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KLARA AND THE SUN - KAZUO ISHIGURO, Part One - 07

Part One - 07

This is unfortunate, but nothing to worry about. We'll bear it for a few days, then it will be over.'But the next day, and the day after, the Cootings Machine carried on and on, and daytime became almost like night. At one point I looked for the Sun's patterns on our floor, alcoves and walls, but they were no longer there. The Sun, I knew, was trying his utmost, and towards the end of the second bad afternoon, even though the smoke was worse than ever, his patterns appeared again, though only faintly. I became worried and asked Manager if we'd still get all our nourishment, and she laughed and said, ‘That horrible thing has come here several times before and no one in the store ever suffered from it. So just put it out of your mind, Klara.'Even so, after four continuous days of Pollution, I could feel myself weakening. I tried not to show it, especially when customers were in the store. But perhaps because of the Cootings Machine, there were now long stretches with no customers at all, and I sometimes allowed my posture to sag so that Boy AF Rex had to touch my arm to make me stand straight again. Then one morning the grid went up and not only the Cootings Machine but its whole special section had vanished. The Pollution too was gone, the gap of sky had returned and was a brilliant blue, and the Sun poured his nourishment into the store. The taxis were once more moving smoothly, their drivers happy. Even the runners went by with smiles. All the time the Cootings Machine had been there, I'd worried that Josie might have been trying to come back to the store, and had been prevented by the Pollution. But now it was over, and there was such a rise in spirits both inside and outside the store, I felt if there was any day for Josie to come back, it would have to be this one. By mid-afternoon, though, I came to realize how unreasonable an idea this was. I stopped looking for Josie out in the street, and concentrated instead on learning more about the outside. —Two days after the Cootings Machine went away, the girl with the short spiky hair came into the store. I estimated twelve and a half years old. She was dressed that morning like a runner, in a bright green tank top, and her too-thin arms were showing all the way up to the shoulders. She came in with her father, who was in a casual office suit, quite high-ranking, and neither said much at first as they browsed. I could tell immediately the girl was interested in me, even though she only glanced my way quickly before returning front-store. After a minute, though, she came back and pretended to be absorbed by the bracelets in the Glass Display Trolley just in front of where I was standing. Then, glancing around to check that neither her father nor Manager was watching, she put her weight experimentally against the trolley, making it move forward an inch or two on its castors. As she did this, she looked at me with a small smile, as if the moving of the trolley was a special secret between us. She pulled the trolley back to its original position, grinned at me again, and called out, ‘Daddy?'When the father didn't reply –he was absorbed by the two AFs sitting on the Glass Table at the back –the girl gave me a last look, then went over to join him. They began a conversation in low whispers, continually glancing my way, so there could be no doubt they were discussing me. Manager, noticing, rose from her desk and came to stand near me, her hands clasped in front of her. Eventually, after a lot more whispering, the girl came back, striding past Manager, till she was directly facing me. She touched each of my elbows in turn, then took my left hand within her right one, and held me like that, her eyes looking into my face. Her expression was quite stern, but the hand holding mine squeezed gently, and I understood this was intended as another little secret between us. But I didn't smile at her. I kept my expression blank, throwing my gaze over the girl's spiky head to the Red Shelves on the wall