And then I realized what the first word must have been: ma, the sound of a baby smacking its lips in search of her mother’s breast. For the long time, that was the only word the baby needed. Ma, ma, ma. Then the mother decided that was her name and she began to speak, too. She taught the baby to be careful: sky, fire, tiger. A mother is always the beginning. She is how things begin.
The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Amy Tan