14 May 2024

Translation: The Martian in Love by Stefano Benni, Part 3

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 3

If that wasn’t gibolain, I don’t know what would be! Suddenly, however, the woman’s lights turned off and the man kicked her and started swearing. They are so violent after having gibolainated! The man passed in front of me and I heard him say:

— This pinball machine is a piece of crap, you can never win. And what’s this, a new vending machine? — And he touched my nose (which is not the nose).

—Don’t know—said the man who was handling the coffee machine—how should I know, the boss must have put it there. Hey, check out that chick that’s passing by!—

—Finally! I looked in the direction the two men were looking. Two things were going by: one was a yellow thing with the writing Taxi on it. The other one was a man with more trond in the front, pretty colored strands on the head and more lively eyes. I started following her discreetly until she met up with someone similar to herself. She said to her:

— Do you see that thing behind us? By now everyone thinks it’s something for advertising washing machines— Was I the thing?

—Then the first woman stops and exclaims:

—What a nice car! What wouldn’t I give to have one like it!—

What she is referring to as a car is a smokier and noisier quazzmobile. A little cumbersome to give as a gift but if it’s so liked…The cars were all lined up on the street standing still. Inside men and women sounded notes by hitting a button at the center of a trond. They sounded the note for hours and hours even though they seemed super tired. I understood: the car is a musical instrument!

—In a short while, the woman arrived to a place that said “parking” and found a yellow note on her car window. It must be the music sheet, I thought. Instead, the woman got angry, tore the piece of paper and started screaming:

—Traffic jams, traffic and now a fine! Rather than continue driving, she threw it in a ditch! We should burn all cars!” And she was off without even sounding a note.

—Alas, alas, it’s not such a great gift after all.


—I started following another woman and I saw her meet up with a man. They entered into a quazz eatery. I made my way in too: I have learned that if I stand still no one says anything, and what’s more, they try to feed me coins. I pricked up my ears and heard the woman saying:

—Oh dear, this is the best gift you could have given me … it’s wonderful, I am speechless — and she kissed him.

—Gradually I made my way under their table. I looked, and guess what the woman has in her hands? A black case with a quazz necklace inside, those transparent pebbles that on Becoda can be found by the thousands in the ash. A real nice gift!

—Disappointed, I decided to draw inspiration from the television because here, just like on Becoda, it must tell almost all of the truth. I analyzed three hours of Earth news shows with my analogical-galactic computer, and the result was that the gift everyone wants, that everyone talks about and that everyone holds to be indispensable and desirable, is “facts”.

So I went into a small shop with the writing “We have everything” on it and without hesitating, I said:

—Please give me two facts right away, one for me and one for my fiancée. And I mean facts, not words—

The man looked at me askance and said:

—Look, I don’t know if you are a robot or a dwarf payed by some political party, but I’ll let you know that I’ve had it up to here with electoral campaign propaganda—

—Just a moment, please repeat—I tried to say, but other humans entered into the discussion raising their voices, and soon after started arguing and throwing quazz at each other’s heads. Having had enough, I left. I walked and walked, and exited the city arriving to this area.

—I thought about loading one of those gray rugs you call streets onto my astromobile. But it’s too heavy to roll up. Or I could have taken a slice of green fur. But I had not understood anything about Earth, and I would risk bringing not such a great gift with me. Everyone would laugh at me and at my Lukz. How discouraging! In that moment I heard some young humans speaking among themselves:

—So thirsty—says one of them.

—What wouldn’t I give for a chinotto—says another.

—Imagine—says the third one—what a gift it would be if someone were to bring us some here…—

—This time I turned on the rapid travel turbo-propeller and flew to the nearest store. I was ready to use the photon cannon too. At the counter there was a slight woman with two glass quazz in front of the eyes.

—Woman—I said—please give me all the chinottos you have—.

—You’re strange, child—She said, and she too touched my nose (which is not the nose). —I have four left, is that enough?

—Szyp—I said.

—That will be a dollar fifty—

Alas, I had not thought about this! But I had an idea: I put in her hand two or three of those shiny quazz that the other woman had liked so much. I saw her go pale and become speechless. Done! I flew back and landed in front of the three young humans.

—Hey so funny—they said—what are you?—

—I am the robot from the win-the-chinotto competition—I said—and you have won three, one for each—

—Wow!—screamed the first one.

—Great!—howled the second one.

—I’m so happy—said the third, and right away they start breaking them open so that the oil comes out and they drink it. All the children did the same.

—So, all in all—I asked—it’s a nice gift, isn’t it?


—It’s the nicest gift I could have expected today—said the first one.

—It’s a wonderful gift—confirmed the second one.

—Now I feel good—said the third.

—This time I’ve done it. We said goodbye: they waved their hands, and I waved my nose, the real one, which is located on my lower right side. I returned to my quazzmobile in order to admire the chinotto that I had put away for Lukz. How beautiful, what transparency, with the dark oil that moves inside, and what a great smell. On the top there’s also a trondy crenelated piece of jewelry with the writing “Chinotto” on it in fire-red letters. What a gift for wearing on one’s neck or on one’s head, or in the ears, what a gift for my love!

—Damn! I was in such a hurry to return home that I flooded the engine, and the quazzmobile stopped running. Now you have found me, sir, and I know very well what you want: you want my precious chinotto. But I beg you, take anything else, all of my brilliant quazz, my cranial skull cap, the piece of my quazzmobile that you like the most, the trondlike steering wheel or the astrodog that nods, I’ll give you all of it, but please leave me the chinotto! Lukzenerper is waiting for me.

—Mr. Kraputnyk—I respond—not only do I not want to take the chinotto, but in the name of the Earth’s people, I moreover hand over to you a personal gift: it’s a chinotto accessory. If one day you want your friends to be able to smell the chinotto, use this and the container will open…

—Pretty object. And what’s it called?

—A bottle opener.

—Bottall-opaner—repeated after me the moved Becodinian.

—Thanks, it’s too much for me. Who knows how much it costs!

—There there—I said—don’t think much of it and go home. They’re waiting for you.—With my 500 I gave him a nice push. The quazzmobile vibrated a little and then engaged the engine, and wow, what an engine! In ten seconds it had disappeared into the clouds.

I went back to fishing and caught three 11 pound pikes.

Read Part 1.

Read Part 2. 

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