opposite, and in particular, at the row of ceramic coffee cups displayed upside down along the third tier. The girl squeezed my hand twice more, the second time less gently, but I didn't lower my gaze to her or smile. The father, meanwhile, had come nearer, treading softly so as not to disturb what might be a special moment. Manager too had moved closer and was standing just behind the father. I noted all this, but kept my eyes fixed on the Red Shelves and the ceramic coffee cups, and kept my hand, inside hers, slack so that had she let go, mine would have flopped down at my side. I became increasingly aware of Manager's gaze on me. Then I heard her say: ‘Klara is excellent. She's one of our finest. But the young lady might be interested to look at the new B3 models that just came in.'‘B3s?'The father sounded excited. ‘You have those already?'‘We enjoy an exclusive relationship with our suppliers. They're only just in, and not yet calibrated. But I'd be happy to show them to you.'The spiky-haired girl squeezed my hand again. ‘But Daddy, I want this one. She's just right.'‘But they have the new B3s in, honey. Don't you want just to look at those? No one you know has one.'There was a long wait, then the girl released my hand. I let my arm fall and continued to look at the Red Shelves. ‘So what's the big deal about these new B3s anyway?'the girl said, moving off towards her father. I hadn't been thinking about Rosa while the girl had been holding my hand, but I now became aware of her, standing to my left, watching me with amazement. I wanted to make her look away, but decided to keep gazing at the Red Shelves until the girl, her father and Manager were all safely rear-store. I could hear the father laughing at something Manager had said, then when I finally glanced their way, Manager was opening the Staff Only Door at the very rear of the store. ‘You'll have to excuse me,'she was saying. ‘It's a little untidy in here.'And the father said, ‘We're privileged to be allowed back here. Right, honey?'They went in, the door closed behind them, and I couldn't hear their words any more, though at one point I heard the spiky-haired girl's laugh. The rest of the morning remained busy. Even while Manager was completing the delivery forms with the father for their new B3, more customers came in. So it wasn't until the afternoon, when there was finally a lull, that Manager came over to me. ‘I was surprised at you this morning, Klara,'she said. ‘You of all people.'‘I'm sorry, Manager.'‘What came over you? It was so unlike you.'‘I'm very sorry, Manager. I didn't mean to cause embarrassment. I just thought, for that particular child, I perhaps wouldn't be the best choice.'Manager went on looking at me. ‘Perhaps you were correct,'she said in the end. ‘I believe that girl will be happy with the B3 boy. Even so, Klara, I was very surprised.'‘I'm very sorry, Manager.'‘I supported you this time. But I won't do it again. It's for the customer to choose the AF, never the other way round.'‘I understand, Manager.'Then I said quietly: ‘Thank you, Manager, for what you did today.'‘That's all right, Klara. But remember. I shan't do it again.'She began to move away, but then turned and came back. ‘It can't be, can it, Klara? That you believe you've made an arrangement?'I thought Manager was about to reprimand me, the way she'd reprimanded two boy AFs once for laughing at Beggar Man from the window. But Manager placed a hand on my shoulder and said, in a quieter voice than before: ‘Let me tell you something, Klara. Children make promises all the time. They come to the window, they promise all kinds of things. They promise to come back, they ask you not to let anyone else take you away. It happens all the time. But more often than not, the child never comes back. Or worse, the child comes back and ignores the poor AF who's waited, and instead chooses another. It's just the way children are. You've been watching and learning so much, Klara. Well, here's another lesson for you. Do you understand?'‘Yes, Manager.'‘Good. So let's have no more of this.'She touched my arm, then turned away.



