THE CRYING BUFFALOES 
TRÂU KHÓC

Inrasara
Translated by Phan Khế

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

The crying buffaloes entered my life.
The male buffalo Mok, proudlly in his
land, led the herd across the hill; a tiger
slapped on his butt, and a camion carried

him back. He refused to eat grass, cried, and
believed that he was dying. My dad dug
a pit deeper than my height, and buried
him with branches full of leaves; my mom cried.

Exactly a year later, the old female
buffalo Jiong stood crying, watched her
grandchildren being led away by the ’62
epidemic, and felt the loneliness

in the hollow stable, where her few offspring
sat crying. The bull Pac with long horns
gloriously rubbed and broke two wings of
the plow yoke every season. When my

dad went out to his mom, my youngest uncle
howled and with my other uncles tied the
bull, then sawed away half of his left horn;
the bull cried madly, shook as fiercely as

the day he had been castrated, and as worse
than being castrated for looking like nobody.
When my dad came back home, the bull cried. His
companion, the female Pateh, cried endlessly

for her quasi-masculine beauty. My
dad made her help pull the wagon, and
her peers forgot that she was a female
buffalo; only she remembered that

she was still a virgin and that over
six farming seasons she cried without tears.
The buffaloes cried and wetted my naïve years. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Những con trâu khóc vào đời tôi. Chàng
Mok hiên ngang một cõi dẫn đàn qua
đồi cọp tát phải mông xe cam nhông
chở về bỏ cỏ nó khóc tin mình

sắp chết, cha đào hố sâu lút đầu
chôn với đám lá, mẹ khóc. Đúng năm
sau cái Jiơng già đứng khóc nhìn cháu
chắt trận dịch sáu hai dắt đi trống

chuồng cô đơn với mấy cu con ngồi
khóc. Cu Pac sừng dài oanh liệt mỗi
mùa cạ gẫy hai đầu cày, cha qua
ngoại cậu út hú mấy chú trói đè

ra cưa mất gần nửa sừng trái, nó
khóc điên dại giẫy đành đạch như hôm
bị thiến, còn hơn thiến trông chả giống
ai, cha về nó khóc. Bạn đi cặp

nàng Pateh mãi khóc cho dáng đẹp rất
đực của mình, cha bắt kéo xe đỡ
riết thành quen, chúng bạn quên mất nó
cái, có mỗi nó nhớ mình cứ trinh

dù đã qua đi sáu mùa rẫy, nó
khóc không nước mắt. Những con trâu khóc
ướt tuổi dại tôi.