Monday 28 May 2007
I've been finding that my family has been calling me ridiculously often these last few days.
Yesterday evening, surprise: my sister on the phone.
I was truly astonished. I thought we wouldn’t speak before … at least 3 months considering our last conversation. Which just goes to show, life is full of surprises.
She started by giving me a brilliant demonstration on the limits of cheekiness by launching immediately, and most serenely, into a detailed and enthusiastic tale of her last holiday.
Except that recently I haven’t been able to concentrate on long egocentric monologues.
Briefly, after about fifteen minutes, I started thinking about something completely different, scattering “uh huh” her and there, while she took a breath.
Obviously she quickly realised that I wasn’t listening any more. “Are you doing something else at the same time, or what? You’re not listening!” I replied that I was asking myself some questions about the medications I was taking (“Is it absolutely sure and certain that I must stop the Brexin after 10 days? Wouldn’t it be better to continue until my next consultation with Dr Foldès? And should I call him to confirm it *?”).
“Ah. So it’s done then?” she asked me (she didn’t know that my operation had taken place because the only time I had spoken to her about it, on that disastrous Sunday of humiliation, the date of the procedure hadn’t been mentioned…)
“Yes Wednesday 16 May” I replied.
Silence at the other end of the line.
I waited (once bitten twice shy), then when it seemed to me that she was waiting for me to say a bit more to her, I carefully started to describe my misfortunes in the realm of pain.
That’s when it happened. It’s ridiculous this gift my sister has for stopping me short in a few words.
“Don’t speak in French! Don’t speak in French! Speak in Mandingue” she said, sounding panic-stricken.
“Huh? Why? What’s happening?”
“My hands are full and I’ve put you on the speaker-phone!” she said. Before adding, in Mandigue: “He’s in the room with me, he could hear!”
I stayed speechless. Literally.
Her partner didn’t know. He didn’t know she had been circumcised.
The moment I realised what she had just said, a surprising weight of sorrow and worry for her came down on me.
But what was she going to do? Was she going to hide it from him all her life? Had she the right to say nothing? Is that not fatal for the couple?
Is it not too late to speak to him any way? What I mean to say is, they’ve been together several years and they’ve lived together two years… So if she decided to tell him now, would he not be angry with her for having hidden it all these years?
At the same time it’s all very well for me to shout catastrophe while I didn’t have to ask the questions. In truth, I don’t know if it’s so important, or if it’s necessary to panic.
Because before he was my acknowledge lover, my man was a friend, even a very good friend. A friend in whose arms I had cried hot tears after that horrible visit to the gynaecologist who told me my circumcision didn’t matter (“it’s done, it’s done, what do you want …” with this slightly reproachful tone which crucified me) and that well, so, I wouldn’t ever have an orgasm, and I had to accept that (“there are women who have never had an orgasm in their life and you are one of them, that’s all”).
So when we went out together, he knew I had been circumcised. And I hadn’t had to experience that moment which I suppose is very, very difficult, of telling my lover.
The conversation ended inconclusively with a whisper from her (“I’ll call you again during the week”) which left me thinking that she wanted, at last, to talk to me about her circumcision. I felt overcome.
But what was she going to do?
Little by little I am feeling sorry for my sister.
And I no longer know what to do with the war hatchet.
* I called him and I really must stop the Brexin after ten days.
[Original in French]