It was always a mystery to me why the churches of Ireland were filled with women, and empty of men. I looked up at the crucifix and thought it was a bizarre thing for women to worship a man in a church run by men. As far as I was concerned being a Catholic was silly, and being a Jew meant so much more washing-up. What all religions do, however, is what most political systems fail to do — they prize and praise the figure of the mother.
She is the machine, the hidden power. She is the ideal, the revered one, the truly loved. Which makes up, in a way, for being skipped in shop queues and looking like a heap.
And more. On the third night of my child’s life I looked into her eyes and realised that nothing I believed could explain this. It was an embarrassing moment. I think I saw her soul. I suffered from the conviction that a part of her was ancient; and that part chose to be there with me at the beginning of something new. I had a wise child.
Carrying her out of the hospital and into the noise of the traffic; driving her home in second gear; feeding her in the middle of the night, and at the beginning of the night, and at dawn — so precious — I found myself shrinking in the face of her vast and unknowable future. How would she turn out? What would she do? When would she die? Not for many, many years, I hoped; not for the longest time. The mechanisms of fate, the grinding of her days that would lead to one end or another, became urgently opaque to me. There were a thousand things that could hurt this child, or even estrange her from me. What could I do? Nothing. My best.
These are all feelings that religion understands.
I had, I thought, become human in a different and perhaps more radical way. I had let something slip into the stream of time. What else can you do, but trust the river — put it all into the hands of a higher power?
Oh, all right.
And who else, but the suffering Christ, could know the suffering that motherhood brings?
Actually, I will resist the tug of it, if you don’t mind. Still, I will resist.
Anne Enright, ‘God’ in Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, London: Vintage, 2005, 111-12.
Children are actually a form of brainwashing. They are a cult, a perfectly legal cult. Think about it. When you join a cult you are undernourished, you are denied sleep, you are forced to do repetitive and pointless tasks at random hours of the day and night, then you stare deep into your despotic leader’s eyes, repeating meaningless phrases, or mantras, like Ooh da gorgeous. Yes, you are! Cult members, like parents, are overwhelmed by spiritual feelings and often burst into tears. Cult members, like parents, spout nonsense with a happy, blank look in their eyes. They know they’re sort of mad, but they can’t help it. They call it love.
From ‘Baby-Talk’ in Anne Enright, Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, London: Vintage, 2005, 138.
Uvijek sam se pitala zašto u irskim crkvama ima mnogo žena, a nema muškaraca. Pogledala sam u križ i pomislila da je čudno što žena štuje muškarca u crkvi kojom vladaju muškarci. Što se mene tiče, biti katolik je glupo, a biti židov znači samo mnogo više kupanja. Međutim, nešto što je svim religijama zajedničko, a što većini političkih sistema ne uspijeva, jest da one štuju i hvale lik majke.
Ona je stroj, skrivena moć. Ona je idealna, uzvišena, istinski voljena. To na neki način nadoknađuje to što je preskaču u redu za kupovinu ili to što izgleda zapušteno.
Ima još. Treću noć života mog djeteta pogledala sam joj u oči i shvatila da ništa u što sam vjerovala to ne može objasniti. Bio je to sramotan trenutak. Mislim da sam joj vidjela dušu. Patila sam od uvjerenja da je dio nje prastar; i taj je dio izabrao biti sa mnom tu na početku nečega novog. Imala sam mudro dijete. Dok sam je nosila iz bolnice na ulicu među prometnu buku; vozila je kući u drugoj brzini; hranila je usred noći, na početku večeri i u zoru – tako dragocjeno – zatekla sam se kako se smanjujem pred njezinom golemom i nespoznatljivom budućnosti. U što će izrasti? Čime će se baviti? Kad će umrijeti? Ne još mnogo godina, nadala sam se, ne još jako, jako dugo. Mehanizmi sudbine, prolaznost njezinih dana što će dovesti do jednog ili drugog kraja, odjednom su mi postali mutni. Postoji milijun stvari koje mogu nauditi ovom djetetu ili ga otuđiti od mene. Što ja tu mogu učiniti? Ništa. Mogu se truditi najbolje što znam.
