Eye Opening

Is it that we really don’t know what is happening around the world? What is happening around us? Around humanity? or do we just decide to ignore it because we are too busy to even care about what is going on around us? Throughout my journey in Literary Genres in Translation course has really help me not only grow as a writer and at analyzing novels at a greater degree, but to realize how much things we actually know,  but we never think of. 

 

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The novel Utopia was about a corrupted life environment in where we can see the difference between the wealthy and the poor. We can see how teenagers slowly destroy themselves due to boredom abusing the freedom they have by consuming drugs, having sex, and by not having respect to others. The novel Signs Preceding the End of the World was about a young teenage girl who is sent to the United States to find her brother, but throughout the journey she losses her identity. She encounters many difficult situations, risking her safety. The novel Tram 83 is about a forgotten place in where people have no future and struggle to survive in such corrupted city. People lose hope into having a better life. Poor women are illustrated as sex partners in where they’ll do anything to obtain money using the phrase, “do you have the time?” (104). Finally, the novel Baho! Is about how due to miscommunication, someone’s life can potentially be ruined. It illustrates how justice can mean many things to many people. It shows how even the weakest community in comparison to other countries, can be very powerful and bring justice themselves, but the real question is, what it means to be fair justice?

Utopia: “When drugs are available all the time, you lose any pleasure in them. They become boring and vulgar” (8).

“In Utopia, where death retreats behind wires and becomes nothing but a game that adolescents dream of…” (6).

 “The problem is all of it. I have everything” (18).

What these novels have in common is that each author wrote about something that is really happening in real life, but we don’t think about. Our youth today is obviously not the same as before. We have little girls dressing like women and doing things that shouldn’t be considered appropriate. We are having children getting pregnant and having children themselves. We also have the severe consumption of drugs within the younger population (as well as the adults). Also, people stealing from each other, hating each other secretly, etc. all these are examples of how bad we as people are getting and instead of making things better, we are making things worst.

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Signs Preceding the End of the World: “He stopped and reflected for a minute. I guess that’s what happens to everybody who comes, he continued. We forget what we came for, but there’s this reflex to act like we still have some secret plan” (93).

“There she was, with another name, another birthplace. Her photo, new numbers, new trade, new home. I’ve been skinned, she whispered” (106). 

Many people travel to the United States to find a better life, and those who don’t but migrate just for a task or just work still change somehow. Is that considered losing your identity? But then again, what is identity? One chooses who they want to be, but most of the times we become who we are due to life struggles, experiences, confrontations in where we’re forced to do thing that forces us to change our persona. Economic factors will always be one of the top ones as well as safety reasons. It all goes back to the lack of money or them not feeling safe in the country they live in. Some may argue that in people stand up for what they believe in, stay what’s on their mind, whether it be politically or a personal conflict, communication is the key, but then again communicated can always be misinterpreted, therefore it can eventually cause more harm and problems. 

 

Tram: “I wonder how they get by. The crisis lingers. They complain but end up drinking, playing poker, laughing, signing, vaunting their silicone breasts, scolding the second-rate tourists despite the latter’s animosity. Does a more dressed-up poverty exist, or is poverty a supreme joy in disguise?” (169).

Baho!: “Because, for these people, the one who runs is assumed guilty of one thing or another” (3). 

“Hunger did not scare them” (3). 

“The young girl is in shock. Shivering, her body no longer belongs to herself (23). 

“Life is a series of meals that we must learn to savor in the face of expired condiments and second-hand ingredients. Sometimes we appreciate them. Often we do not. Above all, it is about not starving to death” (35). 

 

In conclusion, these authors write parallels from current world events and how they incorporate them into their books creating beautiful stories. I really love how I was able to connect with each novel, helping me understand and view life differently. The novels helped me realize that it’s not only about what we are going through right now, but about what might happen later on in the future and what is going on in other countries as well. 

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Miscommunication

414BS3QSsBL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg   When things aren’t clearly stated, it can create complications and everything becomes difficult after that. Roland Rugero’s created a story in where an adolescent mute, tries to ask a young woman for directions “to an appropriate place to relieve himself”, meaning where was a place to use the restroom, but him unable to properly communicate, got mistaken for wanting to rape her. This created a lot of chaos for the young adolescent, Nyamuragi, the mute.

“The mute tries to smother her screams with his palm. She must calm down, shut up. He doesn’t want anything bad; he simply wants her to show him the latrines” (14).

