Sunday, October 05, 2014

In Memory of My Country (translation of a poem by Lav Diaz)

A poem, written by Diaz, that is recited in Hesus Rebolusyonaryo by Joel Lamangan. My very rough translation (I welcome any corrections that might improve it), and apologies to the author:
 
In Memory of My Country

Lav Diaz

A morning kiss
An unexpected shower of dew
The first of the December rains
Startles and confuses an owl
Perched on a lonely tree behind our old hut
Blinded, the left wing slapping
Against the ruins of the vanished home
Falls into a faint
Breath exhaled
Amongst the sharpened blades of grass
In the garden of my childhood
Here I was cradled by my mother's tireless lullabies
Before she was taken for no clear reason by the dark night
Here I awaited my father's cheery call
In the twilight, fresh from our promised fields
He leaps from the back of our old carabao
Tosses me
Suspended
Catches me in his arms
And asks:
"How's my child?
Here are some ripe guavas!"
He caresses my mother's smiling cheek
Strips his sweaty, sunbaked shirt
And says: "mash some tomatoes
Add shrimp paste and six chilis."
Before he is killed without justice.
Laid out
On the wood floor we slept on
The sweet potatoes sprouts have since been ready,
The grilled eggplants
Boiled bananas
Pickled papaya,
Spicy taro leaf,
And grilled catfish.
Half the fish is mine alone.
If lucky is dipped in reddened ketchup
Or better, in the thick cream
of liberty evap.
I'd like to learn
the memories of that vanished owl.
Did he know the story of this land he lived on?
Is he witness to the everyday struggle
of those who lived here?
Did he count my father's tears when mother died of illness?
Could he have answered the questions of a child
wondering about his mother disappearance?
Could he respond if I were to say exhaustion
was the cause of my mother's death?
And of many other mothers' deaths?
Could he reply if I discoursed on the roots of poverty
in my country?
If I cry out the evils of my country?!
I was awakened by the laughter of children with slingshots
Running away at my rising to my feet
The storm's fury is passing.
The sun's rays blaze round my shoulders. The owl is gone from
its perch.
Babe's distant cry
the only sound cutting through the silence.
I cannot set down to rest on the muddy earth
As I did when I was a child.
Grass blade slices open my cheek
Heat rises from flowing blood
Cries from a spirit long repressed
From long forgotten memories
Growing louder, stabbing into my ears
Accompanied by forced laughter,
Accompanied by a forced lullaby.

Original text:

Para sa Alaala ng Aking Bayan

Lav Diaz

May humalik sa aking umaga
Isang di inaasahang dampi ng hamog
Mula sa unang ulan ng Disyembre
Pinukaw at nagulumihanan ang kuwago
ng ulilang puno sa likod ng dati naming kubo
Nasilaw at humampas ang kaliwang pakpak
Sa natitirang pundasyong niluma ng kawalan ng nananahanan
Nawalan ng ulirat
Kumawala ang hininga
Sa nagtatalimang mga dahon ng talahib
Sa bakuran ng aking kamusmusan
Dito ako hinele ng walang pagod na mga oyayi ng aking inang
Bago siya iginupo ng kawalang katiyakan ng kanyang madidilim na sarungbanggi
Dito ako naghintay sa masisiglang tawag ni ama
Mga dapithapong galing siya sa pangako ng aming palayan
Lulundag siya mula sa ibabaw ng matanda naming kalabaw
Itatapon ako
Papailanlang
Sasaluhin sa kanyang mga bisig
Saka sasabihing:
”Kamusta ang aking anak?
Heto ang hinog na bayabas!”
Hahaplusin niya ang pisngi ng nakangiting mukha ni ina
Maghuhubad ng amoy-pawis at sunog-araw na polo
Saka sasabihing, “Pumisak ka ng kamatis.
Lagyan mo ng bagoong at anim na sili.”
Bago siya tuluyang ilugmok ng kawalan ng katarungan.
Sa hapag
Sa mismong papag naming sahig
Lagi nang nakahain ang talbos ng kamote,
Inihaw na talong
Nilagang saba
Inatsarang papaya,
Maanghang na laing,
At inihaw na hito.
Para sa akin lamang ang kalahating isda.
Kung papalarin ay maisasawsaw sa namumulang ketchup.

O kung mas papalarin pa kung may malapot na gatas
na liberty evap.
Nais kong tantuin
kung anong alalahanin ang taglay ng namayapang kuwago.
Alam kaya niya ang kasaysayan ng lupang kanyang kinalugmukan?
Saksi kaya siya sa araw-araw na pakikibaka
ng mga dating nananahanan dito?
Bilang kaya niya ang mga luha ng aking ama nang igupo ng sakit ang aking ina?
Kaya kaya niyang sagutin ang mga tanong ng isang musmos
na nagtataka sa pagkawala ng kanyang ina?

Kaya niya kayang salungatin kung sasabihin kong kahirapan
ang ugat ng kamatayan ng aking ina?
At ng marami pang mga ina?
Sasalungat kaya siya kung ididiskurso ko ang mga ugat ng kahirapan
ng aking bayan?
Sasalungat ba siya kung ihihiyaw ko ang mga sakit ng aking bayan?!
Ginising ako ng mga hagighikan ng mga naninirador na musmos.
Nagpanakbuhan sila sa aking pagkabigla at pagtayo.
Humupa na ang kanina'y nagngangalit na ulan.

Nagliliyab ang tudla ng araw na tumatama sa aking balikat. Wala na ang kuwago sa kanyang himlayan.
Uha ng sanggol mula sa kalayuan
ang tanging humihiwa sa katahimikan.
Di ko makayanang maupong muli at humimlay sa namumutik na lupa
Gaya ng ginagawa ko nung ako’y musmos pa.
Isang dahon ng talahib ang humiwa sa aking pisngi
Humuhulagpos ang init ng dugong umaagos
Humihiyaw ang mga kaluluwang kaylaong napiit
Humihiyaw ang mga alaalang kaylaon ng nabaon sa limot
Lumalakas, umiigting sa aking pandinig ang mga uha
Isang halakhak ang pilit sumasabay,
Isang oyayi ang pilit sumasabay. 

2 comments:

Jason Balisi said...

i'm no expert but i liked the original one, i think some of the feelings got lost in translation. I thank you for sharing this.

Noel Vera said...

No translation's going to be perfect; best one can do is convey some idea of the original.