Lost in Translation

Disclaimer: Arabic is my first language. Whatever I say in this post doesn’t negate the fact that I love both Arabic and English as languages and see beauty in both.
No, okay that was obvious. Rewind.

Disclaimer: This post has an interesting twist in the middle

(I’m also getting better at disclaimers)

There are many pages on social media that share beautiful, beautiful Arabic poetry. Sometimes it’s just a few lines that make my insides in awe, and sometimes, it takes a couple of stanzas to get my heart melting. I know Facebook is not the best place to discover things like poetry, because if you want to appreciate and know something you ought to get to the classics of it. But these pages turned my head onto the world of Arabic poetry in general. Also, some of the pages didn’t even share poetry in the sense that we know it, maybe a sentence that was enough to get things going within.

To be ultra-honest, I’m not an Arabic reader. So finding a poetry book that would suit my somewhat basic Arabic-reader-knowledge (there’s probably an actual word for this), required lengthy research and surveying.

First, I had to know which genre I preferred. So I went back to FB to see what are the kinds of things I was regularly sharing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pinpoint and be specific about a genre, so I resorted to nationalistic, revolutionary type poetry as I knew these topics were guaranteed to get my attention.

My closest friends are non-Arabs. When I became such a huge fan of Arabic writing, I was regularly sharing such posts and they noticed this change in my interests.

On one amusing occasion I was asked to translate:
كل مُرٍ..سيمُرُّ
تشبهين الليلةَ التي يموت فيها الطغاه و تنتصر الثورة
هناك كلام لا يقول شيء، وهناك صمت يقول كل شيء

And I know this translation is a piece of cake.. But it sort of loses its lure after it’s in English. I’m not saying English is not expressive, I’m just saying that some things sound so much more powerful in their native language. Also maybe due to the fact that some statements have a cultural background to them.

Things like puns, certain types of jokes and satires, just lose their depth and elegance during translation. I’m no expert in linguistics, but I presume these are challenging areas in translation.

And so that was the twist ladies and gents, this post is not about my journey towards Arabic texts but about the moments in which you’re stuck in front of the screen, tongue-tied, unable to explain to your friend across all borders that the writing you just shared is so astoundingly beautiful.

These moments made me smile though because other native languages have things that I wouldn’t even find amusing or impressive even after explanation. So life’s fair. Just not that fair if you want to show others this beauty.

So I got these two Arabic books which seemed poetic to me, but I still didn’t read them:

في القدس – لتميم البرغوثي
كأن العمر..ما كانا – لفاروق جويدة

Also some pages which write nice Arabic posts:







Becoming pain.. or vain

Oouff it’s getting dusty here…

*rubs hands together*  Right

How do I start such posts without sounding obnoxious?

Let’s start with establishing some basics:

Humor is nice, it’s actually one of the most attractive characteristics a person can own. People like to be around a person who is generally light-hearted and can make them laugh.
Studies have shown that the most influential people possess a sense of humor. (I just invented that-gottcha!)
What I mean to say is we don’t like to be around dull people.
I say dull people do not exist in this world. There’re people who are capable of revealing their character more than others, but no one has an event-less, humor-less, unattractive persona.
You’re probably thinking now, “Ayah, get to the point.”

So without further ado
I’ve noticed that some parents in Egypt (or maybe in other places too) put a lot of emphasis on their kids to mingle with others and have a strong social life. Before you attack, let me elaborate.

I’ve always been an ‘introvert’; I say very little and I’m mostly on the listening end of 95% of the conversations I’m involved in. Yes, even with the people I’m close to. Settings with numbers of people where everyone is chit-chatting and talking are uncomfortable for me, not because I fear people, but because I have nothing to say to these large numbers of people. Rephrase: nothing I say will interest all these people in one go.
So I resort to making mini conversations with one or two of the people who are seemingly like me – if I find. Oh and by the way, this doesn’t mean I can’t be humorous. (I mean, I’m not the best person when it comes to humor, but I know a few introverts who are great at making people have good laugh)

My parents on the other hand are always urging me to “go”, to “mix and mingle” and become part of such crowds. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I’m saying if I prefer smaller conversations, then that should be fine. If I don’t feel like being part of a crew, that should be fine too.

Having said that I’m a person who talks little, it could be inferred that what comes out of my mouth in these rare occasions is not trivial. It’s either an experience that means something to me, or a question that I’m genuinely wondering about, or a compliment about an interesting fact, you get it. If a gathering is full of people who are talking about things that seem meaningless in my perspective, then I should be free to get up and leave. And I think this freedom is often misunderstood.

If I don’t want to go to parties, or sit with a crew who are talking about meaningless (in my view) topics, or making jokes at the expense of someone, or being straight up shallow, that shouldn’t deem me depressing, dull or old-style.

People have different interests, and so there shouldn’t be pressure on anyone to be part of a group which has completely dissimilar interests.
This probably contradicts the  “You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” motto.
Re to this: I should be free to choose when and how I want to get out of my comfort zone, and the type of change I want to invoke in my life. Also, what addition will I gain when I sit with a bunch of people who make me think to myself: “Does this even deserve to be a topic of discussion?”? (Other than confirming with myself that tastes and interests are sliding down)

What defines interesting or fun is very individualistic and subjective, and the mainstream does not get to make that choice despite their popularity.

P.S. I got the post title inspiration because I just finished the book “Becoming Jane Austen” and coincidentally came across the movie ” Becoming Jane” – which was made out of the book and, by the way, is a horrid movie. (I liked the book)