czwartek, 4 października 2012

Grandpa (having had a facelift)


a story by K. Sowiński, my translation revisited and redecorated

Grandpa

Wake up and smell the coffee – he’s a grandpa, already.....

All have passed so soon, even though never-ending childhood days, holidays so long and fragrant of sand, grass, water – predicted eternity. Passed like one blink, eyes open , eyes closed, like one not too long yet calm sleep. What a cliché!............


And now, he was standing at the airport. By himself. Yes, once he’d heard Him and Her say it is one of the largest airports in the world – Heathrow… But, can words express such immensity? Can imagination imagine THAT, can’t it?....

That was like an enormous city, full of giant-building-like aircrafts, compared to which buses, seemingly huge - so far, now appeared as toys only. And worse, the noise… Terrible… The incessant noise made his head split. Tremendous pain he’d never felt before. And every now and then, when a plane, like a colossal hawk, or maybe another bird, floated above his head, his legs alone were startled to run away, swiftly – despite first signs of arthritis and contracture...


His height was quite considerable. Not a giant - one of those biggest, though. But his spine - as it happens amongst the elderly – was ‘bent like an arch’, and whatever this forgotten expression would mean – just wasn’t straight or flexible...

He had long, not very muscular legs. Rather thin they were, and, when young - sturdy, enduring, sinewy, but not much powerful...

His considerably large posture, however, wouldn’t scare anyone; even years before no-one had certainly ever been afraid of him. His head wasn’t very big, and he was rather one of those types that were always spontaneously and gladly welcome...

Now, he happened to bow his silver head far more often. He lowered it as if apologizing for so much trouble about him. And there was. No doubt. ....

He’d heard that journey wasn’t going to be quick, but the facts were even more appalling. It was dreadful, lonely, ghastly. He and She’d tried to explain (it was rather She that talked to him) that they couldn’t fly with him, that everything was going to be ok, that he could do it, and that they were going to meet soon. Well… Let’s face it – things weren’t just as they had said...


The bloke to meet him at the airport was young. Not a bad one, really, smelled good (Armani, as he knew), though he didn’t pay too much attention to him, and talked on the phone all the time instead. He said, “Fuck this job. I’ve got fed up! And for what? The frigging shitty quid! Gonna find something better or come back home….Kurwa…. Three years and nothing changes, on and on….You know…. Kurwa, what a bash we had last night!? I tell you, that chocolate girl surely fancied me…”....

Grandpa kept listening to the chatter, in his own – miraculously! – so familiar language, and this language, so common to him, its intonation, melody, hoarse sounds, lifted his spirits a bit. He was almost about to say to admit, “It’s not gonna be bad. Surely, it’ll be ok.” But he found no guts to do so.....

It’s not that the lad was insensitive, only bored to death with the monotony of his work. With abundance of work. Never-ending struggle with time, which always ran too short to carry out the plan, ever-lasting traffic jams, and the bosses totally devoid of empathy and telling him off non-stop. With no hope for any singular change in his life, the change he’d expected, desired, flown here from a remote country for. And here, nought. Swarming days twinning one another. Pity. Pity. Pity.

The young man suddenly dragged him with a swift and rough sweep. Some hundred metres, towards a huge litter bin, but it wasn’t a straight way! No way! Veering among dozens of roaring lorries, fumes of which choked him and wouldn’t let him breathe. Grandpa was petrified with such racket. He was about to wrench out and run away where - as he would learn as a child – ‘the pepper grows’, to whine like a puppy, but he only bowed his head even lower, being up to his ears in worry - and grunting, with his legs stumbling, wobbled behind the youth.............


The lad threw the dirty paper towels into the bin.....

Oh, yes. It was Grandpa who - threw up into them. His companion wiped off the remains of his vomit, quite thoroughly, and it could be all right if it weren’t for a tiny trail of stench following Grandpa ever since. Well… It appeared he didn’t tolerate flights. And She had told him it was going to be fine. That the journey should pass quickly. That Grandpa would fall asleep. And when he woke up, it’d be over. Unfortunately, it was contradictory – some strangers, the roar of aircraft engines, ascending and descending, which made butterflies fly in his tummy. He didn’t get any shut-eye, not for a second, all the time he hovered, tense, alert and ready to jump. He had been brought some water, but after a few minutes in the air it got spilled and nobody gave him any more. And now, he was so thirsty. So much. Adding up, there was no other way to rinse this bitter smell of half digested food off his teeth. Gradually, he got used to light, which had struck him with all its power when disembarking. And to vastness of sky when you look up. Cloudy sky, bursting into rain every now and then. The sky, which consistently kept the sun smothered. Was this the ‘land of milk and honey’ he was supposed to live in? Was it? Where they were supposed to be able to afford everything and to live ‘like humans’? Anyway, He’d say so...


In the end, all went fast...

The young man cast him into the car, on the back seat. He started vigorously. Hundreds of crossroads. Horns. Immeasurable stench. All streets so sinistrous. And finally – they were reaching their destination…


He: “See….. All’s fine. They’re on their way. Grandpa is a tough guy. Once again, he did it.”...

She: “I dunno…We should ‘ve travelled with him, even in a bus – the journey would’ve been terribly long and exhausting, but we could ‘ve been together. Together...

He: “ We could’ve left him behind”....

She: “You know, he’d die of nostalgia if we’d done so.”...


Grandpa yelped with joy on the stairs. The flat much worse than the one they had left, but it was nothing. Through the door he could sense that He and She are inside. Are. There. Here They are. His heart was – like everything in the insular wind – flapping. And when the bloke opened the door, Grandpa, with a squeal unsuitable for his age, hurtled inside. She didn’t even manage to stand up from a stinky dirty old armchair, still reminiscent of a rat. He put his silver head on her lap. He only heard Him say, “See, I told you everything would be fine. Didn’t I tell you? And you’re always apprehensive…He did it, our Grandpa…He did.”....

Grandpa knew all rave was about him, “He did it!” This made him so exhilarated that glee and peace flooded his heart, emotions he had almost forgotten. Even the thirst was vanquished. And She kept stroking his head. He wagged his tail for the last time and… passed away...




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