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Part One - 07

This is unfortunate, but nothing to worry about. Esto es desafortunado, pero no hay de qué preocuparse. We'll bear it for a few days, then it will be over.'But the next day, and the day after, the Cootings Machine carried on and on, and daytime became almost like night. Lo aguantaremos durante unos días, luego habrá terminado.' Pero al día siguiente, y al día siguiente, la Máquina Cootings siguió y siguió, y el día se volvió casi como la noche. Мы потерпим это несколько дней, а потом все кончится. Но на следующий день и еще через день машина Кутингса продолжала работать, и день стал почти как ночь. At one point I looked for the Sun's patterns on our floor, alcoves and walls, but they were no longer there. En un momento busqué los patrones del Sol en nuestro piso, rincones y paredes, pero ya no estaban allí. The Sun, I knew, was trying his utmost, and towards the end of the second bad afternoon, even though the smoke was worse than ever, his patterns appeared again, though only faintly. El Sol, lo sabía, estaba haciendo todo lo posible, y hacia el final de la segunda mala tarde, aunque el humo era peor que nunca, sus patrones aparecieron de nuevo, aunque solo débilmente. I became worried and asked Manager if we'd still get all our nourishment, and she laughed and said, ‘That horrible thing has come here several times before and no one in the store ever suffered from it. Me preocupé y le pregunté a la Gerente si aún obtendríamos todos nuestros alimentos, y ella se rió y dijo: 'Esa cosa horrible ha venido aquí varias veces antes y nadie en la tienda ha sufrido por eso. So just put it out of your mind, Klara.'Even so, after four continuous days of Pollution, I could feel myself weakening. Así que quítatelo de la cabeza, Klara. Aun así, después de cuatro días continuos de contaminación, podía sentir que me debilitaba. I tried not to show it, especially when customers were in the store. Traté de no mostrarlo, especialmente cuando los clientes estaban en la tienda. But perhaps because of the Cootings Machine, there were now long stretches with no customers at all, and I sometimes allowed my posture to sag so that Boy AF Rex had to touch my arm to make me stand straight again. Pero tal vez debido a la Máquina Cootings, ahora había largos períodos sin ningún cliente y, a veces, permitía que mi postura se hundiera de modo que Boy AF Rex tenía que tocarme el brazo para hacer que me enderezara de nuevo. Then one morning the grid went up and not only the Cootings Machine but its whole special section had vanished. Entonces, una mañana, la red se estropeó y no sólo la máquina de recubrimiento, sino toda su sección especial, desapareció. The Pollution too was gone, the gap of sky had returned and was a brilliant blue, and the Sun poured his nourishment into the store. La Contaminación también se había ido, la brecha del cielo había regresado y era de un azul brillante, y el Sol vertió su alimento en la tienda. The taxis were once more moving smoothly, their drivers happy. Los taxis volvían a moverse suavemente, sus conductores felices. Even the runners went by with smiles. Incluso los corredores pasaron con una sonrisa. All the time the Cootings Machine had been there, I'd worried that Josie might have been trying to come back to the store, and had been prevented by the Pollution. Durante todo el tiempo que la Máquina de Cooting estuvo allí, me preocupaba que Josie pudiera haber estado tratando de regresar a la tienda y que la Contaminación se lo hubiera impedido. But now it was over, and there was such a rise in spirits both inside and outside the store, I felt if there was any day for Josie to come back, it would have to be this one. Pero ahora que había terminado, y había tal aumento de ánimo tanto dentro como fuera de la tienda, sentí que si había algún día para que Josie regresara, tendría que ser este. By mid-afternoon, though, I came to realize how unreasonable an idea this was. Sin embargo, a media tarde me di cuenta de lo poco razonable que era esta idea. I stopped looking for Josie out in the street, and concentrated instead on learning more about the outside. Dejé de buscar a Josie en la calle y me concentré en aprender más sobre el exterior. —Two days after the Cootings Machine went