And siblings ask questions too…*


Mariana Alba de Luna

Association  La Main à l’Oreille


I would like to ask a question to Marian, who said before that she has an autistic sister. When did you realize what was going on with your sister, accept it, and when did you think people must become aware of that, and understand it too? When did you make that decision?

“When I was a little girl the first answer I had was aggression, because at first I felt attacked because of my sister’s arrival, she was born one year later than me.

I know it now, I felt attacked because of her enigmatic presence, from the moment she was born everything stopped, she took the place of everything.

And I had to deal first with the aggressiveness, and at the same time with the fascination I felt for her because I saw her as special. I felt love for her, and a mixture between love and anger because she arrived so soon and took my place. I thought it was something like that.

But later on I started to become fascinated, and I said: “Well, if everyone is interested in her, I’m going to be like her”. Then I began… not to imitate her, but I glued myself to her and became like her double. I sat down next to her and began to wonder “But what is she doing there silent, in a corner, in the garden? She must do something!” And I discovered many things.

Putting myself next to her I discovered, for instance, that she spent hours looking at little ants that nobody saw (as Eugénie Bourdeau said, when you are in another flat which is not the scene itself, then you can look). Then I began to find peace, maybe the same one she found looking at the ant’s incessant movement. And my anger calmed, I could be with her. And I said to myself “Well, the movement she doesn´t have, those insects do, and that keeps her busy”.

And then, for instance, she spends a lot of time in a window looking at the street, looking at the life around her… And I put myself at that angle… not to look at her, but to stop being trapped by looking at her, and to ask: “Who are you?, What are you? What is your name?”, because my sister doesn’t speak. And then I said, “Well I’m going to try to know what her world is like, what it is that she looks at.” And I saw that she was looking at the same things: the little ants are people in the city, the baker, when he opens the shop and makes noise with the shutter, the man from the restaurant opposite who opens his door at the same time. And she comes and checks that everything is in its place and happens at the precise moment. And that is her world; we are little ants for her.

And something else happened to her: she escaped and we were very worried about that – I don´t know if that has happened to any parent here, that they disappear, with no limits. And we had to look for her, bring her back… And one day, when I was 8 or 9 years old, I said to myself: “Where does she go? What does she do when she goes away and scares us like this?” One day I opened the door and said to her “Let’s see, go and I’ll follow you”. And she went away and I followed her and then she took me, and my surprise (I don’t know how they do it, we know we can’t explain many things to them) was that she took me to a football pitch – she knew exactly where it was, not far from our home – and sat down to watch the game. I can say that the object my sister chose from the multitude of objects we have was always a ball, a football. So, she went to see her own community, those of the football community. All these things calmed my anger. Sometimes, when we were on the bus (in Mexico we say “truck”, I’m Mexican), people looked at her when she screamed, hit herself, attacked herself… and I went and told them: “Leave her alone, it is her right, her form of being, what are you looking at?”, and I wanted to fight everyone, I was very fierce. And later all of this calmed down.

And I thought the way of testifying to this was by telling it now as I can, no longer being blind to what she could share, without either fascination or anger. Transforming this into something by which I can invite others too to look for their own point of view to enter into their world. But not to say that they come to our world or we go to theirs, because we cannot, but instead that we find that point of encounter in which each of us can share what we are. In this way, my testimony was useful.

*A fragment from the colloquium in Zaragoza, May 2015, on the occasion of the artistic exhibition “El mundo en singular”/The World in Singular.

Translation: Pilar Lecina Giménez

Revision: Howard Rouse