Translation - Excerpt from The butterfly month by Ariella Kornmehl

I noticed that Zanele was working without gardening gloves again. Gibsan had probably needed them. She had weeded and pruned and watered the plants using a
bucket as a watering-can. The door to the garden was open, and I heard her humming; it was always the same tune. She started when I walked into the garden. She hadn’t expected me. She said she had just been thinking about me. I loved it when she said that.
‘Not nice, about mother.’
‘Oh well, that’s just the way it is …’
‘I know, but not nice.’
‘No, but it was never really right, Zanele. There’d always been a distance between us.’
We didn’t go into it any further. Th ere wasn’t much more to explain. There had never been any warmth, and I couldn’t explain it properly anyway. We stood close to each other. Because she was holding twigs in her left arm, it looked as though her belly was sticking out a bit.
‘What are you looking at?’ she asked belligerently.
‘Nothing, nothing. I’m just looking at your tummy. That’s okay, isn’t it?’
I said that there was always an obvious difference between tummies that had held children and those that hadn’t.
‘Oohoo, I was fat then — super fat!’
I asked what I had never dared to ask anyone. What did it feel like?
‘Big, big!’ Her lower teeth flashed in the sunlight. I stuck my hands out in front and started waddling — as if I had a heavy belly, as if I could only straighten my back
with difficulty. With my hands folded on my enormous belly, I struggled to go forwards. I curled my lips — that felt right — and walked around the garden while Zanele was in stitches. She was roaring with laughter, and I walked towards
Was I imitating her? Yes, I was imitating her carrying Shanla, but at the same time I wasn’t. I liked walking pregnant through the garden. Zanele took my arm and waddled with me. She tapped my buttocks.
‘Bum out,’ she said.
‘But I don’t have one!’ I yelled. She tapped again.
‘What’s that I can feel then? Eh?’
Bum out. Th at made it harder to stick your stomach out.
Two women waddling around the garden. All at once she started imitating contractions, waters breaking. She let the twigs fall and collapsed on the ground, moaning, screaming. I was beside myself with laughter. I almost shat myself. She
roared with laughter again, and said that that’s exactly what it felt like — like shitting yourself. ‘That’s what is like, Joni!’ We lay on the ground together, weak with laughter, as if it would never stop. I felt wonderful, wonderful because it was years
since I’d laughed like this. And because I was with Zanele. We were laughing, even though she knew what had brought me here. I felt small; the world was no bigger than the two of us, here together in the garden. It was hot, very hot; there was nothing I would have liked more than to take my clothes off , just like when I was young, unashamed. But that wasn’t possible; it would have been strange if I lay naked in the garden, on the dry grass, with my hand between my legs, afraid of pissing. We looked at each other with aching stomach muscles. We lay close beside each other — she on her back and I on my side. I said that she was sweet.

Translation - Excerpt from The butterfly month by Ariella Kornmehl

Faith Hunter

Brunswick, Melbourne, Australia

  • Artist

Artist's Description

First published in Dutch as De Vlindermaand by Ariella Kornmehl
Copyright Ariella Kornmehl 2005

Uitgeverij Cossee , Amsterdam, Netherlands 2005

Translated from Dutch by Faith Hunter.
English translation copyright Faith Hunter 2007

First published in English by Scribe, Melbourne, Australia 2007.
UK and Commonwealth Rights Scribe, Melbourne Australia.

For information regarding rights please contact Cossee or Scribe at the above web addresses.

Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from myself is prohibited. © All rights reserved~Faith Hunter 2000-2008 except as per contract with Scribe Publications Australia

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