divendres, 10 de maig del 2013

English Translation: The Turkish Chronicle: Mirrors

Every evening, when Nadia leaves to go to school and Father, tired, with a cup of apple tea and a piece of borek pastry, sits in front of the television, Amin knows that he has at least one hour to himself. One hour to be free, without having to pretend to be the good boy who always minds his father and sister. His blue eyes, usually subdued, lighten up. One hour to live.

 Most days, he walks to the beach, where he can see the tiny boats that carry the tourists for their night outings. He likes to sit still and watch the gray seagulls flying through a sky with bold traces of aged gold. On the facing shoreline, across the Bosporus, the Topkapi minarets rise like in a fairytale, weaving delicate filigrees in the twilight. Here, no one sees him, no one talks to him. He doesn't have to listen to her sister's complaints nor his father's grunts, nor the shrieks of the children who harass him whenever he steps out of the house. No one looks at his face with pity or disgust. Here, there is only the sea and the sky.

The last few days, however, there was an intruder. A young woman, blonde, with big sunglasses that covered half her face. She would come and sit beside him, pulling out a cigarette and smoking it slowly, without looking at him. She seemed sad. She looked beautiful.

 Today she is late. Amin knows that someday the woman will stop coming. He isn't sure whether that will make him feel better or worse. Perhaps she will no longer come.

 When she arrives, he sees that her face, what can be seen under her glasses, looks happy. Her lips, slightly open, seem fuller than on other days. When she leaves, he follows her. He's never done this before. But today he doesn't want to go home. He needs the fresh air. He wants to punch the mirror. He is not a mongoloid, he is not a vegetable. He is a man. He feels trapped at home. No matter how much he cries out, no one pays attention. No one hears him.

The blonde girl stops in front of the tower. It's almost time to close and there are only a couple of oblivious tourists lingering around. At the gate, the guard lets him in without paying. He must think they are together. They take the elevator. It goes up so fast, it seems to fly. She is so pretty. And smiles. Maybe she is smiling at him? When they step out on the terrace, the cool air hits him hard. Far away, looking small, stand the Topkapi minarets. He's on top of the world. He feels his heart beating fast. He's happy. He's free.

The girl lights a cigarette as she leans on the railing. On the other side of the terrace, a man is embracing a woman with her arms full of yellow tulips. They are watching the lights glimmer in the water. Amin feels the wings of the seagulls rushing by. When he climbs the railing and lets himself fall with his arms open, no one screams.

Translated by Lina Strenio

Tres noies

Tres noies que durant deu anys han estat tancades en la mateixa casa, en un barri qualsevol d'una ciutat qualsevol. Elles no diuen res. Només parla el veí que les ha alliberat. Després de deu anys. Només s'han publicat les seves fotos d'abans d'estar segrestades. Cares normals. Més aviat alegres. Ningú no n'ha vist cap foto d'ara. Ningú no en sap res. Ningú no pot explicar res. 

El primer que m'imagino és la casa. Habitacions petites, sense finestres, amb forats de ventilació a través dels quals les noies sentien els altres crits. Matalassos tacats a terra. Parets brutes, esgarrapades amb paraules i números. Pudor. Molta pudor. Un llum de neó blanc amb una mosca atrapada a dins. Ecos de passes. 

No puc seguir imaginant res més. Necessito aire.

dimecres, 8 de maig del 2013

English Translation: The Turkish Chronicle: Labyrinth

They walk quickly, without looking at each other. It's been a difficult day. Emin holds the woman's hand in his pocket, cold and still. Her hands is what he likes most in her: soft as snowflakes that turn into moist caresses when we touch them.

They arrive at the hotel and go up the narrow stairs. Inside, the room is warm. Too warm. There's always a pungent  sweet aroma. Whenever she comes to visit, Emin fills the place with  flowers. Sometimes she gets drunk with the intensity of their perfume. Suddenly, her face changes: wrinkles disappear, cheeks light up, lips open in a playful smile, and her eyes begin to dance. Every time he sees this transformation, never predictable, never the same, he's left speechless. That's the reason he fell in love with her the first night they spent together, by the sea. Emin eagerly awaits the wonderful instant when the transformation will happen, unforeseen,  perchance when she happens upon a rare flower, or at the sight of a golden cloud, or as she feels the softness of a silk cushion, when she will let go of her every day mask and emerge as a Greek goddess, dazzling and unique. His desire for her has not diminished in the seven months they've known each other. Even now, although both are frighten and tired, seeing the yellow light emanating from the tulips she's still holding and reflecting on her lips, he feels the mad desire of loosing himself in her warmth, of letting go of the fear and replace it with the safety that emanates from every pore of her skin. He takes the tulips from her, leaves them on the floor, and his hands feverishly search for her breasts.

