I had been laying out a plan to get closer to them. I thought about being upfront, but they probably would have ignored me. I thought about stealing from them, although it would have been quite dumb since they still outnumbered me. The ‘opportunity’ arrived during a warm day towards the end of spring, one of those days that seem to come and go without anything special going on. We were all at one of the parks they had been hanging around for a few days. They were sitting on the grass, putting the tip of a lit cigarette on an anthill, while I kept my distance sitting against a tree, pretending to nap but watching them. After about an hour, when the sun had already set and people were rushing to get back home, I realized why they had chosen this particular spot.

Probably because I had followed them for so long, I knew what would happen the moment I saw someone else approach. See, this place was used for the local dealer who would switch spots every few days to avoid altercations with the authorities that could complicate business. It was common knowledge that the whole police department was aware of this and even received small kickbacks to look the other way. However, keeping up with appearances seemed like basic decency and a good marketing strategy. No one was bothered and they all got their cut.

This was bad.

Had I not known them better I would have thought that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. No. This meant confrontation. With a quick movement, the kids surrounded the dealer, who realized what was happening a second too late. Instantly, one of the kids immobilized him, grabbed his merchandise, and knocked him cold. A car came out of nowhere and they put him in it. Something was off; they were organized; this was planned; and I was completely out of place. As I started to walk away, everything went black.

It was either nighttime when I regained consciousness or I was underground. The pain in the back of my head made my vision blurry, and I nearly pass out again when I tried to get up. There was a glass of water and some stale bread in the corner of the room. I was so thirsty I just drank gulp after gulp. No need to poison me after being knocked out and carefully placed here.

It was a damp room of two square meters. There was nothing other than a filthy mattress and lots of writing on the walls. As my eyes adjusted to the room, I saw a door. Slowly, I approached it and tried to listen to the noises on the other side. As I couldn’t hear anything, I turned the doorknob slowly and found myself in an old kitchen of what looked like a factory.

I heard the footsteps a minute too late and suddenly there were voices and laughter. Surrounded, I just stood there, defiant.

“Well, well, well… look who’s finally up and running?” said one of the kids I’d been following around. “Nice to finally meet you.”

“Quit it,” said the first kid. “My name is James. This is Isabella and Mica. I think you know us already.”

“Hi…” I replied. “I´m Ti…”

“No! Not your real name. We know who you are but no one else may know.”

“Tina,” I added quickly. It was the first thing that came to mind. “Where are we? Why are you holding me here?”

“Ha! Following us for weeks and now we’re holding her? Shameless!” – interjected the girl named Mica.

“We are not and do not wish to hold you here,” said James. “If you stay, you stay on your own free will. We just thought you needed friends and you seem like a good fit for the cause. Small and unnoticeable but daring. A little inexperienced, but we can teach you.”

“Teach me what? What cause? Who are you?” – The questions blurted out of my mouth in anger. What do you want to teach me? How to trick a low life to steal from him or how to hurt people just because? No thank you!” I added boldly.

“Well… we needed to know how you would react. What type of person you were,” said the girl named Isabella with a look of shame? I am sorry for that.”

After a few moments, Mica made some coffee and told us to go and sit down, so I could meet the others and they could explain it better. I was very curious about the whole thing, and I hadn’t had anything that tasted like coffee for such a long time, so I followed them.

We went up two flights of stairs into a living room. There were two men and a woman watching the news while a much older woman was scribbling something on a notepad. One by one, I was introduced to them as “Tina,” and they all welcome me and shared their also made-up names, Hugo, Paco, and Luis. Only Donald Duck was missing. We sat at a table and James started explaining.

“We are an organization, or we like to think we are. To our government, we are nobodies who, like you, have been forced into this by a consequence of corrupt, evil, and authoritarian leaders. We all have our personal histories of how we ended up here. Some out of principle,” he said, looking at the older lady, “some for revenge,” he gestured at the ones who were watching TV, “and some for fun, like me,” he added shrugging his shoulders.

“And what do you do here?” I asked, gesturing at the room.

“Well, this would be our headquarters, so to speak,” explained Isabella. “Basically, we want to overthrow the government,” she said matter-of-factly.

“Okay…” I replied, not knowing what should follow that statement. “And… how?” – They probably figured I thought they were crazy or ridiculous.

“Wait, listen,” Mica said. “We have been planning this for years. Well, not us. Other people before us, people who are no longer here to explain. We were recruited in different circumstances, and like you, came to know about this because we could add something, either contacts, knowledge or, in your case, invisibility.”

James, who had been quiet, added, “we have chosen not to live like this anymore, like scum. We have allowed a few to take what others gained, what others created, and worst of all, what others believed. They have taken our loved ones for their cause, and now, we are going to strike them hard. It will all fall from there.”

I still did not know what to believe. They would be thrown in jail forever if the wrong person heard what he had just told me. They either felt safe, or it was some kind of trap. I remained quiet. Listening.

“You do alright in not trusting us,” Isabella exclaimed. “If you wish, you’ll stay here and see how you feel. The streets aren’t safe for a little girl, anyway.” She said this with a bit of malice, as I remembered the night they had stolen from me.

“My backpack!” I demanded. “You have my stuff.”

“Yes, you are correct. You stay here for one month, and no matter whether you decide to stay or leave, we’ll give it back. But not before,” Mica said.

“Okay. Deal.” Having a pack didn´t seem like a bad idea, nor did having coffee or a safe place to sleep, and after only one month, I would have my only possessions.

And so, the training and the indoctrination began. Of course, I was too young to understand it back then. All I could understand was their passion, their pragmatism, and, most of all, their thirst for revenge. They seemed to have contacts where my parents were being held, who told them that my mother was still in prison and that my dad had pneumonia. I didn’t even question this information. I just trained harder and studied for longer hours.

