Валерия Наумова

Страна: Украина

Я профессиональный переводчик английского языка. Последнее время занимаюсь в основном переводом медицинских документов. Я с детства люблю читать, но переводом художественной литературы заниматься до сих пор не приходилось, это один из моих первых опытов. Для меня перевод – это искусство максимально точно передать смысл оригинала, как семантически, так и стилистически. Именно это я и постаралась сделать в переводе выбранной мной новеллы, похожей на красивую рождественскую сказку.

Country: Ukraine

I am a professional English translator. Recently I’ve been translating mostly medical documents. Though I love reading since my childhood, my work was never connected with translating fiction. So this is one of my first experiments. For me, translation is the art of accurately conveying the meaning of the original text, both semantically and stylistically. This is what I was trying to do translating the novel I chose, resembling a beautiful Christmas fairy tale.

Orpheus that was waiting for Christmas

Every morning she comes here to sell flowers for almost half a year already. Vivien would never
think that after working all her life in the office, she would now sit in a folding chair near the Writer
Street park, holding the chrysanthemums crib at her feet with her right hand. For many years the
bus used to drive her past this park to work. And every time she was gazing through dusty bus
window, trying to see the stone Orpheus at the park entrance. This sculpture attracted Vivien since
she was a little girl. Orpheus, with a lyre in his left hand and a crooked laurel wreath on his head,
was sitting on the grass leaning against a tree. Petrified, as if by the will of gods, he was so calm
with his look thoughtful but so clear, that it seemed he realized some great wisdom at that very
moment. Or maybe he saw something? Little Vivien used to stand next to him, looking in the
direction of his gaze but seeing nothing unusual. She stood opposite the sculpture, looking straight
into his eyes, trying to catch his thought, but she could not do it either. His face was gloomy but still
expressing some hidden joy. The secret of his peace was a secret to her. And it still is.
This morning Vivien is sitting at the park entrance wrapped in mist over her woolen shawl. White
chrysanthemums, grown in a tiny homemade greenhouse near her house, are now next to her in the
crib that was made for picnics once. Flexible, but confidently protruding petals of chrysanthemums
looked like peaks of officers’ caps, while heads of peony that she used to sell a couple of months
ago looked like exquisite hats for royal racing. There was a school across the street. It’s strange that
school is usually compared to an anthill. Ants are unable to move with such speed and noise. School
is more like freeway. The freeway where small and not very small cars race at different speeds,
bearing in their trunks, that is in their backpacks, half-eaten sandwiches, exercise-books with
crumpled corners and a handful of melted sweets, presented by someone and safely forgotten later.
Reluctantly crawling to school children looked like snails to Shakespeare. Well, maybe that's how
they get out of their houses in the morning without looking at the clock. But as soon as they realize
that they are late, the snails turn into lathered guepards with backpacks and bags tilted forward,
rushing past her to the school. Her grandson is absolutely the same. It’s a pity he doesn’t study at
this school, otherwise she could take him home every day. She likes listening to his enthusiastic
reports about the past day on their way home. There is even something romantic about being a
flower seller. She can always imagine herself a flower seller from Chaplin film or Eliza Doolittle.
Or maybe she is that famous Malevich’s plump “Flower Girl”? She looked at her lean, long fingers
that were quickly dancing step on a typewriter some time ago. Her hands with thin turquoise veins
were wrinkled in the narrow wrist area. Then she looked at her thin legs sticking out from under the
coat, ending with funny but comfortable shoes. No, one could never call her “plump” except for fun.
And yet why did she become a flower seller? It’s her grandson’s merit, although he doesn’t even
know about it.
It all began this last summer, before Ben went to school. While Vivien was working in her garden
by the house, he was sitting at her kitchen table and drawing. Colored pencils were arranged in a
certain order, tightly pressed against each other and bolt upright like soldiers on parade. They were
eagerly looking into the drawing boy's album with their sharpened noses. She entered the house
removing her rubber gloves and stopped in the open kitchen doors. Ben was sitting on the chair with
one leg tucked and was finishing his masterpiece bending over the album. Vivien thought about
how quickly he grew up and what a beautiful boy he became. Maybe he will become an artist, he
draws so much. Her imagination took her far away and she caught herself thinking that she wanted
to be a part of that happy and bright future of her grandson she was dreaming about. She wants to
see what he will be like in five or ten years. She wants to cheer about his ups with him, if not next
to him, and always be there for him in his downs, even if there are just a few of them. At that
moment Vivien felt how much she needed Benny and a wave of unexpected warmth and joy
shrouded her at the thought that he may need her too.
– Hey, grandma, look! This is a guardsman! – Ben exclaimed, throwing his pencils off the drawing.
His clear voice brought her back. Ben traveled to London with his parents in July and was
especially impressed by the Queen's Guards standing at the palace. When asked what sight he liked

