Rasskaz zhenschiny (Рассказ женщины) (English translation)

Proofreading requested

Rasskaz zhenschiny (Рассказ женщины)

Он за мною видно шел,
Взял за локоть: «Слушай Люся,
Будет очень хорошо,
Я живу в отдельном «люксе».
У него усы густы
И глаза, как две букашки,
И виднеются кусты
Из-за ворота рубашки.
Я не Люся, говорю,
А зовут меня Тамара,
И такого не терплю,
И такие мне не пара...
Десять лет варила суп, десять лет белье стирала,
Десять лет в очередях колбасу я доставала,
Десять лет учила я сверхсекретное чего-то,
Десять лет сидела я у окошка на работе,
Сердце стачивая в кровь, десять лет дите растила —
Что ж осталось на любовь? Полтора годка от силы.
Не смутился он ничуть,
Только глазом гладит платье:
«Я за вечер заплачу,
Сколько за год тебе платят.»
Я играла в мяч ручной
За спортивные награды,
И была я центровой,
И бросочек был — что надо.
Я авосечку-суму
Из руки переложила,
Кавалеру своему
Меж букашек засветила
Мне до «Щелковской» метро,
А от «Щелковской» — автобус,
А в авоське шесть кило
Овощных консервов «Глобус».
Открываю тихо дверь —
Дочка долбит фортепьяно,
Ну, а мой любимый зверь —
Он лежит, конечно, пьяный.
Снять ботиночки с него,
Не тревожа, постаралась,
От получки от его
Трешка мятая осталась.
Десять лет варила суп, десять лет белье стирала,
Десять лет в очередях колбасу я доставала,
Десять лет учила я сверхсекретное чего-то,
Десять лет сидела я у окошка на работе,
Сердце стачивая в кровь, десять лет дите растила —
Что ж осталось на любовь? Полтора годка от силы.
На плите чаек стоит,
Дочка сладко засыпает,
За окном моим ГАИ
Громко частников ругает.
Гляну в телек — дым и чад:
Поколенье молодое —
Все с гитарами, кричат,
Как перед большой бедою.
Убрала я со стола,
Своего пригрела Пашку...
Все же мало я дала
Тому гаду меж букашек.
Submitted by Sophia_ on Tue, 12/06/2018 - 15:56
Last edited by Joutsenpoika on Fri, 06/07/2018 - 04:16
Align paragraphs
English translation

A woman's tale

He had been following me, obviously.
He grabbed my elbow and said "Listen up Daisy,
you'll have a great time.
I live in a top-notch room"
He wears a thick mustache,
his eyes are beady1
and you can make out a bush of hair
overflowing from the top his shirt.
I told him I am no Daisy,
my name is Tamara.
And I won't tolerate such manners,
and he's not my type anyway...
For ten years I cooked the soup and did the washing
For ten years I queued to get sausages.
For ten years I studied top secret stuff2
For ten years I sat behind a desk at work.
I sweated blood and tears to raise my daughter.
What was left for love? Half a year3 at best.
He didn't flinch, only cast
a lustful glance at my dress:
"I'll pay for the evening,
what you make in a whole year".
I used to play handball.
I got some trophies too.
I played as pivot,
and my throws were pretty good.
I freed my hands
of my stringbag
and smacked my suitor
square between his beady eyes.
I'll be on the subway till Schelkovskaya
and then on the bus
and my stringbag is loaded with
six kilos of precious4 canned vegetables.
I quietly open the door.
My daughter is hammering at the piano.
As for my beloved beast,
he lies drunk as a skunk, of course.
I carefully took off his boots
without disturbing him.
From his pay, only three
crumpled rubles were left.
For ten years I cooked the soup and did the washing
For ten years I queued to get sausages.
For ten years I studied top secret stuff
For ten years I sat behind a desk at work.
I sweated blood and tears to raise my daughter.
What was left for love? Half a year at best.
The teapot is on the stove.
My girl is tenderly falling asleep.
Outside the window, a traffic cop
is yelling at some drivers5.
A glance at the telly. Nothing but rubbish.
The young generation
all screaming with guitars
like harbingers of a disaster.
I cleared the table
and warmed my Pavel in my arms.
In the end, I didn't hit the bastard hard enough
square between his beady eyes.
  • 1. lit. "look like two tiny bugs"
  • 2. she was probably working in some design office for the military, which was a huge industry in the USSR era
  • 3. lit. "a year and a half" but English doesn't have a snappy word for that
  • 4. the "Globus" brand was good quality and in short supply, so people were willing to roam the whole city to get some. In the USSR, availability of products was more an issue than money.
  • 5. lit. "private owners". Private cars were difficult to get in the USSR era. You had to order one from a factory and wait until it was manufactured, which could take years. Some people would then use their cars as private taxis to earn an additional income. This was tolerated but not strictly legal, that's why the traffic cop is yelling at them.
This translation does not claim to be of any particular value.
Glad if you liked it, sorry if you didn't.
You can reuse it as you please.
Glad if it's for knowledge or understanding, sorry if it's just for money or fame.
Submitted by petit élève on Thu, 05/07/2018 - 07:31
Added in reply to request by Sophia_
Last edited by petit élève on Fri, 06/07/2018 - 19:56
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More translations of "Rasskaz zhenschiny ..."
Idioms from "Rasskaz zhenschiny ..."
See also
Kashtanka1965    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 08:31

