designed by: M. Aladdin & H. Fathy

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

.. منصورة


بالأمس القريب، كتبت أن منصورة عز الدين تكتب احسن مني، و هذا ليس بمجاملة أو مديح، ظننت—و مازلت اظن—أن جكمي هذا موضوعي بحت، كما أن منصورة لن تحتاج شهادتي ككافكا أو كامو ( و بالطبع انا لست سابقي الذكر تحت أي مقياس)، أن منصورة لها محبيها و قارئيها، و من يهتم بابداعها الرائق الصاف مثل الجامعة الامريكية التي ستصدر لها الترجمة الانجليزية لروايتها—التي اعتبرها مهمة للغاية— "متاهة مريم" في مارس 2007 إن شاء الله، و احتفاء نادي القلم الدولي بنشر قصة لها في العدد الجديد من مجلته، برفقة كتاب مثل باموق و جونتر جراس.

القصة بعنوان "صداع"، و صدرت ضمن مجموعة منصورة الأولى "ضوء مهتز" عن دار ميريت، و ترجمها إلى الانجليزية د. بول ستاركي.

ألف مبروك يا منصورة.

Found in Translation

UNBUTTONING THE VIOLIN

In August 2006 four young authors from the heart of the Arab world toured the UK with

Banipal Live 2006. We reproduce here examples of the work of each of them, republished

with kind permission of Banipal from Unbuttoning the Violin, published by Banipal

Books for the Banipal Live tour of the UK, 14–20 August 2006, in partnership with

the British Council and The Reading Agency, and generously supported by Arts Council

England.

Mansoura Ez-Eldin

Headache

The sunlight hit you like a truth you were trying unsuccessfully to ignore. You

woke to find yourself on the Corniche, sprawled out on a wooden bench that

had stood for years fixed to the ground.

It was nearly seven in the morning and the cold air was searing you, while

your head felt like a piece of ice shattering under a powerful hammer.

You remembered you’d been walking along drunk with your friend at three

in the morning, when suddenly you decided to flop out like that until daybreak.

You weren’t ready to face a father who’d curse and scold you before throwing

you out of the house, when his nose caught the smell of the vast quantities of

whisky your friend had bought from the Free Zone for the two of you to swig.

It was a drinking ritual that wasn’t complete for either of you unless the other

one was there.

He failed to persuade you that you shouldn’t sleep in the street in this bitter

wintry weather and after a heated argument, as always happens when the

two of you get drunk, he abandoned you with a laugh. You could find no excuse

for this when you sat down later. You were racking your brain to remember the

details of what had happened since you took the first swig from the bottle of

Red Label until he left you and got into the first taxi he could find. You let out a

yawn as you struggled to move from a lying position to a sitting position on the

wooden bench and smiled with the contentment of a man who has woken to

find himself in his own warm bed. An old beggar was sleeping curled up a few

yards away and a large cat crossed the street. Meanwhile, you were busily trying

to work out how many people had greeted the light of day sprawled out where

you were now, since the time when someone had installed a number of benches

– perhaps for passers-by like yourself to sleep on – and he too had passed on to

God knows where.

But why should you bother about the number of these idiots with this headache

that’s practically splitting your head apart? It’s a good thing you’ve decided

to go home on foot. A walk in this foggy morning weather might help you wake

up. Why are you rubbing your forehead like that?

You’ve forgotten the way to the tumbledown house with seven storeys. What

a mess you’re in now! You’re sticking to the wooden bench more than before.

You almost let out a mocking laugh, but it was nipped in the bud by the fear that

suddenly swelled up.

You haven’t lost your memory, as happens in those film melodramas with

flimsy plots. You’ve just forgotten your way home, though apart from that you’ve

been remembering everything in the smallest detail.

A thick fog was settling over a small part of your brain. The paths of memory

began to expand for a short time, then quickly contracted in on themselves,

leading you nowhere. You sat down cross-legged, ignoring the speeding cars,

squatting like some ancient scribe, trying to utilize the smallest details to recall

the things that were eluding you. Dark steps, with no precise colour, that you

never succeeded in counting despite your unceasing attempts. You used to go

up them backwards, with your hand over your eyes, perhaps to avoid looking at

Aunt Amal, the daughter of Madame Jean, your neighbour on the upper floor

who always walked in a hurry looking intensely serious and who never paid you

any attention.

