Thứ Sáu, ngày 08 tháng 11 năm 2013

Con gái, con trai (Alice Munro, PA dịch): Kỳ 4

Kỳ 3 ở đây: http://bloganhvu.blogspot.com/2013/11/con-gai-con-trai-alice-munro-pa-dich-ky_9122.html
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Tôi quên chưa kể những con cáo được cho ăn như thế nào. Tôi nhớ đến việc này khi thấy cái tạp dề bê bết máu của cha tôi. Người ta cho cáo ăn thịt ngựa. Thời ấy nông dân vẫn còn dùng ngựa, và khi một con ngựa đã quá già không còn làm việc được nữa, hoặc khi con ngựa bị què hoặc gục xuống không đứng nổi nữa, như thỉnh thoảng vẫn thế,  chủ của nó sẽ gọi cha tôi, và ông cùng chú Henry sẽ đánh chiếc xe tải đến trang trại đó. Thông thường, cha tôi và chú Henry sẽ bắn chết và làm thịt con ngựa ngay tại trang trại, và trả cho chủ của nó từ 5 đến 12 đô la. Nhưng nếu ở nhà đã có quá nhiều thịt, họ sẽ mang con ngựa sống trở về, nuôi nó thêm một vài ngày hoặc vài tuần trong chuồng ngựa của chúng tôi, cho đến khi cần phải giết con ngựa để lấy thịt. Sau chiến tranh, người nông dân mua máy kéo và dần dần họ bán hết những con ngựa vì chúng chẳng còn có ích vào bất cứ việc gì nữa. Nếu họ bán ngựa cho cha tôi vào mùa đông thì ông sẽ  nuôi những con ngựa ấy trong chuồng cho đến mùa xuân , vì chúng tôi có khá nhiều cỏ khô; vả lại, nếu như năm ấy trời tuyết dày mà máy  cày không phải  lúc nào cũng giúp chúng tôi dọn sạch tuyết trên đường đi, thì dùng ngựa để đi lên thị trấn cũng khá thuận tiện.

Mùa đông năm tôi mười một tuổi, cha tôi có hai con ngựa trong chuồng. Chúng tôi không biết chủ cũ đã gọi chúng là gì, nhưng chúng tôi đặt tên cho chúng là Mack và Flora. Mack là một con ngựa kéo xe già có bộ lông đen xỉn như bồ hóng và dáng điệu thờ ơ. Còn Flora là con ngựa cái có bộ lông màu nâu đỏ, là một con ngựa cưỡi. Chúng tôi dùng cả hai con này để kéo chiếc máy cắt. Mack thì chậm chạp và dễ điều khiển, còn Flora là một con ngựa chứng, thỉnh thoảng lại lồng lên, chồm sang những chiếc xe hơi và cả những con ngựa khác, nhưng chúng  tôi vẫn thích nó vì nó chạy nhanh, bước sải, và vì nó có cái dáng vẻ lịch thiệp và bất cần. Vào những ngày thứ Bảy, chúng tôi thường xuống chuồng ngựa và khi chúng tôi vừa bước vào cái chuồng tối tăm và đầy mùi ngựa thì ngay lập tức con Flora ngẩng đầu lên, mắt long xòng xọc, hí lên ầm ĩ tuyệt vọng, và lên cơn ngay tại chỗ. Không ai dám đến gần chỗ buộc Flora vì chắc chắn sẽ bị nó đá.
    
