02 December 2022

Translation: The Martian in Love by Stefano Benni (Part 2)

This is Bora Mici's original translation from Italian into English of the short story Il marziano innamorato or The Martian in Love, in English, by the contemporary Italian author Stefano Benni. The story tells of an unlikely encounter between the Martian and the author and is told from the quirky point of view of the Martian. It includes delightful plays on words, descriptions of a desolate planet of origin and its contrast with all of the unusual colorful and variegated good stuff that can be had on Earth, and many comical situations arising from a miscomprehension of what is valuable to humans and what is not. Kraputnyk Armadillynk is on a quest to make his beloved girlfriend Lukzettina stop crying -- otherwise she will rust -- and find her an original gift that cannot be had on Becoda.    

The Martian in Love by Stefano Benni, Part 2

—The universe was inhabited by many trond and large quazz structures. The television (we have it too, it’s required) had told us that these worlds were absolutely the same as ours. On Jupiter, there are larger trond, on Venus there are particularly beautiful quazz, but nothing else.

—Well, I thought, it must be so because the TV hardly ever lies, but I want to check for myself. Because, if in some faraway part of the universe, there is a real gift, something that is neither trond nor quazz, to bring to my lover, well then, I will find it. Having made that decision, that very evening I prepared a provision of trond filets, put it in my lunchbox and launched my astroquazzmobile into the stellar corridors of Serpentone number 8, which leads to the Zatopek crossing, and from there, to your solar system. I don’t know why I aimed immediately for Earth. Maybe it was because of its color, which seemed pretty, or maybe because of the way it tronded in space. The fact remains that I engaged my macrotelescope and aimed it at you.

—Alas, the first thing I saw discouraged me. There was a large space with green fur and all around it people were screaming. In the middle, some beings dressed in two different colors were fighting with their feet over a small trond. Here they are even worse off than we are, I thought: we have only quazz and trond, they barely even have any trond. Indeed, huge brawls broke out over this trond, everyone wanted it for himself, and people yelled like crazy. I aimed my macrotelescope somewhere else, and I saw a city made of quazz, stacked on top of other quazz. No sign of life. Maybe, I thought, the aboriginals of the place do not eat the quazz, but it’s the quazz that eats the aboriginals.


Indeed, I saw them disappear by the thousands inside of illuminated quazz.

—Discouraged and disillusioned I had decided to leave when oh, how amazing! I finally saw something that was neither quazz nor trond, nor rock nor lapillus, a wonderful new thing. I landed and got closer to it. It was a large metal box, similar to an obese Becodinian, full of mysterious objects made of materials that I later found out were called paper, plastic and metal sheet. They came in different colors, and even if among them there were examples of quazzism and trondism, the variety was astounding. And what strange smells they emitted! Strong, penetrating, so different than the Becodian smell of ash and boiled quazz. I rummaged a bit with my arm and pulled an amazing object out of the large box: a shiny red cylinder. It was signed in trondsome writing that, with the help of my universobulary, I was able to decipher as saying coco-colo or colo-coco. I thought it was the work of two artists. Then I saw a splendid animal, made up of a hairy body terminating in a long wooden tail, and precious, snow-white fabrics with the writing “Publix supermarkets” and “Filene’s” and more oblong and transparent objects, wonderful aromatic sauces, spiraling skins, and crinkly pieces of paper with hieroglyphs on them. I stood there with the door wide open, gazing at all these riches, when I saw the first earthly creature. It was blessedly rummaging through the wonderful objects of the large box. Immediately, I grabbed the interstellar tourist dictionary and recited the following words clearly:

— Exc-use me, you man of earth, can I bu-y one of these wonderful objects of yours?—The creature open wide its beautiful yellow eyes, wiggled its tail and responded:

—No buy, everyone can take, but now scram, since trash men coming—


— And the creature I had taken for a man scurried off frightened by the arrival of a growling being, large as twenty Becodians, from which the men descended; one of them looked at me and said:

—Since when have they put these new trashcans here?

—Don’t know—said the other one,—it looks empty anyways—And he grabbed me by the nose (which is not the nose!) and moved me out of the way.

—Back to work—said the other one—let’s dump this junk—They took the large box of wonders and tipped it over into the mouth of the large being. Then they jumped back on and left. At that moment, I felt bad, then I thought: if they throw out this splendid stuff and do not value it, think about the other wonderful things they have, much more precious than these. Reassured and thinking of my Lukzenerper, I followed them at full speed on my trondskates, until I got to the city and almost melted from surprise. What a variety of shapes and colors! What exquisite gifts everywhere, both still and moving, large and small! This is paradise, I told myself, but I need to remain calm and choose well, and not let myself be dumbfounded by all this abundance. Above all, I do not want just any gift. I want a gift that even earth women see as precious and important. I already knew how to recognize the men, now I had to find an earth female. How would she have been made? I carefully entered a bar with the writing “bar and tobacco”. I immediately saw something that could have been a female, something with a lot of noses and a man that was pulling on it up and down, which for us means gibolain or mating. But then I heard the man call it a “coffee machine”. It was not her. Over there, I saw her, the female. She was beautiful, all adorned with multicolor lights, she screamed and cried while a man held her by the sides and shook her.


Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 3 here.

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