I lost track of time, but a year probably went by where all I did was train and learn. I studied maps, blueprints, first aid, weaponry, antidotes, and information. And I constantly heard about how good things would be when this was over and I would finally reunite with my parents. I was not worried about what my task would be. I didn’t know what was so special about me. They seemed to know everything about how the government worked and who the most corrupt people were or who would quickly turn a blind eye. They knew it all.

Then they told me. They had said it many times – “invisibility.” That was why they needed me. I have one of those forgettable faces – that of a thin, normal, uninteresting, seventeen-year-old girl.

(…to be continued…)

Forthcoming

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Colonia, Uruguay – Old factory – Mariano Villafane (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

I was fifteen years old when I was recruited. Like most teenagers, even in the worst conditions, I was trying to find my own identity. Regardless of the situation, I had grown up in a stable and loving home, though still aware of my surroundings. When I turned twelve, the regime passed a new decree expropriating my parent’s assets and bank accounts. My parents had been targeted for years, as they had helped hide activists and were suspected of operating an underground network assisting those who were fighting for freedom of speech and democracy. The regime did not want them dead, it wanted to humiliate them, and to use them as an example for those still rebelling. One day, they were brought in for questioning, and sent directly to prison, no charges, and no right to an attorney. Although I was a minor, I was left to fend for myself as the system had collapsed and resources were nonexistent. Plus, I was a walking reminder of what would happen to those who dared to fight the regime. I became a pariah.

I do not wish upon anyone what I went through during the first few months of my forced freedom. I had only been allowed to keep a backpack of things, which I quickly filled with some clothes, medicine, a few tampons, documents, and a couple of photos. I was smart enough to get some food and a Swiss Army knife that belonged to my dad. It was so surreal that I felt dumb thinking I might need all this, but at the same time I was facing a new life I had never known before, and I was scared. The streets are no place for a girl, let alone in a situation of chaos, where everything has a price and where morals belong to a different era.

The first few nights were so cold I thought I wouldn’t survive. I had to stop myself from crying because the tears would nearly freeze, which felt like a stinging reminder of everything that was wrong with this situation. But the cold offered protection. I was able to disguise myself as a scroungy boy and to hide the backpack with my few belongings under an already filthy blanket. I did odd jobs and begged for food or money when I couldn’t get anything, but I was able to survive. After the first few weeks, I felt comfortable enough to think that I would make it after all, despite the pain, despite the anger, and despite the hunger. Little did I know, I would only feel that for a few more hours.

It was around 10 pm when I got settled in my usual spot, under a bench in a poorly lit square. The bench was rather good at shielding me from the wind and, though dark, was still close enough to pedestrians and a place with food, in case I needed help. I still believed in humankind, you see.

And then, I saw it. Suddenly, I felt the hairs on my neck prickle and I was much more aware of my surroundings. Where there had been bushes two minutes ago, there were shadows, slowly moving to my spot. It all went so fast I can barely remember. A few seconds later, someone was grabbing me from behind and putting a knife to my throat. I remember the sharpness of the blade, but I didn’t care. They started searching my stuff, my backpack, my pockets, and the little money I had hidden in my shoe. I fought, I screamed, I asked for help. No one came. I could see the passersby staring, and then turning their heads or leaving. And it hit me, I was alone in the world, no one was coming. I fought with everything I had, my nails, my teeth, my rage. I didn’t care whether I lived or not, because there was nothing left to live for. Although I caught them by surprise, they were three against one; it was over. Not only did I lose my belongings that night, but I also lost my innocence, my hope, and any faith in humanity. I started pick-pocketing and stealing. I wandered around the streets like those who have nothing and don’t owe anything. Occasionally some looked at me with pity, but I would just sneer at them. I didn’t want to rely on anybody, let myself feel that someone may want to help me.

Without having my essentials, life got tougher. I was still begging and stealing but the food was getting scarcer as the situation in the country deteriorated. There were talks of liberation, a new beginning, but I couldn’t care less. My new beginning had started already, and it was worse than I could have imagined.

A few weeks after the incident, I thought I recognized one of the robbers with other kids. I wasn’t sure at first, so I decided to follow them. They were older than me and very cocky. They walked like they owned the street and terrified those who stared at them too long. I did not care anymore; I wanted my things back. I wanted to recover the only reminder that I had had a happy life.

So I followed. I looked like a skinny weasel, sneaking behind them between the dumpsters and trying to go undetected. I didn’t dare to get too close to them, but I was desperate to know where they slept, and most importantly, where they kept my stuff.

I became cockier and careless. I didn´t know any better and didn’t bother to look after myself. I would steal in plain sight and from the most dangerous people in the neighborhood. After a while, following the three kids that had stolen from me became boring, but I was intrigued by them, who they were, and how they had come to know each other. They were, for street standards, affectionate among themselves and seemed to share a sense of community I longed for. I wanted to be a part of their group, but I did not want to risk infuriating them. Also, I started to notice a pattern. They would hang out at a specific spot for a few days, until they targeted someone and stole everything from them, very violently. It was like they would suddenly feel bloodthirsty; their expressions would change; their body language turned rigid and their whole act of affection and jokes was replaced by pure sadism. It was not friendship that united them, but viciousness. Looking back, I realized that I should’ve noticed the signs, the changes in their behavior. But I wanted a pack, and I did not feel like the world had been fair to me, so why should I care?

