Privilegee (based on a true story)

I jumped into a marshrutka and climbed onto my favorite corner seat in the back row. It’s a bit higher than the other seats and you feel like you’re sitting on the upper circle at the theater. You can see and hear everything without attracting a lot of attention. Today, though, I wasn’t about to watch passengers.

I untangled the headphones that always managed to tie themselves into mysterious reef knots. It never mattered how carefully you packed them before. Then I found the next MP3 file on my phone and delved into an audio book in English. It required a hell of a lot of effort to recognize formerly familiar words now disguised in quirky pronunciations. I don’t know who invented the rules of English but this person definitely must have had an upset stomach. I had no another logical explanation as to why they mocked the human race so cruelly.

While still in a state of shock over how the word ‘cautiously’ sounded in actual fact, I hadn’t noticed that the marshrutka had not moved in a while. And I eventually realized that the leaflet advertising lessons promising guitar playing virtuosity in record time had been hovering near my nose for a suspiciously long time. I turned my head from the window that the leaflet was stuck to and looked towards the passenger compartment. Something was happening near the driver and it wasn’t a pleasant scene, that’s for sure.

An old man was standing there, waving a pensioner’s card in front of the driver’s nose. He was insisting on a free ride but the driver would not comply. There were only two priority seats, and unfortunately both were occupied. The driver suggested that the old man get off the bus and wait for the next one. This suggestion obviously wasn’t to the old man’s taste.

The old man looked highly strung, while in contrast the driver was the very image of calm. The old man threatened to write complaints to all known authorities, from the boss of the driver to the president of Ukraine. The driver, wordless, offered him a pen.

And the bus still didn’t move. Passions were rising.

The passengers quickly divided themselves into sides. The first side eagerly supported the old man, cursing the driver and government for being so heartless and humiliating poor, defenseless pensioners. The other side wisely reasoned that the bus wasn’t made of rubber and that the driver was duty bound to fulfill the daily revenue target. There was no place on Earth where a retired person could be late on a Saturday morning.

I sat on my VIP loge in the back row of this bus theater. I was not enjoying this stage play at all. The perfect voice with posh English pronunciation was still whispering something in my ear but I was no longer listening to it. The ugly La Comédie humaine had grabbed all of my attention.

The crowd started to demand that the bus continue on its route. Someone yelled at the driver while someone else threatened to help the old man to leave the bus if he couldn’t do this on his own… and suddenly I felt unbearable shame for everything that was happening here. No. I refused to be a part of this crappy play!

I left my seat and approached the driver, holding forth a five-hryvnia note. He took it without a word, tossed it into the money box, and shut the door. The bus moved ahead.

I was back at my seat. No one said a word. The other passengers went back to their private affairs. Someone poked a nose into their phone. Someone looked out the window. Someone else continued their conversation. I tried to concentrate on my audio book again.

“Stop here!”

The bus stopped at literally two hundred meters. The old man disembarked. Only he. No one else. And when he was passing me, our eyes met. I was ready to see any emotion in his stare… gratitude, embarrassment, surprise. But hatred? What the fuck?!

A bit later, I understood the reason. At the time, however, I was dumbfounded at the unpredictability of human nature and just went back to the book. Moominmamma had called everyone to the dinner and I didn’t want to be late.

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

TATI’S TRANSLATIONS // Icicles by Sudeep Sen

Cold blast from an electric vent bites my skin — this comfortable discomfort, prickling my pores bathed in an acrid glaze, transforms to frozen gold-salt.

Attaining instant freezing points might be a rare marvel of science; I like this hellishly good blast that shakes all the embedded molecules in my bones —

bones that are parched in heat, turn to skeletal icicles — a beautiful ballerina-geography of stalactites and stalagmites — each needle-end points towards the other

like the two longing fngertips in Michelangelo’s painting at the Sistine Chapel — desiring a touch.

Струя холодного воздуха, выползающая из вентиляционной решетки, жалит мою кожу. Ласковые крошечные клыки вонзаются в мои поры, впрыскивая ядовитое желе, которое моментально превращается в солоноватые золотистые кристаллы.

Крионика – одно из чудес науки; мне нравится этот маленький атомный взрыв, встряхивающий каждую клетку моих костей.

Мой скелет, сожженный радиацией, превращается в минеральную окаменелость. Мои ребра вытягиваются, словно ноги искусной балерины в батмане; мои кости растут навстречу друг другу, как сталактиты и сталагмиты;

как кончики пальцев на фреске Микеланджело в Сикстинской капелле в их отчаянном и неосуществимом желании соприкоснуться.

Poem by SUDEEP SEN
Translation by TETIANA ALEKSINA

© All rights reserved 2017

TATI’S TRANSLATIONS // Night Ward by Sudeep Sen

The night ward’s blue curtains that surround me drip colour and deceit—each and every pleated flute of cloth hiding some half-truths like the half-lives of atoms. Only here, the arithmetic surety of fission does not wish to match the nuclear chemistry of my blood’s transfusion.

The night nurse peeps in to assure me that blue is not all black, that red is not grey, that the colour of my skin does not reflect the colour of my life. I wish I could agree with her consolations.

Yards of white and blue linen that wrap my slow generous chill, know the real secret of my floating corpuscles—the flotsam larvae, their ancient silk that gently threads my nearly finished mummy.

Синие шторы ночной палаты, окружающие меня, сочатся цветом и обманом. Каждая плиссированная складка ткани скрывает полуправду – частицу правды, пережившую период полураспада, как атом. Полученный арифметический результат этого деления упрямо не вписывается в химическую формулу переливания моей крови.

