Translation Corner – Your Love is on the Brink of Death (7)

Your Love is on the Brink of Death (7)

———————————————Mieko, Kawakami, trans. James Au

After all, in contrast to me who have neither experienced sex with “a particular person” nor engaged myself in one loosely with others, my memory is still evoked: I tried first to visualize what you uttered, smilingly, – you asked, from your view, something like whether I am truly qualified to be a human – then gave up, and drank up the remaining, and having-yet-turned cold red tea with a jerk. The bitter powder spread over my tongue and those trivial details, including the handle of the cup and the exquisite patterns of tiny golden hats on the tea spoon used are recalled too.

The woman did not know how much her body was worth. Despite such, she still relishes purchases of clothes to wrap it up. Tantamount to a person with no interests, she spent her time on Sunday invariably from morning till night at Shinjuku, looking around the clothes and cosmetics stalls. Even though on a mundane day, on a day which she sees nobody, the woman immediately starts making up herself once awake. Prudently. She will redo it from scratch in case she skips any steps by oversight. Once she had to wash her faces three times because of the maquillage. It is best to avoid becoming sleep deprived, not because the skin tone will aggravate, but because of something to do with eyes: however modest she is to apply eyeliner, the protruding skin texture around the eyes is still remarkable, and her face will look more like the paws of a hideous dinosaur, which rather fears her when seeing herself inside the mirror.

In spite of making up every week in that way with modesty, dressing up neatly before getting outside the streets, and getting on a packed train, the woman had never come across what had befallen her friend, not to mention being called by any sorts of man. Not even once in her life. At first such thoughts were diverse and thorough, but almost vanished from this weekend, more than three years ever since. What the woman wants to make perfect in her mind is to wear make-up with modesty every day. To purchase the newly arrived products. If she glances herself into the classy, well-tendered, glossy, cloudless mega mirror on the immense first floor of department store, a motley of sentiments is ever-stretching more inward and more inward, and keeps mutating in the way with which the woman herself cannot even grapple. Thus to regularly manage attentively to every detail of what she sees – of what can only been seen there.

In contrast, she could not get the gist as to why people in the bookstore can look so gloomy and somber. Marching onto every floor, and along every corner, she did not even pick up any of the books. As a queer smell pervades, and wherever she goes, she found it full of mundanity – opaque and invisible – then why, she wondered, do people insist on gathering in such a place and appear to pick up the book unwillingly. Nobody obviously do it with great pleasure, for they are all inspecting the books, one after another, with a sulky, desperate face. Right below the coarse fluorescent light, everybody were all aging so speedily that the woman could but shiver and tremble. I must escape from this place as quickly as possible. While the woman was trying to trudge out of the bookstore, her eyes were widely open after seeing the face of herself coincidentally reflected by the mirrors equipped at every corner of the ceiling. This is…this is…ridiculous. Her eyes opened even widely. Who the deuce do you think wants to have sex with a woman like this? Can’t stay at such a place. Stifling. Can’t make up the loss of this weekend unless I leave to somewhere with proper light, somewhere I can properly show myself and my possessions. This is just the very wrong place. The woman felt her heart pounding obnoxiously. As though something monstrous could now be seen inside Shinjuku where she had decided to come to, she found at the same time nowhere to stand. Horror rising like billowing smoke from her bosom could no longer be suppressed.

[To be continued]

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