Saturday, October 28, 2006
translating a novel on Halloween
I spent a cozy night at home tonight. Thinking of my grandmother, I made chicken n'dumplings (yum... am I obsessed with food this week?--I think it's the body's way of padding up for the winter), and then drank cup after cup of roibus tea as I attempt to translate flirting from Hausa to English for this novel I am translating. In the midst of trying to make sense of several proverbs, which I am not yet fluent enough in Hausa to immediately understand, I hear a tapping at the kitchen door and then find myself being peered at through a monocle. Until this instant, I had forgotten that this is Halloween weekend (the biggest event of the year in this town) and that I am being solitary and alone, when everyone else is dressed up and out on the town. So, I share a few laughs with the slightly snobbish Victorian gentleman, who fancies himself an art connoisseur, that is my roommate's boyfriend. (He's really into the part). I am in awe of how I wouldn't have recognized him had I not known it was him, and I wonder if I could pass for a Victorian gentleman if I put on a wig and a moustache. For a while my senior year of college, I was fascinated with Twelfth Night and how crossdressing complicates gender roles. In my playwriting class I wrote a play dealing with the theme. I am proud that it was chosen along with one other play from the class for a staged reading because now when I re-read it, I know that it is sentimental and over-wrought, and that I couldn't do anything with it now. I'm glad it had its day.
After my roomate, in medieval garb, finishes fixing her hair, they head off to a party. And I, who love to dress up, settle myself back down at the kitchen table with a dictionary and my rough handwritten translation and try to imagine that I am writing this novel and that the conversation is flowing naturally in English. This is who I am for Halloween: a great translator, wearing a frightening 50c black Walgreens wig. I dump it after about 3 minutes when the polyester strands of hair start shedding all over the table.
I eat two pieces of toast with cherry preserves and drink some more tea. It's cozy to be inside. It's nice to be a Great Translator.