Friday, August 03, 2007

From: Silences: The Autobiography of Loss

The ending is never mine to write.
This tale is so fragile that I cannot muster the ending on its own.
I must send this to you. You, a total stranger, to discover my own story.
What do you not know about me? Answer.
Tell me what to know about me. We have known this since our births,
haven't we? - that lucidity generates questions, not answers. (81)

Still, as women, we must insist on answers.
An attempt at an answer here by Marjorie Evasco (via Eileen):

Five hundred years after, women writers of this century try to trace their ancestors to as far back as they can remember or dare to dream, for like them they carry upon their arms the enchanted marks of words which may enable them to continue to hold up half the sky of legend and worship. But the re-tracing is arduous and fraught with peril. Not only is there the deadly silence of four hundred centuries to contend with; there is also the overwhelming patriarchal order which may threaten them into a more deadly silence.

What then is the task of women writers in search of their roots? Cut off from the awesome tree of history, do they quietly wither away with the grief of not being able to find their mothers, grandmothers and great-great-grandmothers? Or do they plant themselves into the rich soil of their womanhood and dream of growing, so that in their growing they will find their way into the depths of their story and connect with the great tap root of their ancient mothers?

Today’s writers, particularly women writers, carry the burden of articulating women’s experiences as they go through these processes of change, to enable more and more women, as well as men, to wrestle with the ghosts and monsters of their lives, whether these monsters and ghosts are in the past, the present, or the future. For women writers, the task to remember is also the task to dream. They must not only be able to find more babaylanes in the past, the Leona Florentinos and Magdalena Jalandonis who wrestled bravely with the monster of silence and actualized their creative power. They must also enable more women in the future to use their strong, clear voices in order to affirm their womanhood and enrich the experiences of our shared humanity.

Hopefully, their own daughters, granddaughters, and great granddaughters of the 21st century will be able to live through holocausts and revolutions and read that their foremothers did their task well so that they too might write more freely as human beings and live more fully as women. The present women’s struggle to assert identity and to create a stronger sense of community shall have been for the survival of the very young writers who are now doing their first exercises at the babaylan’s altars and worktables. They must be encouraged to go on and fulfill themselves. For the sacred clearing in the forest and the vision of pintadas could still be lost to women if they are not wakeful. If they remain mindful of the memory and faithful to the vision, it is possible that every time a young woman writer comes to join that circle of women chanting the rhythms of the fire, she will learn to re-affirm what earlier wise women demanded of themselves ages ago: to celebrate without guilt the gift for the healing words of power.

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