Translating my dad’s memory-based book is proving to be an exhausting and also exalting experience, for more reasons than one.
I am reading bits and pieces of me, my own history, and what about him caused untold damage to his family, and what bits about him cause immense experience and richness in a moral and personal way.
I am reading about me before I was even born, seeing so my much of my dad in me.
I am also enjoying his tales, some of them truly amazing, some of them painfully showing aspects of his personality that I have yet to decide whether in my final version of this book I will curtail and smooth away or describe in detail, and turn the whole recount into something that would resemble Magical Realism, for want of a better definition.
He mentions my mother, and I see and almost feel how she would have felt. I read his side of the story, and think how marvellous it is to live like that, always looking for the new adventure, but how unmarvellous for the other people in your life, those who are but one part of your life, almost devoid of their own will, of their own rights to what makes them happy or not, devoid of their own wishes.
My constant awareness of this, my strong sense of justice, whichever way you look at it, has always meant that I would always think of others twice or three times before I did what I felt was right… oddly enough, was often accused of being selfish, despite that.
Well that all ended when my first child came along, and then a second… and a third. What I wouldn’t have expected was my relationship with the man I loved, which was different from any other I had had before: with any adult, it was ME first. With this one, it was well, even if I believe what I want to do is right for the kids as well, if it’s not what he wants to do, it’s just not going to happen.
For a while, I tried to make things happen regardless. I tried to talk him into stuff. Sometimes it worked, but then he would take my drive and transform into something that was ok with him.
Otherwise yes, even me, I was the woman who, in order to get him to do something that I thought was best, had to convince him it was his idea. Like a cartoonish Sicilian wife. Except I hadn’t been “trained” to do that.
The alternative, to become a blasted feminist in the worse possible way, didn’t appeal to me. I was an “we are all bloody different and that’s all ok, we all have equal rights though to try as we can to be happy”-ist. What I didn’t know, for many years, was that not only was I classless, nationless, genderless… I was societyless.
What I wanted and what I didn’t want was not different from what a woman or a man would want that wasn’t the point.
What I consider a good path to follow, is usually a path for which there are no words, that doesn’t fit in conventional talk. It isn’t rational, but neither is it not. It is not the product of inspiration and spiritualism, but neither is it not.
It is, very clearly and more closely than anything else I can think of, living life according to the same spirit that was described by, and then defined as, Magical Realism, which has come back into mention these past few days with the death of the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
But the West isn’t aware of that. The West thinks Magical Realism is a cute manner of seeing the world that belongs to remote areas of India, South America, Africa… it has nothing to do with them.
And indeed, it doesn’t. I feel further and further from this society, and more and more do I feel that all the good I got I got as a result of humanism, and all the bad I got I got as a result of this stupid, stupid and unfortunately successful society.
Because in the end, if Western society dominates, it is what was most successful, isn’t it? Greed, killing, violence, self-determination, selfishness, blindness to anything that isn’t something you can see, touch, or at least define with the words you know.
Upon the birth of my first son, I became a mother.
Upon the birth of my second son, who risked death, my beloved mother died.
Upon the birth of my third, who also risked dying, my beloved mother in law died.
All three young, the two mothers who died, too young to die. Too young, too little in my life. They swapped their lives with the babies’, and nobody will convince me of the contrary.