To su osjećaji koje vjera razumije.
Pomislila sam, postala sam čovjek na drugačiji i možda radikalniji način. Pustila sam da nešto isklizne u tok vremena. Što drugo možete učiniti, osim vjerovati rijeci – staviti sve u ruke više sile?
Aha, u redu.
I tko bi drugi osim Krista koji je propatio mogao poznavati patnju koju donosi majčinstvo?
Zapravo, oduprijet ću se toj težini, ako nemate ništa protiv. Ipak, oduprijet ću se.
Djeca su zapravo oblik ispiranja mozga. Ona su kult, savršeno legalan kult. Razmislite malo. Kad se pridružite kultu pothranjeni ste, ne spavate, prisiljeni ste iznova raditi iste, besmislene zadatke u nasumično vrijeme dana i noći, a zatim buljite duboko u despotske oči vašeg vođe ponavljajući isprazne fraze ili mantre poput: Oo da predivan. Jesi, jesi! Članovi kulta, kao i roditelji, preplavljeni su duhovnim osjećajima i često briznu u plač. Članovi kulta, kao i roditelji, izgovaraju gluposti s radosnim i ispraznim pogledom. Znaju da su pomalo ludi, ali ne mogu si pomoći. Zovu to ljubav.
When I first read the story, it seemed like it was going to be easy to translate. However, as is usually the case with most texts, and especially with short stories, it was not so easy after all. There are quite a few things that needed to be adjusted to sound natural in Croatian while preserving the tone and the effect of the original.
Here is my commentary on the translation and things that were either challenging to translate or needed to be adjusted to sound natural in the Croatian language:
- right off the bat in the first sentence there is a phrase that I needed to adjust because literal translation would be awful: “…filled with women, and empty of men” I decided to go with: “ima mnogo žena, a nema muškaraca” (= “there are many women, and no men”). At first, I translated the first part as “ima pregršt žena”, as the term “pregršt” is something that is often used in colloquial and everyday speech to denote many, a lot. However, after checking in a dictionary I learned that it is actually used in the wrong way and that it means only “a handful” so I had to change it;
- this word “She is the machine” was more challenging for me because at first the literal translation did not seem to be suitable so I went with “pokretač – Ona je pokretač…” (=the driver/mover, there is no real equivalent in English), I was more focused on the meaning: mother being the driving force, however, at the end I decided to translate it as “mašina” (= “machine”) which is a more colloquial solution but the idea is that we use that expression when something works well and fast and makes everything else function as well;
- "looking like a heap” I another expression which cannot be translated literally so I choose an adjective which I believe has the same idea and meaning as this expression and that is “izgleda zapušteno” (= “shabby, mangy”);
- “How would she turn out?” for this one there were two options “Kakva će ispasti?” which is the closest to the original and “U što će izrasti?” (= “What will she grow into?”) I decided to go with the second one because I believe it is more natural, I think that a Croatian speaker would use that expression rather than the first one;
- another challenging word was “the grinding” which I at first translated literally as “mljevenje”. It did not really fit; a second solution was “isrpljujuća prolaznost” (= “exhausting transience”) something which is more similar in meaning to “grinding poverty” but I was not satisfied with that either so in the end I put “prolaznost” (= “transience”);
- in the same sentence the word “opaque” which I translated as “mutni” (= “blurry”); I did not opt for “mračno”/“tamno” (= “dark”) or “crno” (= “black”) as I believe it carries a negative, ominous connotation, while “mutni” is more neutral, but still maintaining the idea that the future is unknown;
- something that is an essential part of every translation is adapting the syntax as some forms are more typical for one language than others. For example, gerund and passive are very common in the English language but not so much in the Croatian so for the sentence which is filled with gerunds I added a subject and opted for past continuous: “Carrying her out of the hospital…“ in Croatian “Dok sam je nosila iz bolnice…“ (= When I was carrying her home…).