You may have read this short story in French. 🙂 But if you didn’t, then let me show you what it looks like in English. The author, Anne Bihan, has given me permission to blog my translation of it, so, after dinner, I’ll post it. If you’d like to see the original French version, go to p. 13 of the online publication, Il y a toujours une guêpe pour piquer le visage en pleurs: http://issuu.com/ecrireenoceanie/docs/il-y-a-toujours-une-guepe
The photo I chose for the ‘Together’ challenge shows soldiers far from home, undoubtedly lonely for family and not wanting to isolate themselves from the local people.
It reminded me of the concluding words of George Sand (pen name of Mme Aurore Dudevant) after spending a couple of months in a deserted monastery in Majorca, separated from almost everyone except her family and her lover, Frédéric Chopin. Two paragraphs express her need, not for solitude, but for companionship:
“In the stormy days of youth, we imagine that solitude is the great refuge against attacks, the great remedy for battle wounds. This is a grave error. Life experience teaches us that when we cannot live in peace with our fellow man, no poetic admiration or pleasures of art are capable of filling the abyss that forms in the depth of our soul.
I had always dreamt of living in the desert, and any simple dreamer will admit he has had the same fantasy. But believe me, my brothers, we have hearts too loving to get by without each other; and the best thing left for us to do is tolerate each other, for we are like children of the same womb who tease, fight and even hit each other, and yet cannot part.”
George Sand, A Winter in Majorca, 1855 (My translation)
8th April – My son is on a camping holiday for four nights at the Folk Festival, fifteen minutes from home.
9th April – The 100th day of this year. A guest brought us some Hot Cross Buns from a Vegan bakery. On the packet it says ‘cruelty free’. How much cruelty is there in producing a sweet bun in a traditional bakery? (Each of the six buns was wrapped in cling wrap.)
10th April – A hairdresser washed my hair, then massaged my head for minutes and minutes and minutes. She seemed to be luxuriously filling in spare time.
11th April – In a book of short stories I found that the Q is the Queen of Capital Letters with an attention-seeking train.
12th April – Survey results today show the greatest editorial barrier to publishing literary translations is the ‘cost of paying translators’. I’ll push on with my novel translation anyway, for the love of it.
13th April – Went to my son’s wedding rehearsal in the forest. The bride’s father was mowing a path, an aisle, for her to enter along.
14th April – The wedding day; the most unusual wedding I’ve ever been to. The bride played a ukulele (which she has just learnt) and sang, in the sweetest voice I’ve heard, a song by Ingrid Michaelson, You and I. (Note the chair – refer to my ‘unusual thing’ for 5th Feb; note the table – she found it at a flea market and painted it this week; note the bunting – she made it.)
15th April – At dinner with my son and his bride, she was still wearing her wedding shoes which she bought online from Sweden. (See photo above)
16th April – Years ago I opened a long-term investment account at the bank with $500, and tried to do it again today. The minimum they now take is $5,000.
17th April – Watched a documentary about an Australian man who gave up a wealthy Hollywood life to establish schools for kids from the rubbish dumps of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. He started the Cambodian Children’s Fund: http://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org/
To my surprise, in my summer years, I find language and words filling my life. On any day, I spend hours dealing with language. This weekend, for example, the last day of 2011 and the first day of 2012, I have helped an eight-year-old learn to read; I have read chapters and chapters, on a recommendation, of Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage (it’s my third go at this book); translated part of a 19th-century French novel into English; written six postcards telling foreigners of the wonders of Australia; written a calligraphic quotation for a German penfriend; listened to my neighbours, government housing tenants, swearing twenty to the dozen as it pleases them on this New Year’s Day.
I recently (last month) graduated with a Master of Translation Studies, and now I’m in search of things to translate. There’s the interesting 19th-century novel, the one I worked on today, and there’s a French book on teaching three-year-olds to read which I use when I’m tutoring and which would be just as valuable to others, if they could read it. And there’s my older thesis about French villagers who sheltered refugees in the 1940s, the one I wrote in French and would like, before my winter years, to translate into English.
Meanwhile, I’ve found this blogging way to share my father’s photos, and later his poetry, as a background for my interests, though the connections will at first appear vague to a reader.