(…to be continued…)

Forthcoming

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Montevideo, Uruguay – Locked out – Guzman Barquin (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Nothing could have prepared me for this. While growing up, during one of the many cool summer nights when I would just lie and imagine what my life would be like, I never imagined that things would turn out this way. Not exactly. But I somehow knew it would be… extraordinary, for lack of a better word. And even at such a young age, it made sense that it would end up like this. You see, despite our power of reasoning, the subconscious is our most powerful tool. I am not going to pretend I understand how the mind and the world beyond the living are connected, let alone explain it, but I always sensed that some things are simply beyond our power of understanding, and the more open you are about it, the more likely you are to glimpse just a bit.

I did manage to have something of a normal life in my adult years, while I was trying to make do in this world like anybody else, with real problems, real issues and concerns. Little did I know that my past experiences would come back in a most strange manner, and would take away my daughter’s bright future, and her sanity.

I wish I had been less selfish; and I regret thinking my life would carry on normally. We can choose to ignore certain things, but eventually, they will find their way back, demanding to be heard and demanding much more, if you, like me, try to hide them.

Every day I visit her at the center. This “Well-being Center” as it is called, in a feeble attempt to avoid the stigma. Nonetheless, it is what it is, and I need to take my responsibility for what happened.

Slowly I drink the cup of tea the nurse offered me, while I wait for her. It is a nice and quiet place, and I must convince myself this is what is best for her and the rest of us.

As I observe the ducks on the pond, following one another, I start to drift off into my memories, into the past.

It was a gray city, very gray. Beggars lay in every corner, side by side with trash cans and waste, and getting the same consideration from passersby. It is an austere, damp city. Finally, the dictatorship that ruled the country and the region had been overthrown, but our country was in pieces and its inhabitants were barely surviving. Due to the blockade and imposed restrictions, food was hard to get. We would only receive a few rations, which we would trade for medicine, warm clothes and guns. We had dreamt about the end of the regime for so long that we had not considered what the aftermath would bring.

It had all started over a decade ago as an extreme measure by our then government to stop a wave of violence brought about by the worst financial crisis our country had ever seen. From one day to the next, people’s life savings were gone, entire factories and businesses went bankrupt, and banks and financial institutions shut down and were protected by private paramilitary groups. People were scared and angry. They had trusted the elected government, which filled their own pockets while watching our country collapse, and then they took off after raiding our country´s treasury and securing safe passage for themselves and their families to another authoritarian country across the globe with no extradition treaties. The same old story.

After being left in such a state of despair, we were relieved when the Principal General of the Armed Forces set out a contingency plan for 6 months in order to contain the violence and establish the terms and conditions for various loans with international funds to help us out of the crisis. How naïve, you may think. But you must understand, people were desperate to believe, were desperate enough to let someone take charge and guide us through to a democracy.

Six months went by, and, of course, it wasn’t enough to fix the deep crisis of our country, so we let them stay longer despite some democratic groups warning against it. As history is bound to repeat itself, they never left. Not voluntarily at least.

Many years of torture against political dissidents and human rights activists followed, many years of bad national investments, poverty, and a complete disruption of social support systems, which determined that the only opportunities for an entire generation of kids were drugs, crime, and accusing the opposition of spying, treason, and attempting the murder of those in government. You know, the usual.

Then, a new wave of hope came along, although not by the hand of a person, but by organized groups. Even today, no one knows for certain what happened that night or the events that led to the death of the Principal General of the Armed Forces. I am sure someone will investigate that in the future, but at the time nobody wished to put the responsible person behind bars. As horrible as it sounds, this X assassin was a hero of sorts. Well, heroine, really, but just a few know that. In this case, the patriarchy worked to my advantage; since if someone starts digging into the past to find a culprit, they would be looking for a man. If the system sucks, at least use it to your advantage. That’s how I came to be the chosen one, nobody would suspect a skinny young girl. I have to admit, though it shames me, it felt nice when the General realized that his life would soon be over.

I would not say I was proud of it, but it certainly taught me how to use the system, even if I didn’t understand that at the time.

(…to be continued…)

Forthcoming

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Montevideo, Uruguay – Urban sunset – DFLC Prints (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

 

Is the change that nearly everyone of every pinstripe imagines to be necessary merely one of perception? Amidst the rancor inundating us from all sides, some of the more balanced (alternative?) ones among us must wonder whether even the achievement of political, economic, social or other goals will satisfy the vocal materialists.

If we glance back at our past in literary fiction for orientation, it must be conceded that the trials characters face in the classics mirror our own today, even if the mirror is foggy or fractured. The narratives of all cultures at all times are littered with complex relationships, shattered dreams, broken men and women, financial difficulties…

These and other classical themes are the rationale for derivative artistic works such as translation and adaptation or the genres of transposition and transadaptation that Angelika Friedrich, Henry Whittlesey and I have invented. When we face the past in all its immediacy through a work of art, we should be able to draw analogies to our own time. This is also the logic behind the perpetual rewriting of history. Whether explicitly mentioned or not, a history book aims to portray the past so we can gain insights from it and apply them to our present circumstances.

While the past-present framework is one approach for understanding the current context, an alternative would be to look at a cross-section of countries in the present. This is especially attractive in our globalized and internationally networked society. Below the political and corporate level, however, it is difficult to find representations of everyday life that can serve as references for potential analogies. The problems are manifold: The precariate, working class, service class and middle class all have little-to-no political support and, consequently, media megaphone to express their views and lobby for their interests; the global scale of our currently networked civilization is too large to be addressed by readers or viewers attempting to work, go to school, raise a family, and so on; the potential authors or producers of such representations are generally “trapped” by their own culture, as their achievement of a socially respected position requires overwhelming exposure to their native culture (schooling, internships, work will all be in one country). This is where the limited scope of the perypatetik project meets with eccentric translators to create a present-present framework for grasping our age through transadaptation in a cross-section of countries.