At the most half a year. ( nothing to do with strength)

Sophia_    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 11:23

Полтора = 1,5

petit élève    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 15:24

well technically yes, but that would sound odd in English. I'll add a note though.

Sophia_    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 11:25

I'm curious, why Lusya turned to Daisy Wink smile

petit élève    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 15:58

That's a flower name, the kind you would use to address a pretty girl in the street, like "hello good looking".

Sophia_    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 11:26

отдельный люкс- more like this is about number in hotel, rather that flat.

Sophia_    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 11:31

Кавалеру своему
Меж букашек засветила--> я не очень поняла, что написано по-английски. На всякий случай скажу, что она его ударила промеж глаз. (У тебя это и написано или что?)

petit élève    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 16:07

Well, I wouldn't mind a more detailed explanation Regular smile
I had some trouble with this stanza, I just guessed the meaning the best I could.

Alexander Laskavtsev    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 11:37

BTW, the word "Кавалер" origins from French "chevalier" Wink smile

"Он за мною видно шел" - I think it's rather "Seems/Apparently he was following me" (but I can be wrong)
It's better to use "apartment" here, rather than "flat"
"I am no Daisy" - perhaps "not"
I don't know what's the reason of using "his" in refrain? (she's been eating that soup too, she's been washing her own and child's underwear too etc...)
"сверхсекретное чего-то" - "somewhat of top secrets" or something... My grandpa wasn't allowed to go abroad, because he was working at the factory where some top secret rockets'/missiles' components were developed. U.S.S.R reality...
"За спортивные награды" - more exactly "to get/for sport trophies"
"дитё" (a slangish of "дитя") is 1 (one) kid/child, so not "kids"
"good looks" = "good hooks" ? Wink smile

petit élève    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 16:23

I agree "his soup" instead to "the soup" is an interpretation, but since I needed an article in English I thought it would emphasize her role as a submissive wife.

Yep, this "studying of secrets" sounds a bit odd to me. I suppose it's an allusion to the all-pervasive paranoia in the USSR era?

"Daisy" is also a flower, or might be a generic name for a promiscuous woman, so "I'm no Daisy" would be like "I'm not that kind of woman".

Ah yes, one single kid makes more sense.

well about these "good looks" I'm a bit puzzled by the stanza.
Apparently she describes what happened the first time they met, so she got rid of her stringbag somehow and that made her look strikingly beautiful in her future husband's eyes? Or did I miss the point?

