Palabras Errantes (in English – Wandering Words) is an online literary translation project that has been making contemporary Latin American literature accessible to an anglophone audience since 2011. You can read more about the project objectives here.
Palabras Errantes has presented a wide range of translation projects focusing on different voices and regions of Latin America. The latest project is ‘Mexican Speculative Fiction’. I contributed to the project by translating the short story ‘Tunnel of Light’ (Umbral in Spanish) by the writer Édgar Adrián Mora.
The story was promoted on facebook as a ‘brilliant tale of nahuales and rumours’. In Mesoamerican folk religion a Nahual is a human who has the magical power to turn himself or herself into an animal and use the powers attained for either good or evil.
The first part of my translation is below. If you’re interested in reading the whole story please click through to the Palabras Errantes site via the link below.
TUNNEL OF LIGHT
Flies fluttered around the neck wound. A mass of dirt, dry blood and pieces of skin mixed together in a dark scab. For Sacramento, the buzz of the flies became more and more unbearable. It was happening more often. When he obsessively focused on something, he gradually felt an intolerable headache come on. The pain forced him to close his eyes, tighten his jaw and simply give in. A blinding tunnel of light appeared. At that moment, Sacramento knew nothing of himself. What happened next was foreseeable. Effortlessly he would awaken, sometimes without knowing how much time had passed. He would have to keep the secret. It was no wonder people so obsessively connected him with the memory of his mother.
For many years, Dolores the witch had treated the illnesses and emergencies of the people who lived in the area. Much of that was owed to her deep knowledge of plants, their properties and to the infinite patience she possessed to find the exact mixture needed to cure specific problems. Later on civilization and patented medicine arrived.