|Before you even come into this world, it seems that a name is already picked out, waiting for you.
(ix. baby names)
The Doctor hardly ever looks at me in the eyes, so it is not surprising that she has trouble understanding the expressions on my face. Even in the examination room, she doesnt look. Instead she carefully annotates her clipboard with a wealth of scribbles and figures. The odd times that she does look directly at me, she remains fixated for a time and, although I dont know why, nearly on the verge of a tear. How she can look at something so beautiful as eyes and feel sadness, I really dont understand.
Many people I meet here in the hospital follow the Doctors lead, and so it is no wonder I have trouble speaking with them, too. But I am sure that if people would just look at each other, it would be much easier to communicate. Maybe even we could do away with these artificial, modern inventions that seem so unnecessary. People wouldnt need mirrors or photographs to see each other because they could remember with their eyes. Nobody would hide behind telephones when they speak. Maybe, if people would look really hard, we wouldnt even need words.
Certainly we could do without names, at least. If people just looked at one another, we wouldnt need to assign children with labels to remember them by. We could say: "I was talking to the boy with the bright smile. He and I are going with the small girl with lovely hands to watch the sunset. Wont you join us?" But instead people choose to describe everyone with names: George and Sam, Heather or Sally. But tell me: what does it mean to be a Sally anyway? Does it mean you are like all the other Sallys in the world? Are you tall or short? Do you like butterflies or humming birds? Do Sallys wear pretty clothes? Can you tell me if they dream in black and white?
Certainly, I would rather be known as the one with the curious smile. The Doctor, however, wont accept this. A nurse asking the same questions precedes nearly every examination I have. "Name?" she demands coolly. "Birthday?" I have no answer for these questions. Honestly, I cant even be sure what they mean.
For me, the strangest part about names is where they come from. Actually, Im not sure anyone knows exactly where that is. Before you even come into this world, it seems that a name is already picked out, waiting for you. It surely must take some of the pleasure out of being born.
You can see this fact on the babies faces. Reader, have you ever seen the newborns in the maternity ward? Ive often wandered there since coming to the hospital. Its an extraordinary sight. Each baby has a bracelet blue for boys, pink for girls on which their unfamiliar names are printed sternly with a label gun. Its lucky that these babies cant read. If they could, Im sure youd see them throwing out their bracelets with their diapers. After all, babies are the pickiest creatures. Its impossible to guess what exactly theyd like. Theres no formula that suits them perfectly.
To tell you the truth, I feel most at home there, in the nursery. Just like me, these babies have come lately to this world. They have no more memories than I have. The Doctor says babies cant even remember their birthdays. They are left to sleep carelessly through most of the day. In fact, they still look a little frightened when they wake up. Perhaps even, these babies still guard innumerable dreams.
When I look at the babies in the nursery, I sense an understanding. Their tears are like mine, just smaller. Their smiles are beautiful when they dream. Even their thoughts seem easy to imagine. I like to believe that, just like me, they do not feel the slightest need to remember their names.