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.
Selalu menjadi misteri bagiku mengapa gereja-gereja di Irlandia penuh oleh wanita, dan kosong akan pria. Kupandangi salib di atasku dan berpikir betapa ganjilnya bagi para wanita untuk memuji seorang pria di dalam sebuah gereja yang dijalankan oleh sekumpulan pria pula. Sejauh yang aku mengerti, menjadi seorang Katolik merupakan hal yang konyol, sedangkan menganut Yahudi berarti memiliki lebih banyak prosesi pembersihan. Namun, harus diakui bahwa apa yang semua agama dapat lakukan adalah sesuatu yang gagal dilaksanakan oleh sebagian besar sistem politik; bahwa agama meninggikan dan mengagungkan sosok seorang ibu.
Ibu adalah sang mesin – sebuah kekuatan yang tersembunyi. Dia adalah sosok yang ideal, yang sedalam-dalamnya dihormati, yang sepenuhnya dikasihi. Anggapan yang dapat dikatakan, menembus realitas kelam mereka yang kian diacuhkan di antrean toko karena terkesan lusuh.
Semuanya tak terkatakan untuk sosok seorang ibu. Pada malam ketiga dari kelahiran putriku, ku tatap matanya dan tersadar bahwa tidak ada satu hal lain pun yang ku percaya yang mampu menjelaskan perasaan ini. Sungguh, sebuah penyadaran yang memalukan. Kurasa aku melihat jiwanya. Aku terbebani oleh sebuah keyakinan bahwa ada bagian dari dirinya yang agung; dan keaguangan itulah yang dari semula hadir menjadi bagian dari diriku hingga menjadi sesuatu yang baru. Aku memiliki seorang anak yang agung.
Menggendongnya keluar dari rumah sakit dan menembus bisingnya lalu lintas; menyetirnya pulang melaju dengan gigi dua; memberinya makanan di awal malam, tengah malam, dan di kala subuh – adalah sangat berharga – ku menemukan diriku menyusut di hadapan masa depannya yang luas dan tidak kuketahui. Akan jadi seperti apakah dirinya? Apa yang akan dilakukannya? Kapankah dia akan tiada? Ku harap tidak untuk bertahun-tahun lagi; tidak untuk waktu yang sangat lama. Jalan kerjanya takdir, penantian akan hari-harinya yang mungkin membawanya dari satu titik atau ke titik yang lain, menjadi teka-teki bagiku. Terdapat beribu hal yang dapat menyakiti anak ini, atau bahkan menjauhkannya dari ku. Apa yang bisa aku lakukan? Tidak ada. Yang terbaik dariku.
Semua ini adalah perasaan yang dapat dimengerti oleh agama.
Saya sudah, setidaknya menurutku, menjadi manusia yang berbeda dan mungkin lebih radikal dari sebelumnya. Aku sudah membiarkan sesuatu jatuh ke aliran waktu kehidupan. Apa lagi yang bisa dilakukan selain percaya kepada jalannya takdir – memasrahkan semuanya di tangan kuasa yang lebih besar?
Lalu siapa lagi, selain Kristus yang menderita, yang dapat mengerti penderitaan yang didamba seorang ibu?
Tunggu, aku akan lawan rasa resah ini, jika aku mampu. Akan ku lawan terus.
Brianna Ruth Audrey
Translating Anne Enright’s text was very challenging for me. I was quite unsure on how to set the tone for the translation. Enright’s casual tone seemed very unnatural in Indonesian literature. To put it simply, most Indonesian literature is formal yet very flowery in nature – unlike Enright’s text. Hence, it was hard for me to formalize the text without discarding its engaging and inclusive nature.
In terms of substance, I wanted the translation to be loyal to the original text as Indonesians are not familiar with Irish art and literature. So, should other Indonesians read translations like this, I want them to get as close as they can get to the messages that the Irish writer wished to deliver. However, I also wanted to package the experiences within the text into something that Indonesians can relate to. With that being said, I had to find a balance between keeping the same narrative, all while highlighting areas that Indonesians might relate to.