Mùa đông năm ấy tôi cũng bắt đầu nghe mẹ tôi nhắc nhiều hơn về chủ đề mẹ tôi đã bắt đầu trước cửa chuồng cáo hôm trước. Tôi bắt đầu cảm thấy lo lắng. Dường như trong đầu mọi người đã có sẵn một ý tưởng rõ ràng và dứt khoát không chệch hướng về chủ đề này. Từ “con gái” trước đây đối với tôi là một từ rất bình thường không ẩn ý và hồn nhiên như một đứa trẻ, nhưng giờ đây nó không còn như vậy nữa. Một cô gái không phải là cái giống như tôi đang là, mà phải là một cái gì đó tôi sẽ phải trở thành. Nó là một định nghĩa, luôn được nhấn mạnh, kèm những lời chỉ trích và thất vọng. Nó cũng là một cái gì đó được dùng để trêu chọc tôi. Có một lần tôi với Laird vật lộn với nhau, và đó là lần đầu tiên tôi đã phải dùng hết sức bình sinh để đánh lại nó; thế mà tôi vẫn bị nó nắm chặt cánh tay khiến tôi rất đau và không còn vùng vẫy được nữa. Chú Henry đã chứng kiến cảnh này; chú cười to, nói: "Ồ, rồi có ngày Laird cho mày biết tay đấy cháu à, sớm thôi!”Quả là thằng Laird lớn lên nhanh quá. Nhưng chính tôi cũng đã lớn hơn trước.

Lúc bà tôi đến thăm và ở lại chơi với chúng tôi mấy hôm; tôi lại được dịp nghe những lời dậy dỗ khác. "Con gái không đóng cửa ầm ầm như thế." "Con gái ngồi phải khép chân lại chứ.” Và tệ hơn nữa là khi tôi hỏi một câu hỏi gì đó, thì nhận được ngay câu trả lời là “Việc ấy không phải của con gái.” Tôi cố ương ngạnh vẫn đóng sầm cửa khi ra vào và cứ ngồi thoải mái không khép nép, nghĩ rằng bằng cách đó tôi sẽ giữ được sự tự do của mình.

 Khi mùa xuân đến, mấy con ngựa được thả ra sân nuôi gà vịt. Mack đứng sát tường nhà kho, cố cọ cọ mình vào tường để gãi cổ và gãi chân, nhưng Flora thì chạy lung tung, đá chân vào hàng rào, những cái móng guốc của nó gõ lóc cóc trên đường. Những mảng tuyết của mùa đông đang nhanh chóng tan đi, để lộ lớp đất cứng màu nâu và xám, cánh đồng nhấp nhô trông thô thô và trơ trụi, không còn cảnh tuyết phủ trắng lấp lánh tuyệt vời của mùa đông. Thời tiết đầu xuân cho ta cái cảm giác rộng mở và được giải thoát. Lúc này chúng tôi đã cởi bỏ những đôi ủng nặng nề của mùa đông mà chỉ còn đi dép cao su, cảm thấy đôi chân trở nên nhẹ tênh kỳ lạ. Một ngày thứ bảy nọ, chúng tôi ra chuồng ngựa và phát hiện tất cả các cánh cửa đều được mở, cho phép ánh sáng mặt trời và không khí trong lành ùa vào, một điều hiếm xảy ra trong chuồng ngựa. Chú Henry đã đứng sẵn ở đấy, thơ thẩn nhìn vào những cuốn lịch cũ được để thành chồng ở phía sau dãy chuồng, nơi mà có lẽ mẹ tôi chưa bao giờ vào đến.  
  
"Nào, hãy đến đây chào tạm biệt anh bạn Mack của chúng ta đi chứ?”  chú Henry nói. "Đây, cho nó một ít yến mạch." Chú đổ vào tay Laird một ít yến mạch và thằng bé chạy đi cho Mack ăn. Con Mack đã già, răng đã yếu và rụng nhiều nên nó nhai rất chậm rãi, trệu trạo đưa qua đưa lại nắm yến mạch trong miệng tìm răng để nhai. "Tội nghiệp con Mack quá đi thôi,”, chú Henry buồn buồn nói. “Khi một con ngựa già rụng hết rằng thì cũng là lúc nó nên đi thôi. Quy luật muôn đời là thế.”
  
" Chú sẽ bắn nó hôm nay à? " , Tôi hỏi. Mack và Flora đã ở với chúng tôi khá lâu, đến nỗi tôi quên mất là đến một lúc nào đó chúng cũng sẽ bị bắn.