the most, he did not hesitate to say: "The Guards". He even told Vivien secretly that he wanted to
become the Queen’s Guard when he grows up. Benny began to describe his picture to his
grandmother as an artist admiring what he was painting, but dissatisfied with the way it was coming
out. “He’s a guard from the Grenadier Guard”, –  Ben said proudly, – See, this white thing here sticking
out of his hat is called a plume. But it looks kind of strange in my picture. Actually it is something
like a topknot. It shows in which regiment they serve. Oh, but I don’t remember whether this plume
should be on the right or on the left. Probably, on the left. Yeah, right, on the left. And the hat – it’s
so huge! It is made of grizzly bears fur. This fur is so thick and shines in the light so beautifully that
it seems like a real bear has shrunk on his head. And they wear it in such a manner that their
eyebrows are almost invisible and it looks like they frown. But in fact they do not frown. That’s
why they wear hats: the hats make them look more rigid. After all, they protect the queen. And this
is a serious matter. All serious things must be done with a serious face, otherwise they are not
serious any more, right? They also seem so high in this hat. This is also necessary. Though wearing
it in summer must make them feel hot. I made his trousers blue, because I think he’ll look more
beautiful in blue trousers. And there is a red strip on the trousers. Only I accidentally painted it with
blue, so it’s not as bright as it was in life.
Here Ben’s enthusiastic story stopped, because the narrator sighed sadly:
– I wish I had this toy guardsman! I would even go to school with it. I saw it from afar in a toyshop
window when we were on a tour. It looked just like real one, very similar. But it must be able to sit,
you know? Because he needs to rest sometimes too. He’s been standing all day! But soldiers are
always made standing upright. Grandma, will you give me a guardsman like this, please?
“Of course I will, Benny,” – said Vivien, but suddenly realized that she had made the promise too
glibly and added: "If I find as beautiful soldier as the one you drew."
– Frankly, I’ve never seen such soldiers in our toyshops. There are ordinary soldiers, but they are
small and can’t sit. There are guardsmen that can sit, but their faces are like in puppets with which
girls play, they just wear uniform. I’ve never seen exactly what I want.
Besides spiders, gossipers and large-check men shirts, Vivien couldn’t bear seeing frustrated
children. Children with sadness in their eyes evoked keen desire to do good deeds in her, no matter
what difficulties that could cause.
“It’s ok, we’ll figure something out”,- she began to soothe her grandson, meanwhile thinking what
exactly she could figure out in this situation, – I’m sure we can find somewhere the guardsman you
want. Weэl look for it”, – Vivien concluded positively.
“I’ll look for it too”, – said much respired Benny, "and if I do, I’ll tell you”.
The search took her all week. With indestructible confidence in success and systematic persistence,
worthy of Henry Schliemann, she explored mysterious and alluring worlds of toy stores. It is hard
to count how many shelves of toy soldiers she mustered in toyshops all over the city. There was
only one hope left – a shopping mall around this corner, where she goes to buy loose black tea on
weekends. There used to be a big toy department in this mall. And now Vivien got lucky just like
Henry Schliemann who found Priam’s Treasure after more than two unsuccessful years. She took
out of the bag her grandson’s drawing fold in four and arranged her glasses on her nose more
conveniently. She couldn’t assert without any qualification that this plastic guardsman wearing
beautiful embroidered tunic, with large brown painted eyes and a small button hidden on his chest,
which one had to press and say something to hear the toy repeating the words with its robotic voice,
was identical to Benny’s drawing. But anyway this toy was almost perfect, and since "the best is the
enemy of the good" she should definitely settle on it. The only thing that stopped her from fulfilling
her grandson’s dream immediately was an absolutely unattractive price tag. It looked like this
guardsman had a kind of inflated self-esteem. A consultant crept up to her with guepard’s grace
while she was busy checking details and looking for similarities in them. She asked him if they had
more of these guardsmen, in case she decided to buy one later. The consultant asked her not to
worry and convinced her that in any case another delivery of these toys was expected before
Christmas. Vivien had to go home to check her savings and see if she could afford buying such a
gift. She never learned to save in her entire life. She tried to save something, but every month she

had to put her money in different occasions and problems appearing regularly. Happy and disturbing
occasions often made small holes, to patch which she had to spend her cash, saved for travelling,
buying a car, a small house by the sea and other unfulfilled dreams. She kept what she could save in
a small, rubbed volume with plays of Shakespeare. This was the first book presented to her by her
husband. He memorized and read to her fiery monologues of enamored Romeo and Henry the Fifth
he found in it. Shakespeare’s words savored the sweet smell of high-quality old paper, and greeting
cards and dried, thinned out with time flowers were purposely left in the book to intersperse his

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