Thursday, February 18, 2016

There was a girl...

Ahh...this is my English translation of a Tagalog translation of a text originally written in English. (Get it?) Well, this morn I was reading this book and was profoundly touched by this certain passage of a text written in Tagalog, and ended up rereading and translating the words into English in my mind. I was so impassioned that I decided to write down my translation, as my preoccupation this first half of my day. So I finished my arguably-best effort in translating this gem, only to find out later, upon reading the editors' introduction, that my source text, a brief Tagalog -- yes, I'll declare it -- masterpiece, was originally written in English after all! The text is the last literary piece of the book. So next time, I'll read everything from first page to last. 

The passage, a childhood recollection during China's Cultural Revolution, is from the late poet and painter Maningning Miclat's brief memoir, "Pampinid na Salita," pages 89 - 99 of Beauty for Ashes: Remembering Maningning, from Anvil Publishing, Inc., 2001. ("Pampinid..." is the Tagalog translation, by her father Mario Miclat, of "Postscript," from Voice from the Underworld, also from Anvil, 2000.) 

It would be wonderful to read "Pampinid..." and its original text "Postscript," to contextualize and further appreciate the late artist's words (so please check out the links above). As for me, I have yet to read the latter, but I will. And I'm certain it's more beautiful than my humble translation.

And now, my tribute to Maningning: my rather impulsive yet very inspired labor of love this morning of February 19, 2016:

There was one young girl who was older than us and whom we treated as our elder sister. She was neat and clean in her appearance, she was beautiful, with round eyes. She was already studying, and this fact she boasted to us as we had not yet learned to read and write. At night, she would cry herself to sleep; she whined in a low and soft voice, and walked back and forth across our lodging rooms. After a few hours, she'd be sleeping on the floor. Her aunt would pick her up and carry her to her room. When she awoke and remembered that she had been crying, she would resume her weeping. But, sometimes, she forgot; she'd eat, wash her face, and when she suddenly remembered, would cry again and walk.
We younger children were amused to witness her endurance. But the adults told us not to be like her who was always sad, blaming her parents who left her to organize a movement and write political analyses and guerilla poems. She was like a conductor of her own orchestra, beating to the symphony of her sadness. Her crying was like a song. I would doze to sleep listening to her; in my mind, I'd start crying if she stopped crying. But I remained free as every child should be.

*  *  *

Note: I only have one memory of Maningning, it was (I believe) midmorning of 1993 at the lobby of the College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines - Diliman. She was standing still, brown, beautiful, looking at something, or someone...  

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