Jorge Luis Borges
கொல்லிப்பாவை 17வது இதழ் ஜூலை 1986
நன்றி: கொல்லிப்பாவை இதழ் தொகுப்பு
புக்லேண்ட் / டிஸ்கவரி புக் பேலஸ் / கிழக்கு ஆன்லைன்
இதன் ஆங்கில மொழிபெயர்ப்பு
THE MIRROR OF LINK
Translated by Andrew Hurley
from the book
History records that the cruelest of the governors of the Sudan was Yaqub the Afflicted, who abandoned his nation to the iniquities of Egyptian tax collectors and died in a chamber of the palace on the fourteenth day of the moon of Barmajat in the year 1842. There are those who insinuate that the sorcerer Abderramen al-Masmudi: (whose name might be translated "The Servant of Mercy") murdered him with a dagger or with poison, but a natural death is more likely-especially as he was known as "the Afflicted." Nonetheless, Capt. Richard Francis Burton spoke with this sorcerer in 1853, and he reported that the sorcerer told him this story that I shall reproduce here:
"It is true that I suffered captivity in the fortress ofYakub the Afflicted, due to the conspiracy forged by my brother Ibrahim, with the vain and perfidious aid of the black chieftains of Kordofan, who betrayed him. My brother perished by the sword upon the bloody pelt of justice, but I threw myself at the abominated feet of the Afflicted One and told him I was a sorcerer, and that if he granted me my life I would show him forms and appearances more marvellous than those of the fanusi jihal, the magic lantern. The tyrant demanded an immediate proof; I called for a reed pen, a pair of scissors, a large sheet of Venetian paper, an inkhorn, a chafing-dish with live charcoal in it, a few coriander seeds, and an ounce of benzoin. I cut the paper into six strips and wrote charms and invocations upon the first five; on the last I inscribed the following words from the glorious Qur'an: 'We have removed from thee thy veil, and thy sight is piercing.' Then I drew a magic square in Yakub's right palm and asked him to hold it out to me; into it, I poured a cirde of ink. I asked him whether he could see his face in the cirde, and he told me that he could see it dearly. I instructed him not to raise his eyes.I put the benzoin and the coriander seeds into the chafing-dish and therein also burned the invocations. I asked the Afflicted One to name the figure that he wished to see. He thought for a moment and told me that he wished to see a wild horse, the most beautiful creature that grazed upon Ihe meadows that lie along the desert. He looked, and he saw first green and II 'aceful fields and then a horse coming toward him, as graceful as a leopard .Ind with a white star upon its forehead. He then asked me for a herd of such horses, as perfect as the first, and he saw upon the horizon a long cloud of dust, and then the herd I sensed that my life was safe.
"Hardly had the sun appeared above the horizon when two soldiers entered my cell and conveyed me to the chamber of the Afflicted One, wherein I found awaiting me the incense, the chafing-dish, and the ink. Thus day by day did he make demands upon my skill, and thus day by day did I show to him the appearances of this world. That dead man whom I abominate held within his hand all that dead men have seen and all that living men see: the cities, climes, and kingdoms into which this world is divided, the hidden treasures of its center, the ships that sail its seas, its instruments of war and music and surgery, its graceful women, its fixed stars and the planets, the colors taken up by the infidel to paint his abominable images, its minerals and plants with the secrets and virtues which they hold, the angels of silver whose nutriment is our praise and justification of the Lord, the passing-out of prizes in its schools, the statues of birds and kings that lie with in the heart of its pyramids, the shadow thrown by the bull upon whose shoulders this world is upheld, and by the fish below the bull, the deserts of Allah the Merciful. He beheld things impossible to describe such as streets illuminated by gaslight and such as the whale that dies when it hears man's voice. Once he commanded me to show him the city men call Europe. I showed him the grandest of its streets and I believe that it was in that rushing flood
of men, all dressed in black and many wearing spectacles, that he saw for the first time the Masked One.
"From that time forth, that figure, sometimes in the dress of the Sudanese, some times in uniform, but ever with a veil upon its face, crept always into the visions. Though it was never absent, we could not surmise who it might be. And yet the appearances within the mirror of ink, at first momentary or unmoving, became now more complex; they would unhesitatingly obey my commands, and the tyrant could clearly follow them. In these occupations, both of us, it is true, sometimes became exhausted. The abominable nature of the scenes was another cause of weariness; there was nothing but tortures, garrotes, mutilations, the pleasures of the executioner and the cruel man.
"Thus did we corne to the morning of the fourteenth day of the mo on of Barmajat. The circle of ink had been poured into the palm, the benzoin sprinkled into the chafing-dish, the invocations burned. The two of us were alone. The Afflicted One commanded me to show him a just and irrevocable punishment, for that day his heart craved to see a death. I showed him soldiers with tambours, the stretched hide of a calf, the persons fortunate enough to look on, the executioner with the sword of justice. The Afflicted One marvelled to see this, and said to me: It is Abu Kir, the man that slew thy brother Ibrahim, the man that will close thy life when I am able to command the knowledge to convoke these figures without thy aid. He asked me to bring forth the condemned man, yet when he was brought forth the Afflicted One grew still, because it was the enigmatic man that kept the white cloth always before his visage. The Afflicted One commanded me that before the man was killed, his mask should be stripped from him. I threw myself at his feet and said: O king of time and substance and peerless essence of the century, this figure is not like the others, for we know not his name nor that of his fathers nor that of the city which is his homeland. Therefore, O king, I dare not touch him, for fear of committing a sin for which I shall be held accountable. The Afflicted One laughed and swore that he himself would bear the responsibility for the sin, if sin it was. He swore this by his sword and by the Qur'an. Then it was that I commanded that the condemned man be stripped naked and bound to the stretched hide of the calf and his mask removed from him. Those things were accomplished; the horrified eyes of Yakub at last saw the visage-which was his own face. In fear and madness, he hid his eyes. I held in my firm right hand his trembling hand and commanded him to look upon the ceremony of his death. He was possessed by the mirror; he did not even try to turn his eyes aside, or to spill out the ink.When in the vision the sword fell upon the guilty neck, he moaned and cried out in a voice that inspired no pity in me, and fell to the floor, dead.
"Glory to Him Who does not die, and Who holds with in His hand the two keys, of infinite Pardon and infinite Punishment."
(From Richard Francis Burton, The Lake Regions of Equatorial Africa)*