Yesterday morning, I was moved to tears by this post on Emma’s Hope Book. I am not the sort of person who cries at the drop of a pin (or whatever the neurotypical saying may be), but the subject of the post, and the way it was presented with such gentleness and empathy, yet fierce protective feelings surrounding precious Emma, wove its way into my deeper consciousness and literally struck a chord in there. The ‘chord’ was a tender, soft, sombre trombone tritone and delicate glockenspiel dancing embellishment in between. The tritone was once considered the devil’s chord. It is labeled ‘dissonance,’ but to me, it sings of yearning, the desire to be heard, for one’s own Voice. I read the post with a tinge of envy, I must admit, because of the obvious love of mother for special child, fiercely protecting her right for a Voice.
We all, regardless of neurological disposition and function, yearn for this Voice. The struggle to sing the songs of Self can be monumental for some of us. Yet, I suspect, the greater the endeavour, the more rich and textured the song that emerges in the end. But there is a cost, and for some, the price is heavier than for others. I count myself lucky in this respect, really.
I have recently been apprised of certain familial gossip surrounding me. It doesn’t seem to end, does it? (Am I really such a fascinating creature?) The specifics, of course, depend on which branch of the family tree and from which swing or slide in the playground the tittle-tattle is being stirred, shaken and slung: my various incarnations include the recalcitrant unholy deviant, the ingrate who turned away from the wealth of goodness offered to me and the milk of human kindness force fed down my unappreciative gullet, to whispers surrounding my current claims to poverty. Some of it with hissing spitting vitriol and condemnation couched in religiosity, and other morsels bandied around by less malevolent scuttlebutts with nothing better to do with their time.
What business is it of yours what kind of life I am living right now, unless it is your expressed wish to join me in my long march ahead, or to support me in one way or another? And if you are really concerned, or interested in the slightest about my welfare, my work and my journey, why have you not contacted me directly to ask me what you can do for me?
I told the messenger, someone who means a lot to me and who actively cares for me, that I do not give a monkey’s butt for the chattering going on. (I do apologise to the monkeys for this turn of phrase.)
I have found my Voice at last, it has not been easy, it was not handed to me through the bars of the gilded cage, I had to leave something behind in order to find something within. Am I to put a gag on my Voice for the sake of people who have imprisoned me and others who have little else to do with their day than indulging in yakkity-yak? The latter group are generally nonpoisonous, but really, if they were to despise me for my declared current state of comparative poverty, then they know nothing about my journey. Sadly, the collective – detractors or aimless gossipers – would still have much to say were I to turn up at their doorsteps in a Rolls Royce, bedecked in more shiny baubles than Liberace ever was. There is nothing much I can do about the neurotypical penchant for unedifying rubbish chatter. I have to focus on my own Voice, my own path and my own juxtapositions of ability and disability – I only have one life to live, as far as I am aware anyway, I cannot waste any more time than I already have done, wading in circles inside the bog of spuriousness.
Here is one of my own songs, recorded 14 years ago. I wrote the music and lyrics, and I gave myself voice by singing it. This is the voice of one who was told all my life that I could not sing, I was relegated to the piano, recognised for my talent there and made to perform as their pet monkey in their little circus (again, I do beg pardon from monkeys for my references – it is a visual fixation, because I was a tiny, thin creature and also called a monkey). When I discovered my voice, I was mocked by the neurotypicals with whom I grew up, who professed to ‘love’ me, because, on hindsight, they felt threatened by this emergence. The subaltern is stirring and edging towards independence, and the colonial powers are nervous. A simple explanation, understandable, but very painful. You may not like my song, you may not like my voice, but it is mine, and guess what, I love having a Voice. Perhaps you may wish to find your own too.
ME by Dawn-joy Leong (click on image or title to listen on Sound Cloud)