away, the girl with the short spiky hair came into the store. —Dos días después de que la Máquina Cootings se fuera, la chica con el pelo corto y puntiagudo entró en la tienda. I estimated twelve and a half years old. Calculé doce años y medio. She was dressed that morning like a runner, in a bright green tank top, and her too-thin arms were showing all the way up to the shoulders. Estaba vestida esa mañana como una corredora, con una camiseta sin mangas de color verde brillante, y sus brazos demasiado delgados se mostraban hasta los hombros. She came in with her father, who was in a casual office suit, quite high-ranking, and neither said much at first as they browsed. Entró con su padre, que vestía un traje de oficina informal, de un rango bastante alto, y ninguno de los dos dijo mucho al principio mientras hojeaban. I could tell immediately the girl was interested in me, even though she only glanced my way quickly before returning front-store. Inmediatamente me di cuenta de que la chica estaba interesada en mí, aunque solo me miró rápidamente antes de regresar a la tienda. After a minute, though, she came back and pretended to be absorbed by the bracelets in the Glass Display Trolley just in front of where I was standing. Sin embargo, después de un minuto, volvió y fingió estar absorta en los brazaletes en el carrito de exhibición de vidrio justo en frente de donde yo estaba parado. Then, glancing around to check that neither her father nor Manager was watching, she put her weight experimentally against the trolley, making it move forward an inch or two on its castors. Luego, mirando a su alrededor para asegurarse de que ni su padre ni el Gerente estuvieran mirando, apoyó su peso experimentalmente contra el carrito, haciéndolo avanzar una pulgada o dos sobre sus ruedas. Затем, оглядевшись, чтобы убедиться, что ни отец, ни управляющий не смотрят, она в порядке эксперимента приложила свой вес к тележке, заставив ее продвинуться на дюйм или два вперед на колесиках. As she did this, she looked at me with a small smile, as if the moving of the trolley was a special secret between us. Mientras lo hacía, me miró con una pequeña sonrisa, como si el movimiento del carrito fuera un secreto especial entre nosotros. She pulled the trolley back to its original position, grinned at me again, and called out, ‘Daddy?'When the father didn't reply –he was absorbed by the two AFs sitting on the Glass Table at the back –the girl gave me a last look, then went over to join him. Volvió a colocar el carrito en su posición original, volvió a sonreírme y gritó: "¿Papá?" Cuando el padre no respondió, estaba absorto en los dos AF sentados en la mesa de cristal en la parte trasera, la niña dio Me miró por última vez y luego se acercó para unirse a él. They began a conversation in low whispers, continually glancing my way, so there could be no doubt they were discussing me. Comenzaron una conversación en susurros bajos, mirando continuamente en mi dirección, por lo que no cabía duda de que estaban hablando de mí. Manager, noticing, rose from her desk and came to stand near me, her hands clasped in front of her. La gerente, al darse cuenta, se levantó de su escritorio y vino a pararse cerca de mí, con las manos entrelazadas frente a ella. Eventually, after a lot more whispering, the girl came back, striding past Manager, till she was directly facing me. Eventualmente, después de muchos más susurros, la chica regresó, pasando junto al Gerente, hasta que estuvo directamente frente a mí. She touched each of my elbows in turn, then took my left hand within her right one, and held me like that, her eyes looking into my face. Tocó cada uno de mis codos, luego tomó mi mano izquierda con la derecha y me sostuvo así, sus ojos mirándome a la cara. Her expression was quite stern, but the hand holding mine squeezed gently, and I understood this was intended as another little secret between us. Su expresión era bastante severa, pero la mano que sostenía la mía apretó suavemente, y entendí que esto pretendía ser otro pequeño secreto entre nosotros. But I didn't smile at her. Pero no le sonreí. I kept my expression blank, throwing my gaze over the girl's spiky head to the Red Shelves on the wall opposite, and in particular, at the row of ceramic coffee cups displayed upside down along the third