They call me Ataj. A cloud full of words. An ancient dictionary of astonishing sounds and meanings. I’m play and I’m memory. If I were a memorial tablet, I’d have letters engraved into my stone. My letters are engraved in the air of these hills. Figures of speech and cries, metaphors and comparisons. Names and sounds that have travelled down time. People who don’t understand them dismiss them as dialectal expressions. But here we respect the language of our fathers, passed down from mouth to mouth, from mother to son, still used to hone a sentence or bring it to life. There are words that sound as if they have been borrowed from remote languages. Witnesses of centuries trodden by travellers and traders and armies. Men driven by faith or by thirst for power, by hunger or by the desire to discover what lies hereafter. Every man leaves a mark, even if it is just a word.
How many do you know, hidden in your memory? Try reading mine while you taste the Chardonnay that gives me life. You’ll discover assonances and intuitions. Add some of your own: pluck them from your own knowledge and pop them onto the merry-go-round of sound. I am Ataj. Whoever pronounces my name says the right thing at the right time.