When I sang, the heavens opened. Or so I believed. At six, I wandered across the street from my house, plonked myself in my favorite tree (the one I believed offered me invisibility), and there, I composed.
My songs, I was sure, would change the world. I would become a sensation because I was sensational. I would sit and sing, picking leaves, writing unseen words with their stems, but it never occurred to me to take paper and pen.“If I can remember this song, it’ll be a hit!” I told myself. But my lyrics dissolved into the air and the music remained in my memory just long enough for the measure to complete.
My mom would hear me belt out music, “You’ve got a gift,” she would say and so at church and talent shows, despite my crippling shyness, in the spotlight I rose. Song after song, accompanied or solos, I sang for the audience, I sang for me and I was blissful as could be. Perhaps, even happy.
I remember having a blue ribbon pinned to my chest for a song I’d sung, and I beamed from a pool of positivity that only a child could sustain from within. The ribbon has been lost for years, but its memory is collecting dust in the vault that holds the few other awards I’ve collected over the years.
Then came being thirteen: swallowed whole by insecurities. Swimming in self-consciousness, I finally drowned when the class bitch said, “You sing funny”. And there, my mouth clamped shut and my voice lost volume. Any confidence and self assurance governed by years of singing and my parents’ encouragement vanished.
My world was taken over by silence and lip-synching.
Finally one day, I said I’d resurrect my gift – but years of soundlessness had taken a toll and I discovered that I could no longer sing.The ache in me, the newfound loss of identity, translated into poetry and screamed from teenage angst filled stories. “You can still sing,” my mother tells me even now, but her words I do not believe.
Because you see, my voice is no longer in song, it’s in my messy handwriting and furious typing and I have to ask, (ever so timidly), can you hear me?