September 7, 2014

Kasal sa Dugo


Kasal sa Dugo [Bodas de sangre] by Federico García Lorca, tr. Bienvenido Lumbera (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2007)



Dumating na naman ang oras ng dugo.

(The time for bloodletting has arrived once more.) 

Violence foregrounds Federico García Lorca's tragic play about a blood wedding. The image of blood is even there in the lullaby that puts a baby to sleep. The bride and groom-to-be are in many ways a perfect match. The young man is rich, strong, and extremely handsome. His intended woman is fair, beautiful, and timid. Class distinction can even be ignored in favor of making a family of strong children. But the riches of the landed man, his extensive vineyards, may stand in the way of a conjugal relationship, may disturb the equilibrium of love, as they sometimes do. Moreover, the unresolved issues of the couple's pasts are a yoke on their backs. The woman cannot forget Leonardo, her first love, who is now a married man but still crazy for her. Leonardo stalks her outside her house. When he gets the chance to talk to her, their conversations are often pregnant with lust and longing for their youthful affair.

           NOBYA:
Bakit ka naparito?

           LEONARDO:
Para makita ang iyong kasal.

           NOBYA:
Ako rin, nakita ko ang kasal mo!

           LEONARDO:
Nakagapos sa iyo, ginapos ng mismong mga kamay mo. Maaari nila akong patayin, pero hindi ako papayag ng ako'y duraan. Ang pilak, na sobrang makinang, kung minsa'y nandudura.

           NOBYA:
Sinungaling!

           LEONARDO:
Ayokong magsalita, dahil madaling mag-init ang dugo ko, at ayokong marinig ng mga bundok sa paligid ang mga boses na gustong kumawala sa aking bibig.

           NOBYA:
Mas malakas ang boses na aking pinatahimik. 


           *

           [WOMAN:
Why are you here?

           LEONARDO:
To witness your wedding.

           WOMAN:
Me, too. I was present during your wedding!

           LEONARDO:
I'm bound to you, bound by your very hands. They can kill me, but I will not let them spit on me. The silver whose shimmer is extremely blinding can sometimes spit on one's face.

           WOMAN:
Liar!

           LEONARDO:
I don't want to speak, because it makes my blood boil, and I don't want the mountains around us to hear the voice inside me that desperately wants to escape my mouth.

           WOMAN:
The voice I repressed within me has a louder sound.]

Bound by personal and societal standards of morality, the illicit lovers cannot openly express the raging passions inside them. But the blood is hot not only with desire but with hate. There is a blood feud between the families of Leonardo and the groom. Leonardo belongs to a family of men who killed the groom's father and brother, crimes that the groom's vengeful mother will not forgive and forget. The mother's wronged past is crying out for blood. Even the upcoming wedding cannot quell her thirst for revenge.

Federico García Lorca thus prefigures the inevitable violence that haunts the play's unraveling. Its direct reference to the doomed affair of one Romeo and one Juliet assures us that the fatal ending is ordained for the major players. It is only a matter of knowing the manner and circumstances of death. Leonardo plans to pursue the affair regardless of the wedding. A woman's dignity is on the line.

           LEONARDO:
Ang manahimik habang natutupok sa pagnanasa, iyan ang pinakamalupit na parusang puwedeng ipataw natin sa ating sarili. Ano ang kabutihang naidulot sa akin ng aking dangal, nang di ko pagtingin sa iyo, ng pag-iwan sa iyong hindi nakakatulog gabi-gabi? Wala kahit ano! Wala kundi ang pag-alabin ako! Akala mo ba, hinihilom ng panahon ang bawat sugat? Natatakpan ng mga dinding ang paghihirap ng loob? Hindi iyan totoo, hindi totoo! Kapag tumagos na sa ating kaloob-looban ang lahat-lahat, wala sinumang makababaklas sa kanila!
           NOBYA:
(Nanginginig.) Hindi ko kayang makinig sa iyo. Hindi ko kayang makinig sa boses mo. Para akong nilasing ng samboteng anis at nakatulog na balot ng kumot na mga rosas. Kinakaladkad ako ng boses mo, at alam kong malulunod ako, pero napadadala pa rin ako.
                     *
           [LEONARDO:
To remain silent while being razed by lust, that is the worst punishment we can impose on ourselves. What good does my dignity offer me, my denial of your existence, my leaving you unable to sleep every night? It offers not a thing! Nothing but to stoke my feelings! Do you think time heals each deep wound? Do you think the walls can hide one's suffering? Not true, not true at all! When everything pierces us in our deepest being, no one can pry out the spear!