 She looks at him without stopping him. She still feels ill. She felt like throwing up after seeing the man jump from the top of the Galata Tower. The incident has brought back all her dark memories, fracturing the fragile layer of calm that had been with her for the last three days. The guilt that she tried so hard to ignore--the working husband, the crying kids, the boring job, and all the rest she left behind to be with him in Istanbul--leaps at her suddenly, like a wounded animal. He leads her to the bed and she does not resist. After a while that seems to last forever, she whispers in his ear that she's tired. She knows that he needs her physically close, especially now, when he's so scared. She's not angry, but she needs rest. She must rest.

The rough morning light hurts her eyes at the same moment she opens them, startled by the voice of the muezzin. What time is it? Is it time to go? Where is Emin? She cannot hear him in the room. She jumps off he bed. Looks in the bathroom. Looks out the window. It's early; there's no one yet on the street. Only the silhouettes of the minarets, standing like watching ghosts. Where is he? Tears come rolling down, her legs fail her and she drops to the floor, beside the already fading yellow tulips. She covers her head with her arms. It's over.

 Two hours later she gets into a taxi. He left his phone at the hotel. His Skype account has been closed. There is no way of knowing where he is or get in touch with him. She knew this would happen since the day they met. Emin, a Palestinian, was running from the Israeli police. He could not return to Palestine. He met her in Rome, the first place where he took refuge. Afterwards, when they were already lovers, she followed him everywhere. Always afraid. Always passionately.

She holds nothing from him: no children, no address, no ring. She has no phone number to call his mother and cry together. She has nothing. Only memories. Only the open wound of not knowing whether he's dead or alive, whether he's being tortured in a miserable prison, or whether he left because she had not given him what he needed. What hurts the most is not knowing why, or where, or how. Vanished like a dream. Leaving no open door. The gray minarets look at her with indifference, as she climbs the taxi on her way to the airport.

Translated by Lina Strenio

diumenge, 5 de maig del 2013

Sèrie turca: Final, potser...

Passa per davant de la vella vestida de negre de cap a peus. Li sembla coneguda. Però a Istanbul hi ha tantes velles vestides de negre que et segueixen amb la mirada encuriosida i jove. El xofer del taxi li ha perdonat tres lires. No sap si ho ha fet perquè l’havia vist tan trista o perquè ell és així. Mai de la vida no li havia passat que un xofer de taxi li perdonés alguna cosa, per petita que fos. Els turcs tenen aquestes coses. Regategen per jugar però no s’enfaden. Són tranquils i amables. Com trobarà a faltar Istanbul... Les cafeteries on no es beu alcohol i ningú no crida, les catifes i els coixins de colors, els llums emmarcant les mesquites amb corbes suaus, el te amb menta fresca, els börek i les baklava, la gent de pell blanca i ulls negres, la mar i els minarets, la vida lliure i intensa, i sobretot, sobretot, les tulipes. Tanca els ulls amb força i intenta retenir sota les parpelles tots els colors i olors d’aquell lloc i temps. Respira fondo. Sempre ho tindrà. Ja forma part d’ella.

A l’avió s’asseu al costat d’una altra dona, jove, rossa, amb cara d’haver rebut un regal inesperat. Porta unes ulleres de sol molt grosses, però quan li comença a parlar se les treu i les endreça dins de la bossa de mà de color vermell.
-                  Jo et conec. Estaves a la torre quan aquell noi es va tirar.- li diu, i sembla contenta de veure-la.- Era amic meu, saps? Ens veiem cada dia i compartíem la nostra por. Compartida, la por no fa tant de mal. Al final ell va trobar la sortida. Estic contenta per a ell. Aquesta vida no li anava gaire bé. Segurament ara n’ha trobat una altra.- i somriu com excusant-se per creure en coses difícils de provar. -Vaig a buscar el meu home- continua, i la seva veu és com un pany fresc sobre una ferida recent.- Estava treballant a l’Algèria i durant set setmanes em vaig pensar que estava mort. És el que m’havien dit. No sé si pots imaginar-te el que és que et diguin que el teu home ha desaparegut. Segurament està mort. Despertar-se cada dia glaçada de por. Apagar-ho tot, la ràdio del cotxe, la tele de casa, fugir de la gent, fugir del soroll, amagar-te en llocs solitaris, agafant fort el telèfon. Sempre amb por a no sentir quan et trucaran. Perquè no pots perdre l’esperança. Mai. No pots deixar d’esperar sentir la seva veu dient-te “Tranquil·la, només va ser un malson”.

S’emociona explicant-ho i els ulls se li humitegen. Gira el cap i mira els núvols daurats. Quan la torna a mirar, la seva cara sembla encara més jove i el somriure encara més lluminós.
-        Ahir em van trucar. Està viu.

Set files més endavant, la Selma aguanta fort la mà de la Nàdia. A la butxaca de la jaqueta porta la foto del noi de la bicicleta verda. La Nàdia la hi va donar quan ella va decidir acompanyar-la a Roma. El passat ja no existeix. El futur encara menys. Amb cada petita decisió que prenem canviem decisivament les persones que serem en el pròxim segon. I potser més.