I’ve been writing and publishing in English for half a decade now. It’s been an exciting and enlightening journey of self-discovery and a study of what it means to willingly change such an integral part of self as language. I recently wrote an essay (on page 20) discussing how this swapping of languages has affected me, how it has shifted the building blocks of my (writerly) identity.
The years of studying the English language at university level and then two more years of studying writing in English have given me a solid base when it comes to the technical aspects of the language – I’ve learned to think in English. But on occasion I’m still slightly doubtful whether I’ve learned to feel in English. To some extent I imagine I must have, as I would be otherwise hard pressed to express any kind of emotion in my work.
What about the senses? Are they conditioned by the place and culture I live in? I don’t know. Do they remind me of places I’ve been to, people I’ve met, angry words I’ve spoken, and dinners I’ve shared? Certainly. Senses are the inciting sparks of stories and poems and the places and times at which I became aware of them shape how I use them, maybe even how I interpret them. The prickly memory of stepping on a sea urchin has me smiling with nostalgia for long gone childhood summers. At the sight of a little girls’ yellow dress I remember the mix of spicy cologne and motorcycle exhausts that I smelled on Grandpa the day he gifted me a yellow dress with white appliqué in front. Hearing the music of AC/DC will forever remind me of the limo driver at my wedding. Grilled stakes on a bit of olive oil and trickled with lemon juice taste of Sicily and the long, hot days of the summer of 2006.
Senses are like a language of their own, one that weaves in and out of words being put on paper or spoken to another, a language so universal that we all understand yet so personal that it is coloured with different hues for every individual – but it always paints breath-taking pictures that are sometimes difficult to put into mere words.