In order to translate his short stories, the translators of his work have traversed two continents to have a better look at his house. In fact, the first edition of his stories translated into English includes a diagram of the house, a sort of legend that aids readers to enter his home, for it is true that the writer composed all his stories there.
The diagram depicts a house composed largely of corners and yet the house for some reason appears circular, at least in the short stories if not in the diagram. The things that happen in this house seem to already have happened. Even the translators on one occasion make a remark to the writer’s family that they feel that they have traversed not only space but also time. The family can only but agree, for the writer has not picked up his pen in over twenty years as a result of a stroke that left his right side impaired. The house, the writer contends, is just as he left it. No more writing happens here and yet this English language edition of his first collection of short stories sparks the writer’s curiosity.
With the book sitting open on a chair in the central courtyard, it occurs to the writer that the house in the book is yet another home within a larger one. The writer fancies writing about this new version of his own home and in order to do so makes himself small, so much so that no one can find him in the courtyard or for that matter anywhere else hidden in the house.
While the writer is making himself comfortable in this small house, as if in a nest, the translators with the help of the writer’s family are desperately searching for him in the drawers, chests, wardrobes, and in the cold cellars spread across many dull winters. Perhaps, this endless commotion, alone, is what gives the house its circular aspect.
The translators of this new English language edition clearly underestimated the seduction of their own constructed diagram and the appeal it would have for this writer. They are already beginning to regret having come here at all, wandering aimlessly down the hallways, getting lost in the round corners.
Gaurav Monga is a writer originally from New Delhi. He learned German to read the works of Franz Kafka and Robert Walser. He writes prose poetry and short fiction, much of which has appeared in literary magazines such as the Fanzine, Juked, Birkensnake, The Fabulist, among others. Family Matters, a collection of absurdist short stories, was published by Eibonvale Press. He has taught literature, German and creative writing at schools and universities in India, Nepal, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. He is fascinated with the relationship between fashion and literature and is currently working on a poetry collection about clothes. This piece is part of his 2019 collection Ruins, published by Desirepaths Publishers. Image: Autumn Labyrinth, Jacek Yerka