TRA LE RIGHE

Di Matilda Colarossi

Il cipresso copriva la finestra. Allungava un’ombra enorme sul pavimento del salotto. Era a forma di scopino del water perché mancava la cima. Toglieva la luce e il respiro.

Un ramo, verso la metà della pianta, era spezzato. Restava in bilico sugli altri rami da mesi. Neanche il forte vento dei giorni scorsi l’aveva spostato. E l’albero era un’orchestra di voci diverse. Non aveva idea di quante specie di uccelli vivessero lì dentro.  Ogni tanto ne sortiva una seguita dal compagno, e si appoggiava sul filo della luce vicino alla sua finestra.

Estate e inverno l’ombra del cipresso invadeva i suoi spazi per un’ora o due, secondo la stagione. L’ombra dello scopino cambiava le tinte della stanza, ombre di colori più scuri spezzavano l’aria dove lui passava i pomeriggi senza mai uscire.

Prese il manoscritto della traduzione. Provava sempre disagio. Tra l’allegro e lo spaventato. Un momento strano, di anticipazione. Capiva abbastanza l’inglese da riconoscere se la traduzione era esatta o no. Ma non aveva paura delle parole. Il traduttore era un tipo bravo, pignolo. Ma quel momento, il momento in cui si affacciava sul suo mondo trasmesso in un altro mondo, era come ascoltarsi in una registrazione. Era quella la sua voce? Accenti molto simili, ma il timbro gli era sconosciuto.

Eppure sapeva giudicare la sua scrittura solo allora. Assomigliava ai grandi autori che amava e che leggeva in lingua originale? Li leggeva e rileggeva fino allo sfinimento.

Aspettò che l’ombra uscisse dalla stanza. Bevve una tazza di tè. Inzuppò tre biscotti, tre. Numero perfetto.

Quando il salotto riacquisì i suoi colori omogenei, aprì il manoscritto.

Lesse il primo capitolo col fiato sospeso. Il traduttore era stato, come sempre, molto bravo. La propria scrittura, invece, era una delusione. Si vide libellula, volando all’indietro, schivando l’acqua. Vicino abbastanza da tuffarsi ma sempre qualche millimetro sopra, all’asciutto. Era quella la sua voce?

Fissò il ramo in bilico appoggiato sugli altri rami.

Il traduttore aveva colto il senso delle sue parole in modo perfetto, e anche quello che c’era tra le righe. Niente.

BETWEEN THE LINES

By Matilda Colarossi

The cypress tree covered the window. It threw a long shadow across the living room floor. It was shaped like a toilet bowl brush because the top was missing. It consumed the light and the air.

A branch, halfway up the plant, was broken. It had been resting precariously on the other branches for months now. Not even the gusts of wind from the past few days had budged it. And that tree was an orchestra of different voices. He had no idea how many birds lived in there. Every once in a while one flew out, followed by her partner, and sat on the power line just outside his window.  Summer and winter the shadow created by the cypress invaded his space for an hour or two, depending on the season. The toilet brush shadow changed the hues of the room, darker shades of colour cut the air where he spent his afternoons without ever leaving the house.

He took out the manuscript of the translation. He always felt uncomfortable. In part ecstatic and in part terrified. A strange moment, of anticipation. He understood enough English to know if the translation was correct or not.  But he wasn’t afraid of the words. The translator was good, precise. But that moment, the moment he looked onto his world transported into another world, was like listening to a recording of his own voice. Was that really his voice? The accent was similar, but the timbre was unfamiliar.

And yet it was only then that he could judge his work. Did it even come close to the great writers he loved and read in the original text? He could read and re-read them without end.

He waited for the shadow to leave the room. He drank a cup of tea. He dunked three cookies. Three. The perfect number.

When the colours of the living room became homogeneous again, he opened the manuscript.

He held his breath while he read the first chapter. As always, the translator had been proficient. His own writing, on the other hand, was disappointing. He was a sort of dragonfly, flying backwards, skimming over the water. Close enough to dive in, but always a few millimetres above it, gasping. Was that his voice?

He looked out at the branch; it was resting precariously on the other branches.

The translator had reflected his words perfectly, and also what was between the lines. Nothing.

A writer’s, and translator’s, greatest fear: the inability to portray what lies, or doesn’t lie, between the lines. M.C.

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2 thoughts on “Snapshots: Tra le righe/Between the lines by Matilda Colarossi

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