Almost any talk about what I did or didn’t do when I was younger generates a painful scene which then becomes another subject we can’t talk about, so that as the years go by there is less and less we can safely talk about, and eventually little but the news and weather and interest rates. And other people.
We can’t talk about my father, my brother and sister-in-law, the paternal side of the family, certain members on the maternal side, some cousins, my writing - which isn’t considered as ‘real’ work, how I live or don’t live, where I live, virtually anything about the past, the arrangement of the garden, leftover foods, cooking oils, why I spend so much time alone and don’t have a husband and …
But one day, after we have been talking about a forbidden subject, I realize it may be possible, sometimes, to say something calmly and carefully about a forbidden subject, so that it may once again become a subject that can be talked about, and then to say something calm and careful about another forbidden subject, so that there will be another subject that can be talked about, and that as more subjects can be talked about once again there will be, gradually, more talk between us, and that as there is more talk there will be more trust, and that when there is enough trust, we may dare to approach even the most dangerous of the forbidden subjects, which is the death of my father and what happened after it.
-Adapted from the eponymous short story by Lydia Davis.
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