Chú  Henry không trả lời. Thay vào đó chú bắt đầu hát, một giọng hát ngân rung và buồn thảm một cách hơi chế giễu. Ôi, hết việc rồi, chú Ned đáng thương ơi, chú sẽ ra đi nơi những người da đen tốt bụng cũng đã ra đi.  Con Mack vẫn chăm chỉ thè lưỡi nhặt những hạt yến mạnh trong bàn tay của Laird. Không chờ cho chú Henry hát xong, tôi bỏ ra ngoài và ngồi một mình trên cầu tàu.
  
Tôi chưa bao giờ thấy một con ngựa bị bắn, nhưng tôi biết họ thực hiện việc ấy ở đâu. Mùa hè năm ngoái tôi và thằng Laird đã nhìn thấy bộ ruột của một con ngựa trước khi người ta đem chôn. Mới đầu chúng tôi tưởng đó là một con rắn lớn màu đen, nằm cuộn tròn trong ánh mặt trời. Đó là khu vực trên cánh đồng dẫn đến nhà kho. Tôi nghĩ nếu bọn tôi trốn trong nhà kho  và tìm một vết nứt rộng hoặc một lỗ khóa để nhìn thì bọn tôi có thể thấy cảnh họ bắn con ngựa.  Đó không phải là cái cảnh mà  tôi muốn xem; tuy nhiên, nếu điều ấy đàng nào cũng sẽ xảy ra thì xem cho biết vẫn tốt hơn.

Cha tôi từ trên nhà đi xuống; thấy bọn tôi, ông hỏi:
"Mấy đứa làm gì ở đây thế?".
"Không có gì ạ."
" Vậy thì lên nhà chơi đi”.    

(còn tiếp)

11 nhận xét:

  1. Lọt vào mắt xanh cú vọ:
    1...." và khi khi một con ngựa đã quá già "
    2....Một cô gái không phải là cái như giống như
    3....Chú Henry đã chứng kiến cảnh này; chú cười to à,
    4...những lời dậy dỗ khác. vài tuần và tôi nghe những điều khác
    5...chỉ còn đi dép cao su và, và cảm thấy
    6....Khi một con ngựa già rụng hết rằng
    7...bọn tôi trốn trong nhà kho và tìm một vết nứt rộng hoặc một lỗ khóa để nhìn thì bọn tôi...

    Trả lờiXóa
  2. Trời đất ơi
    Truyện ngắn gì mà đăng 4 kỳ chưa hết!!!
    Chắc bởi vậy nên tác giả đoạt giải No Ban (không bị cấm)

    Trả lờiXóa
    Trả lời
    1. - ALICE MUNRO: "Boys And Girls"

      http://womeninlit.tripod.com/alicemunro.htm


      My father was a fox farmer. That is, he raised silver foxes, in pens; and in the fall and early winter, when their fur was prime, he killed them and skinned them and sold their pelts to the Hudson's Bay Company or the Montreal Fur Traders. These companies supplied us with heroic calendars to hang, one on each side of the kitchen door. Against a background of cold blue sky and black pine forests and treacherous northern rivers, plumed adventures planted the flags of England and or of France; magnificent savages bent their backs to the portage.
      For several weeks before Christmas, my father worked after supper in the cellar of our house. the cellar was whitewashed , and lit by a hundred-watt bulb over the worktable. My brother Laird and I sat on the top step and watched. My father removed the pelt inside-out from the body of the fox, which looked surprisingly small, mean, and rat-like, deprived of its arrogant weight of fur. The naked, slippery bodies were collected in a sack and buried in the dump. One time the hired man, Henry Bailey, had taken a swipe at me with this sack, saying, "Christmas present!" My mother thought that was not funny. In fact she disliked the whole pelting operation--that was what the killing, skinning, and preparation of the furs was called – and wished it did not have to take place in the house. There was the smell. After the pelt had been stretched inside-out on a long board my father scraped away delicately, removing the little clotted webs of blood vessels, the bubbles of fat; the smell of blood and animal fat, which the strong primitive odor of the fox itself, penetrated all parts of the house. I found it reassuringly seasonal, like the smell of oranges and pine needles.

