Once upon a time, there was this poor translator with a worn-out heart. After living a thousand loaned lives and riding the frantic roller coaster of getting into and out of the skin of a myriad of characters penned and fleshed out by others, after spending a thousand sleepless nights and dreaming of unsolvable ambiguities and impossible deadlines when he did get some sleep, the fibers of his heart had gotten threadbare.
Doctors were helpless at fixing such a life-threatening problem, until one of them came up with the idea of the clockwork machine. It was implanted right inside the hollow space that used to hold his heart, and it started working right away—tick, tack; tick, tack. The translator soon recovered his health, but never got his magic back. He was still able to translate to the best of his mind, but he was missing a heart. And a heart is not something a translator can do without.
Nora Torres © 2012 All Rights Reserved
8 thoughts on “The heartless translator (A short story)”
Your “heartless” translator is someone I identify with. We are not left with nothing. Our troubles and sacrifices are not for nothing. I am happy you shared this with us. Please continue to write.
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Thank you so much, Magda! This ‘character’ shows a somewhat darker aspect of a translator’s life, while the one in ‘El traductor feliz’ portrays the passion, the happiness, the joy that come to us from performing our art, our ‘magic’.
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Translating is one of the most rewarding, unrewarding, and unrecognised jobs I know of. We rarely get a thanks or our name printed next to our work, and we always get ruthless clients with serious time management problems. Some times I wish we were heartless.
Thank you for your comment!
Our job is not always a bed of roses. You’re so right about it! But there’s also a blissful part to it. Over time (more than 30 years now), I’ve found that not all clients/PMs are ruthless, not all of them are ungrateful, and many of them do strive to accommodate our needs time- and budget-wise as best as they can.
I’m sorry if this story has left you with a bleak feeling; ‘El traductor feliz’ (translartisan.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/el-traductor-feliz-un-cuento-corto/) is a much more optimistic one, and I encourage you to read it when you get the chance.
Have a lovely rest of your day!