marcel barang

All in a day’s work

In English, Reading matters on 14/05/2011 at 6:13 pm

A translator’s life can be versatile.
Take last night, as rain pelted outside. Between bacon & eggs and the latest revision to my happenstance translation of Verlaine’s ‘Soleils couchants’ (Setting suns),

[You know: Une aube affaiblie Verse par les champs La mélancolie Des soleils couchants. La mélancolie Berce de doux chants Mon cœur qui s’oublie Aux soleils couchants. Et d’étranges rêves Comme des soleils Couchants sur les grèves, Fantômes vermeils, Défilent sans trêves, Défilent, pareils À des grands soleils Couchants sur les grèves. Meaning something like: An enfeebled dawn Sheds across the fields The melancholy Of sun-setting time. Melancholy lulls With soft melodies My distracted heart At sun-setting time. And peculiar dreams, Like so many suns Setting on a shore, Like ruby phantoms, Ceaselessly parade Again and again Like many big suns Setting on a shore.]

a pen pal currently in the garment business in Pak Chong sent me these two pictures as he wasn’t too (Chaun_)sure of the English of his militant t-shirt slogans:


I put him right – that all-important article’s always missing in Thaiglish…

Before going to bed as rain finally eased, after notifying a canto-spouting bard that, though no movie specialist, I’d be willing to edit the English subtitles of his first feature-length film, I also had time to put the finishing touches to the translation of Laweng Panjasunthorn’s ‘Death is just a dream’, of a style and theme I’m not quite used to see in print:

She stopped speaking, drank beer, drew smoke into her lungs, turned to look me in the eye.
‘Last night at the swimming pool it was the first time in more than ten years that I acted like that … but please, whatever your reasons or however much you wish to know, please don’t ask me any questions, both about what I did or my coming here. I’d like you to understand that people are different and this is what makes the world full of complications and chaos…’
‘I think I can figure this out.’
I opened a new bottle. Heavy rain was falling steadily with no sign of stopping soon.
‘You made me do something I never thought I’d do.’
I merely smiled for lack of an answer, recalling the contact of her soft palm. We let a span of silence do its work instead. The rain was pelting. We both smoked and drank beer.
‘You make me feel comfortable.’
She destroyed the wall of silence fighting with the drumming of the rain. I only smiled.
‘The rain is slanting. Let’s drink inside instead,’ she suggested.
I took the glasses of beer and followed her into the room. We didn’t drink beer but fell into each other’s arms. My lips found hers. Her mouth opened in passionate response. My hand went to untie the cord at her waist and take off her gown. I felt her body through the thin night slip. Under it she wore nothing. She yanked my clothes off. Body and feelings woke up to the utmost when I took off her night slip. I made her lie on the bed while the tip of my tongue tasted every part of her body, my palms kneading her bosom, her tits fully erect. My tongue licked the areolas, my lips munched the nubs. Her body bounced in response. The tips of my fingers slid down to the silky black bush and the wet slit. The roaring and rumbling of the thunder covered her moans.’

And so on and so forth. Amazing what legit fictional characters get away with these days.

This morning, despite more deafening rain, there’s a less fishy kettle of filth on my writing desk: Uthen Wongjanda’s ‘Weeds’, rather closer to my creeper-clad townhouse outer walls and current old-man preoccupations – I mean screwing of another kind:

Many times I thus go out to the back of the house, with eyes bent on sacrifice and knife in hand, gingerly step to the wall and set about cutting the invasive creepers and overgrown grass, preventing them from overshooting the wall, yanking them out of the vents until the place is clear, but then I’ve never stepped beyond the space at the back of my house to cut the grass of the other houses, even though it wouldn’t be difficult for me to do so. Instead I go back inside and lift a rusty metallic grid to go and fit it on the window frame. I use a screwdriver to screw the bolts as tightly as I can, stiffening my wrist as I screw until I feel that even a falling elephant crashing into it couldn’t destroy it and I am satisfied. And such an undertaking has never been free from being recorded in pictures. She takes keepsake pictures of me surreptitiously as usual. She likes to say that these are pictures that are hard to find. There has never been a time when she would take pictures at my request. When I take the best poses in the world, she’s indifferent, arguing as well that those pictures don’t present any enticement for us. Besides making us infatuated with our appearance, they’d make us forget to think of the beauty of the things around us.
At the back of my townhouse there is also a creeper of another species…

But now that I know thanks to FIP how much DSK’s tuxes cost and that Khadafy says he’s safe (if not sound) in some secret haven, it’s time for housecleaning and fish out of the freezer before dallying anew with Dreamweaver or answering incoming mail.


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