      Xóa
    2. Henry Bailey suffered from bronchial troubles. He would cough and cough until his narrow face turned scarlet, and his light blue, derisive eyes filled up with tears; then he took the lid off the stove, and, standing well back, shot out a great clot of phlegm – hss – straight into the heart of the flames. We admired his for this performance and for his ability to make his stomach growl at will, and for his laughter, which was full of high whistlings and gurglings and involved the whole faulty machinery of his chest. It was sometimes hard to tell what he was laughing at, and always possible that it might be us.
      After we had sent to be we could still smell fox and still hear Henry's laugh, but these things reminders of the warm, safe, brightly lit downstairs world, seemed lost and diminished, floating on the stale cold air upstairs. We were afraid at nigh in the winter. We were not afraid of outside though this was the time of year when snowdrifts curled around our house like sleeping whales and the wind harassed us all night, coming up from the buried fields, the frozen swamp, with its old bugbear chorus of threats and misery. We were afraid of inside, the room where we slept. At this time upstairs of our house was not finished. A brick chimney went up on wall. In the middle of the floor was a square hole, with a wooden railing around it; that was where the stairs came up. On the other side of the stairwell wee the things that nobody had any use for anymore – a soldiery roll of linoleum, standing on end, a wicker bay carriage, a fern basket, china jugs and basins with cracks in them, a picture of the Battle of Balaclava, very sad to look at. I had told Laird, as soon as he was old enough to understand such things, that bats and skeletons lived over there; whenever a man escaped from the county jail, twenty miles away, I imagined that he had somehow let himself in the window and was hiding behind the linoleum. But we had rules to keep us safe. When the light was on, we were safe as long as we did not step off the square of worn carpet which defined our bedroom-space; when the light was off no place was safe but the beds themselves. I had to turn out the light kneeling on the end of my bed, and stretching as far as I could to reach the cord.

      Xóa
    3. In the dark we lay on our beds, our narrow life rafts, and fixed our eyes on the faint light coming up the stairwell, and sang songs. Laird sang "Jingle Bells", which he would sing any time, whether it was Christmas or not, and I sang "Danny Boy". I loved the sound of my own voice, frail and supplicating, rising in the dark. We could make out the tall frosted shapes of the windows now, gloomy and white. When I came to the part, y the cold sheets but by pleasurable emotions almost silenced me. You'll kneel and say an Ave there above me —What was an Ave? Every day I forgot to find out.
      Laird went straight from singing to sleep, I could hear his long, satisfied, bubbly breaths. Now for the time that remained to me, the most perfectly private and perhaps the best time of the whole day, I arranged myself tightly under the covers and went on with one of the stories I was telling myself from night to night. These stories were about myself, when I had grown a little older; they took place in a world that was recognizably mine, yet one that presented opportunities for courage, boldness, and self-sacrifice, as mine never did. I rescued people from a bombed building (it discouraged me that the real war had gone on so far away from Jubilee). I shot two rabid wolves who were menacing the schoolyard (the teachers cowered terrified at my back). Rode a fine horse spiritedly down the main street of Jubilee, acknowledging the townspeople’s gratitude for some yet-to-be-worked-out piece of heroism (nobody ever rode a horse there, except King Billy in the Orangemen’s Day parade). There was always riding and shooting in these stories, though I had only been on a horse twice — the first because we did not own a saddle — and the second time I had slid right around and dropped under the horse's feet; it had stepped placidly over me. I really was learning to shoot, but could not hit anything yet, not even tin cans on fence posts.

