A long time ago, I floated down a tunnel toward a light far away. The floating was slow and the sensation around me was warm and soft. I was conscious the entire time, not thinking but feeling, and the feeling was Here we go again. At a certain point, soft bits of metal touched the top and sides of my head. Nothing hurt. Everything was inevitable. What would happen, would happen. This is my memory of being born. (The soft bits of metal part had always confused me, until one day my mother told me I had been a forceps baby, pulled out at the end with metal tongs.) The below excerpt from Kao Kalia Yang’s beautiful, haunting memoir The Latehomecomer makes me remember it all over again, in a different way. From the sky, I would come again.
Prologue to The Latehomecomer, by Kao Kalia Yang
Before babies are born they live in the sky where they fly among the clouds. The sky is a happy place and calling babies down to earth is not an easy thing to do. From the sky, babies can see the course of human lives.
This is what the Hmong children of my generation are told by our mothers and fathers, by our grandmothers and grandfathers.
They teach us that we have chosen our lives. That the people who we would become we had inside of us from the beginning, and the people whose worlds we share, whose memories we hold strong inside of us, we have always known.
From the sky, I would come again.
For more information about Kao Kalia Yang, please click here.