Edit 2010-jul-03: I have just stumbled upon the fact that there really is a documented Sleeping Beauty Syndrome (also called Kleine-Levin Syndrome). My article, of course, has nothing to do with this known medical phenomenon, and everything to do with the fairy-tale – of sorts.

Did you ever wonder how that young lady with the damaged finger dealt with waking from her hundred-year sleep? Did she wander out of her castle’s demesne and feel there was a lot of catching up to do?

If she did, apart from her being a beauty, I can relate to her. I felt like I was asleep in my years in Nigeria. I spun my own reality as a child. My awaking upon returning to my birth-country was both pleasant and unpleasant. I feel like I know many cultures, yet none intimately.

This was brought home recently when my creative writing lecturer noted that the premises of some of my submissions were flawed. He added, ‘…anyone who has lived in Australia for the last twenty years, would know that…’ etc. I have lived here for over fifteen, but that is not the point. I don’t know the culture intimately. Will I ever?

‘Write about what you know.’ Sometimes I think the only culture I know is the culture of being transitory.

Of course, my Sleeping Beauty analogy is not fool-proof. She didn’t move across cultures. She moved across time. Culture does change with time – but in whatever hazy long-ago time she lived, how much did it really change? Also she and her family were not alone. All beings in the castle had been asleep – from her parents, past the scullery maid, to the kitchen cat. There was a whole tribe of them feeling out of – er – time.

But… but… the balance of power and the landscape must have changed. A kingdom with a ruler asleep on the job (pardon the pun), would have been taken over by neighbours. New roads, farms, and houses would have appeared. Which raises interesting questions like: how did her parents deal with finding their roles usurped? Perhaps the usurper was the new son-in-law – a win-win situation, let us say. But that is a whole different kettle of fish that I don’t propose to fry.

At the very least, Sleeping Beauty must have struggled to relate to her beloved. Some perspectives must have changed, no matter how ancient the century.

Fairy-tales: clichéd, illogical, but still full of charm.

Back to my lecturer. Amazingly, while I was writing this, he called me. In the course of the conversation, it dawned on me that despite the unimpressive grades, he is genuinely impressed with my persistence this semester – and equally impressed with the language skills of this obviously non-native speaker of it! Perhaps there is something to be said, after all, for being an out-of-touch Sri-Lankan-Nigerian-Australian ATCK!

It’s just nice to feel validated. :-)

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5 Responses to “The Sleeping Beauty Syndrome”

  1. This was a great analogy. I felt the same in College as well. I had poor grades in American History because it was the first time I had read it and the professor didn’t believe me! I am not sure I will ever know either of my countries either and I am 48! But, don’t sweat it. You have a unique and special experience that God has given you for a reason…hang in there.

  2. Thanks Carol! :-)


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