      Xóa
    4. Alive, the foxes inhabited a world my father made for them. It was surrounded by a high guard fence, like a medieval town, with a gate that was padlocked at night. Along the streets of this town were ranged large, sturdy pens. Each of them had a real door that a man could go through, a wooden ramp along the wire, for the foxes to run up and down on, and a kennel — sometimes like a clothes chest with airholes — where they slept where they slept and stayed in winter and had their young. There were feeding and watering dishes attached to the wire in such a way that they could be emptied and cleaned from the outside. The dishes were made of old tin cans, and the ramps and kennels of odds and ends of old lumber. Everything was tidy and ingenious; my father was tirelessly inventive and his favorite book in the world was Robinson Crusoe. He had fitted a tin drum on a wheelbarrow, for bringing water down to the pens. This was my job in the summer, when the foxes had to have water twice a day. Between nine and ten o'clock in the morning, and again after supper. I filled the drum at the pump and trundled it down through the barnyard to the pens, where I parked it, and filled my watering can and went along the streets. Laird came too, with his little cream and green gardening can, filled too full and knocking against his legs and slopping water on his canvas shoes. I had the real watering can, my father's, though I could only carry it three-quarters full.
      The foxes all had names, which were printed on a tin plate and hung beside their doors. They were not named when they were born, but when they survived the first year’s pelting and were added to the breeding stock. Those my father had named were called names like Prince, Bob, Wally, and Betty. Those I had named were called Star or Turk, or Maureen or Diana. Laird named one Maude after a hired girl we had when he was little, one Harold after a boy at school, and one Mexico, he did not say why.

      Xóa
    5. Naming them did not make pets out of them, or anything like it. Nobody but my father ever went into the pens, and he had twice had blood-poisoning from bites. When I was bringing them their water they prowled up and down on the paths they had made inside their pens, barking seldom — they saved that for nighttime, when they might get up a chorus of community frenzy--but always watching me, their eyes burning, clear gold, in their pointed, malevolent faces. They were beautiful for their delicate legs and heavy, aristocratic tails and the bright fur sprinkled on dark down their back — which gave them their name — but especially for their faces, drawn exquisitely sharp in pure hostility, and their golden eyes.
      Besides carrying water I helped my father when he cut the long grass, and the lamb's quarter and flowering money-musk, that grew between the pens. He cut with they scythe and I raked into piles. Then he took a pitchfork and threw fresh-cut grass all over the top of the pens to keep the foxes cooler and shade their coats, which were browned by too much sun. My father did not talk to me unless it was about the job we were doing. In this he was quite different from my mother, who, if she was feeling cheerful, would tell me all sorts of things – the name of a dog she had had when she was a little girl, the names of boys she had gone out with later on when she was grown up, and what certain dresses of hers had looked like – she could not imagine now what had become of them. Whatever thoughts and stories my father had were private, and I was shy of him and would never ask him questions. Nevertheless I worked willingly under his eyes, and with a feeling of pride. One time a feed salesman came down into the pens to talk to him and my father said, "Like to have you meet my new hired hand." I turned away and raked furiously, red in the face with pleasure.
      "Could of fooled me." said the salesman. "I thought it was only a girl."

      Xóa
    6. After the grass was cut, it seemed suddenly much later in the year. I walked on stubble in the earlier evening aware of the reddening skies, on entering silence of fall. When I wheeled the tank out of the gates and put padlocks on. It was almost dark. One night at this time I saw my mother and father standing talking on the little rise of ground we called the gangway, in front of the barn. My father had just come from the meathouse; he had his stiff bloody apron on, and a pail of cut-up meat in his hand.
      It was an odd thing to see my mother down at the barn. She did not often come out of the house unless it was to do something – hang out the wash or dig potatoes in the garden. She looked out of place, with her bare lumpy legs, not touched by the sun, her apron still on and damp across the stomach from the supper dishes. Her hair was tied up in a kerchief, wisps of it falling out. She would tie her hair up like this in the morning, saying she did not have time to do it properly, and it would stay tied up all day. It was true, too; she really did not have time. These days our back porch was piled with baskets of peaches and grapes and pears, bought in town, and onions an tomatoes and cucumbers grown at home, all waiting to be made into jelly and jam and preserves, pickles and chili sauce. In the kitchen there was a fire in the stove all day, jars clinked in boiling water, sometimes a cheesecloth bag was strung on a pole between two chairs straining blue-back grape pulp for jelly. I was given jobs to do and I would sit at the table peeling peaches that had been soaked in hot water, or cutting up onions, my eyes smarting and streaming. As soon as I was done I ran out of the house, trying to get out of earshot before my mother thought of what she wanted me to do next. I hated the hot dark kitchen in summer, the green blinds and the flypapers, the same old oilcloth table and wavy mirror and bumpy linoleum. My mother was too tired and preoccupied to talk to me, she had no heart to tell about the Normal School Graduation Dance; sweat trickled over her face and she was always counting under breath, pointing at jars, dumping cups of sugar. It seemed to me that work in the house was endless, dreary, and peculiarly depressing; work done out of doors, and in my father's service, was ritualistically important.