Ночная сиделка заглядывает в палату. Она уверяет меня, что этот синий не совсем черный, этот красный – вовсе не серый, и что цвет моей кожи совсем не такой, как цвет моей жизни. Мне хочется верить ее словам.

Километры белого и синего льна укутывают мой вечный озноб, постигая сокровенную тайну дрейфующих лейкоцитов; их мертвые личинки прошивают меня насквозь невесомыми шелковыми нитями, превращая в настоящую мумию.

Poem by SUDEEP SEN
Translation by TETIANA ALEKSINA

© All rights reserved 2017

TATI’S TRANSLATIONS // Lying Bare by Sudeep Sen

Your bare stomach is my pillow. When I turn my head to one side, warm air rises from the valley to lull me — on the other side, you shield my view of your face with your bosom — to devour me in the gorge near your heart.

Твой голый живот – это моя подушка. Я поворачиваю голову набок, и теплый убаюкивающий ветерок из долины ласкает мое лицо. Позади меня лежит горная гряда твоей груди, сорвавшись с которой, я разбился прямо около твоего сердца.

Poem by SUDEEP SEN
Translation by TETIANA ALEKSINA

© All rights reserved 2017

TATI’S TRANSLATIONS // ‘O’ Zone by Sudeep Sen

Well… I should admit I’m a pretty adventurous and curious person. But, hell, how can I miss another cool opportunity to get my feet wet?

That’s why I often lure Tony into different ventures like associated editing of a magazine or illustrating a collection of bizarre poems. And Tony, like a real noble knight, puts a shining armour on, and bravely fights for the honour of his restless, beautiful lady. He’s sweating over crazy drawings and going through the nine circles of hell of proofreading. Poor, poor Tony! But this time I let Tony take a short rest. I went into another crusade solo.

I met Sudeep Sen during Tony’s and my collaboration with The Wagon Magazine’, thanks to Krishna Prasad, the chief editor. A review of Sudeep’s book, ‘Erotext’, was featured in the current issue. I should admit, I’ve never heard of Sudeep before, but I was completely blown away by his writings. And, when I received an (unexpected) proposal to try translating this book… well, I think you know my answer. Of course, I said ‘yes’ and ran with drawn sword to conquer a new peak.

Dear Readers, today I take the courage to present myself in a new role: that of translator. Sudeep has kindly allowed me to show my first translations along with parts of his book on Unbolt Me. Thank you, Sudeep! I don’t know what this will result in, but I sincerely enjoyed the process and did my best. Word of honour!

TATI: Tony! Hey, Tony! Wake up! Stop drooling over your comic books…

TONY: What? Again? I’ve only just started to relax… and what about your translation?

TATI: That’s enough translation for now! I have another excellent idea! Let’s go!

The spray of scented chill pierces my lungs first, then comes the slow desperate heaving, the grinding spasm splaying, trying to centrifuge stubborn coves of mucous — whose greenish-yellow viscosity remains more deceptive than quicksand’s subtle death trap.

My face — confined in the transparency of plastic, frosted glass and thin air — regains for a moment the normalcy of breathing. It is a brief magical world. The oxygen in my blood is in short supply. I feel each and every electron’s charge, spurring my senses.

Dizzy in aerosol hope, I try to free myself of the medicated mask, but the frozen rain that batters my face reminds me of the tentativeness of living. As I survive on borrowed air, I’m grateful to the equation of science, its man-made safety, its curious balance that adds that precious molecule to create the sanctity of ‘O3’ — the holy Brahmanical triad — and the triumph of its peculiar numeric subscript.

My breathing is temporarily back now — electrolysed, perfectly pitched and nebulized — as narrow transparent tubes feed dreams into my wide opaque palate.

The sun’s edges are dark, so are my heart’s. No amount of air will light them up.

Сначала мои легкие пронзает ароматная ледяная струйка. Потом начинается медленная, тяжелая качка. Ритмичные волны судорог поднимаются, пытаясь затопить непокорную склизкую бухту, хрупкий зелено-желтый берег которой таит в себе большую опасность, чем смертельная ловушка зыбучих песков.

Я начинаю погружение. Мое лицо заковано в маску из прозрачного пластика, матового стекла и разреженного воздуха. На мгновение мое дыхание возвращается, и я вижу мир вокруг себя. Мир, волшебный и мимолетный, как картинка в калейдоскопе. В моей крови дефицит кислорода. Я ощущаю движение каждого электрона внутри, их микроскопические разряды бьют по моим органам чувств, словно молнии.

Опьяненный кислородом и надеждой, я пытаюсь освободиться от маски, но ледяные иглы дождя, жалящие лицо, напоминают мне о хрупкости бытия. Я – жалкий банкрот, мой воздух взят взаймы у научного уравнения. Мертвая формула, дарящая жизнь, странный баланс которой уравновешен лишней молекулой. Драгоценной молекулой, венчающей священный союз «О3», небесную триаду браминов, триумф этого особенного числового индекса.

Мое дыхание постепенно возвращается ко мне. Наэлектризованное, идеально ровное, глубокое, оно течет по узким прозрачным трубкам прямо в бескрайнее черное небо.

Солнце медленно погружается во тьму, и мое сердце тоже. Я знаю, что рассвет не наступит никогда.

Poem by SUDEEP SEN
Translation by TETIANA ALEKSINA

© All rights reserved 2017