I enjoyed translating into Arabic “A Love Before Time“, the end-credit song from the popular movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The song was nominated for Academy Award for Best Song in 2000 and performed by Coco Lee.
Click on the link below for my Arabic translation:
It has been my pleasure to translate part of the short story, ‘Dimi… First Love…’.
Written by Saudi Arabian author, Dr Muhammad al-Hodif, a well-known writer, whose literary and journalistic work is popular across the Arab world.
A story told within a story; it is a bittersweet tale about Mus’ab’s internal conflict as he tries to deal with his attraction to a non-Muslim girl ‘of extreme beauty’. Here is a quick snippet from my translation:
‘I picked myself up; I was sinking under the weight, not because of the mass of books, which I had jammed into my bag, but because of the pain that I began to feel pressing down on my heart. I had begun a conflict between the head and the heart.’
Graffiti is, of course, a common sight in the West, but what about graffiti in the Middle East? Have you ever wondered what locals in Saudi Arabia feel compelled to spray paint on their walls? Here is just a sample of the kinds of things you’ll find written. These were taken from Sakaka, a small and relatively more conservative city in northern Saudi Arabia, where I have been living for the past 8 and a half months. Click on a thumbnail to open a slideshow of the graffiti with my notes included. I hope you find them interesting!
موقف خاص “Private Parking” – Why buy a sign when you can just spray paint it on the wall?
Here it simply says باب “Door” – just in case people weren’t sure what that rectangular shaped thing was! Then again, I guess it might be pointing out the fact that this is the entrance and not the metal doors a few metres down labelled “Danger.”
خطر “Danger” – in case the scull and cross-bones weren’t clear enough. I assume some sort of electrical unit lies behind those metal doors. Either that or a toilet, knowing the state of some around here!
Sakaka may not be Paris, the city of love, but apparently there’s still at least one person here who has been struck by Cupid!
الهلال “Al-Hilal” is the name of a very popular Saudi football team (literally: “The Crescent Moon”). The question is – was it a fan that wrote the team’s name on a bin or was it a rival trying to send a message…?
فتى الحِرمان والعاصي ينداس – Apparently this is the writing of a disgruntled boy who feels like he is being trodden all over by someone.
Buried treasure perhaps? A mysterious “3.0” written using English numerals. The sign above is the name of the street and local area: “Algeria Street, Al-Shalhoub (Area).”
Here someone has simply written “Memories” followed by a date in the Hijrah calendar. I suppose it is the equivalent to “I woz ere”. Perhaps it was Bunder, who has been kind enough to spell out his name on the electrical unit, as well as volunteer his hotmail address!
وادي سرحان – “Sirhan Valley” is in northern Saudi Arabia, stretching from Sakaka up to Jordan. “Sirhan” literally means “wolf.” Someone is obviously very proud of their valley!
أبو غيث – “Abu Ghayth”. This type of graffiti is very common. “Abu” (which means “father of”) is used in this way to create a nickname, either positive or derogatory. In this case, literally “Father of Rain”. I’m not sure exactly what this particular nickname implies and if it is positive or not.
أبو رميثة للموت – “Abu Rumaitha for death”. I’m not entirely sure about this one, but it appears to be a rather disturbing combination of the nickname “Abu Rumaitha” plus a threat on his life!
وطن لا تصادر عيالي بظلم – “Nation, do not oppress my children.” There are several possible translations for this, none of them positive about the country. It may be translated as, “Nation, do not imprison my children unjustly”, talking more specifically about wrongful arrests.
فسفس أبو متعب – literally: “FusFus, Father of Annoyingness”. “Fusfus” can mean “bedbug”, but in Saudi Arabia it is also the word used for “watermelon seeds” and “watermelon” itself is sometimes used in Arabic as a kind of nickname. I have been informed by a local Saudi that “Abu Muteb” can also refer to King Abdulla, since one of his sons is named Muteb.
…يكفي كهنوت يا “That’s enough, clergy, you *****!” Whoever wrote this obviously has something against the clergy! A similar looking font and colour, this was possibly written by the same person who wrote the sentence nearby speaking out against injustice.
الزعيم جيمس بوند – “Commander James Bond” (written at the top of the wall). Obviously someone is a fan of James Bond – why not, he’s awesome! Out of all the graffiti I found in Sakaka, this was the most unexpected!
It’s difficult to make this one out, but obviously someone was not too happy to see it. I shall have to go back at some point and get a better look at what was scratched out.
It’s clear to see what was on this person’s mind!
أبوك – “Your father”, written next to the smiley face. Perhaps a comical variation on the use of “Abu” as a nickname.
أبو غافل – “Father of Carelessness”. I think it’s quite clear this person just doesn’t give a f**k!
It’s difficult to make out the words in green, but the word in black above, however, is quite clear: زب – “penis”!
الرجاء عدم الوقوف أمام المنزل – “Please do not park in front of the residence.” A much more aesthetically pleasing version of the casually spray painted موقف خاص (private parking) seen elsewhere.
أبو عقل – “Father of the Mind.” A seemingly positive nickname someone has given themselves.
Kla$h + Blade… the ultimate combination? “Klash” is a crime-thriller about a character named “Stoney” (played by Giancarlo Esposito) and “Blade” (played by Wesley Snipes) is the hero of the vampire-action film “Blade.”
Some more Sakaka love…
!أبو ؟ – “Abu…?!” Once again we see “Abu” being used to introduce a nickname, but this time it is left up to us to complete! As for the number 87, it’s likely the year the person was born.
أبو غازي – “Abu Gaseous”. Perhaps the person is known for using lots of gas – or for producing a lot of it. What kind of gas, however, is another question! Apparently written this year, 2012. I’m not sure of the significance of 501 though – perhaps January 5th.
ليت الزعل ممنوع – “If only irritation was forbidden” – Perhaps it was this person’s boredom that was annoying him! Here he is called أبو مناور – “Father of Skylights.”
أبو رحب – “Father of Spaciousness.” Potentially this is being ironic, seeing as it points to a rather cramped entrance-way!
اذكر الله – “Remember Allah.” This kind of religious graffiti is also quite common and you sometimes see it written on the outer walls of mosques.
ذكريات الحارة – “Memories of the neighbourhood.” Someone seems to have fond memories of this area, although they are not specified. The street sign says طريق الملك فيصل “King Faisal Road.”
الهلال – “Al-Hilal”, the name of a popular Saudi football team (literally: “The Crescent Moon”). This type of graffiti is very common. You will also see الاتحاد (Al-Itihad, “United”) – another very popular team and rival of “Al-Hilal”.
أبو شرشر السرحاني – “Abu Sharshar Al-Sirhani”. أبو حاتم السرحاني – “Abu Hatim Al-Sirhani”. Two names, both hailing from the area of Saudi Arabia, Sirhan Valley.
أبو عرق – “Father of Sweat”, or alternatively, “Father of Arrack (the strong liquor)”. Seeing as alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia and sweat is much more common (the weather being what it is here), I am inclined to think it is talking about a person known for his over-perspiration!
This is a very crowded wall, but one thing stands out a bit too well, the swastika. Unfortunately, this is not the only instance I have noticed this anti-Jew symbol in Sakaka. It can also be found on some students’ desks at the university.
“No longer in use” The Arabic word written on each of the vehicles is يزال which literally means “is ceasing”, in other words, no longer working or “out of order.”