23 September 2012


This afternoon I translated the testimony of a 15-year-old boy from a Central American country. Earlier this year he had been kidnapped and tortured by a private security firm hired by a wealthy land owner who has been intimidating the local peasant farmers. He wants them to disappear because he started a couple of palm oil plantations. On their land.  
The woman from the NGO also sent me a video of his testimony so that I could decide on the details and the effects. He speaks slowly and carefully, somewhere outside where it is warm; I could hear roosters in the background. Then there is about 10 mins of shaky footage, armed men shooting into crowds of people, fancy pick-ups with masked drivers, women being dragged by their hair.
In between I stood outside on the patio and turned my face to the sun, while the cat was chasing imaginary mice through the vegetable beds. 
This morning I slept in and had a bowl of porridge with fresh blueberries for breakfast. We listened to the radio for a while and then S called and we talked for a long time about gardening and the time we went to Amsterdam together  when she was what, ten years old? And then she had to go to bed because in her part of the planet it was already midnight.
For almost thirty years have I been translating these stories, reports about human rights violations in literally every corner of our world. Statements, appeals, campaigns, urgent actions, progress reports, international hearings, position papers, proposals, drafts for legislation. Promises. Hopes. Hopelessness. 
When I translate I have to turn a switch and concentrate on the text, the words, the order of words. It's a bit like solving a cryptic crossword.
But it gets harder, I am getting older. The world is full of horrors.

1 comment:

Ellena said...

There is a reason why some of us were forged in the fires of hell - it made us strong.