You often made fun of Amal – of the fact that she wasn’t married and of how

she looked at you. The look had slowly turned into a frown, and you had started

to feel an obscure sadness whenever her eyes met yours because she had made

you realize that the things that are lost to us are not lost like that, all at once and

forever. Rather, they seep away slowly until we come up against their loss in a

frowning look in place of the old sparkle in eyes we know well.

Her brother Samih had gone out to play in the street when your mother

asked you to bring her ‘two cloves of garlic from Aunt Jean’. You prepared yourself

for the shudder that would come over you when you entered their flat,

which was in perpetual darkness. Aunt Amal opened the door for you with the

mischievous look she used to have, and the young boy that was you turned

his eyes from her breast which was visible through her flimsy nightdress. She

closed the door and dragged you into the bedroom where another woman was

lying on the bed, almost naked. Amal dragged you towards her and gave you

a long, greedy kiss while the other girl clapped delightedly. You felt that you

could hardly stand up, there was so much pleasure hidden in that magic thing,

but you also felt extremely embarrassed. Your intuition told you that what had

happened somehow or other concealed a deep mockery of you, and you became

quite certain of it when her friend shouted in an insolent voice, ‘What’s up, son?

Why don’t you grow up a bit?’ Before you realized, you were running down the

stairs. You continued to avoid Aunt Amal for a long time, though you had meanwhile

found your way to other women, while she became more and more of a

confirmed spinster. No one was to blame. Suddenly, your friend’s laugh burst

out in your head . . . Why do you suppose he laughed at you like that? Try to

guess! Have you forgotten the spectre of the woman that flitted before you in

that rundown bar? – the ‘champagne lady’ as you called her.

She belonged to your friend originally, until he passed her on to you in a

vague fit of boredom . . . and you skilfully picked her up like a player receiving the ball. At first, you didn’t have any strong feelings for her, though you

kept up your relationship with her for a whole year before he bet you (again,

with no excuse) a bottle of champagne that he could take her back from you.

If he failed, he’d pay for it, and if he succeeded you’d buy it. You had to pay

a tidy sum from your wages for him to taste his success with champagne, and

for some time he had to avoid mentioning anything to do with her in front of

you, though later you began to talk about her again in passing if the occasion

demanded. To ensure the friendship continued, you both persuaded yourselves

that what had happened was just a passing distraction. A woman, no matter how

important, would never make one of you lose the other. You pretended you had

been wanting to escape from her, while the part he played in this story – often

repeated between you, though sometimes with roles reversed – was the part

of the noble saviour who had rescued you from her before you were killed by

boredom. A relative stability returned to the supposed friendship. But what was

it that brought her spectre to dance between you again?

Don’t walk so fast, you hardly know where you’re going, you’ve forgotten

the way home.

Are you trying to run away from my nagging? Leave your head on the asphalt

in the street, then, for the speeding cars to crush. Stop your evasions and tell me

the truth about that woman. Don’t make do with the few meagre lines you’re

trying to summarize your relationship with Amal with. Why have you stopped

walking? What are these outbursts of raucous laughter from you? Here you are,

still walking through the middle of the crowd. Your friend is staggering along

beside you, the champagne lady’s walking confidently between the two of you,

and behind you Aunt Amal is hurrying along undisturbed, with her ridiculous

spectacles. You can see yourself becoming detached from yourself, breaking

away over and over again so that hundreds of little selves are formed out of you

and disperse in the air. That way you can watch the scene far better . . . and the

variety of viewpoints will certainly assist you.

translated by Paul Starkey

Credit: Original story © Mansoura Ez-Eldin,

translation copyright © Paul Starkey

2 comments:

محمد said...

قرأت متاهة مريم مرتين. مرة عندما اشتريتها، ثم بعد عام تقريبا عندما قرأت مديحا للرواية ففكرت أنني ربما أسأت الحكم عليها في المرة الأولى. لم تعجبني في المرتين. قراءتها مرهقة دون أن تقدم ما يعوض عن ذلك الإرهاق.

Muhammad Aladdin said...

محمد
لا اجادل في رأيك، فالادب ذائقة شخصية جدا.. انا عن نفسي استمتعت بها جدا
:)