♥♥♥ Translator Intro♥♥♥
Before we get into the story I would like to first talk about why I decided to translate Running Snail, and about my translation method and process. Months back, I listened to the Vietnamese audio book of Running Snail and fell in love with the story and characters, it also didn’t hurt that the narrator did an amazing job of voicing the characters, so major props to her. When I stumbled upon the audio book, I was actually looking for the English version to read, but sadly there wasn’t any. The silver lining, however, was the Vietnamese audio book, which I’m incredibly grateful for, because there was no way I would’ve read the Vietnamese translation and enjoyed it. It requires more time, work and brain capacity then I was willing to invest or expend. So I’m translating this in part for the me who went seeking but was left wanting, and for others like me who would be most appreciative of the English translation. Just as a disclaimer, my Vietnamese is alright not excellent. I speak and understand colloquial Vietnamese, but literary Vietnamese is another animal all together. For this translation project, as best as my abilities allowed, I tried to translate word for word, but many times I for-go this method for a couple reasons; One being, often times certain idioms and expressions do not translate well, if I find that I can’t translate them without confusing the reader or altering them too much, then I will most likely summarize, omit, or substitute. I find that in literal translation often times it lacks coherence. In my perspective, the spirit and integrity of a sentence holds more importance and sway for me then the literal translation.There have been times when I would drop a novel because the translation although true to the source, however, reads like nonsense and gibberish.This is definitely not the outcome I desire for my translation. My goal is to translate as closely to the reference material as is possible without sacrificing the legibility of the end product.
Please also keep in mind that this is a translation of a translation so many things have been muddy or changed in the process. If you are one to be nit picky about incremental differences or inexact translation, then I strongly suggest you to read the Chinese edition instead of my poor attempt at translation. I was notified that there are several epilogues of Running Snail, however, the Vietnamese source did not translate them so I won’t be able to either, so there’s that to keep in mind, while you read this novel. On a side note, I added translator notes throughout the chapters to add clarification if it’s needed, and if you find yourself enjoying this novel please support the author by purchasing her works. As of now i’m not sure how dedicated I am to translating this novel, it’s my first translation so obviously it wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but I did not expect my soul to be sucked dry just from the translation of the very first chapter. It did not help matters that these chapters are longer than most ….so while I can’t promise anything concrete, I will however give it a try. I’ll end this by saying I have so much more appreciation and admiration for translators now that I’ve experienced the work and dedication they place into their translations, they truly are the salt of the earth. So with that said please enjoy the first chapter of Running Snail!! P.S. you can find the synopsis of Running Snail at http://www.books.shushengbar.com/?p=6112
The novel is mainly told in 3rd person but does switch to 1st person, I will translate everything in Third person to prevent confusion.
♥♥♥ Chapter 1♥♥♥
Part 1. First Love
Those who have love silently remembers very clearly the feelings that are difficult to describe. Although, later when the memories resurface, the heart is still filled with sorrow. Like a green apple, it appears beautiful but sour when consumed. Perhaps love at such a naive age is too beautiful at the start, but alas sour and bears no results.
Chapter 1. Ve Nam’s Cell Phone Keeps on Ringing
Brother Ve Dang saids: “There are three criteria for evaluating a girl. One is beauty, a beautiful outer appearance. Two is a lovely naive beauty and lastly is the beauty of a pure soul. These three beauty combined creates the perfect beauty. Little sister unfortunately for you, you fall under the fourth category.
Ve Nam raised her head and looked at her brother with curious eyes : “Brother, what is the fourth type?”
Ve dang smiled and seriously said: “The fourth category means that in the absences of all three criteria one can still reluctantly recognize it as a girl.”
When he finished speaking, he turned back to continue reading his dictionary.
Ve nam smiles and said: “Brother, if they return home and see how horribly us siblings have transformed. So you said that at least you can still recognize me as a girl but brother what kind of boy are you that no matter how one looks you are still unrecognizable as a boy. What are we to do?”
A thick dictionary went flying in Ve Nams direction.
Ve nam sat up quickly, her action sent the spring of the mattress to compressed down. Finally, she was able to position herself perpendicular to the head of the bed.