In establishing minor changes, I took into consideration the texts’ technicalities and context, as well as Indonesian culture. One of the prime examples is the translation of the title. In Indonesian, the literal translation of God is “Allah”. It would be pragmatic for me to instantly use this translation as the title, however I decided against it. Firstly, the word “Allah” is heavily connotated with the God figure in Islam. Being the country with the most Muslim population in the world, a majority of Indonesians are wired to connect the word “Allah” with everything Islam. In this occasion, this might distort Enright’s goal of depicting the Christian/Catholic God. Secondly, in a more aesthetic sense, the word ‘Allah’ is not as flowery as the term ‘Tuhan,’ – a word that would translate to ‘Lord’ in English, but at times, is still used in the sacred books to refer to God. The term ‘Tuhan’ is used by Abrahamic religions, however it has more association with the Christian/Catholic God. So I chose ‘Tuhan’ as the title.
I also had a taxing time translating the part where Enright wrote “…concerned being a Catholic was silly, and being a Jew meant ....” Technically speaking, I decided to tweak the translation because the words 'being a' felt too repetitive. But, it ended up becoming difficult. The literal translation of being in Indonesian has the same meaning as “I chose to be”, meaning Enright’s character can choose between being a Catholic or a Jew. Ideally speaking, that is how one’s relationship with religion should be. However, in Indonesia (and perhaps several other countries), religion is treated more as an ascribed status; you simply cannot choose. Along with that, Judaism, although acknowledged by the government, is not considered as an official religion in Indonesia. If you are part of the Judaic faith in Indonesia, then your religion will not be administered by the state and you have to recategorise yourself in one of the six state-acknowledged religions.
In the end, for the Catholic part, I reworded it as menjadi seorang, as it has a more solid and formal depiction of one’s chosen religion. In translating the Jewish counterpart, I used the term menganut, in which it serves as a softer and much more intimate element in terms of religion. Basically speaking, the word menganut has more to do with one’s personal faith in god than with being part of an institutionalized religion.
I also had some difficulties in finding the right vocabulary to use in the translation. Bahasa Indonesia is not as rich as English, and that makes it hard for me to convey the same messages as Enright. Some difficult words include conviction, ancient, and wise in the third paragraph. Their Indonesian translations do not have the same amount of bravado within them, so I had to find alternative translations that have similar, yet more intense, meanings.
I chose the word keyakinan, meaning having faith, to substitute conviction. It seems like an odd choice, but I did it because there is no Indonesian word that translates to “a firmly held and unwavering belief”. Kevakinan not only means a strong opinion or belief, but it is also used to describe someone's faith and belief in their chosen religion. I personally find this choice of word quite interesting because the one that Enright used spoke of the secular moral institution, whereas the closest translation available in Indonesian has a more metaphysical connotation towards it (or a religious moral institution). Both talk of morals and principles, albeit coming from two different angles.
In choosing a translation for ancient and wise, I went with the word agung. This one was particularly difficult because I felt bad for using one Indonesian translation for two English words. Sadly, there really is no Indonesian translation for something that is grand and archaic in nature. I could have used kuno, but that has quite a negative connotation to it – one might say it’s the Indonesian counterpart for “antiquated.” Same goes for the word “wise,” in which we cannot seem to claim someone as experienced and of good-judgement without reconsidering their age (or lack thereof, in this case of the baby). With that being said, using the word agung felt fitting as it means something that is grand, honored, and worthy of their good-name. Also, the fact that I am able to stress how enchanting the baby is by using the term agung twice is also a feat on its own.
The same goes to the word “die” in the fourth paragraph. Similar to English, Bahasa Indonesia has two mainstream verbs to denote the action of death: mati (die) and meninggal (pass away). Yet, in Bahasa Indonesia, it is almost taboo to say that someone has died; one should always say that someone has passed away. I know that I should go against Enright’s choice of words and make the child’s death seem more proper in Indonesian literary rules. However, I feel like it does not match Enright’s frantic passion towards her child; how the child made her feel so raw and mundane. As so, I decided to use term tiada. It is not a word that we usually use to connote death. The literal English translation would be “perish,” and I believe it easily captures Enright’s chaotic imagery of death, helps me evade the word mati, and is still poetic in an aesthetic sense.
In the end, I think that my translation can serve as the Indonesian “translation” of Anne Enright’s text, but is not poetic enough to be considered as its Indonesian “version”. I realised that my choice of words may not be as flowery to be considered as an Indonesian literary work, and that I still have a lot of learning to do. However, I did enjoy the process as I get to mix and match words, building and making a message up from scratch.