Self-restraint. That was one word I plugged into the last batch of editing I have just completed. How apt! You see, I have been itching to blog, but managed to keep a lid on it until I had finished a section. I exercised self-restraint.
It is also fitting to mention at this juncture that I dedicated my book to kindred spirits everywhere, for which there was a special illustration:
Now, in a fit of gluttonous enjoyment, I shall present to you not one story, but two. There is a reason for that.
The first story has already been seen by quite a few people, since it found its way into the first edition of the clearing, which is a pleasant space to read what other translators are writing and look at what they see through the camera lens. A second edition has recently been published and it is worth a visit, but only once you have reached the end of this page, of course.
Here is the second story in my autobiography , popping its head up for a second time:
IMAGINE: MY FRIEND
With my feet poking through the wire diamonds halfway up the fence I would stand as tall as I could, and hold onto the nearby post for balance.
Facing the dirt road in a brand-new Johannesburg suburb thus, I would call out for Gambi. The first time we met, he had called me. But after that, I always called.
We spoke in the rich, round, resonant sounds of the Zulu tongue that I caught on the wind all around me, yet never mastered, and never spoke to anyone else.
We never played, but talked for ages, laughed, or were simply sad together. He was a spirit. A kindred one.
One day, before I turned four, we stopped talking aloud. There was no need.
As you can see, if you go back to the first story in this series, I have expanded my vocabulary somewhat, and have grown up quite a lot. There is a reason for that too:
My absolute favourite when we slept over at my grandparents’ apartment was the big bowl of oats porridge for breakfast the next morning.
Jenny hated the oats part of the porridge. She clenched her jaw shut, scrunched up her eyes and turned her head away from any oncoming spoon.
My gran lovingly pressed the cooked porridge through her flour strainer to remove all the oats, and produce a soft white goo. This was sprinkled with castor sugar – if you don’t mind! Only then did Jennifer concede a few small mouthfuls.
Meanwhile, I ate all the oats left in the strainer, with sugar and melted butter on top.
That is why I grew taller and stronger than my little sister.
Without being sentimental, I should confess that every single time I have made porridge in my life, I have thought of my grandmother. She features briefly in a very early blog of mine called The Kissing Stool, which was abbreviated to good effect later when I tried out a “newspaper app” once in a blog entitled Rehash for the press.
This blog is so full of pictures, I might as well add one more, from the last link referred to above:
There was another stray thought during this day so full of the biography of someone else, and it was this: Seldom when people write do they ever think that one day someone might have to translate their writings. That’s all right, so long as the translator – and her editor – can see the evanescence in the space between two smiles thus described.
© 2015 Allison Wright