The dictionary in her dream is behind the gas furnace, it emits a dazzling light, like a scene in “Journey to the west,” this caused Ve Nam in a panic state to become fully awake. Not yet overcomed by the setting of the ancient palace or the ancient architecture, Ve nam rubbed her eyes and looked at her surroundings.
Ve nam observed that she is still at home, elated she exclaimed internally, “oh how lucky” !! Only, Ve nam noticed that it looked like the middle of the night.
Raising her hand she can dimly see five fingers, and the clock hand is pointing to the number three.
Ve nam finally assured herself that it must be the middle of the night.
Peacefully, Ve Nam laid back down on her bed, holding her pillow close she decided to sleep some more. As she slowly sink into her dream, she is suddenly awakened by the ringing of her phone, her head aches as she is jerked awake by the sound.
“Too sad too sad, this is not the result I wanted, too sad too sad.”
The voice of the male singer expresses the mood of utmost sorrow. This is the ringtone Ve nam selected specifically for her brother to express Ve Nam’s emotional state whenever she hear his incoming call.
Ve Nam picked up the phone and said sleepily: “Hello, brother …”
“Little sister how is it possible that you are still asleep at this hour? Open your eyes and see what time it is.”
On the other side of the line, a screaming and scary voice rang out, almost like a pig being poked by a stick. Ve Nam rubbed her ears and almost punctured eardrums and said:
“Did you hit your head on the door? It’s the middle of the night, did you call to just talk or to take my life?”
A moment later, the other end said in a disturbed voice: “Midnight? Are you on Earth?”
Ve Nam yawned and said” “What kind of question is that? If I’m not on earth, then would I be on Mars?”
“If you can say that, then your brain must have stopped functioning which cause the other parts of your body to follow suit.”
“I hope you are not calling me in the middle of the night to just tease me”?
The other party was silent for a moment before saying:
“Hurry up and get out of bed, head towards the windows and pull the curtains apart, take a good look outside before you speak to me again. Thank you.”
After finishing that long continuous sentence, Ve Dang seemed to have trouble breathing evenly. He took a moment before saying
“Hurry up, can you hear me?”
Ve Nam stretched out and slowly crawled towards the windows to pull the curtains apart. The sun is high in the sky, the sunshine is dazzlingly bright, the scenery outside is very beautiful.
Ve Nam touched her nose and said softly, “ha ha the weather is beautiful today. My clock is out of battery. That’s probably why it says its three o’clock at night, making me think…….so it’s actually 3 in the afternoon.”
“I’m not interested in or care about your clock. I have something to say. Perk up your ears and listen carefully.”
Ve Dan coughed once to clear his voice before continuing
“I have a close friend, named Luc Song, do you remember him? He used to live in the same neighborhood with us, in front of our neighbors.”
Ve Nam yawned once and said: “Yes, I remember, that was a long time ago. Back then we would play together, I was 5 years old, you thought I forgot long ago?”
“Then why are you asking” (Ve Dang)
“Okay listen, when I attended university A , I ran into him. He graduated from college this year. He will arrive here for work. After relocating to Beijing, and living there for so long he has become unfamiliar with life here in the South, so from now on, remember to pay extra care and attention to him. Do you understand?”
Ve Nam still quite sleepy, listened with half an ear, she only nods her head and comply to end the conversation.
Ve Dang continue to advised: “Everyone says that people in the south are not as generous as people from the north. We are southerners, we can not lose face, understand? Sister please sleep less. You definitely must devote all your enthusiasm towards him so he’ll soften under your administrations, do you understand?”
This summer’s heat is not only hot but muggy as well, the temperature is now well over 30 C, that is hot enough already. People are about to be burnt into roasted meat here! But Ve Nam is also asked to conjure up enthusiasm. She probably won’t have enough time to muster up all her enthusiasm before the heat melts it away. Ve Nam muttered and yawned. Then, Ve Dang continued to relayed a heap of information about Luc Song, such as; what he’ll be wearing, his build, what time the train will arrive, to pick up him and bring him over to the house for a meal and so on and so forth.
