Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Dear Mum,

I love you, you know that. You've always taken care of us, massaged my scalp with olive oil, made me laugh and cry too sometimes because you made me laugh so hard. Most importantly, you've always been there for us. Held my hand when I needed it the most. Lent me an ear when I needed to shout or listened to my angry silence. I can't thank you enough because the words that may express it all do not exist but you know and that's what matters the most.
Mum, yesterday I watched a movie at work. I had nothing better to do so I inserted this CD I'd been carrying around, removed my shoes, put my feet up and relaxed to enjoy it. I didn't. I could not comprehend it myself, after all, the reason I was watching that movie by myself instead of taking home or all to see was mainly because I wanted to watch it in silence and without speaking. Why then wasn't I enjoying it? Simply because you were not there.
I thought I hated watching TV at home. I thought I resented your constant questions. I felt guilty for ignoring them at times. So it served me right not to enjoy yesterday's movie one bit!

Your Lovely Loving daughter

The letter explained.
Mum does not understand does not understand or speak French, English or Hindi. Watching TV is a problem since its in the languages mentioned. As far as I can remember I've always been an interpreter. To the point that, when we I was a child and fought with anyone they'd mimic me by saying “my mum says” over and over again. That's because that's how all my sentences started when Mum was around. I guess that being the eldest, the task was naturally imparted to me and the siblings who came after me took it for granted that it was my responsibility for life.
I remember I once decided I was not going to play the game anymore and the same day we watched an English futurist movie. It was about some people living in a a desert some thousand years from today and thy had to fight for water. Anyway, all the characters' eyes changed in color depending on their mood. Mum kept asking what was going on and the others assuming it was my role to answer did not acknowledge her questions. As for me, I'd decided enough was enough.
The movie wasn't really great and at the end, the hero found water. My mum had a puzzled expression on her face when I looked at her. “What happened to their eyes?” she asked me. And I felt so very guilty.
But its hard at times. I believe in the fact that everything in life has a purpose. Now, I realize why, as a child to adolescence, I loved reading dictionaries so much. I was unconsciously bettering myself for this role of mine. Its a real challenge I tell you. Hindi movies are the easiest since they don't require a lot of concentration and even if I miss 4 minutes translating the dialog, I'd be able to catch up with the story. American non-dubbed movies and French movies are another story. The good movies where every sentence of the dialog matters I mean. Here is how it goes.
I have to have an idea what it is about to give Mum an introduction first and explain on the CD cove who is who. Because – I curse the Hindi movies for this – Mum associates characters with the music playing in the background. A romantic sounding music and any female character appearing would be the heroine. Hence the importance of the introduction.
Mum relaxes while I try to follow the dialog while translating at the same time. Because when am done translating one part mum immediately asks me to explain what ha just been said which I can't since I was busy explaining the sequence just before that one. I told you, its a real exercise.
So, why couldn't I enjoy my yesterday's movie you'll ask me. Well, I found myself translating it to myself.

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Anonymous said...

Wow, that must be a difficult role...but think of the career opportunities as a simultaneous interpreter!

Margaret said...

What a dedicated daughter!

Hope you're feeling better.

Anonymous said...

patience...u have it in you!
n i don't...five minutes in a movie n if someone ask for an explanation i'll shoot to kill! :P
ur mum is very lucky to have you!

Fitèna said...

kim, I needn't even think about the, am living them! :-) My teachers at school pushed me hard to work with languages but I guess I've overdone it and just thinking about actually earning my bread with languages makes me sick!

Thank you Margaret! Definitely feeling better. It must have been the hot weather and the fasting which flared the headaches up. Now am getting used to both.

Waz, you think that! Oh, but it's only my mum who has me patiently expalining and translating to he. You ask me and I will shoot you! :-)


ChickyBabe said...

That's quite a heartfelt entry. It would drive me insane so I admire you, ma chere Fitena :).

Anonymous said...

so you are patient with your mum only huh?!?
ok, i'm makin a note of this for i'm still too young to get shot! :P

Neil said...

This is what Sophia does as a living, and she comes home exhausted when she has to translate for a long time. It is very tiring work to switch gears into different languages. You are a caring daughter.

Fitèna said...

ChickyBabe, thank you! I do enjoy it sometimes and to be frank, its really warming to have people staring at me with awe when mum and I go shopping and stuff! :-)

Waz, exactly! lol, you should do that!

Neil, I recall you telling me she gets paid y the word when its written translations, I would have been a millionaire if I'd done that!
I didn't mention it in the post but with my dad it was written because he woked with some saudi people and he doesn't master arabic so from the ae of 13 to 19 I was a sort of non-paid translator! Why didn't I meet you before huh?! :-)