A Portuguese Short Story

// Or Portuguese: A Short Story

When I really fell for Portuguese, I had already been studying two [or three] dead languages in the university and had made my mind that I want and need some more [i.e. modern ones]. Due to some private research, other obstacles and future perspectives, I eventually made my mind to put this beloved language aside in the sphere of my private occupations and hobbies. Up to this day I am not sorry for having  made up my mind to go into the Slavic realms, instead.

I love learning languages and enjoy acquiring new ways of expressing myself which each language  provides. I also love to communicate with people in the languages I’ve dealt with, which in some cases, as with Portuguese, can make me very diligent and disciplined in learning. Few languages, though, manage to inspire me so much as to start inquiring more about their culture, history of their people and the literature written in them.

Well, Portuguese is surely one of them.

I was so inspired in my very first years after I moved in the capital because I found a bilingual anthology of modern Portuguese chronic – an interesting genre, crossing the borders of the typical journalism, essay, impression and “standard prose”. Of course, I couldn’t even think of reading the original versions of the texts included, so I stuck to the Bulgarian  translation. But I was fascinated and enchanted [I even found a piece I’d published here back then].
It was probably a year later, when I found an old book – collection of Portuguese short-stories, on a street second-hand market for books. I carried this book always with me, read it in the metro, in the shady corridors of the University, waiting for the late-afternoon classes. I didn’t like that much the stories themselves as much as the atmosphere they were bringing, or better, the force they were settling me in their world(s).

I would never forget one of the stories, which was actually so shocking and repulsive without telling nothing in particular at the same time. I read it in the subway, one Saturday (?) morning, one the way to the bus which was going to take me and my colleagues (students and teachers of Classics) on a trip to a nearby town with preserved Roman stuff. I somehow thought I would throw up [as some of the personages actually did in the story] right in this train as I was reading some passages.

Now, I don’t particularly like such kind of literature. Unfortunately, the next collection (of modern Portuguese short-stories) had also some pieces of it. Still, this made me by no means less interested in searching and reading almost every stuff of Portuguese literature I could come across.

So, last week, going to the library of the Institute where I am enrolled for my current program, I dropped by a book-store, where I found (again bilingual) collection of short stories. I had seen such in Spanish and French and somehow had managed to show a certain level of self-discipline by not buying them [because you know: books, space and et alia]. Portuguese, though, as you may suppose, tears down all of these abstractions. So I bought the book and started reading it. It is hard, but I am motivated by finding out that I can handle the text with a monolingual dictionary (i.e. without translation in other languages). I forgot to mention that the other language of the edition is German which means that I cannot rely on the translation (too much if at all).
And thus, I started reading a story, which sounded very familiar. Until I came across the moment where a certain picture was described – then I realized that I was reading the above mentioned story again, this time in original.

All the tiny symmetries in life.


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