"DNA is the messenger which illuminates that connection, handed down from generation to generation, carried, literally, in the bodies of my ancestors. Each message traces a journey through time and space, a journey made by the long lines that spring from the ancestral mothers. We will never know all the details of these journeys over thousands of years and thousands of miles, but we can at least imagine them.
I am on a stage. Before me, in the dim light, all the people who have ever lived are lined up, rank upon rank, stretching far into the distance. They make no sound that I can hear, but they are talking to each other. I have in my hand the end of a thread which connects me to my ancestral mother way at the back. I pull on the thread and one woman's face in every generation, feeling the tug, looks up at me. Their faces stand out from the crowd and they are illuminated by a strange light. These are my ancestors. I recognise my grandmother in the front row, but in the generations behind her the faces are unfamiliar to me. I look down the line. The women do not all look the same. Some are tall, some are short, some are beautiful, some are plain, some look wealthy, others poor. I want to ask them each in turn about their lives, their hopes and their disappointments, their joys and their sacrifices. I speak, but they cannot hear. Yet I feel a strong connection.
These are all my mothers who passed this precious messenger from one to another through a thousand births, a thousand screams, a thousand embraces of a thousand new-born babies. The thread becomes an umbilical cord." Bryan Sykes. Geneticist.
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