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44 12 On Sunday mornings, when the weather is fine, Papa Bunden takes his three girls for a walk through the city.The children walk in front and wear starched ribbons in their hair. In the early spring, the sun’s rays can barely be felt, but the buds are swelling on the branches of the many trees lining the streets. In the parks, the smell of the earth promises new growth. Blackbirds hop over newly greening lawns. The town is filled with ringing church bells on Sunday mornings.They peal from the towers, over the rooftops and through the streets. But the three girls know nothing of them. Papa walks with them across squares and along narrow little lanes where the shops are shuttered, stopping now and then at advertising pillars, to read announcements and to look at the colorful posters. Sometimes he raises his hat in greeting. People are walking or riding in carriages to the many churches and to the cathedral. Others are walking their dogs on a leash. Some small dogs are even wearing little, colorful sweaters on their backs. No one in Freilingen would do such a thing for a dog. Now and then the green tram passes on its shiny rails. Then the ground trembles, and Maria wishes she, too, could sit behind the glass windows and go for a ride. Father comes to collect Maria for the Easter holidays. On her very first day at home she says everything she can now pronounce, says it and repeats it again. Maria is delighted that everyone is so pleased. Mother has a surprise for her—a new little sister, three months old, whom Maria is allowed to hold in her arms. She has a fresh little face and flaming red-blond hair. Mother points to the new baby and says clearly, “Elisabeth.” Then, again, she points to Maria and says,“Maria,” then again to the baby,“Elisabeth .” Maria repeats it slowly, while her eyes are fastened on Mother’s lips, “E-li-sa-beth.” Now Mother points to herself and to the child,“Elisabeth.” Stories Main Pgs 1-258.indd 44 4/26/2017 12:17:35 PM The Stories They Told Me 45 Maria understands, and now knows Mother’s name. She beams and nods her head,“You Elisabeth,” and points to Mother, then she strokes the baby’s head gently and says,“Elisabeth.” The year is now 1906, and there are five children on the Giefers’ farm: two boys who can hear, and two girls who are deaf. And the newest? She can hear, Mother is certain. The child responds to noise, which is something her older daughters never did. It is always hard for Maria to leave Freilingen when vacations are over, but when she is back in Aachen, everything is fine. In her second year at school only eight children sit in the semicircle of desks in her class. Because they found learning to lipread so difficult, five of her previous classmates had to be sent to a special school in Essen; they would only have held back the other more talented children. Maria continues her speaking exercises every day, although she can say the sounds already. Everything has to become second nature to her, so that she will never forget any of it. The children learn to form sentences out of words. Their eyes move from the teacher’s mouth to the blackboard and back again, grasping mi­ nute differences and connecting them with each other. Unlike a hearing child, Maria cannot look at the blackboard and at the same time take in what the teacher is saying. Maria has to have swift eyes if she wants to learn. First, she looks at the word on the blackboard and then the teacher’s mouth, that only goes one after the other, and yet it belongs together. In this way, she also must learn to do math. But right in the middle of learning new words, ideas, and numbers, it often happens that a child loses a sound that he or she has already felt and formed correctly. Suddenly, the silent knowledge has gone. Then the teacher has to help the student rediscover the feeling of this lost sound, has to show the child the lip movement and tongue position anew, has to teach him or her how to control the air and the proper amount of it. It is a hard struggle, all for a single sound. Maria learns that...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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