The story was written based on how the people that lived in the province of Burundi had the ideals of how women were meant to serve and where women couldn’t be sexually active until they married. The fear of rape was very intense that parents wouldn’t allow their daughters go out alone, being understandable because six girls were raped in the last two months.

“For two months, the obsessive fear of rape has haunted this country’s women. Mothers make their little girls wear panties under their wraps when they go draw water and under their skirts when they go to school, when before they did not. Girls are required to go everywhere in groups” (15).

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Image: http://www.cmdsport.com/running/cuidate-running/psicologia-cuidate-running/la-gestion-de-los-nervios-antes-y-durante-una-competicion/

People heard of screams and struggles from what she thought was an attempt of rape, so they all ran towards her to try and help. That was when Nyamuragi had to run away because he knew they weren’t going to let him try and explain what happened. He decided to run away and once things were calm, he was going to return and explain himself. The only problem is that he can’t speak, and in their community if you run away from something, that makes you guilty. That’s when Nyamuragi started running away in fear.

“…, the one who runs is assumed guilty of one thing or another” (3).

“No words, no reprieve. He is guilty! His silence condemns him more than his acts. He was running out of instinct. Now he runs in fear” (16).

The people ran after him trying to make their own justice for what he has attempted to do to the young girl Kigeme, but how is it justice if Nyamuragi won’t be able to explain himself due to being mute. It creates a stigma of how justice supposed to be, but it is understandable on Kigeme’s and people’s reactions due to all the rapes that have been happening within the community the past two months. It also makes me think about how Rugero was able to create a story using art, leaving it to its audience to understand the imagery and  it’s meaning behind it. Things like the one that happen to Nyamuragi do happen, and it makes me question how we see and take action when it comes to “justice” because justice can mean different things to different people. Do we dwell when it comes to how to properly react over something that happens to us or to someone we care for and how our government takes action in terms of justice? I think it’s very important to think about these things, and the author did a great job in coming up with a story that not only  frames African modes of wisdom, but about what’s actually important to consider and think about.

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Image: https://mediadiversified.org/2016/12/01/top-15-recently-published-books-by-writers-and-poets-from-sub-saharan-africa/

Unstable World

Poverty is everywhere. In some states is more hidden than in other states, but we can’t really escape poverty. For example, when we think of the United States and Mexico, we automatically think of the United States being more safe and a better political structure. We think of having to follow the law and just having a better life in general. When thinking about Mexico, we often think of freedom, corruption, exploitation, and being able to get away with things that we wouldn’t really be able to in this country. The more unstable a country is, the more poverty and corruption there will be due to not having a balance of order, which is exactly what Fiston Mwanza Mujila talks about in his novel Tram 83. Mujila talks about Democratic Republic of Congo, and explains the how the political system works. The message is not only about Congo, but how all Africa is seen and the reasons why.  Mujila uses Tram 83 to portray a form of neocolonialism and how exploitation happen all over Africa.

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The novel focuses on the lives of two men, Lucien and Requiem. They both try to survive City-State, a very dysfunctional non-working nation, “the City-State was written by her gigolos, her baby-chicks, her diggers, her four-star whorehouses, her dissident rebels ready to imprison you, her prospectors, her semi-tourists” (96). Throughout the text, we see how there’s a lack of jobs, prostitution, no order whatsoever, but even the, Lucien and Requiem deal with life in Congo differently. Life in a dysfunctional nation is dealt differently by people. For females, some seek prostitution and more males, some seek robbery, sale of drugs, crime, etc. That creates chaos, and the only thing that belonged to the residents was the Tram. The only place where they can escape reality and find what they needed for the moment. 

“As soon as the announcement of the Tram’s destruction was heard, the inhabitants of the City-State headed for Tram 83. For Several reasons, of course: some ––”Do you have the time?” ––to lure potential clients, others to protest against the prohibition on excavating, still others to block the imminent destruction of Tram 83, for the Tram was the only thing that was really belonged to them” (206).

It’s not easy to leave behind the life you’ve adjusted to, but when the life you live isn’t safe, it’s important to take action and try to change the life you live, “the iron road appall me, the disgust you feel after having gone with a baby-chick who explains during the act that she is in this no man’s land of existance because her life equates to the fifteenth commandment: you will eat by the sweat of your thighs––sta horny and persevere!” (153). The reality of life is that, if one doens’t have an education and/or a stable job, they won’t leave the life they are living. Having an unstable world is not only about having an unstable governance, but it also means an unstable indivdual life. We all live in one world, but we each live a sepearte life in where we encounter different life experineces in different period of time. 