      Xóa
    7. I wheeled the tank up tot he barn, where it was kept, and I heard my mother saying, "Wait till Laird gets a little bigger, then you'll have a real help."
      What my father said I did not hear. I was pleased by the way he stood listening, politely as he would to a salesman or a stranger, but with an air of wanting to get on with his real work. I felt my mother had no business down here and I wanted him to feel the same way. What did she mean about Laird? He was no help to anybody. Where was he now? Swinging himself sick on the swing, going around in circles, or trying to catch caterpillars. He never once stayed with me till I was finished.
      "And then I can use her more in the house," I heard my mother say. She had a dead-quiet regretful way of talking about me that always made me uneasy. "I just get my back turned and she runs off. It's not like I had a girl in the family at all."
      I went and sat on a feed bag in the corner of the barn, not wanting to appear when this conversation was going on. My mother, I felt, was not to be trusted. She was kinder than my father and more easily fooled, but you could not depend on her, and the real reasons for the things she said and did were not to be known. She loved me, and she sat up late at night making a dress of the difficult style I wanted, for me to wear when school started, but she was also my enemy. She was always plotting. She was plotting now to get me to stay in the house more, although she knew I hated it (because she knew I hated it) and keep me from working for my father. It seemed to me she would do this simply out of perversity, and to try her power. It did not occur to me that she could be lonely, or jealous. No grown-up could be; they were too fortunate. I sat and kicked my heels monotonously against a feed bag, raising dust, and did not come out till she was gone.

      Xóa
    8. At any rate, I did not expect my father to pay any attention to what she said. Who could imagine Laird doing my work – Laird remembering the padlock and cleaning out the watering dishes with a leaf on the end of a stick, or even wheeling the tank without it tumbling over? It showed how little my mother knew about the way things really were.
      I had forgotten to say what the foxes were fed. My father's bloody apron reminded me. They were fed horsemeat. At this time most farmers still kept horses, and when a horse got too old to work, or broke a leg or got down and would not get up, as they sometimes did , the owner would call my father, and he and Henry went out to the farm in the truck. Usually they shot and butchered the horse there, paying the farmer from five to twelve dollars. If they had already too much meat on hand, they would bring the horse back alive, and keep it for a few days or weeks in our stable, until the meat was needed. After the war the farmers were buying tractors and gradually getting rid of horses, that there was just no use for any more. If this happened in the winter we might keep the horse in our stable till spring, for we had plenty of hay and if there was a lot of snow – and the plow did not always get our roads cleared – it was convenient to be able to go to town with a horse and cutter.
      The winter I was eleven years old we had two horses in the stable. We did not know what names they had had before, so we called them Mack and Flora. Mack was an old black workhorse, sooty and indifferent. Flora was a sorrel mare, a driver. We took them both out in the cutter. Mack was slow and easy to handle. Flora was given to fits of violent alarm, veering at cars and even at other horses, but we loved her speed and high-stepping, her general air of gallantry and abandon. On Saturdays we wen down to the stable and as soon as we opened the door on its cozy, animal-smelling darkness Flora threw up her head, rolled here eyes, whinnied despairingly, and pulled herself through a crisis of nerves on the spot. It was not safe to go into her stall, she would kick.

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    9. (...)

      I didn't protest that, even in my heart. Maybe it was true.
      [1968]

      http://womeninlit.tripod.com/alicemunro.htm

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