I am going to be very busy during the next four months editing a translation of a very long biography. I anticipate that this will leave me little time to blog.
I have decided that the easiest way of giving you something to read on a regular basis is to reproduce here a couple of pages at a time of my little known autobiography published last year when I suddenly became fabulous and fifty.
By way of introduction to this the first story in a series of 45, I shall give you three things:
- Reproduction of a conversation I had with my beloved five days before the date of publication of Scatterling – A potted story of me so far;
- the Foreword contained in this excellent colouring-in book for adults; and
- the first story in the book, and its accompanying illustration by Toni Le Busque
Yesterday, João was watching the animated film “Madagascar” on TV – dubbed into Portuguese. I started laughing at the clever use of words, and jiving to one of the songs – as one ordinarily does when eating lunch.
I say to João, “Rafaela does this sort of thing, you know.” (Rafa is a translator friend we made at a conference the year before.)
I am still jiving – and singing along, when João says to me, “You should be in this movie.”
I reply, “Don’t be silly, I am not a cartoon.”
Then, suddenly, I am utterly silent and motionless as I realise that this may no longer be true.
One fascinating dynamic in the act of storytelling is that the story itself changes the minute someone hears it or reads it. This is because we all have a different experience of life and language with which we as listeners or readers infuse the story being told.
In essence, each vignette presented to you here is a story and a bit. The extra bit – the illustration – makes up for all the words I deleted to make each story really short.
Some of Toni Le Busque’s drawings are incredibly accurate in their detail, often purely as a result of her intuition. Others reflect a certain immaterial deviation from reality as I remember it. This vibrant interpretive aspect of our collaboration is precisely what I was hoping for.
Our work is done. The stories can stand on their own now.
MY EARLY LIFE
The doctor, my father and my mother were the only ones around when I was born one Friday in 1964 on the Copperbelt, in Kitwe, Zambia. During pregnancy, my mother craved and ate vast quantities of mangoes. Right there, you have two reasons for the slight auburn tinge in my hair.
I loved infant formula. A photo exists of a fat, happy baby, sitting in a walker chair in front of a pyramid of empty tins.
Around this time, I took to jumping into the deep end of the swimming pool, sinking to the bottom, and then floating to the top, and gurgling with delight.
I had learnt all my nursery rhymes by the age of two. My very first word uttered was, “No!”