Short-story translation - Page 9

By Elin Pelin
In a calm town with a river through it , with white ancient houses hidden like boxes behind high-wall yards full of roses , lived a woman named Smarayda , neither too young nor too old . In this town , actually , lived many such widows and this particular woman wasn ’ t any different from the others .
And she , like everyone else , wore an old-fashioned silk dress , wide and long to the ankles , a broadcloth jacket with wide sleeves , sleek hairstyle , black silk kerchief ; she had a white , simple , soft face and shy eyes looking at the ground . Smarayda lived with her old mother near the deserted nunnery , and the way she walked - similar to all other women on that street - looked like a nun ’ s walk – that is , straight and slow .
She lived on the income from a vineyard and from work for strangers – she wove cotton cloths and earned a little money . All day she sat weaving in the sunny room , like a bird in a cage . Her mother sat on the floor aside and helped her . The two women didn ’ t talk . All along , it was really quiet .
In the garden grew some old roses , which crossed the fence and dropped their blossoms in the creepy road , and their sweet smell filled everything and went everywhere : in the hall , the room , the chests , and the clothes . And the flies , hypnotized by the smell , fell asleep and landed on the floor . This honest widow spent the day at home wanting and dreaming nothing , never going anywhere .
Smarayda was neither ugly nor beautiful . Men had a little idea of her , and seldom mentioned her . The city gossip never included her name .
At the café opposite the city bath , where women from the town passed twice a week and where for this reason the lustful and unfaithful men came together , the name of this widow was never pronounced .
Neither was it listed by these slaves of the flesh on the list where all obvious or secret charms were checked as belonging to every attractive woman in town . This list was kept by some Pavel , called the Blessed One , an advanced in years town joker . He had described in great detail , fine taste , skill and knowledge the soul and body of every woman , old or young , especially the sweet widows for whom he had a special weakness .