Trafika Europe 11 - Swiss Delights

My Mother’s Tears

slippedout of anenvelopewhere it laywitholdpostcards. Someone picked it up and said terrible flood . I can’t say if it was a man’s or a woman’s voice. The voice was of neither sex, neither high nor low, neither slow nor rushed, a voice escaped from a phantom body that said only terrible flood without putting any feeling into those two words, confident they contained an incontestable truth, an objective voice with a tone someone might have when giving testimony about an accident observed from his balcony, answering with complete confidence the interrogation the police put him through. This terrible flood frightened with the force of its truth. The speaker offered no objection or, more likely, did not dare object when my mother snatched the photograph away and, with a smile striking for its quiet violence, said: No need for foolishness. And the conversation continued as if nothing—not the sexless voice, my mother’s ‘No need for foolishness’, or the legitimate questions about the photograph, dropped from who knows where— had happened, as if my mother’s voice, her cleverness, her charm always managed to prevent a pall of silence falling after those moments of unpleasantness that waken multiple curiosities or hone existing ones and so stifle those moments as quickly as possible. Words blanket other words, scatter them, erase them. My mother’s words had the power to charm, to placate, that is, to banish unwelcome opinions, to confine them


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