Imaginary Countries

To keep Colin occupied at church, I hand him a dozen blank index cards and a ball-point pen. He works steadily through the hour, head bent over the cards. He writes with care and pauses between words. I can’t tell what he’s writing. I get caught up in the meeting. Afterwards, Colin presses the pen and cards into my hand and rushes to his Sunday School class. I put the cards in my suit pocket where they stay until I’m fishing for a pen two weeks later, and I find Colin’s list of imaginary countries, each name written on a separate card along with a cryptic description: 

Aerucana – A country with valleys of grass
Yuanne Aru – An island in the South America with tropics
Tuscana – A country in the Sahara Desert with desert cities
Nyroland – A country orbiting Europe with marshes
Kasyvaka – A country with jungles of monkeys
Bakaranaca – A pole island in Antarctica

It strikes me how he mixes the real with the imagined and connects bits from the atlas or a list of planets and moons from the Star Wars galaxy or perhaps a spell from Harry Potter. How he combines these fragments is all his own. He’s already at work creating his own worlds. When I return the cards to him, he says, “Oh yes!” then asks me to make up a country. I can’t think of anything so I name the most obscure country that comes to mind—Mauritius, Zaire or something like that, thinking surely he won’t know it. But the name rings familiar and he says, “No, no, Daddy. Not a real country. Make up a country of your own.”

About slcantwell25

A writer focused on the transforming power of memory, autism, parenting, and the ways we know what we know.
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1 Response to Imaginary Countries

  1. Lisa says:

    LOVE Colin’s photo!

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