In Conceived, the second part of our transadaptation series begun with In the Middle, eleven of the twelve authors from the first volume in addition to a new contributor from America have “continued” their initial stories. By at least partially touching on childhood, they have laid the foundation for a concrete transadaptation that will be framed and fitted out over the coming years.

As the essays and short stories by these writers have shown, the translator-author has a unique ability to bridge the information gap between the pragmatic elites shaping our opinions in the mainstream media and publishing on the one hand and the vast silent majority of romantics struggling to make ends meet on the other. They are amorphous in not just their profession, but also their social position. Language skills are acknowledged; income is, relatively speaking, low; and, until the corona crisis, their tendency to work at home alone all the time was viewed to be somewhat strange. It is a profession of dissenters who can relate to the masses of romantic outsiders around them, even without belonging to them. Being largely equal, these translator-writers can live in nearly perfect harmony with construction workers, retail associates, delivery drivers, mothers not working, the retired, the unemployed or marginally employed. Similar to all romantics, they also know or are aware of pragmatists’ values, expectations, norms, but their job of working with words and sentences allows them to assimilate the impressions gained from the world of romanticism and describe this alternative in a manner that can be understood by pragmatists. In this capacity, the translator-writer goes beyond their cultural mediation in translation (shifting a text from one language to another). They translate the culture of romantics to words, either in non-fiction or fiction. In non-fiction, they have done this in The Archive of Instability (2017), The Codex of Uncertainty (2018) and The Syncretion of Polarization and Extremes (2019). The first representation in fiction has just been released with the collection In the Middle (2020). Now we are continuing with Conceived.

Before we can figure out what change is necessary, we need to understand what is going – not just in our own country, but others as well.

Yuri Smirnov

Forthcoming

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Eskişehir, Turkey – Schizophrenia – Phovius (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

To close the old year and open the new one, we have released the print and Kindle anthology of In the Middle, the peripatetic short stories published on our digital platforms weekly throughout 2020.

This perypatetik project has explored facets of contemporary being around the world. From 2016 to 2019, contributors wrote about instability, uncertainty and polarization or extremes in their respective countries. Now, in this edition, we have begun a transposition or – more accurately – transadaptation of experience with twelve of them. This first florilegium of fiction is called In the Middle because it does not attempt to correlate the various authors’ experiences: Each writer was free to compose their story without content guidance, although each narrative had to be set primarily in their native country or place of residence. These short stories should be conceived of as the trunk from which the future work will branch out. Set in Argentina, Armenia, Cuba, Lebanon, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela, they open (non-ideological) windows into small parts of our daily routine of waking, passing through a day (or night) and going back to sleep again before we repeat it. Although the general structure is largely the same for all of us and has never changed, the content of the conscious part of this experience has varied considerably over time, between places and from one person to the next. A fragment of these perspectives is refracted here in this volume.

The stories run the gamut.

In Forgetting, Seyit Ali Dastan describes the surreal changes throughout Turkey as the eponymous protagonist tries to trigger memories in his father Mehmet. Little remains from the past: His former primary school has turned into a garage; trees around his former secondary school have all been chopped down; vacation on the coast is unaffordable; soccer fields have become facilities with artificial turf; and even the narrator has had to change his name after being placed on the government’s ‘terrorist’ list.

Unreal Reality by Armine Asryan (Nane Sevunts) explores a girl’s struggle with identity in Armenia. Julie is an outsider everywhere – in her family, at school, in the workplace. She never feels part of the group and suffers. It is not until she gets in touch with Nare, another side of her self, that she can throw off the shackles of social expectations and constraints.

We gain further insight into the trials of not-belonging through Unwanted. In South Africa, Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) relates the experiences of being an outsider wherever she finds herself. Her hopes of a relationship with a young man are dashed by their divergent backgrounds. Among people with a similar background, her views are too tolerant. Abroad, her identity does not conform to foreigners’ expectations.

As we travel to the Middle East for A Journey to the Edge, Rayan Harake portrays conflicts similar to those of Asryan and Wallis. Zeinab Ismail, the main character, comes from a traditional family and environment where being well-mannered, shy, good to others and religious was respected. When her top grades in the Lebanese equivalent of high school allow her to enroll in a leading university, shyness becomes a weakness, well-mannered is too soft, religious means close-minded. The new place has a different set of values: being confident, independent, a leader.

Moving to Poland, we catch a snippet of the hypocrisy in the business world through Pawel Awdejuk’s The Last Day. In this story, an office employee sits down with his colleague on the last day of work and reveals the reality behind the facades of respectability in his (former) company, politics and society.

To receive your pension in cash, to go to school, to survive, you must pass an endurance test in Venezuela, as Veronica Cordido chronicles in Pedro and Elizabeth: Pedro spends the whole day riding on the bed of a cargo truck to a different town, waiting in line for hours and then hanging off the side of a vehicle on the way back. Elizabeth recounts children missing school because they faint from malnourishment, while the elderly wonder about contributing to the country for 30 years only to get misery in return.

When we shift to Ukraine in Gennady Bondarenko’s House with a Stucco Ship, the mood lightens up. Igor Pavlovich proposes to a stranger, Rita, whom he has just become smitten with at a café. She politely brushes him off by explaining that her mother must agree. But fate causes them to meet again, and she draws him into her scheme: He should plan to buy her dad’s house at a newly discovered archeological site as a representative of UNESCO.

A less amusing love story unfolds as we crisscross back to Uruguay. In Alejandra Baccino’s story Till Love Do Us Part, a young adult finds the perfect man, Torrance, and is finally happy, but her bliss dissipates. After the halcyon days, Torrance nearly becomes violent, calling her a puta, hitting chairs and grabbing her wrists until they bruise. Even if the violence does not return, the relationship steadily deteriorates, although she adamantly defends him nonetheless.