Ve Nam yawned and nodded her head in tandem, her movements resembles a chicken pecking rice. At the end of her half-truthful phone call (“half-truthful” –meaning she wasn’t being completely honest with her reply’s, since she only half listened and acquiesce to everything without much thought), Ve Nam exclaimed “So sleepy” and crawled towards her bed to sleep some more.
In the dream, she heard someone whisper in her ear with a mantra like tone “When you are asleep, this world has been awake for a long, long time.” This is the favorite quote of the author Zhou Phong that Ve Nam very much liked. In the detective stories, when the perpetrator uses anesthetic to kill their victims, this quote usually appears in the dialogue. Recently, Ve Nam changed the way she consumed detective novels, before she would read way too many, that she became paranoid. In her dreams, often times there would be bloody scenes, and although, she is a medical student and have studied the human anatomy, the sight however, was still ghastly. The evil laughter of the assailant and the screams of the victim in her dream broke Ve Nam out in a cold sweat. When she woke up, it was dark. The evening sunlight shone into her bedroom, tinging her room yellow. Because her window has a slit, whenever the wind blows the curtains, and sways it slightly, the rustling noise imitates sounds a ghost would make.The atmosphere resembles horribly of a scene of a crime.
Ve Nam rushed to pull the curtains apart.
The sunlight is dazzling. Ve Nam went to the bathroom, washed her face with cold water, and checked herself out in the mirror. Her shaggy hair looks like weeds, her eyes puffy like a pandas, her lips dry like there was a three year drought. With cracking grooves one after another, like a crater.
This is the result of a month long, brutal exam.
Ve Nam sighed heavily and began to repair the damaged, from head to toe. After she brushed her teeth, and washed her face, she started to feel like a human being again. She then went to her closet, opened the drawers for her t-shirts and jeans. She dressed in a state of numbness, limply she opened the fridge to get a can of milk. While drinking the milk she dragged herself out of the room and said “Mom, I’ll be out for a bit, Ve dang asked me to pick up someone for him.”
Mom poked her head out and smiled brightly: “Are you going to pick up Luc?”
Ve Nam put on her shoes and nodded. “Yes, he said to bring Luc Song over tonight for dinner.”
“Uh huh, he called me this morning and told me the news, I have prepared everything for dinner already.”
“Ok, then I’ll be on my way.” Ve Nam was just leaving when her mother called her back. Her mother frowned and said “What are you wearing?” Ve Nam looked down at her clothes, she has on a white shirt with a simple pink chalk pattern, there shouldn’t be a problem, granted the design of the pair of lips is a bit scary looking.
Ve Nam looked at the mirror in the distance and laughed: “This is a fad.”
Mom laughed and said “Do not terrorize people, Luc Song is not as pitiful as your brother. He comes from a family of teachers, they are an educated and classy family, if he sees the pair of lips on your shirt …..it will certainly appear too vulgar.
Ve Nam heard the phrase “the teacher’s house” and got goosebumps “So what do you want me to wear?”
“Where is the dress I got for you last time?”
“Oh, that one, let me try it on.”
This dress is the one that took her and her mom all day to pick out , although slightly expensive, it was reasonable. Only the neck is a bit wide, the waist slightly tight, but very effective in accentuating the butt and waist.
Ve Nam gritted her teeth, just wear it, she thought, it’s nonetheless still better than nudity.
The dress feels a bit tight, perhaps she’s been sleeping too much, full body edema?
“Mom, is this okay now?”
In fact, her appearance at this time, is very similar to lonely girls, who in the middle of the night decides to seek out company and solace. Mother’s aesthetics is really………….
Mom smiled and said “You look good.”
Ve Nam replied “Okay” then picked up her purse hanging by the door, and started to head out when she received a call from her father.
She picked up the phone and heard her father say “Nam Nam, did you go pick up Luc Song yet? On your way home, buy some beer, if it isn’t too inconvenient, also buy a new blanket for him to use, I’m on my way home now.”
Ve Nam said in an uncomfortable voice “Okay, I will leave now, do you have anything else to advised”?
Dad smiled and said “This is your first time meeting, remember to be attentive and behave well.”
