I write my story, but I wish I could tell other stories. I wish I could tell the stories of the other girls. I wish I could tell Nata’s story.
I am more and more aware as I go through this process of the privilege that I enjoy. I am more and more of the privilege my race gives me, the privilege my mother tongue gives me in the United States, the privilege my opportunity for an education gives me, the privilege my parents’ level of education gives me too. I am aware of the privilege having an official record of my life gives me—that I have a birth certificate, a passport, school records. I am more and more aware of the privilege my legal status gives me.
I can tell my story in large part because of these things, and I can find an audience for it, even if it is a small one. And I have maybe the confidence that comes with privilege that eventually someone will listen to me.
I wrote a long time ago—maybe two years ago—about this idea that people become writers become they have a story inside that they have been unable to gain an audience for. Their experience has in some way felt silenced to them.
I had a story that had not been told. I had been unable to tell it. I didn’t even know what it was. I have something of a story. I have told some of it.
These days, I am feeling I wish I could tell everyone else’s stories. All the stories that played out in front of me, I wish I could tell them, because they will otherwise never be told. And yet I don’t know those stories.
I don’t remember what I used to know even. There are so many things I didn’t know, because I was a child and paying attention to my own needs and feelings and not always to anyone else’s.
So I can go on only telling my story, because it’s the only one I know with any authority. Maybe there are other stories that slip through—bits of them. But it’s a terrible thing. For no one ever to hear or know them.