الجمعة، 10 نوفمبر 2017
|رودريغو ري روسا \ rodrigo rey rosa|
أسوأ ما في الأمر \ la peor parte
español, árabe e italiano
I visited Guatemala earlier this year for a migratory procedure. I was offered an urgent job to teach Arabic language at the university, replacing a professor who was forced to suspend his teaching for the rest of the semester due to the occurrence of a force majeure. In order to get paid, I needed to exit Mexico, with my new employment contract and passport, and visit one of the Mexico’s embassies abroad. Avoiding our neighbors up north and the trouble it entails to visit them, and not knowing how long the procedure might take, I flew south to Guatemala City and reserved a room at the Hotel Spring, on 8th Street and 12th Avenue, Zona 1, for one week.
The procedure was efficiently carried out at the Mexican Embassy in Zona 10 in one day, and so I found myself, unexpectedly, having to spend the rest of the week in Guatemala before I had to fly back to Mexico. Captivated by the city’s human scenery and Babylon sonority on the Zona 1’s pedestrian Sixth Avenue, where indigenous Mayan-languages speakers (Ixil, K’iche’ and Kaqchikel, to name a few) stroll through the “Sexta” shouldering Spanish speaking Ladinos, Palestinian merchant newcomers who speak Spanish with a Jerusalem accent, and black Garifunas speaking Garifuna, and amused by how the city is divided up into numbers of zones, streets and avenues one needs to constantly keep track of to move around, and feeling at home in the small-world but intense vibe of the place, I decided to spend the rest of the week in Guatemala City.
I was having coffee with my friend, a friend I had just made, at La Esquina Jazz Café on 6th Avenue, right on the border between Zona 1 and Zona 2. I asked her about Guatemalan literature and what I should read, and she mentioned the name of Rodrigo Rey Rosa and suggested that I would enjoy reading him. I knew of the author and had read a few of his stories that appeared in Siempre juntos y otros cuentos, published by Almadía in Oaxaca. “It’s literature on the violence in Guatemala,” was all my friend said. After having more coffee with milk, “the person who just walked in and sat at the table behind you is Rodrigo Rey Rosa,” she said.
As we were exiting the café, we approached Rodrigo to say hi. My friend reproached Rodrigo for not having written her back after she had written to him in the past. Rodrigo pronounced his easy to remember e-mail address, adding that “I always answer e-mails.”
Two days before leaving Guatemala I decided to write RRR to meet and chat, and he immediately wrote back, suggesting a time and a three-coordinated address. On the next day, my last, I met him in the afternoon in the café San Martín on 20th Street between 12th and 13th Avenue in Zona 10. When I told him what I was in Guatemala for, he asked me why I didn’t think of going to the Mexican Embassy in Belize and carry out the procedure there. Belize also shares a border with Mexico, he reminded me, and I remembered in amazement, followed by horror and then shame. Later we talked about a variety of things like Tangiers, his meeting with Muhammed Shukri in Tangiers, Bowles, indigenous literature, and violence.
Long story short, the idea of translating one of Rodrigo’s stories into Arabic came up, and here is “La peor parte” in Arabic, original Spanish and an earlier Italian translation (by Vittoria Martinetto). It’s the story of a Ladino man in Guatemala City forced into exile, but instead of exiling himself to the familiar abroad, he seeks refuge in the country’s foreign interior.
Many thanks to Iraqi poet Bassem Al Meraiby for revising the Arabic translation of the story.
الخميس، 2 نوفمبر 2017
Traducción de Tercios de rama
Desde el baño,
con un solo pie
en la orilla del excusado, casi no cabemos,
a la familia de al lado:
vemos a un hombre, a una mujer y a un niño
sus nombres, y cómo vivirán o qué objetos tendrán
a partir de los anuncios de la televisión,
a cuál habría elegido mi madre
si hubiera tenido sólo un hijo
a cuál habría recogido mi padre
si nos hubiera encontrado en la basura
y a los otros,
los damos por muertos con gran facilidad.