tier. Mantuve mi expresión en blanco, lanzando mi mirada por encima de la cabeza puntiaguda de la chica hacia los Estantes Rojos en la pared opuesta, y en particular, hacia la fila de tazas de café de cerámica que se muestran boca abajo a lo largo del tercer nivel. The girl squeezed my hand twice more, the second time less gently, but I didn't lower my gaze to her or smile. La chica me apretó la mano dos veces más, la segunda con menos delicadeza, pero no bajé la mirada ni sonreí. The father, meanwhile, had come nearer, treading softly so as not to disturb what might be a special moment. El padre, mientras tanto, se había acercado, pisando suavemente para no perturbar lo que podía ser un momento especial. Manager too had moved closer and was standing just behind the father. El gerente también se había acercado y estaba parado justo detrás del padre. I noted all this, but kept my eyes fixed on the Red Shelves and the ceramic coffee cups, and kept my hand, inside hers, slack so that had she let go, mine would have flopped down at my side. Tomé nota de todo esto, pero mantuve los ojos fijos en los estantes rojos y las tazas de café de cerámica, y mantuve mi mano, dentro de la de ella, tan floja que si ella me hubiera soltado, la mía se habría caído a mi lado. I became increasingly aware of Manager's gaze on me. Me volví cada vez más consciente de la mirada de Manager sobre mí. Then I heard her say: ‘Klara is excellent. Entonces la escuché decir: 'Klara es excelente. She's one of our finest. Ella es una de nuestras mejores. But the young lady might be interested to look at the new B3 models that just came in.'‘B3s?'The father sounded excited. Pero la joven podría estar interesada en ver los nuevos modelos B3 que acaban de llegar. —¿B3? —El padre sonaba emocionado. ‘You have those already?'‘We enjoy an exclusive relationship with our suppliers. ¿Ya los tienes? Disfrutamos de una relación exclusiva con nuestros proveedores. They're only just in, and not yet calibrated. Recién llegaron y aún no están calibrados. But I'd be happy to show them to you.'The spiky-haired girl squeezed my hand again. Pero me encantaría mostrártelas. La chica de pelo puntiagudo volvió a apretarme la mano. ‘But Daddy, I want this one. 'Pero papá, quiero este. She's just right.'‘But they have the new B3s in, honey. Tiene razón. ''Pero tienen los nuevos B3, cariño. Don't you want just to look at those? ¿No quieres simplemente mirarlos? No one you know has one.'There was a long wait, then the girl released my hand. Nadie que conozcas tiene uno. Hubo una larga espera, luego la chica me soltó la mano. Ни у кого из твоих знакомых его нет. Было долгое ожидание, затем девушка отпустила мою руку. I let my arm fall and continued to look at the Red Shelves. Dejé caer mi brazo y continué mirando los Estantes Rojos. ‘So what's the big deal about these new B3s anyway?'the girl said, moving off towards her father. 'Entonces, ¿cuál es el problema con estos nuevos B3 de todos modos?' dijo la niña, moviéndose hacia su padre. I hadn't been thinking about Rosa while the girl had been holding my hand, but I now became aware of her, standing to my left, watching me with amazement. No había estado pensando en Rosa mientras la niña me tomaba la mano, pero ahora me di cuenta de ella, de pie a mi izquierda, mirándome con asombro. I wanted to make her look away, but decided to keep gazing at the Red Shelves until the girl, her father and Manager were all safely rear-store. Quería hacer que mirara hacia otro lado, pero decidí seguir mirando los estantes rojos hasta que la niña, su padre y el gerente estuvieran a salvo en la parte trasera de la tienda. I could hear the father laughing at something Manager had said, then when I finally glanced their way, Manager was opening the Staff Only Door at the very rear of the store. Podía escuchar al padre riéndose de algo que el Gerente había dicho, luego, cuando finalmente miré en su dirección, el Gerente estaba abriendo la Puerta Solo para el Personal en la parte trasera de la tienda. ‘You'll have to excuse me,'she was saying. -Tendrás que disculparme -estaba diciendo-. ‘It's a little untidy in here.'And the father said, ‘We're privileged to be allowed back here. 