Amin Maalouf, Stephen Spender

De Libanese (Franstalige) schrijver Amin Maalouf werd geboren in Beiroet, Libanon, op 25 februari 1949. Zie ook alle tags voor Amin Maalouf op dit blog.

Uit: Origins: A Memoir (Vertaald door Catherine Temerson)

“My research began with a false start: an experience I had at age thirty, an experience I should never have had. In fact, none of the protagonists should have had it. In the past, whenever I wanted to bring it up, I managed to persuade myself it was still too soon. Of course it is not too soon now It is almost too late.
It was a Sunday, a Sunday in the summer, in a village in the Mountains. My father had died shortly before dawn, and I had been given the most painful task imaginable—to go to my grandmother’s and hold her hand when she was told she had just lost a son. My father was her second child, and we had agreed that my uncle, her eldest son, would phone her to give her the news. Told this way, things have a semblance of normality. But in my family, normality is always an illusion. For instance, before that summer I had seen this uncle, who had just turned sixty-seven, only once before in my life. So I had come in the morning, and my grandmother had clasped me in her arms for a long time, as she always did. Then, inevitably, she asked the question I dreaded most: “How is your father doing this morning?” I had prepared an answer, coaching myself on my way over. “I’ve come directly from the house. I didn’t stop by the hospital …” This was both the absolute truth and the most horrid lie.
A few minutes later the telephone rang. Normally I would have hurried to answer it so my grandmother would be spared the effort of getting up. On that day, I just asked if she wanted me to answer for her. “If you could just bring the phone closer to me …” I moved it closer, picked up the receiver, and handed it to her. I couldn’t hear what was being said on the other end, but I’ll never forget my grandmother’s response. “Yes, I’m sitting down.” My uncle was afraid that she might be standing and might fall to the ground after hearing what he was going to tell her. I also remember the look in her eyes as she said, “Yes, I’m sit-ting down.” It was the look of someone condemned to death who has just seen the gallows looming in the distance. Later, when I thought about it, I realized it was probably she who had advised her children to make sure a person is sitting down before announcing devastating news. As soon as her son asked the question, she knew to expect the worst. We cried, she and I, sitting side by side, holding hands, for a long time. Then she said to me, “I still expected to hear that your father had regained consciousness.” “No. From the minute he collapsed, it was over.”

 

Amin Maalouf (Beiroet, 25 februari 1949)

 

De Engelse dichter, essayist en schrijver Stephen Spender werd geboren op 28 februari 1909 in Londen. Zie ook alle tags voor Stephen Spender op dit blog.

 

Mijn ouders hielden me weg bij kinderen die ruw waren

Mijn ouders hielden me weg bij kinderen die ruw waren
en die met woorden als stenen gooiden en gescheurde kleren droegen.
Hun dijen waren zichtbaar door lompen. Ze renden op straat
En klommen over rotsen en kleedden zich uit bij akkerbeekjes.

Ik was banger voor hun ijzeren spieren dan voor tijgers
En hun rukkende handen en hun knieën strak om mijn armen.
Ik was bang voor de bittere grofheid van die jongens
Die mijn gelispel imiteerden op de weg achter me.

Ze waren lenig, ze sprongen achter heggen tevoorschijn
Zoals honden die naar onze wereld blaffen. Ze gooiden modder
En ik keek een andere kant op, deed alsof ik glimlachte,
Ik wilde ze graag vergeven, maar ze glimlachten nooit.

 

Vertaald door Frans Roumen

 

Stephen Spender (28 februari 1909 – 16 juli 1995)
Portret door Wyndham Lewis, 1969

 

Zie voor nog meer schrijvers van de 25e februari ook mijn blog van 25 februari 2019 en ook mijn blog van 25 februari 2018 deel 1 en eveneens deel 2.

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