Second Round

The following is a translation I made of a text published by Miguel Cane @AliasCane in animalpolítico.com, a mexican independent news site that endorses young journalists and writers.

This particular text touched very deep fibers in me, and I wanted to share it with you guys. Maybe you’ll feel as identified with it as I did. If anything, I only wish you can understand what if feels like to be a suicide, to know that it’s something that lives within you, and that it can come out and play any day. Being a suicide it’s not the same as being suicidal I think. The latter is a state of mind that draws you to the act while the first one is a part of who you are, it stays with you forever whether you success or not.

In any case, I give the floor to @AliasCane, whom I thank for allowing me to work on his text:

 

Saturday, 4 am

It seems so easy, as taking of your shoes.

To leave the cellphone as well, the wallet, the house keys, the glasses – when I take them off everything is usually blurry, I’ve been myopic my whole life, but now everything’s strangely clear – and start to walk through the sand up until where the waves break, fully dressed.

While doing this, I know that I’m sober. That I’m lucid. That I’m awake and not sleepwaking. The last thing I remember doing, while I was walking through this city’s seafront promenade where I’ve lived for the past six years of exile, was sending a direct support message to a writer friend -if he ever reads this, he’ll know who it is – that needed it at the time: “keep on writing stories to keep us alive”. The message was sent and I suddenly went down to the beach and started walking towards the shore.

First one foot, then the other. Water to my ankles, thighs, knees. Under my feet, sand that starts to dissolve. I don’t know why I’m doing this. I’ve been thinking for the past twenty-three years that one day I would do it again. I can’t remember well what I did that first time. I know that it was much more violent then (I have an almost imperceptible scar on my right wrist that reminds me). This is so gentle. Just walking in the water. Up to my waist, to my chest.

Above me the stars are shining. The orion belt and the solitary moon, that look at me at that time when there’s no one on the beach; the same one I’ve lived in front of all this time. I don’t think in the water that’s up to my neck now, nor in anything else. Sometimes suddenly, I can’t think. Right now there’s only sand and water. There’s no fear or hate, nor pain.

Suddenly, I can’t feel the sand below my feet. Then I can let go. Float. Sink.

*

I’ve had suicide thoughts for many years now.

Possibly even before understanding what suicide is.

The first round was at 16 years old and it was something abrupt, moved by desperation. We’ve all felt like that at that age; I lost control and decided to die, suddenly, without planning it. I could’ve gotten away with it had I not been found. Since then, the notion of suicide became apparent in my head for a while each day, and every day, from that first moment in the summer un 1990, it was (it is) a day more of life. Reaching the next day is much more work, occasionally it’s an achievement, even if many people don’t understand, even if many people – even people that knows you and ostensibly, people that love you -react in horror or with violence upon discovering you’re a suicide. I can’t explain myself the moral superiority that some adopt about it; the disparagement and disgust with which the suicide is seen, whether the one that accomplishes it or the one that fails. I don’t understand. I’ve always thought that (paraphrasing here) respect for the suicide of others is peace*. As it is the decision of executing it.

The suicide doesn’t need compassion. I don’t write this for that. We don’t need compassion, though understanding is not out of place. Because once you’ve done it, you are one. Even if you don’t complete it, you are one. I am one, even if I’ve never written a suicide note, and perhaps I wouldn’t know what to put in it (“so long cruel world”? I don’t think so), having contemplated it so close so many times, having been in the presence of death. Knowing that we’ve put on the gloves and got on the ring.

I am, I am, I am.

*

I float in the water. There aren’t much waves. I’m about to submerge and let the current drag me down, when something stops me: it’s like a panic squeeze on the chest, it’s the pain of the muscles I’ve forced and something else; it’s the urgent sensation of coming back. On the shore people start appearing, though I can’t see them I know who they are: the friends, the relatives, the invisible brothers, the kids whom I still haven’t taken to museums or to the movies, whom I haven’t read books to. My parents, Audrey. There’s Audrey, awaiting for me to come and get her. All the friends that are part of the projects awaiting me – a play, a bookstore, a life somewhere else – all the people I love. I take a deep breath then, spit out the salt water and swim back, until I’m on my knees on the sand again.

I couldn’t.

I sit on the beach to catch my breath. I don’t know how long it’s been. It couldn’t have been more than some minutes, but time has lost all its proportion. The sand in my hands is just that, sand. The sky above my head is the same one as before, and yet it feels different. Days that follow will be -have been- different too. Heavy. Endless. Until little by little they turn more agile and productive and don’t feel synthetic, when it’s not so hard to wake up. I wanted to die, suddenly. But right now I can’t leave it all. I take off my gloves and step out of the ring. I don’t know whether I’ve won or lost. Living won.With the joy, the troubles, the loose ends, the hugs, the indifference, the love that is given and the love that is received, even if they’re not proportionally the same.

