« Modern Love

The Language Of Love | With Saoirse Ronan

2018-05-23 | 🔗

Saoirse Ronan ("On Chesil Beach") reads an essay about how a language barrier impacts the relationship between a young woman and an Iraqi doctor.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Modern love, the pod cast, supported by produced by the island at W B. You are faster from the New York Times and W B were Boston. This is modern love stories of love, loss and redemption. I'm your host magnet after party relies on communication, but what about when you're trying to communicate with someone in a different language that you're not fully fluid?
Emily Robins writes about that in her essay grappling with the language of love, it's red by social Ronan. She was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in life. bird and she stars in the new film on Channel Beach. We often hear about how hard it is to be article us in a foreign land. which, but when I began to study Arabic, what took me a long time to learn was not how to speak, but how to listen looking back, I see that my inability to listen well costs me my first love. The man I loved was an iraqi rocky doctor. Young. Like me, he had been forced out of his country by war and had come to Syria to work in a refugee camp This was in two thousand and eight before the revelation.
I was in Syria to study Arabic. We met in that camp and for the next year we were constantly falling in and out of love breaking up and getting back together pouring out our hearts and focusing mostly because of all he wanted to tell me that I didn't understand. We did this in Arabic, his fur, Stan my second language, the doktor and I were both alone in Damascus. He claimed of me from the moment. We first spoke because I had asked him a question This meant I was curious and ready to learn. I don't remember my question
remembers the dust which was overwhelming and the sun, which would not stop be and all the patched white tents which spread out from the doctors ambulance like It was of a flower. I went into the ambulance to get out of the sun, the doktor was rocking crying baby and when he touched it the baby quieted and fell asleep. I thought I want this man to like me as much as I like him, but I didn't have strong Arabic, so I simply gazed at the doktor and he gazed back after. He called me.
We met in the cafe. He sent me a poem. I didn't understand the poem which didn't matter. We were headed for love. I was a beginner in Arabic. I loved it and was trying to learn. I knew the word for hospitals, but not emergency love, but not passion war, but not civil war. The doctor and I wanted to be risers, so in our free time we studied how to be eloquent. Sometimes I asked how can you love me when I speak and articulate Arabic. He assured me that he heard past my poorly constructed sentences to the beauty within We didn't worry about whether I found him articulate because Arabic was his first language.
We had not yet learned the lesson that vocabulary limits, not just how well you speak, but how well you listen. We expected me to be an articulate on him to be eloquent. We loved specificity in detail and the doktor used great detail in his stories, but my our back for copy Larry was blunt on broad, so I heard him as being blunt and broad We went to a lecture in the middle. The doktor arose on my paper. You look beautiful than your glasses. I didn't know the word for glasses, so I read you beautiful. He wrote, I imagine you in a bath of rose petals, I didn't know the word for was pathless, so I read you both. Did I stink We learn the words we most need. I had grown
when a small, sheltered town, so my vocabulary for war was limited, but war had colored. The doctors work his home, his first love not me and his sense of purpose. I remember the bombs that fell on the emergency room, he said and I understood there had been a bomb, but not how close it was to the hospital or how he had worked through the terror, his hands shaking. Our troubles worse when the doctor called and told me something while I was at work, but I didn't understand and was in the middle of something. So I said I was busy. Could he call back later when we reconnected? He said you have no heart. I told you the camp caught fire people were hurt.
Two lost their homes and you said, call back later: I'm busy heart sank. I'm sorry, I told him I didn't hear you. Do you ever hear me Of course, there are many ways to hear a person. It doesn't always have to be in speech. That night, though, we got stuck on words. afterward. We still saw each other, but it was not the same soon. My grand tended am. I went home, I thought it must not have really been love. How could the doctor love me when I didn't understand him and if I could not understand him or know him completely? How could I love him back,
my belief for years. I still sometimes heard from the doctor, but we were far away an ocean between us and I no longer believed we had really loved. Then I met the man who would become my husband, a student with long hair who had come to the United States from Brazil to learn biology. When he wrote up on a bicycle to the building. Where I lived, my heart almost stopped. He knew all the scientific terms in English, but didn't know simple words like believe or com, and yet after we mess, I only wanted to be with I wanted to pour out my heart to talk and to listen and if anyone ever
and our love because it happened so quickly over two months or if he had ever question my devotion, because we did not speak the same language fluently. It would have read straight through my heart. So. I found myself in the doctor's position and I learned that sometimes it can be enough just to speak the words brokered lists of Whether your lover understands him that times. Merely wanting to speak is enough. The doctor had once said You know me like I know you and if you don't then some day you will, he had had faith in the future. I loved the way my husband locked when he was listening- Made up games that didn't require language he didn't
poetry in English, but he drew pictures on scraps of paper and left them about the house. For me, and in this way I knew what he felt, what had I Don T show I cared for the doktor. Over the years I continued studying Arabic and my language grew began to translate for people from war torn countries, I gained a specialised vocabulary. Armed with my new vocabulary, I went back to the doctors poems I took them out of their old box one by one. To my delight, I found that the doktor was eloquent. He wrote
precision and conviction. I went back to his story about the bombing and understood now how, in the middle of surgery, his hands were shaking so hard that he had not known if he could finish, but there was a patient before him, so he steals himself and saw it through and the patient survived the bravery of this. I learned terrible things about the exact ways he had been tortured and beaten about. The straw angels of death threats he had received simply because he was good at his work. I learned that sometimes to be goods is the most dangerous thing. Inside after so many years. I learned his sense of beauty.
