions, because nothing comes close to the high of uncorking the silence. I have no words for this, people. You’ll have to try this at home.

 

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