She imagined somehow listening in to one of those wires and hearing the echoes of some forgotten exchange between people that had taken place many years before but still echoed through those old abandoned wires. One might hear a conversation that took place in 1962 . . . “You take the right-hand road. You know the right-hand road?”
Silence, empty silence, and then a faint, tinny voice ringing down the line. “I know that road, Rra. That is the road my grandfather lives on.”
The voice of the dead– you could hear them still, if you listened hard enough. Late people still talking, like children after lights-out: the faint, distant voices of our ancestors.
So muses Mma. Ramotswe of Botswana’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon. Author Alexander McCall Smith slows the pace of thought, action and dialog to suit that of an older generation in Botswana, somewhat confused at the changing pace of life around them; focused on maintaining relationships and an old-school morality. Where men wear hats that have character, hats with experience.
Take a tip from the fictional ladies’ detective when you write characters in memoir. What are they saying? Listen hard enough. Write it down.