It is very similar in Cuba. Pat, one of four friends looking for love in Marilin Guerrero Casas’s story A Girl Pedaling, likewise sees her beautiful relationship crumble after a short time. According to her filosofía of life, it is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that creates happiness. The enjoyment for her comes from love and being loved in return. On meeting and then dating the university teacher Tony, she immerses herself in momentos increíbles. Yet when she takes the risk of leaving her parents to live alone, he does not join her.

Crossing the ocean to Spain, Jonay Quintero Hernández introduces us to the criminal Evelio and his neighbor Luisa in Amelia’s Euphemism. This neighbor, a mother who is repeatedly beaten by her husband, finally explodes, grabbing his childhood chess trophy and killing him with it in the apartment next to the criminal.

The theme of love gone sour also permeates Javier Gomez’s story Catching Water in Argentina. Gomez tells about Leo, a young retail associate, who briefly enjoys the excitement of love against the backdrop of tedious work. While not as traumatic as the stories in Uruguay and Cuba, the object of his love and escape from dull reality, a girl named Nadia, quickly dumps him to return to her abusive ex-boyfriend.

Finally, rounding out the collection in Russia, is Kate Korneeva’s Unconscious Repetition. Here too, the glass bubble of young love ends shattered, as the protagonist’s relationship with her boyfriend evolves along lines rhyming with those of her and his parents: him laughing at, deriding and ignoring her; she lacking support from a mother always on the other person’s side.

In the difficulties and stress of our everyday lives, we often lose sight of the larger communal nature of our existence. Transposition and transadaptation are ideal means for grasping the commonalities we all share. Various forms of translation, even freer translations, are either awkward or difficult to identify with due to technical linguistic issues, unfamiliar cultures or the perceived distance (“they have that problem; we don’t”). Depending on the approach, even transposition can have an alienating impact if the form of the original is adopted extensively for the transposed content in the new context.

A transadaptation suffers from none of these weaknesses. Specifically in this anthology, we encounter the themes of dashed love and being an outsider in different countries, with divergent age groups, at various stages of life. In this sense, we can also grasp the communal nature of our global existence. The struggles, emotions and spectrum of states are both here and there. I experience them; you do too. We uncover them everywhere. Transadaptation opens up this communal experience to us through reading, reflection and realization.

In 2021 these stories will continue in the context of childhood. In other words, childhood will be transadapted across the countries. Eleven of the twelve authors will return, with a writer from America being integrated as well. They will expand on the stories begun here. As Henry Whittlesey defined in the introduction to the transpositions of classics in From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin, a transadaptation is a derivative artistic work that stands in relation to another one or other ones, but does not necessarily exhibit much formal or content-based concordance. A translation retains the form and content of an original. An adaptation such as a film of a novel preserves the content, but changes the form (e.g. narration is reproduced as visual images). A transposition shifts the content on account of the context, but retains the form (e.g. The Nose, a 19th-century story set in Russia, is moved to 21st-century America with exactly the same structure as Gogol has in his original). In the case of this volume, it is only possible to speak of a transadaptation in the sense that the stories juxtapose experience or life in one country to another. 

As the stories continue in 2021, with each one focusing on or observing childhood in each country, we will be able to speak directly of a transadaptation, as this theme will constitute the consistent formal element binding each narrative. The project will then explore young adulthood in 2022 before the authors will improvise again in 2023, similar to this year. 

Angelika Friedrich

Print edition

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Kindle edition

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Digital edition

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: Unreal Reality – Armenia, by Armine Asryan

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Toni Wallis

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Pedro and Elizabeth – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: Unconscious Repetition – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Folc – Jr Korpa (Unsplash)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

This summer I learned he had married. And I have something to wish him. I wish him peace and serenity. But I know for sure, both come from inside, because I myself have experienced that changes are born inside and then transform events, relationships, life, and the world around. It happens by making different choices, by confronting fears and overcoming them, accepting the past. I wish for him to go down his path and find serenity – whatever that is for him. I thought I would envy his wife but I do not. I know what it’s like to be his woman. He is still the same as he was 11 years ago. I know the price she pays. For me the price was unbearable. The price of being laughed at, derided and sometimes ignored was too high for me. These are just some of his father’s patterns and the messages he got from his childhood and now reproduces in his life. Unless we become aware of what belongs to us and what belongs to our parents, unless we return to our parents what belongs to them, we copy them even if we don’t want to. That is what was imprinted in his mindset, that is his background. He has never experienced anything different, anything contrary to that. It is all he can contribute to relationships. And she agrees to accept it because she has her own background.

I have my background as well. We met by chance, yet I chose him deliberately, albeit unconsciously.

My parents divorced when I was also 14. At 12 I discovered a document and found out that my father was actually my step-father. So I’ve never seen my biological father. He had died about six months before I learned about him, when he was 36. And now I know what it’s like to be deprived of a right to be the daughter of my father, I know what it feels like to be deprived of a father’s love and embrace. I know what it means not to even have an idea of his voice, the way he spoke, the way he looked. I will never know how it would have felt if he had looked at me and talked to me. The time has gone for ever. Death made all this impossible. And I feel really sorry for that. I am really sorry that my mother and father were not wise and brave enough to stay parents for me when they separated as wife and husband. Now I know it’s not as easy as it may seem, because I was in their shoes, but it is worth it.