Kashtanka1965    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 12:05

I think it's a hotel room as well. I'm a bit puzzled with" my good looks" She freed her hand from string bag, without thinking twice. She hit her suitor right between the eyes. Also where did the "behind the grill" come from. She didn't studied in secret but rather studied some secret stuff. She must've worked in the secret government place.

Sophia_    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 12:31

мне всегда казалось, что героиня работала в каком-то конструкторском бюро, и чертила там чертежи секретного... оружия, например.

petit élève    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 17:06

I thought that "hitting between the eyes" was a metaphor for "striking him with her beauty", but I was overthinking it, apparently.

As for "behind a grill", I was picturing her working at some counter or desk.
Together with this "secret stuff" that makes more sense, though that sounds typical of the USSR era. There were not so many people sworn to secrecy in the West, or at least that was not commonplace enough to be put into songs Regular smile

Jadis    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 16:34

The next verse explains how she hit him between the eyes : " А в авоське шесть кило / Овощных консервов "Глобус". I guess it must ache ! I also had trouble in translating "Полтора годка от силы" into French, I understand now that "от силы" means "at most" (but why Полтора ?) I also wondered about "Десять лет учила я сверхсекретное чего-то", but I also concluded that this must have been usual in the USSR...

petit élève    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 16:59

Well I'm not sure it's about the same stringbag. Could be a flashback from the time she met her future husband, especially considering the last lines of the song, while the canned vegetables are from the current time (when she's been married to the beast for 10 years Regular smile )

I think "полтора" is even shorter than "половина" so it's a convenient word to use, while "a year and a half" would sound a bit odd and awkward in English (or French)

Igeethecat    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 17:51

Canned veggies of this brand were very hard to find in Soviet era
That is why she sticks so hard to it
They are precious, not cheap Regular smile

And I don’t understand what you don’t understand about “one and a half “ I think the confusion is about “от силы”?

What was left for love? Half a year at best.
What’s left for love? Practically nothing

petit élève    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 18:00

Oops. Given the context I thought the cans were cheap, I should have doublechecked that.

The confusion on "1.5" comes from the lack of equivalents in English or French.
A literal translation would sound as odd as "2.7 years".
I guess any small lenght of time will do. As you say, the idea is that there was not much room left for love.

Igeethecat    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 18:31

Yeah, and I would change the title to a ‘short story’

petit élève    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 18:34

Mmm... "tale" sounds ok to me. Not much difference with "story" or "narrative", and I like the word better.

Igeethecat    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 21:11

Ohh, Pierre, they were not expensive either....
The price was affordable, but to find them in any store was a challenge. It’s hard to understand, but we could not just to go the closest store anytime to get them. That’s why she was carrying her string bag across the city in the subway and then in the bus...
Это про консервы

petit élève    Thu, 05/07/2018 - 21:30

I understand that. I just tried to keep the English simple. "hard to find" would be closer to the idea, but that's a bit cumbersome.

Alexander Laskavtsev    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 03:49

In USSR price usually wasn't a problem at all for most of the people. Those who worked almost always had enough money for the goods offered on market. The problem was in the lack of goods and lack of their availability. A lot of money but nothing to buy - a real communism! Regular smile That's the reason of the queues and the verb "доставала". We didn't "buy" then, we were "getting" Wink smile

petit élève    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 03:58

Yes, I agree money was not the main issue. I've changed the translation and added a small note.

Jadis    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 08:07

As I understand it - but I may be wrong - the aim of the whole stanza beginning with "Я играла в мяч ручной" is here to explain that the woman is strong and athletic, and good at throwing things. So I figure that she took her shopping bag in her right hand, and in one burst hit the man with it, the point coming later : it was filled with 6kg of vegetable cans. If I'm right, this looks to me as particularly subtle humour : had the author told before, what was in the bag, so had the effect been lost. But maybe I'm going too far ?

