ON DEATH / ON BROTHER / ON ANTRO
Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint
...not death which falls with a thud, the th that I couldn't pronounce as a child, the beginning of my own name, my name beginning where death ends, to die, so softly the word, die, like lie, to lay, to begin the day; night has the sound which death lacks, the last two letters reversed, the ht not th, night and light, and as a child when they asked me for the opposite of heavy, I could not answer, I did not understand how light, a color, could be the opposite of heavy, a weight. And the word weight sounds more like death than death itself, death like a whisper, like a feather falling across the lips, death, to die, to live. The ancient Egyptians believed the soul in death was weighed against a feather; I too think to die lightly would be to die well.
I love my sister the way the brother loves his sister in the story by Cristina Peri Rossi, "De hermano a hermana," "From Brother to Sister." The words brother and sister so different from each other in English, the phallic b which rises over the dotted middle line on the paper, b like a nub of flesh on the end of a stick, b my least favorite letter in the alphabet, the grade I was terrified to receive in school, b for above average, b for banana, b for balloon, b an obscene letter, blown-up, bloated, b for brother. And the two r's in brother, r my second least favorite letter, for R-rated movies which, as a child, I felt ashamed for viewing and for desiring to view, r for rat, r for run, r for rent, because for so long the places we lived in, the places where I grew up were never ours, r an ugly letter, like a scar, and a brother is not who I am, who I want to be, though I know I am the brother in the story, though I know I have always been the brother, even though it is my sister who is reincarnated from our brother who died, I know I am not a sister, the two s's like twin snakes, curling and curving and feminine, sister the object of my love, the object of my desire, the place of the other which I would like to possess, my sister's body, her narrow hips, her straight waist, her long hair, eyelashes and red lips, my sister my twin, but my other, my split self, who I want to be and still be myself, to be a brother and a sister at once, to be a brother disguised as a sister, to be a secret brother inside a sister, a secret the both of us know from having grown up together in the same rented dump.
...that hole in the ground, that dive, that cavity in the sand, from having seen what others will never see, can never see, into the absolute depth of that dump, that absolute image, like the image of the gorgon's head, like the view from the wall which renders the viewer mute, the wall which all who climb up climb over, the wall which we climbed over, my sister and I, the den which we climbed out of, the lugar malo, peligroso, insalubre, the absolute depth, the absolute death, the sinking which has no end, and if death, like birth is only the event following or preceding a period of incubation, then do we die for months and months after death, do we grow more and more dead the way a fetus grows more and more alive? Life and death, two caves or caverns I am always struggling to fill, to feed, like hungry ghosts. I fill the earth with these words because I cannot yet fill it with my body, the hole in the earth from which we emerged, hermano y hermana, with only one letter separating us.
I took Johannes Göransson's translation workshop in the spring of 2014 and wrote a 60-page creative translation of a six-page story by the Uruguayan writer Cristina Peri Rossi. The story "De hermano a hermana" ("From Brother to Sister") is about a brother who is obsessed with his sister, namely with photographing her nude. My creative translation was mostly about my own brother who died before I was born. All of the pages in my 60-page manuscript remain unpublished. This piece is a reflection/meditation on the experience of writing them.