He wrote. A poem about a jasmine flower that bloomed, while wedged between dust on the ice of a wintery desert. Whether he meant this flower to be ass, no longer mattered. What mattered was that his words lasted as beautiful. Now as then, his words had kept until I could listen and understand years after the doktor, and I had fallen out of love. I finally knew him. He is now married and lives in Sweden, where he works for the Red Cross, soon after I left there. Yet he got in trouble for his politics and was forced to flay a ref Gee with an uncertain passport. He made the precarious journey up through Turkey across the sea in an unstable both five years before thousands of syrian
few Jays fleeing their own war would make the same trap. He still writes poems, which used to air on the local radio and were so popular that people. Would call in and ask for the loaf doctor. I listened to the show using my dictionary to look up the hard words maybe in the end is poems are if devour romance along with this lesson, Even years later, we can learn from a relationship there is no deadline for understanding and not just
one can love intuitively without language. One can also rivals years later in the perfect meaning of a once spoken misunderstood. That's sure, Ronan, red Emily Robins peace. Grappling with the language of love will catch up with Emily after the break the. I love spelling bee my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together. By together I mean sitting next to each other. Playing individual
and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed They may have happened again. Are you I have one for and who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous that I sent it to my parents or something me and my dad. We liked the first together and I wish her out- I it J C K, P, o Jack jackpot panic yeah nice, I'm same as earth's sky, the digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee and all our games at N Y Times dot com, slash games, we have,
Emily Robins why she decided to study Arabic in Syria back in two thousand and eight. She says it was because of her cousin, Rachel Corrie See was a peace activists in Palestine and she was killed when she was protesting. The demolition of a palace Home she was the first American to die in that way, and so she became famous and her death through my whole, extended family into a conflict. At the time we knew very little Out for me, I was eighteen and I was just starting college. I felt like after her death, someone in the family should speak Arabic, and I wanted to be that person
But then, when I got to Syria, I found that I just loved Arabic, so much and my time in Syria just was a time of a lot of learning and growth. The way I think everyone sort of has those times in their lives and my time, the time when I really felt like I became an adult was in Syria years after she left the country. She took a job as an arabic translator for an organization that worked with survivors of torture. Then she went back to the doctors poems I'd really care for the doctrine, so I knew that he was like a deep and thoughtful person, but at how much more deep in thought for you. was then, I would have in my lack of Arabic was giving him credit for, and that was a really powerful.
realization to come two years after what became a young romance right like I had. We had both moved on at that point and so much had changed, and yet it felt in a lot of ways, really hopeful to come back to that and to realize that, like these, poems could stand the test of time and that I could still go back to that time and learn something new in my memory. Emily never told the doctor what she'd realized about his poems or about her modern love piece that was the romance of the past and how many of your romances do you still. You know if you're of your former lovers too severely talked to you know, and I'm married and a wonderful relationship and and he's married, and so I just think that, even though this realization was really wonderful and important for me to have that time in our lives has passed
I think that's, ok, and both of us are ok with that and how did Emily's husband react to her story about another man? I was living in Jordan in the year that my peace came out, and so my husband, the brave, saw that he is went to things giving with my entire extended family all by himself, and the peace had come out right before Thanksgiving, and so my whole family was just asking him. You know like what you think of. peace. What do you think about the perhaps that the you know your way, At this other love, he thought it was fine. My husband doesn't get jealous very easily when it came out too. He shared it on Facebook. I think by saying something like if you want to read about my wife's past love affairs or something like that
Emily and her husband have been together for eight years now. He's a biology researcher at the University of Oslo and she's. A writer and Novel is a word for love. They live in Norway with their new baby boy. You got more after the. The. I love spelling bee my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individual. And not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own- I feel a little betrayed. They may have happened again. I have one.
And who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words, then I was getting nervous. I sent it to my parents or something me and my dad. We like this funny together and I wish Heather out it J C K, P, o Jack Jackpot panic, yeah. Nice, I'm same as ascii. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try, spelling bee and all our games at annoying times dot com, flash games. Then Jones editor of the modern love column for the New York Times says that when he starts- reading Emily's essay. He thought it was going to be a sad story of missed opportunity with the doctor it spends around into a sort of a new vessels that ties is about the future and about how he was beautiful years and years later.
And I love that how she could spin around into a sort of a lesson about beauty and appreciation instead of a story of law,. And missed opportunities. And he Socio Ronan, but I felt most connected to in the piece was the clarity that she gained after this relationship and that it was something that seemed like everything at the time and and it was so important to her and it really sort of ended up shaping her life years later, and I loved that idea that every relationship we've been in whether it's romantic or friendship. It really does sort of make us who we are. Aaron helps us to see the world and other people a little bit clearer, thanks again to search for reading this week.
peace. She stars in the new film on Chesil Beach, modern love. The production of the New York Times and W B you are Boston, NPR station, its produced, directed and edited by Jessica, Albert Caitlin, O Keefe John Parodi and AM receiver. sound design and original scoring by Matt Reed here for the modern love, podcast was conceived by LISA Tote Iris Adler's, our executive producer Daniel Jones is the editor of modern love for the New York Times and adviser to the show music for the podcast courtesy of AP. Am I making Chakrabarti see you next week.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-16.