That’s why I indeed thank God and myself for letting me find enough courage to get my son acquainted with his father after almost 8 years of silence. I extended my hand, and he took it. And I indeed thank him for letting it happen. Because our son has the right to know his father, listen to his voice, talk to him and see him, even if he is not a perfect parent. Once, at the end of a phone call, my son said: “I love you, Dad.” I was almost crying at that moment and I felt proud of myself because I had done that very important and precious thing: I had returned a basic right to our son; the right to be the son of his father, the right to know his father and love him. This was my personal award. I put lots of effort, time and strength into it, and I did it, although I’m not an ideal parent either. Our son will make his own judgment about his father. He has that right as well.

The more I think about this story the more I agree that I could not predict we would break up and I would become a single mother. In those days I did not have the knowledge I have now, I was unable to think about and see what happened the way I learned to later. Then I was not what I am now.

The reason seems to be the environment we lived in as children. Neither he nor I had any idea of what it was like to live in a happy family, to overcome difficulties together by supporting each other and openly discussing what each partner felt and understood or did not feel and understand. We definitely did not know what it was like to be accepted, respected and truly supported by our parents. What it meant to feel safe and protected. My mother is a really strong woman, but she doesn’t and will never understand and learn how to be on my side whatever happens to me, whatever the circumstances and situations are, no matter what the truth is; to be on my side simply because I am her daughter, her child, although I may be almost 40 already. She will never realize that I may have needed her protection since I was born because she is the one to take care of and protect her child. Unfortunately, I cannot make my mother own up to her mistakes and thus to assume responsibility unless she takes the first step herself.

And probably his father will always treat him like a child, and my mom will always be on somebody else’s side – we cannot change them, but we can change ourselves and learn how to live with the things that will always remain the same. We can do a lot if we are ready and really want to. We can continue in many different ways. We just need to learn to make different choices, take responsibility and be more conscious. I still make mistakes, but I am learning to uncover the reasons, and finding answers, and I am learning to live a more solid life. And that’s cool and lets me look forward to all the new discoveries I will make in my life!

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Toni Wallis

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Kate Korneeva

One We – Kate Korneeva (transposing emblem)

Instability or Flexibility – Kate Korneeva (transposing emblem)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Chelyabinsk, Russia – The remains of Christmas in the snowy glade – Mikhail Galyshev (Shutterstock)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Our son is ten. I have never been his wife. I cried an ocean of tears when we broke up just a few months after I gave birth to Simon. I just could not believe and accept that it was even possible. “No, no, no, no, no, it could not be like this” – that was all I was able to say back then. I raised our son alone. I’ve gone through many months of hard work on myself in order to accept, to face up to the loss of him, to his betrayal, to being a single-mother and bringing up our son on my own. The only thing I desperately wished for over more than ten years of my life was to forget him, to erase even a trace of him in my life, to close this door and no longer remember anything about him and that period. It was inconceivably hard to be thankful to him for those days, for my orgasms and the feelings I experienced when I was sitting close to him in his car, when I saw his face light up as he saw me approaching; to be thankful for our beautiful son talented at sculpting like him; thankful for making me a mom. I guess I will always remember all that. And who knows, probably, I will always remember the rage and pain when I let myself trust my intuition, telling me he cheated on me with her. It was inconceivably difficult to forgive him and her. Now I know it for sure: forgiving and letting go of others is for strong people. For really brave and courageous people able to face up to fears and personal demons. I guess I will always remember all that. Maybe I will remember thousands of other things I will have to pass through because the story goes on. Because he is and will always be the father of my son, he will become the grandfather of my grandchildren! When I became aware that this story will always go on and on and on in the future generations of our grandchildren I was surprised and even shocked! Whenever we are together or apart, close or thousands of miles away, we are connected for hundreds of coming years, forever and ever by the family lines of our son and our grandchildren. It was inevitable.

Was he the price for having my son, for my parenthood, for anything else I still have to discover? I still ask this question. Was he the price I had to pay? Was he my unconscious choice to get pregnant and give birth to the child? Was he my lesson to be learned? Will I ever find definite answers to any of the questions? Or should I simply start over with a clean sheet of paper?

P.S. When I look at my son I smile and I can say it loud: He is worth any price! I love him.

P.P.S. I believe I will stop asking myself so many questions one day. I will turn this page and start another. I will learn why and for what. I will delve into the reasons and will discover and accept the meaning. I will understand why it did not last, and our breakup hurt me so much instead. I will stop asking why it took me so long to accept and see the real, not ideal person, why I made him ideal and put him on top, why I assigned characteristics to him that he did not possess. Answers will come and satisfy me. It is inevitable because I am asking and looking for answers, and I’ve gotten some so far.

We both were born and raised in ordinary families. Our parents were not saints. They had their shortcomings. They did their best, although it could be pretty freaky sometimes. They couldn’t do more or less, better or worse. They did what they believed was good for us, on behalf of their children. Now I cannot blame them because I am a mother and I made my own mistakes too. I regret, but it’s too late, I cannot change the past. At those moments I was absolutely sure I did the best I could for my son. So were they.

It became obvious at 4 or so that he was good at sculpting. As a gifted child, his destiny was determined after he was taken to sculpture school by his parents. God was merciful to him also. Now I guess it saved him. His father was more than strict with his children and wife. Being brought up in the atmosphere of punishment and humiliation made him be what he has been and is now. I had heard some details of his childhood, but ignored them before the relationship got stuck. Just two years ago I dared to ask his mother why she divorced his father. Her story made it clear why he could not be a devoted father to our son, why he could not take responsibility for financial and other duties, why he could not find peace with any woman and money. He witnessed too many family scandals, too much punishment. His mother was not able to protect him because she was the prey herself, as she continued to live with her husband for 15 years. His parents divorced when he was 14 and he stayed with his father. And even now when he earned money, has built a beautiful house and has become a famous sculptor, after so many things he has overcome and achieved, his father still treats him like a little boy, with no pride, no respect, no love; and he cannot become aware of it and stop. He easily turns into a 5-, 10- or 14-year-old boy when his father starts to speak with him.

