Translation:Ismail and Turnavitu

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Ismail and Turnavitu (1922)
by Urmuz, translated from Romanian by Wikisource
585595Ismail and Turnavitu1922Urmuz

Ismail is made up of eyes, sideburns and gown and is very hard to obtain nowadays.

A while ago, it used to grow in the Botanical Garden but lately, thanks to the advances of modern science, it became possible to synthesize such a one chemically.

Ismail never walks alone. But it can be found around 5:30 in the morning, wandering in a zig-zag on A street, in the company of a badger to which he is strapped by means of a towline and which he eats at night, live and raw, after having first torn its ears off and then seasoned it with a bit of lemon juice... Ismail breeds other badgers in a nursery at the bottom of a pit in Dobrogea, where he keeps them until they have turned 16 and have acquired shapely curves, at what time, sheltered from any legal liability, he shames them one by one and without remorse.

For the larger part of the year, Ismail's whereabouts are not known. It is believed that he remains conserved in a jar in the attic of his dear father's home – a personable old gentleman with a molded nose surrounded by a low twig fence. This one, out of too ardent a parental love, is said to be secluding him like this in order to preserve him from the stings of bees and from the corruption of our electoral practices. Nevertheless, Ismail manages to escape for some three months each year, during winter, when his utmost pleasure is to don a gala gown, fashioned out of jacquard bedspread with large brick flowers and then hang from the joists at various parties on the days when the application of stucco is celebrated – all only in the hope of being offered by the owner as a compensation and divided up among the workers... This is how he hopes to contribute in a significant way to the problem of social justice... Ismail grants interviews too, but only at the top of the hill where the badger nursery is. Hundreds of job applicants, grants and firewood are first placed under an enormous lampshade where each is forced to sit on 4 eggs. Then, they are loaded in the city's garbage removal truck and transported with utmost velocity to Ismail's residence - at the top - by one of his friends, who also serves as salami, called Turnavitu. A strange character who, during the ascent, has the disgusting habit of asking the contenders to promise to engage in sex-mail, failing which he threatens to overturn them.

Turnavitu has been, for a long time, only an untrained fan for divers filthy Greek cafes situated on the Covaci and Gabroveni streets. Unable to stand the stench he was forced to breathe in at these places, Turnavitu entered into politics for a longer time and managed to get assigned to the post of state fan, namely at the firefighting unit “Sir Radu”.

He met Ismail at a dance. After explaining the miserable situation he got into after so many turns, Turnavitu earned Ismail's protection, due to the charitable nature of the latter. He was promised a daily stipend of 50 cents plus meal coupons in exchange for the sole obligation to serve as a chamberlain to the badgers; also, to meet his master every day on A street and, pretending not to see him, to step on the badger's tail in order to make a million excuses for his distraction and to pay homage to Ismail on his gown, with a brush soaked in rapeseed oil, wishing him prosperity and happiness...

For the same purpose of pandering to his good friend and protector, Turnavitu turns himself once a year into a container and, if completely filled with gas, undertakes a faraway trip, usually to Majorca and Minorca. Most of these trips consist of showering, hanging a lizard from the door handle of the Admiralty and returning to the old country...

During one of these trips, Turnavitu, having contracted a nasty nasal congestion, infected all the badgers upon his return to such an extent that, due to their frequent sneezing, Ismail was no longer able to have his way with them. Turnavitu was immediately sacked.

As an especially emotional nature, unable to stand such humiliation, Turnavitu turned to apply his sinister suicide plan, however only after having pulled his four canines out...

Before killing himself, he took a frightful revenge upon Ismail: orchestrating the theft of all the gowns, he set fire to them on an empty lot using gas from within his master. Thus reduced to the pitiful situation of being made up of eyes and sideburns only, Ismail barely had the strength to drag himself to the badger nursery. There, he entered a state of decrepitude in which he has remained until this day.