Le vieil Antonio et le lion - in English

Bon... après avoir retrouvé le texte de Marcos sur le lion qui tue en regardant, j'ai commencé à en parler autour de moi. Et maintenant, on me demande la traduction en anglais...

The Lion kills with a look

Old Antonio hunted a mountain lion (which is very similar to the American puma) with his old gun (a flintiock shotgun). I had made fun of his firearm a few days earlier:

“They were using these arms when Hernan Cortes conquered Mexico,” I told him.

He defended himself: “Yes, but now look at whose hands it’s in.”

Now he was removing the last bits of flesh from the hide in order to cure it. He proudly shows me the hide. It doesn’t have any holes.

“Right in the eye,” he boasts. “It’s the only way so that the hide doesn’t show signs of poor treatment,” he adds.

“And what are you going to do with the hide?” I ask.

Old Antonio doesn’t answer me, he continues scraping the lion’s skin with his machete, silently. I sit down at his side and, after filling my pipe, I try to prepare a cornhusk cigarette for him. I hand it to him wordlessly, he examines it and undoes it.

“You didn’t get it right,” he tells me while he rolls it again.

We sit down to participate together in that smoking ceremony. Between puffs, Old Antonio spins the tale:

The lion is strong because the other animals are weak. The lion eats the flesh of others because the others let themselves be eaten. The lion doesn’t kill with his claws or with his fangs.

The lion kills by looking. First, it approaches slowly ... silently, because it has clouds on its paws and these kill noise. Afterwards, it jumps and tumbles its victim, a swipe that throws, more by surprise than by force.

Then it continues watching it. It looks at its prey. Like this ... (and Old Antonio frowns and fixes his black eyes on me). The poor little animal that is going to die just watches, it looks at the lion looking at him. The little animal doesn’t see himself any more, he looks at what the lion’s looking at, he looks at the image of the little animal in the look of the lion. He sees, in his looking of the lion, that he’s small and weak.

The little animal didn’t really think of himself as being small and weak, he was a little animal after all, neither big nor small, nor strong nor weak. But now, looking at himself through the lion’s looking at him, he looks at fear. And in looking at what he looks at, the little animal convinces himself, himself alone, that he is small and weak. And, in the fear that looks at what the lion is looking at, he’s afraid. And then the little animal doesn’t look at anything any more, its bones go numb just like when the mountain water catches us, at night, in the cold. And then the little animal yields, it lets itself go, and the lion hits it painlessly.

That’s how the lion kills. He kills by looking. But there is a little animal that doesn’t do that. When the lion stops it, it doesn’t pay him any attention and continues on as before. And if the lion grabs it, he answers with a swipe from his little hands, which are really tiny, but the blood that they draw does hurt. And this little animal doesn’t yield to the lion because he doesn’t look at what they’re looking at... he’s blind. They call those animals “moles.”

It seemed like Old Antonio finished speaking.

I venture a “yes, but...”. Old Antonio doesn’t let me go on, he continues telling the story while rolling another cigarette. He does it slowly, turning to see me every little while to see if I’m paying attention.

The mole ended up blind because, instead of looking out, he began to look into his heart; he got stuck on looking inside. And nobody knows why it occurred to the mole to look inside himself. And there’s that mole intent on looking into his heart and then he doesn’t worry about being strong or weak, about being big or little, because the heart is the heart and one doesn’t measure oneself the same way one measures things and animals. And only the gods could do that about looking inside oneself, so the gods punished the mole and they don’t let him look outside any more. And besides that, they condemned him to live and walk underground. And that’s why the mole lives underground, because the gods punished him. And the mole wasn’t upset at all because he just kept looking inside himself. And that’s why the mole isn’t afraid of the lion.

And also why the man who knows how to look at his own heart doesn’t fear the lion either. Because the man who knows how to look at his own heart doesn’t see the strength of the lion, he sees the strength of his heart. And then he looks at the lion, and the lion looks at what the man’s looking at, and the lion looks, and in the looking of the man he’s only a lion and the lion sees himself how others see him, and he is frightened and runs away. “And you looked at your heart in order to kill this lion?” I interrupt.

He answers. “Me? No way, I lined up the sight of the shotgun with the eye of the lion and I just fired... I didn’t remember my heart.” I scratch my head as, according to what I learned, one does here when one doesn’t understand something. Old Antonio stands up slowly, he takes the hide and examines it slowly. Then he rolls it up and hands it to me.

“Take it,” he tells me. “I’m giving it to you so that you never forget that one kills the lion and fear by knowing where to look ...” Old Antonio takes half a turn and goes into his hut. In the words of Old Antonio that means, “I’m done. Good-bye.”

I put the lion’s hide in a nylon bag and I left ...