(…to be continued…) 

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Toni Wallis

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Kate Korneeva

One We – Kate Korneeva (transposing emblem)

Instability or Flexibility – Kate Korneeva (transposing emblem)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Chelyabinsk, Russia – In the forest – Mikhail Galyshev (Shutterstock)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

A woman does not have to speak to call for a man. She only needs the inner state. A real woman needs no words at all. Pose, gestures, movements and eye expression are enough. I was in exactly that state.

He was looking at me above the heads of people passing between us. He responded to my call. I felt interest in the way he looked at me. He tilted his head and waved with his hand, asking me to approach him. “Oh, no, not me” – my answer was made with not a single word, but with a smile on my lips and more then telling eyes. I realized that he did not recognize and did not remember me. Just the call and probably a dim image of me in the depths of his unconsciousness.

I deliberately turned around and headed away – to forget him. But God probably had different plans for me or us. He made his way over and grabbed me by the hand.

I stayed with him at the club till late in the morning. He offered to see me home. The darkness of night was disappearing while we walked along the tram rails. I entered my entrance hall and he followed me. The only thing I wanted at that moment was just to be with him, near him, to breathe in his smell, see his face, look into his eyes and enjoy the way his lips curved when he was smiling. I came up to him so close that there was almost no distance, but still no contact between us. Meekly, I put my arms under his shirt and gently, with the tips of my fingers, touched his back, discovering his skin and muscles underneath. My lips were almost touching his and I started kissing him. Nothing existed around me any longer. No time, no worries, no victories. Only the gentle kiss, the long kiss, the slowly, driving-me-crazy kiss, and the taste of pleasure, the same as the taste of his lips. The pleasure was as viscose and sticky as honey, lasting like an endless journey. Me, him, and my slow pleasure. My selfness was imbibing it, washing all over me and giving even more back to him. I was still committed to the idea that there was nothing that could be given unless it had first been accumulated inside. So I was giving. I was as close to him as a snake crawling a tree – inch by inch – getting closer and closer to becoming a single indivisible. It was a desire, the slow and rising desire of a woman. A desire that can fill a man with love, power, life, and peace; a desire that can make a man feel like a god holding the whole universe in his hands with lightning and newly-born worlds inside. Women are really powerful human creatures able to support through their energy and mind.

Lucky are those who have experienced a similar state of mind and body. This state can embrace and dilute the bitter taste of failures, sooth anger and pain. Such states are really giving and powerfully gifting.

Nothing else really mattered to me at that moment, neither what or how he was or how long it would last and what it would end up with.

(…to be continued…) 

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Toni Wallis

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Kate Korneeva

One We – Kate Korneeva (transposing emblem)

Instability or Flexibility – Kate Korneeva (transposing emblem)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Chelyabinsk, Russia – Frozen splashes – Natalia

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

I used to smoke in those days.

My first impression of him was that he seemed to be too slow – in movement, speech, gestures, mind. I felt a bit uncomfortable and irritated when listening to and looking at him.

With a coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other, she slowly declared that he was an interesting person and stared through the smoke vanishing between us.

I’d been single for several months already, and it was so nice of her to draw my attention to a man she thought might fit me. Eleven years later it became so obviously clear to me that she was talking about herself, not me. She was not suggesting him to me; it was she who was interested in him. But at that moment I didn’t feel it; my intuition remained silent.

“Do you remember the guy we were smoking together with, when I came to your office?”

“Yeah,” – she was trying to get what I was talking about.

“So, how is he?”

“Well, quite alright, I guess…” – With a shade of surprise and suspicion, she answered me. “Why are you asking?”

“I don’t know, just because.”

That night club was definitely notorious even for those times! Pole dancers, dirty performances and a crowd of people thirsty for bread and circuses and even more. I recognized him the moment we entered the main hall with strobe lights and hardly bearable music. The show, music, vodka and other people became still and flat and faded immediately. They were just the background, and he seemed to be the only thing alive and attracting my eyes and all of my self. It didn’t take me a second, a moment to choose him. I needed less than nothing to feel something I could not express and turn myself into a human female with all these tiny and implicit attributes of shemale I’d never learned from anybody and no woman had ever taught me of. The attributes which I dared to realize, recognize and became aware of only many years later came from the depths of thousands of generations of women echoed in my self. I had entered the club as a human and then transformed into a female with an imperceptible change of my mind, blood and body. All my being focused on there and then. Subtle and overwhelming feminine nature invaded and captured me, it penetrated all of me and became me. My gestures, glance, pose… all were breathing out softness, obedience, acceptance, responsiveness, grace and the internal call of propagation. I was staring at him with my glance full of billions of fires and the deepest oceans replacing each other with every blink of my eyes. Averting my gaze over and over again, I kept smiling with a touch of a hardly noticed secret in the corners of my lips and eyes, and mind still totally fixed on him. My swinging pose seemed to be promising something that can hardly be expressed with words. Gestures turned smooth and chary. No sounds, no words, no speech.

(…to be continued…) 

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Toni Wallis

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Kate Korneeva

One We – Kate Korneeva (transposing emblem)

Instability or Flexibility – Kate Korneeva (transposing emblem)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Chelyabinsk, Russia – Clubbing – Egor Ivlev (Unsplash)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

by Rayan Harake 

As agreed, I met my tutor at 5 p.m. the following day, a Wednesday. He went over his tutoring plan and how many sessions he thought we would need. He started off with some basics and was glad I could comprehend things quickly. I wanted to say I always comprehended things quickly, but well, that didn’t add up to the grades I’d been getting.

