out of the mouths of bébés…
“Je vais faire de bruite très calme, car j’aime le bruit très calme1.” The musings of a French romantic poet? Victor Hugo, Théophile Gautier or Alfred de Musset, perhaps? No. The musings of a three-year old.
With her French artist / yoga teacher mother and English sax player father, the odds were high that Noukie (now nine) would be quirky and artistic. But her idiosyncratic, artistic, and at times esoteric take on the world seems more profound than that.
Seeing the dusty body of a pigeon lying in the gutter, its blue-grey feathers ruffling in the wind, she said “il est cassé, le pigeon” (it is broken, the pigeon): as though it were a broken toy she could no longer play with. Then, taking Pascale’s hand, she asked calmly, “Parle me encore de la mort” (speak to me more about death).
Observing her father shave, she said, “Le rasoir. Un truc pour râper les joues quand ca pique,” the prosaic razor described as a thing for grating men’s cheeks when they prickle.
Watching The Jungle Book, she gave a name to the anonymous yet beguiling girl from the village: “Elle est Mooglelle” – the feminine (‘elle’) Moogli.
My partner and I hosted a wonderful dinner before moving to England last September, and Noukie came along with Pascale. When it was time to leave, she wept hot tears, and was inconsolable until I’d rocked her in my arms and promised that we’d still see each other. A few days later she wrote me a poem:
Elle est belle comme fleur
embellie par le soleille
rayer comme les abeille
la plus belle ces elle
Quand elle paint en rouge
tout son art bouge
elle est une actrice
au bonne odeur d’épisse.
I want to be this person who is smooth, soft, calmed by the sun, clothed like the bees, with a generous scent of spices…
1. “Je vais faire de bruite très calme, car j’aime le bruit très calme,” roughly translates as ‘I’m going to make a very quiet noise, because I love the noise that’s very quiet…’