Ve Nam hung up the phone, turned her head and saw her mother smiling, her mom advised “do not let people laugh”. (basically to behave well)
Ve Nam shot her mom a glare, turned around and head out the door.
As she finished her descent down the stairs,her phone rings again.
Ve Nam picked up the phone, on the other end was the gentle voice of her best friend Tieu Tinh.
“Nam Nam, are you still asleep?”
Ve Nam gasped “I’ve been up for a while now!”
Tieu Tinh said “ Well I just woke up, I was reading a novel yesterday, I ended up staying up till 5 in the morning. My whole body is numb now, your voice sounds very alert , what are you doing?
“I’m on my way to welcome a guest.”
Tieu Tinh quietly asked “Welcome guest?”
Ve Nam wiped her sweat and explained “ I mean, I’m on my way towards the train station to pick up a guest. Your brain is very dark”
“You frightened me, your choice of words is brutally cruel. Tieu Tinh paused for a moment then said “Who is this secret guest, that you are personally welcoming?’
“My brothers friend.” Mentioning this subject, Ve Nam felt very awkward. Her brother is quite the exuberant person, he has friends in all directions, his enthusiasm though will only make her suffer.
“I’m currently wearing this dress with a high waisted belt, the one I tried on for you last time. And I have to wear a pair of high heels with it as well.”
“Really? Then you are practically naked on the……Tieu Tinh not yet finished speaking before interrupted by Ve Nam “Please do not excite me, I have a feeling that my family will change vocation soon to become a pork business instead. My brother will be in charge of cutting the meat, my father cooks, my mother washes the meat and cut it into pieces and happily deliver it to the mouth of the person called Luc Song .What kind of guy is he anyway?. Such a pain!”
Tieu Tinh laughed and said “Maybe your family wants you to find a boyfriend soon. Thats right, tomorrow is the high school reunion, the class leader organized it, are you going to come?
“I’m not going, I’ll be bored to death.”
“Then I will not go. Go pick up your guest, my mom called me down for breakfast, I’ll contact you later, bye.”
Just as Ve Nam stopped talking with Tieu Tinh, her phone started ringing again.
Ve nam exasperated, wondered if today is a holiday for her phone? Otherwise why would everyone fight over each other to call her, like today’s the end of the world. The four phone calls she received was distributed evenly, the ringtones ranging from “too sad” to “friends” and then “I do not know you” one by one. This time though the number is unfamiliar. Ve Nam’s mood isn’t that great so she declined the call, who knew how persistent the caller could be.They kept calling back.
Ve Nam sighed and picked up the phone
“Hi, Im Luc Song.”
Suddenly Ve Nam froze
The voice over the phone spoke gently and in low intonations, it was especially attractive. The sound of his voice is like flowing warm water, slowly dripping down the ears. It stimulated the nerves in the brain complex, the awareness concentrated on the top of the head, there is a sensation of shock that causes the scalp to tingle. Could this person be a TV host? His voice is especially excellent. Ve Nam admired silently.
“Can you hear me?” The other end asked quietly
Ve Nam wiped the sweat off her forehead and said
“Yes, hi Luc Song. I just left the house, I’m on my way to pick you up now.”
“I’m waiting for you at the Moonlit Building near the train station. No meet no home (–”Khong gap khong ve” my take on this expression is, he’s dependent and relying on her to show up, if she’s a no show, then he won’t be able to go home.)
In fact, he has waited over half an hour already, which should have been very uncomfortable, but his gentle voice does not betray any discomfort.
“Yes, okay” Ve Nam nodded.
The other party ended the call before Ve nam had a chance to say goodbye, a lingering dial tone is all that remains. With nothing left to do Ve Nam placed her phone in her bag.
His voice is pleasant to listen to.
His demeanor is very calm.
Translator Comments: I will admit the first chapter is a bit confusing, especially with opening conversation with Ve nam and her brother, I’m still not quite sure if that conversation did actually take place or just something she dreamed of. Overall, I think the first chapter did a good job of setting up the story, as well as introducing our protagonist and supporting characters. lots of dialogue in this one! P.S. If you would like me to make changes concerning the font type and size to make it more legible then please leave a comment stating so.