           WOMAN:
(Shivering.) I cannot listen to you. I cannot listen to your voice. It is as if I get drunk by a bottle of anise and fall asleep covered by a blanket of roses. I am being dragged away by the timbre of your voice. I know I'll drown, but I am still carried away.]

The verisimilitude of Lorca's drama relies on the macho society which conditions the violent actions and reactions of the characters. Even the female figure of the groom's mother condones naked violence and the ascendancy of a husband over his wife if only to affirm the patriarchal family traditions and arrangements.

The "blood" in the title [Spanish sangre; Tagalog dugo] is an inherent stain passed down from one generation to the next. It is violent, intolerant human nature that is transferred, because this human nature to injure and to do harm is bred in every macho generation. The mother attributes Leonardo's "unwell" (sick or bad) blood [Ang dugo niya'y hindi magaling.] to the blood that runs in his murderous family.

Anong magaling na dugo ang maaasahan sa kanya? Dugo ng buong pamilya niya. Galing sa kanyang kanunu-nunuan, na siyang nagsimula sa pagpatay, dumaloy sa ugat ng buktot na lahi, mga taong sanay magwasiwas ng kutsilyo, mga taong pakunwari ang ngiti.

[What good blood can we expect from him? The blood of his family. Inherited from his forefathers, the ones who started the killings, it flowed to the veins of a perverted race, people who are skilled in brandishing knives, people who smile falsely.]

There is strength in the Filipino translator Bienvenido Lumbera's choice of words, which I hope have captured and retained in my L2 translations of selected passages above. The somewhat quaint vocabulary and diction of a few passages add to the flavor of ancient and timeless conflict of human capacity for violence. The way in which the characters give full currency to upholding one's dignity and justifying killings to be able to do so, reminds me of Gabriel García Márquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Lorca's play and García Márquez's novella in fact share the same theme and the same conflict operating in the same conservative society.

The unique style of Lorca's play offers another kind of marriage: the marriage of realism and symbolism. This is achieved through expressionist prose and the insertion of "symbolic characters" of the moon, Death (in the guise of a beggar), and the woodcutters. Their unrealistic presence heightens the realism of the blood feud and the transgression of a married woman's honor. It creates a space in which to comment on the proceedings and tragic aftermath of the wedding.

As he explains in the introduction, Lumbera (b. 1932) began to consult Graham-Luján's English version of the play for his translation. He was, however, not satisfied with how the translated dialogues sounded and flowed and how the songs and poetry interspersed in the play appeared in translation ("Hindi ako nasiyahan sa tunog at daloy ng dialogo at ng mga awit at tula sa wikang Ingles"). He eventually decided to translate directly from the original Spanish. Even so, some Tagalog lines of the songs in the play sounded rather awkward to me. (Perhaps they are the same in Spanish, or perhaps they are rendered literally. Lumbera's prose dialogues registered well than the poetry whose short lines weaken the Tagalog's density and linguistic register. Tagalog words are usually longer in length (with a larger number of letters) than English ones. If expressed in clipped Tagalog lines, the seriousness of the songs and poetry can derail the momentum of the play.)

Kasal sa Dugo is part of Ateneo de Manila University Press's Entablado Klasiko series. There are four plays in the series, all translations into Filipino by Lumbera. The other plays are Julio Cesar by William Shakespeare, Kaaway [Enemy] by Maxim Gorky, and Retrato ng Artista Bilang Filipino [A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino] by Nick Joaquín. Lumbera, a literary critic and scholar, started translating in the 1960s when he was a student of comparative literature in Indiana University. Other works he translated include poems by T. S. Eliot and Pablo Neruda.


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