Alexander Laskavtsev    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 08:20

I'm sorry, for I didn't read your comment attentively first. It was done just to free her hand for punching. The reason of pointing of "6kg" was to show, what hard job she had to do to bring these cans home. Apparently she lives in some distant city district or even in suburbs, so she had to make a long way on city transport with this hard load in her hand.
Also she "переложила" the bag from right hand to left (most likely). So she freed her right hand that likely was stronger and more convenient to make a hit.

Jadis    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 17:29

Too bad ! Il liked the idea of throwing the bag full of cans into the guy's face. Anyway, if there were glass containers (and not metal ones), she would probably not have thrown them, for fear of breaking them. But then, if I were the author, I would have said that she had been a boxer or something like that, rather than "бросочек был".

Igeethecat    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 18:05

Are you kidding me? How she could waste precious cans to be thrown in this douchebag’s face?
It would only happen in American movies Regular smile

petit élève    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 18:05

*and* spend a few years behind bars for manslaughter Teeth smile

Alexander Laskavtsev    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 08:47

Nope, that was just some impudent and bully guy (judging from description - from Caucasus), that wanted "to have fun" with her at his luxury hotel appartment. Meanwhile her real husband was lying drunk as a skunk at home.

petit élève    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 11:15

Agreed, I just overthought this.

At any rate she sure must have hit him with her fist, not the bag. Most medieval weapons were half that weight and could easily crack a skull. Only American movie characters can survive that kind of blow Regular smile

Brat    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 18:53
Jadis wrote:

(but why Полтора ?)

Look, it's highly idiomatic, meaning "a very few", or "uncertain". For instance,   Полторы калеки, ни два, ни полтора.
I cannot find a decent English equivalent except "And how much time is there left for love? Two shakes of a lamb's tail?" Maybe @Gavin could help us with a nice slang or idiomatic phrase...

Kashtanka1965    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 08:26

I think you are. There is no way you can hit someone between the eyes with a bag containing 6 kg. of canned veggies. We all looking for something that doesn't exist. If she played handball as a forward than she is packing a very hard punch. I've played handball in the army as a goalkeeper.Sometime the ball used to whistle past like a bullet. Anyway, she would've killed the guy with her bag.

Alexander Laskavtsev    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 08:29

With a strong punch hitting the mentioned zone she could kill him (or at least make serious injury of his nose) even without that bag Wink smile

petit élève    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 11:22

She would have to swing her punch to do some real damage. I suppose she rather went for a quick jab.
Quite enough to make the guy see stars, in real life. This is Soviet realism, not an American gangster movie Regular smile

Sophia_    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 09:12

Частники- это не просто водители, а таксисты, которые занимаются частным извозом (не в официальной службе такси)

Alexander Laskavtsev    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 09:41

Вот тоже сомневался в этом месте. Да, скорее всего это про частных извозчиков. Машину-то купить можно было (у моей семьи была с 1976-го года), хоть особо богатыми мы не были. Проблема была дождаться своей очереди на машину (некоторые (у кого "связей" не было) ждали по 10 и больше лет) Regular smile

Igeethecat    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 10:22

Я с вами тоже согласна, хотела Uber предложить, но не уверена, что будет понятно

Alexander Laskavtsev    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 10:31

У нас в стране он есть. Насчет России - не в курсе Regular smile В СССР - не было точно Teeth smile

Sophia_    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 17:35

В России тоже есть.

petit élève    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 11:26

It would be more precise, but again it's a rather USSR-specific notion and I'd rather keep the translation easy to read.
I can elaborate a bit in the footnote though.

Igeethecat    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 11:31

BTW, it was kinda illegal, this is why гаишник их ругает Wink smile

Igeethecat    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 11:49

Pierre, you nailed it Regular smile
One tiny thing - букашки - bugs (‘insects’ are too general - mosquitos, spiders, fruit flies, etc.) Wink smile

petit élève    Fri, 06/07/2018 - 11:54

Spiders are arachnids, like scorpions and a few other eight-legged creepy critters. But you're right: bug is better.