Friday, June 13, 2008

Your familiar name

Hers was a country, she said, in which you should never tell your friend that her baby was beautiful or cute. It was an ugly baby, you had to say. Its mouth was like a dog’s, its skin like the underside of a snail. Only in this way could you be sure that you weren’t bringing bad luck on the baby whose familiar name among friends and family would soon settle into ‘dog’ or ‘snail’ – never the name of a flower, never anything beautiful or sweet. You could even be called ‘poo’, she said, and this would be the only name used among those who knew you well. Among family and friends this name was to protect you, to keep evil away. If you lived a long, happy and healthy life you would be glad, in the end, that they named you ‘poo’.

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