Babel

The multilingual, multicultural online journal and community of arts and ideas. There's a heaven above you, baby.

Babel

The Importance of Being … Unaware People Understand What I Talk (In a Foreign Language)

Illustration depicting thought.

Image via Wikipedia

With such a long and complicated (but cutely suggestive, right) title, you may wonder what I am on about right now. Well, I came up with the idea a couple of days ago when I was standing in a Costa drinking a green at 6 p.m. (don’t judge me!) and I was absorbed in writing something very sad and serious and, out of nowhere, I hear people talking in Romanian. Now this is not uncommon in London, especially in the area I live in, but when I do it’s often from all the wrong people (the ones I wouldn’t be too happy to go and say “Oh, you’re Romanian, too? Let’s talk about our culture and share our experiences of being Romanians in a quite hostile land – against us, I mean:  I won’t get too much into it, but, what I can say, it’s no picnic being Romanian or Bulgarian in Europe at the moment).

Well, for a moment I was completely distracted and I got agitated for a (short) while. I knew I shouldn’t eavesdrop on a conversation that was more likely private (even more so when thinking nobody around understood them), but for a second there I just rejoiced hearing my mother tongue being spoken by normal and educated people in a Costa, in London. Yesterday had another not-so-similar experience. This time when I arrived home I was struck by the lack of education two strange men (that is that looked like thugs in leather jackets) that went in the hall right before me, but didn’t bother to hold the door for me. …..click here to read more

EYE KNOW

I can see nothing. Darkness
fills the window. My head
feels foggy, my body numb –
like waking up in bedlam.
I turn on the night light,
reach for a cigarette.
I remember a party, vaguely,
each face a phantom version
of itself, each figure spectral.
I remember a dream. The
streets were empty. Dark,
deserted buildings surrounded
me. Although I could see
no one anywhere, I knew
I was being shadowed
everywhere …
“Tick tock he loves me not.”
A woman sings a soft lament
somewhere in the shadows
of my cloudy remembrance.
“Tick tock my heart has stopped.
Tick tock tick tock.”
The smoke from my cigarette
floats above my bed like a spirit,
and softly disappears into that
shadowy space between here
and nowhere.

What's in a Word?

The famous Greek word logos — “word, speech, a...

Image via Wikipedia

This is an excerpt of one my my articles (click on this phrase to read the whole text) from my Helium account, which I think is relevant to the world not only relating the “Arab Spring” or the “Occupy” movements, but to the way the society is built as a whole. 

_________________________

Strong words relating to a vague, ethereal group that represents an unseen but really dangerous enemy – or so we are let to believe! – can identify a rhetoric or another for the connoisseur, but they are as liable to become a cigarette thrown into a tank at the gas station. Such words as “terrorists”, “nazis”, “activists”, “environmentalists”, nowadays “occupiers” (or as I keep hearing in a so-called democratic Romania words like “golani” – punks, “tineri” – youth or “studenti” – students used pejoratively as the ones who don’t work and are like leaches on the respectable workers and peasants who keep the country going, and so on). Using these words it’s quite easy to fall into the trap of generalized non-action and perhaps even opposition to change, unless change is imposed by the Man. Even terms of endearment can be dangerous when used in a work environment, for example in a place where all participants should be equal, but the majority is male and the women are addressed as “dear” or “darling”, or with terms otherwise reserved to the bedroom. Therefore, words are both positive and negative. They are positive if we know how to defend ourselves against them (even insults can be kept away with a shield!) and understand that a word can have countless meanings and we should use and interpret it according to a definite context and combination. They are negative if we don’t acknowledge these facts and only take words out of contexts and for what we think they mean. In any case… Is there a reason for why “word” and “world” are such close brothers (sisters, or siblings if we are to include all readers in the equation)?

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Flash Fiction: At the bus station (from my Helium)

Flash?

Image by Somalia ya swan via Flickr

One of my Helium articles:

It was cold… So cold. I was rushing to take the bus home through the crowds and dreaming about an ideal world in which I was the reincarnation of Bruce Lee and my kung fu was the strongest of ’em all.

As I was preparing to cross the street, I was about to step off the sidewalk when a bus almost hit me. I backed off as quick as I could and I started hearing my heartbeat. I rushed towards the station I wanted to catch the bus as soon as possible. The station was packed. Everybody was freezing and I as soon as I arrived, I calculated where I should sit to be among the first when the bus stops. You know… I have my favourite seat I absolutely need to occupy, otherwise… well, otherwise… I’m unhappy. And the ride is quite long for me, so I need to get comfortable, right?

Well, I did that. And I saw it. My bus. Parked close to the station, empty and with the lights turned off. Everybody was shaking, moving from one leg to the other, rubbing their palms together. There was this guy listening to music on his phone, he kept dancing with his eyes closed, sometimes smiling, other times timidly moving his lips to the lyrics. I couldn’t make out the song. At some point he sat down on the bench and went on doing his thing. A few seconds later, an old lady with a shopping trailer bag sat next to him. She was obviously unhappy with his silent musical antics. She kept shaking her head, whispering something that I thought was in the lines of “Youth these days…”.

Then, happiness. The driver arrived and started the bus off. Happiness for everyone, everybody was smiling – at least inside. I suddenly realized it wasn’t really cold any more, it was actually really hot. The bus arrived and stopped, the doors opened and the driver invited us to get in.

I don’t know how and when it happened, but when the bus started, there wasn’t anyone in it any more.

“One way trip, miss?” the driver suddenly asked me. Then I realized. I never made it to the station!

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Kaddish

BREAD AND ASHES

A shadow in a shadow land as
time goes on and memories fade
and you weather the years and
visit the graves, until your dream
falls asleep, too, and all that
remains of the ashes of winter
is the warmth you once gave.
A ghost, even then, in her faded
print dress, dusted with flour as
white as her hair, I used to sit at
the kitchen table and watch my
grandmother bake Sabbath bread—
a weekly miracle which I could
never fully comprehend. Her
wizened face glistened with
affection each time she glanced
in my direction. Her cloudy eyes
squinted for perfection as she molded
the mysterious dough and we listened
to phantom voices on the radio.

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