Dumb: a story about voicing the unspoken

“My watchword is, when one does not know, One Shuts Up. 
One listens, one watches, one searches.
One does not start questioning innocent people.”

My eyes are stuck on these three penciled lines, written by a hand which pressed so hard that the letters look like charcoal. I recognise my grandmother’s writing, wilder and larger than usual. 
The family has followed her subliminal injunctions to the letter. Everyone has shut up. No one has been questioned. All have remained innocent. The past has been locked.
I’ve shut up too. In fact, I’m the quietest girl around. However, I listen. I watch. I search. Indefinitely, tirelessly, I search. 

How is silence inherited?

On Christmas 1949, four years after the end of the Second World War, the body of Carole’s grandfather is found in a Normandy river. His death is never explained. No one ever talks about him again.

Sixty-five years later, she finds out that she carries the gene responsible for her three-year old son’s rare disorder, which means he will never speak. She is also told that her father has passed it to her. Her son’s speechlessness is the result of their inheritance.

Dumb is the account of how these shattering revelations make her confront, not just the suspected foul play surrounding her grandfather’s death, but all the silences in her family.  

While its roots push into the dirt of family history, Dumb is ultimately about a woman finding her voice through claiming her identity and being an advocate for her son, thereby breaking generations of silence.