Ang Imoralidad ng Mga Áso
Natuto nang maglaro si Bantay. Di na siya naglalagi sa bakuran. Oras ng pagkain
ay tila nalilimutan. Maging ang sipol ko ay galít na kinakahulan.
Kahapon, nahuli ko siyang inaamoy ang namimintog na puwit ni Tagpi. Nalingat lang
ako sandali ay narinig ko na ang harutan ng mga pamangkin habang pinanonood
ang isang bastos na eksena: talikuran ang posisyon ng mga walanghiya, at nakuha pang
umungol sa harap ng mga bata!
Mabuti na làmang at tánging ako ang nakakita sa isang kasalaulaan kanina: umagang-
umaga ay kinakadyot ni Bantay ang matandang aso ng kapitbahay; at sa kanilang tabi,
panay naman ang landi ni Tagpi sa isa ko pang alagang si Puti! Dumampot ako
ng dospordos at hinambalos si Bantay, sabay tadyak kay Tagpi. Lecheng mga aso ‘to,
bulong ko sa sarili. Nag-almusal ako nang pailing-iling, pangiti-ngiti.
The Immorality of Dog
Now that Guard’s learned how to play, he no longer lingers in the yard.
Forgets the time to eat. Even at my whistle, he barks.
Yesterday, I caught him smelling Patch’s ass. I was distracted for a bit
and the next thing I heard was the rowdy laughter of my nephews
watching the scene: end-to-end was the chosen position
of the shameless pair, and the gall to moan in front of the kids!
Lucky that I was the only witness to the perversion this morning: Guard
fucking the old neighbor’s dog; and beside him, Patch feeling up
my other dog White! I picked a plank of wood to hit Guard with, while I
kicked Patch. Fuckin’ dawgs, I said to myself. I ate breakfast,
shaking my head, with a smirk.
The pleasure of translating the prose poem is the pleasure of revisiting the music of the sentence. There’s a looseness in Alwynn C. Javier’s “The Immorality of Dog,” a looseness of tone, expression, morality even, in the speaker of the poem, and not to mention the dogs, that was central to the poem, that in fact seemed to me when I first read the poem was the very thing which demanded to be carried through in the leap across languages that is translation. When one is translating, one is not only translating words, but dispositions, and it was precisely this humorous, flippant sensibility which was a joy to encounter when I first read the poem, and then to attempt to carry through in the translation.
The challenge in translating this poem had to with the challenge of translating lightness. How to capture the light touch, the ambiguous, double-edged derision and delight of the speaker witnessing the “immoral” acts of his dogs, that seemingly unintentional intentionality that made this text not prose but poetry? Without the pleasure of enjambment, one is forced to seek other pleasures: variation in sentence length, making sure the rhythm highlighted the aesthetics of casual speech, whether or not to use the word “fuck”. Well, whether or not it was the right cuss to use. One cannot help but imbibe a kind of promiscuity of tonal registers and word choices. I like to think of it as the challenge of a neighbourly translation. To be a good neighbour, that is, meaning to watch what you see outside your house and keeping one’s comments to a snicker to oneself. Translation becomes a kind of voyeurism from across the fence.
Besides, what a pleasure to translate the names of dogs!
Alwynn C. Javier. ‘Ang Imoralidad ng Mga Áso'. Queer Southeast Asia: a literary journal of transgressive art Vol. 1. no. 1, October 2016.
Lawrence L. Ypil, translator. ‘The Immorality of Dog.' By Alwynn C. Javier. Queer Southeast Asia: a literary journal of transgressive art Vol. 1. no. 1, October 2016.
[This is a poem from Pasipiko sa Loob ng Aking Maleta (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2013)]