I finally finished translating El Recado by Elena Poniatowska. The picture that I took for this post reminds me of those wax bead things that I used to like to make, and after ironing would become a permanent piece of plastic art... Anyways, on with El Recado in English.
I came, Martin, and you are not here. I am sitting on the steps of your house, invigorating myself at your door, and thinking that some place in the city, as if by a wave that passed through the air, that would tell you that I am here. This is your little garden, your mimosa that tilts outwards and the children that pass to remove the branches that are accessible… I see on the ground, seeded around the wall in very straight rows, flowers that have petals that look like swords. The flowers are navy blue and very serious. These flowers are similar to soldiers. Marching for life, one, two, one, two… Your whole garden is sturdy, it is like you, and it has strength that inspires confidence.
I am here against the wall of your house, like the way I sometimes lean against the wall of your back. The sun also hits the glass of your door, hits the windowpanes and little by little, the sun weakens because it is getting late. The red sky has warmed your honeysuckle and the fragrance is becoming more penetrating. It is twilight. The day will fade. Your neighbor passes. I don’t know if she saw me. She will water you garden plot. I remember how she would bring you pasta soup when you were sick and how her daughter gave you injections… I think about you very slowly, very slowly, like if I drew you inside of me and left it there as an engraving. I want to have the certainty that I am going to see you tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and always, in a chain of uninterrupted days, that never were temporary nor accidental.
I am leaning before the piece of paper and I am writing this all to you, and I think that right now, en some area of the city* where you walk, hurriedly and decidedly, that you always seem to be in the habit of, in some of these streets that I always imagine you to be : Donceles , Cinco de Febrero or Venustiano Carranza, on some of these gray ,monotonous and broken sidewalks for the crowd of people that take the bus; you must know inside of you that I am waiting for you. I came only to tell you that I love you and it is because you aren’t here that I am writing to you. I almost can’t write to you because the sun has already set and I don’t know what to write down. Outside, many children pass by, running. And a woman with a full pot of milk, I cannot tell who, but I hear her irritated warning, “Don’t shake my hand because I will spill the milk…” I place down this pencil, Martin, drop the lined paper, and allow my arms to hang uselessly around my body, and I am waiting for you. I think that I would love to hug you. Sometimes, I want to be older, because youth has the imperious, implacable necessity of relating everything to love.
A dog barks an aggressive bark. I think it is time for me to leave. Within a little time, your neighbor will turn on the light of your house. She has the key and will turn on the light in the bedroom that faces the front because in this neighborhood**, there are robberies. They rob the poor; the poor rob each other… You know, when I was young, I would wait, very docilely, because I was waiting for you. Sometimes, next to the window, I pretended as if I was reading, but in reality, I was waiting. I was waiting for you. All women wait. They are capable of any sacrifice, of any effort while waiting. They wait for future life. For all of these images forged in solitude, all of these forests that walk towards her, all that immense promise that is a man: a pomegranate that is suddenly opened and shows its red seeds, lustrous; a pomegranate like a fleshy mouth with a thousand parts… Later these hours that I lived in the imagination made into real hours, will have to acquire weight, importance and immediacy. We are all-Oh, my love! - full of interior portraits, full of unlived landscapes…
The night has fallen and I can barely see what I have written on this lined paper. I cannot perceive the letters. There, where you don’t understand, in the blank spaces, in the holes, I put, “I love you”… I don’t know if I will place this sheet under the door; I don’t know. I have gained something of the sort, respect, for you… Perhaps now I am going to leave, I will only stop your neighbor to give you the message, which she tells you that I came.
*the word used here is “cuadra” meaning city block, but I thought that it would sound awkward.
** the word originally used here was “colonia” meaning residential area
P.S I am not a native speaker of Spanish, so there is some degree of error in this translation. In addition, I am not a fluent speaker of Spanish either... so read with some caution. Last note, if you're going to repost this translation, please link back to this site. Thanks!