Tram 83 is a great example of having an unstable individual life and an unstable country in where noone really has an option, but live with the life they have. 

New world, New Identity

One seeks for a better life when what’s needed is not obtainable. It’s the human instinct to try to survive the world we live today.

In many countries, there’s many people who wish to live in the United States. Why? Because they think that the American life is the perfect life; but then, what is the American life? In the book Signs Preceding The End Of The World, Yuri Herrera talks about a young girl, Makina who is sent by her mother Cora to find her brother across the US border. Her brother, crossed the border illegally to claim a land her (lost) father allegedly left them. The problem is, once he crossed, he never returned as planned. Makina, a brave young girl packs for her trip only what’s needed for a couple days, planning to return back to her home as soon as she found him. But did she really know it would be tough?

Makina had it tough. She went through a lot, but didn’t give up until she was in anglo land. I think Herrera makes a great job in describing how much power and determination one can have to be able to obtain what its wanted. Makina went through many dangerous situations in where in real life, not any mother will put her child through that situation. One dangerous situation that she encounter was when was in the bus ready to start her journey when a man sat next to her and “accidentally” brushed her thigh, “Makina turned to him, stared into his eyes so he’d know that her next move was no accident, pressed a finger to her lips, shhhh, eh, and with the other hand yanked the middle finger of the hand he’d touched her with almost all the way back to an inch from the top of his wrist; it took her one second” (31). This is clearly a great example of her strength and her ability to protect herself. She stands for what she believes in and won’t put up with anything that goes against her identity.

Photo Credits: http://www.brittanymolineux.com/a-year-in-books/

Another great point Herrera makes is the transition of a world in which not much dreams become reality to a world in which there’s more hope and dreams, “Suddenly the world turned cold and green and filled with invisible water monsters dragging her away from the rubber raft; she tried to swim, kicking at whatever was holding her but couldn’t figure out which side was up or where Chucho had gone” (39). Chucho, the man who helped her cross to the “other” land, is the only support she had for that exact timeline. The transition from leaving behind her land for a new one and she being completely dependent on Chucho all at once must have been terrifying for Makina. Even then, she was brave and tried to get through it and she did.

The more freedom, the more incidents

Most teenagers seek fun and freedom. Our parents restrict our freedom to try to keep us safe and grow up with certain values and education.

In real life, you are considered a teenager up to the age of 18, then you are considered an adult. In the novel Utopia, the author Ahmed Khaled Towfik makes a world named Utopia in where people of 16 years of age can do whatever they please as long as they don’t disrupt the property of Utopia’s residents. The residents of Utopia are rich, they don’t know what poverty and suffering is; created on the North coast that keeps poverty out.

The narrator describes Utopia as a boring place and due to that, they seek adrenaline, excitement and danger. According to the narrator, “In Utopia, where death retreats behind wires and becomes nothing but a game that adolescents dream of…” (6). A life that is seen as a game is always dangerous, living in a world where there is no rules just makes it okay to try and do whatever comes into mind.

The young boy being 16 years old has a lot of sexual intercourse, tries many drugs and isn’t afraid to die. He has been intimate with every girl he find attractive and he easily obtains drugs, “when drugs are available all the time, you lose any pleasure in them. They become boring and vulgar” (8). This young teenager gets bored of what he does after a while which makes him want to try other things. After a while, there’s nothing else to do because he has tried it all. This can mean a lot of things, but does this bring him happiness? I don’t think so.

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Trying to break his life routine, he tells his mother that he wants to try hunting, not animals but people that live outside Utopia. They are considered the “others” and aren’t seen as regular people.  Despite his mother disapproval, he wants to try it anyways, stating, “the problem is all of it. I have everything” (18). He admits that he has everything he wants, and there’s nothing that gets him all excited anymore. He wants to try the only thing he hasn’t done. We clearly see the level of freedom this guy has and how far he is willing to go to feel excitement. Do you really think that would happen in the real word? I find that hard to imagine.

I think Towfik makes a great job in portraying how having a lot of freedom can cause a lot of damage and creates a lack of judgement.