Will you do it again? A restless voice in my head asks me while I clumsily walk towards the stone steps that lead into the street, from there to the building, the elevator, home. Will you do it again? Yes. Do you regret it? No. I can never regret anything I’ve ever done, because with repentance there’s no learning and I have to learn something from everything I do, from everything I’ve done, even this.

There’ll be other rounds with the voices, with the impetuous need of not wanting to keep living. Not today, not tomorrow. Another twenty-three years may well pass. One day we’ll get back on that ring, and maybe it’ll win. But not today. Not soon.

I am a suicide. And I move on with my life, a day at a time. There’ll be good ones. There’ll be terrible ones. But there will be. And I’ll walk through each one of those days as long as I can. In all their uncertainty, as endless is the sea.

* Reference to Benito Juárez‘s (one of Mexico’s prominent golden heroes according to official history) famous phrase: “Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.”

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13 thoughts on “Second Round

  1. This is a very powerful piece. I have known several people who have committed suicide; one was a childhood friend, two were friends, and one was an acquaintance. In each case, I have felt a deep sense of grief for the life un-necessarily lost; too young, too soon in my estimation. I have always assumed suicide was about escaping; pain and loneliness perhaps….but in this piece, it sounds like suicide is about moving towards something; peace perhaps? I can see the compulsion but still, remember the deep sense of loss I have felt with each friend who has chosen death by suicide. Kim

    • You’re right Kim, it’s more of a compulsion for some of us, and at least in my case, the grief of the ones that love me has been the most important reason for staying, and that’s tricky too, because it can feel like a burden, like you’re being forced into something you don’t want. But there are good days, many of them actually, too. xoxo

  2. i like the distinction between ‘being suicidal’ and ‘being a suicide’. i think i myself falls into the latter category, as i live with it each and everyday. i think even among those who are either, the distinction is not always made. particularly staff/caregivers do not seem to be aware of this distinction either.

    • The distinction wasn’t particularly made in the text either, it’s even harder to do it in Spanish. The question only presented to me when I started to translate it. I was first using “suicidal” but it didn’t feel right, so I started to ponder why and I came up with the little explanation I give at the end of my intro, but I think it’s crucial. I’m a suicide too, but it’s been a while since I’ve been suicidal.

  3. Just leaving a note saying I read it. Too overwhelmingly _…._ no idea what adjective to put in there…Just saying I read it and thanks for translating and sharing it. It’s a great piece (though that sounds wrong to say).
    It’s funny. I’d been thinking about publishing an old poem by Baudelaire on my blog today but felt too weird about it and I’ve withdrawn from blogging anyway… but now I’ll share it with you. There are English translations of the poem under the original French one.
    http://fleursdumal.org/poem/161
    It’s weird but I loved it and maybe you’ll like it too…. or you don’t 😀
    Anyway, thanks for sharing this with us xxx

    • Wow, what a powerful piece of writing, I loved it, and I enjoyed reading different translations too. Thanks for sharing it with me Grace 🙂 I’ve missed you, and I know I’ve said it before but you can write anytime you feel like it ok? xxoo

      • I found the poem when I was studying for my French exam… I also loved reading all the different translations.
        I’ll be back very soon … 🙂 Take care xx

  4. When you say one is a suicide do you mean they have attempted suicide? It just sounds strange I guess if I say I’m a suicide rather than I attempted suicide in the past. Maybe it’s something lost in translation…. :/

    Unfortunately I can relate having been both suicidal and one who has attempted it a number of times-some only half heartedly though. The desire can leave but it can always return too. I don’t contemplate suicide anymore but for many years it’s all I thought of.

    • Let me first say that the distinction was introduced by me, because I found it was possible to do it in English unlike in Spanish. In the english language (I double-checked lol) a suicide can be both a person who attempts the act (whether s/he is successful or not) and the act itself (so yeah, it can get confusing I guess). On the other hand, a suicidal person is one who is absorbed in a state of mind in which s/he has suicidal thoughts and may act up on them.

      However, I also wanted to talk about having the suicide act as a constant presence in your life, I think that’s a suicide person too. I’ve been suicidal, and I’m a suicide if it means I’ve tried to do it, but I’m also a suicide in the sense that it’s something that’s always there, sometimes well-hidden in a dark corner and sometimes being the focal point of my attention, but it just doesn’t go away.

      I hope I made myself clearer? What do you think about all of this?

      • Oh, okay. Thank you for the extra explanation! I do not like to call myself a suicide but I guess I see its usefulness. Guess I dislike it because I might not be suicidal anymore but I am labeled a suicide. That sounds negative to me as someone trying to get healthy psychologically. It makes me feel like I am the act even if the attempts were in the past 😦

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