The thing is that, since my first semester, I had lost all motivation to study. I didn’t seem to have support from anyone. I was no longer the smart girl, but the one that struggles with basic everyday tech. My religious beliefs – which always encouraged me to move forward – were now being challenged; implicitly ridiculed by this new open academic environment. On top of it all, when I arrived at school each day, I used to spend countless hours on Facebook, as if catching up on everything I had missed. Furthermore, I would read random Wikipedia articles during boring classes, and google topics I had always been curious about.

During one of my English classes in my first year, a student said he had been wasting a lot of time on the internet. He had grown up somewhere in Africa where the internet is really slow, then came to Lebanon to attend the university and couldn’t unglue himself from the web now that it was easily accessible. I thought that no one could understand me better.

Other girls in the scholarship who came from similar backgrounds as me didn’t seem to be having as much trouble. I felt I was missing something when I saw their profile pictures and Facebook posts, with their families around them, proud and supportive. My family on the other hand, was fighting over the ‘new money’ and how to spend it. I wasn’t allowed to use it as I want or even ‘possess’ most of it, as it seems I wasn’t mature enough to do so. According to how my father understands religion, being a woman puts you in a constant state of immaturity.

The first time I went to the library bathroom, I saw a lot of things scribbled on the walls. One of them said ‘Stop Patriarchy’. I had never heard that word. I googled it later and found out that what I’ve been living under my whole life actually had a name.

For me, my father wasn’t a true Muslim man. I spent a big chunk of my adolescent years going to religious lessons, where we would often have sheikhs, or men studying religion, give us lectures. They were balanced (which my father never was), and kind, and respectful. The type of men who are protective of a woman because the world out there is unforgiving, not because of fear that a woman would bring ‘shame’ into the family.

But they weren’t the most progressive people either. We learned of course that a woman should ‘submit’ to her husband. That a good woman would endure a bad life for the sake of her children. That was her precious kind of ‘Jihad’ – to face the difficulties of life as a wife and mother. And if she ever had the bad luck of marrying a bad husband, her reward would be so high on judgment day for being patient with him.

Her sacrifices were comparable to the sacrifices of men that died in battle. While men faced the horrors of war (not an unlikely event in my society), she had only to endure a bad life to attain a very high place in heaven.

It seemed as though someone missed a point, that even though fighting a war is indeed difficult, men died with dignity, with all of society feeling nothing but pride in them, with their pictures hanging all over the streets and their names sung at festivals. A woman’s life with an abusive husband, on the other hand, was a sacrifice of her dignity. She was to be pitied when looked at, and most of the time, be overlooked. Zeinab (as), a revered Shia religious figure, was called the ‘Mother of hardships’ for having to see her whole family murdered in front of herself, then taken prisoner, while not once showing resentment towards her fate, but only submission to God’s will. An exemplary Shia woman. However, she was always mentioned as a dignified person. If imprisonment is humiliating, it had been caused by her enemies, not her closest kin. In her home, she was not offended or beaten or abused. Nor was Fatima (as), her mother, and Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) daughter. How are abused Shia women supposed to relate to them? If abuse is not to be tolerated, why then is there no punishment for it? Was female dignity only reserved for the family and kin of the Prophet (pbuh)?

Of course, religion didn’t look favorably on an abusive husband. If the sheikhs who gave us lessons were to hear about my father, they would greatly disapprove of him. But while a woman could be punished and even beaten if she was not being a good wife (things we would usually overlook in our religious lessons), a husband on the other hand had no ‘earthly punishment’ for his wrongdoings. He was only to await Judgment Day when he would answer to God, and could live his whole life believing he was righteous.

Yet most men around me were not abusive. My extended family was full of men that, in my opinion, made great husbands and fathers. My father was one of those rare men who had a ‘difficult mind’ and a ‘backward attitude’. That’s how he would be talked about when he wasn’t there. I had always wondered why, of all people, I had ended up with a father like that. It was perhaps my appointed ‘Balaa’ – testing – by God. I was very smart and blessed in almost everything, so there was bound to be some kind of testing in my life after all.

Before I was accepted to AUB, I’d always wanted to speak to the world, to tell it that the image it had about Muslim men was not correct. That I lived among good Muslim men and that they respected women and led good lives alongside them. But as the days went on, it became very exhausting. I would come across difficult debates – feminist arguments – and try to defend Islam against them in my head, only to go back home to face exactly what they were saying was wrong with the religion. And then there were other women, who lived in the same society, who were also suffering, trapped in bad marriages or forced to pay huge sums of money so that their husbands would agree to divorce them, only to have their children taken away afterwards.

It was what hit my religious belief the hardest. People around me would often say that people who had a problem with Islam usually had it because of some bad experience with it. Well, isn’t that an accusation rather than an excuse? Weren’t my experiences and the experiences of other women happening because God gave men authority over women? Just because it wasn’t happening to them, then it meant that Islam was right in giving that authority?

I went back and forth between defending and opposing religion. It wasn’t a very healthy mental state; I couldn’t make a final argument for either side. Days would come and go, and I would eventually lose my scholarship, and my father would eventually have a strong (but not total) change of attitude, leaving me angry with a man from the past, feeling lost as to what I should feel about religion. But today I was here, tutored by a ‘nice’ religious guy, wondering if I was ever going to stand on solid ground again.

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Toni Wallis

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Rayan Harake

Growing up with Abuse – A Life of Extremes – Rayan Harake (transposing emblem)

Economic Uncertainty in Life – Rayan Harake (transposing emblem)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: North Governorate, Lebanon – Left alone – Mark Frangie (Unsplash)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed