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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mundo Lingo - Mundo Lindo [A World of Languages - A Beautiful World]. Novelette. Chapter 3.

He holds the door for me and smiles. I smile back and look down.

'Hantale', I say timidly.

'Pardon me?'

'Er... I mean, thank you.'

Wrong again. One of my own would reply "Gi nathlam hi". You are welcome here.

Well, what were the odds?

I feel I am welcome nevertheless, as I enter. I start this snowy but warm Tuesday at Cl├ębard with lemonade and some nondescript rock music. The barmaid is busy squeezing fruit juice for cocktails, so citrus scents dominate the place. The lights are subdued - semidarkness and shadows, and multicolored Christmas lanterns to underline them. Lovely.

A couple is having dinner and chatting at a nearby table, and I am observing them. Young, beautiful, busy. Carefree, but this impression is carefully cultivated, not inherent. They speak French, and I envy them. They speak the same language.

Jay brings me my poison - coffee - and I am enjoying the sugar-spiked fragrant liquid, the emptiness and the coolness of the place. I love the cold... as for emptiness, sometimes it penetrates so deep into my heart I am not sure it is a heart any longer. Yet for the next several hours, I will be home. Ma'weya, ts'muken*, I say to myself. 

*"Peace, sister" in Na'vi.



***

Incidentally, according to the Mayan calendar, December 9th is the day when the sword of truth cuts through the webs of lies and illusions. Yet what the Maya hinted at, the Babylonians demonstrated by practical example. The truth can not only be exposed, but also hidden by words.

Well, I am sure the Maya knew that. They tried to warn us about the world ending, after all, but what they did not tell is that the world ends and is being reborn every single minute. Just like us. Today we are not what we were yesterday. Only words are eternal.

Whoa, I am getting way too serious and philosophical again. As I was writing this, the linguists, the translators and the couch-surfers already filled the bar, and while I am musing on eternity here, the fun is starting. The future is now, and now Arien wants friends, and coffee, and ribald jokes... begone from my head, Elvish languages!  ¡Buenas noches!

But what is this divine smell? Ah. Jay unpacks a cardboard box full of mint sprigs, and I am instantly transported back to the times when I was a carefree gray-eyed child who befriended hedgehogs and lizards, and was one with the trees and grass and water and skies. Tonight, there is nothing but stone and concrete around, and my eyes turned green with age, and my words are all I have. Valar ydrassis*.

*"All men must speak" in High Valyrian.

***
18:45. The flags are being handed out, and the language ball may begin. And does it indeed! The place is brimming with beautiful people... and with beautiful words. "Hello." "Bonsoir." "Wie geht's?" "Estoy bien, gracias." "So nice to see you!"

Sword cutting through illusions.

Sorry, dear reader. I got a little distracted with the multitude of words and with this wonderful Human sport - hockey - displayed on a wide screen. Snow is still falling, but the place is full - you can cut the talk and laughter with a knife. Well, the snow and the cold are a small price to pay for the opportunity to find a home away from home.

As for me, I never spotted any Elves, but I care less and less with every moment spent here. Gotfre zhan, Arien.

*"Forget it" in Drowish.


***

'I don't want to be someone who tells people what to do', says Seamus.

'So you want to be a translator', I specify.

'Yes, this is my dream.'

'Then you should follow your dream, my friend.'

Seamus speaks Gaelic, and we discuss the difference between Irish Gaelic and Welsh. 

'I only know one sentence in Welsh,' I say. "Rwy'n dy garu di." It means "I love you."'

'Totally foreign,' replies Seamus. 

Later, Seamus excuses himself... to go and socialize with someone less opinionated, I guess. Oh, sometimes I just hate myself. Yet an old dog cannot learn new tricks, Humans like to say.

I remain alone to meditate on another Welsh word I know. Hiraeth. It means homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the grief, the yearning for the lost places of your past... No. I am here to find a home, not to dream of the impossible.

Soon, other friends and acquaintances surround me, and I am merry, so merry. Then I look at my watch. A thought fleetingly brushes my mind. Time must be a man. A woman would be more merciful.

'I have to go,' I say to him.

'I see,' he replies, and kisses me on both cheeks.

No, I'm afraid you don't...