'Está un poco desordenado aquí'. Y el padre dijo: 'Tenemos el privilegio de que nos permitan volver aquí. Right, honey?'They went in, the door closed behind them, and I couldn't hear their words any more, though at one point I heard the spiky-haired girl's laugh. ¿Verdad, cariño? Entraron, la puerta se cerró detrás de ellos y ya no pude escuchar sus palabras, aunque en un momento escuché la risa de la chica de pelo puntiagudo. The rest of the morning remained busy. El resto de la mañana permaneció ocupado. Even while Manager was completing the delivery forms with the father for their new B3, more customers came in. Incluso mientras Manager completaba los formularios de entrega con el padre para su nuevo B3, llegaron más clientes. Пока менеджер вместе с отцом заполнял бланки на доставку их нового B3, пришло больше клиентов. So it wasn't until the afternoon, when there was finally a lull, that Manager came over to me. Así que no fue sino hasta la tarde, cuando finalmente hubo un momento de calma, que el Gerente se acercó a mí. ‘I was surprised at you this morning, Klara,'she said. —Me sorprendiste esta mañana, Klara —dijo—. ‘You of all people.'‘I'm sorry, Manager.'‘What came over you? 'Usted de todas las personas.'Lo siento, Gerente.'¿Qué te pasó? — Вы из всех людей. — Извините, управляющий. — Что на вас нашло? It was so unlike you.'‘I'm very sorry, Manager. Era tan diferente a usted. ''Lo siento mucho, Gerente. I didn't mean to cause embarrassment. No quise causar vergüenza. I just thought, for that particular child, I perhaps wouldn't be the best choice.'Manager went on looking at me. Solo pensé que, para ese niño en particular, quizás yo no sería la mejor opción. El gerente siguió mirándome. ‘Perhaps you were correct,'she said in the end. 'Quizás tenías razón', dijo al final. ‘I believe that girl will be happy with the B3 boy. 'Creo que esa chica estará feliz con el chico B3. Even so, Klara, I was very surprised.'‘I'm very sorry, Manager.'‘I supported you this time. Aun así, Klara, me sorprendió mucho. "Lo siento mucho, gerente". Esta vez te apoyé. But I won't do it again. Pero no lo volveré a hacer. It's for the customer to choose the AF, never the other way round.'‘I understand, Manager.'Then I said quietly: ‘Thank you, Manager, for what you did today.'‘That's all right, Klara. Es el cliente quien elige el AF, nunca al revés. 'Entiendo, Gerente'. Luego dije en voz baja: 'Gracias, Gerente, por lo que hizo hoy'. 'Está bien, Klara. But remember. Pero recuerda. I shan't do it again.'She began to move away, but then turned and came back. No lo volveré a hacer. Empezó a alejarse, pero luego se dio la vuelta y volvió. ‘It can't be, can it, Klara? No puede ser, ¿verdad, Klara? That you believe you've made an arrangement?'I thought Manager was about to reprimand me, the way she'd reprimanded two boy AFs once for laughing at Beggar Man from the window. ¿Que crees que has hecho un arreglo? Pensé que Manager estaba a punto de regañarme, de la misma manera que había reprendido a dos chicos AF por reírse del Mendigo desde la ventana. But Manager placed a hand on my shoulder and said, in a quieter voice than before: ‘Let me tell you something, Klara. Pero Manager me puso una mano en el hombro y dijo, en voz más baja que antes: 'Déjame decirte algo, Klara. Children make promises all the time. Los niños hacen promesas todo el tiempo. They come to the window, they promise all kinds of things. Vienen a la ventana, prometen todo tipo de cosas. They promise to come back, they ask you not to let anyone else take you away. Te prometen volver, te piden que no dejes que nadie más te lleve. It happens all the time. Pasa todo el tiempo. But more often than not, the child never comes back. Pero la mayoría de las veces, el niño nunca regresa. Or worse, the child comes back and ignores the poor AF who's waited, and instead chooses another. O peor aún, el niño regresa e ignora al pobre AF que ha esperado, y en su lugar elige a otro. It's just the way children are. Así son los niños. You've been watching and learning so much, Klara. Has estado observando y aprendiendo mucho, Klara. Well, here's another lesson for you. Bueno, aquí hay otra lección para ti. Do you understand?'‘Yes, Manager.'‘Good. So let's have no more of this.'She touched my arm, then turned away. Así que no sigamos con esto. Me tocó el brazo y luego se dio la vuelta.

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