Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid
Shhh* by Moon In-soo
I have been to his father’s funeral.
He told me a story: he, who had passed his sixtieth year, held his father, beyond 90 and helped him urinate. Even though life’s important controls had left the old body, his mind was still like a lantern. Afraid that the old man might feel hopeless, he helped him, half joking and half playing the baby, saying “Father, shhh, shhh, all right, all, right, you must feel good.”
When he held his father, it was as if he entered deep into the whole body. When he held his father like that as though giving back to the body, how much might the old man have tried to shrink himself to make himself smaller and lighter? His urine thread cut off frequently, but such a long thread that the son again and again tried to tie it down to the earth pitifully, but the father with difficulty might sever it now. Shhh,
Shhh! The universe must be quiet.
*In Korean, this word refers to not only a way to make someone hush, but also is used as an onomatopoeia to help children urinate.
그의 상가엘 다녀왔습니다.
환갑을 지난 그가 아흔이 넘은 그의 아버지를 안고 오줌을 뉜 이야기를 들었습니다. 생의 여러 요긴한 동작들이 노구를 떠났으므로, 하지만 정신은 아직 초롱 같았으므로 노인께서 참 난감해 하실까봐 “아버지, 쉬, 쉬이, 어이쿠, 어이쿠, 시원허시것다아”농하듯 어리광부리듯 그렇게 오줌을 뉘였다고 합니다.
온 몸, 온 몸으로 사무쳐 들어가듯 아, 몸 갚아드리듯 그렇게 그가 아버지를 안고 있을 때 노인은 또 얼마나 더 작게, 더 가볍게 몸 움츠리려 애썼을까요. 툭, 툭, 끊기는 오줌발, 그러나 그 길고 긴 뜨신 끈, 아들은 자꾸 안타까이 땅에 붙들어 매려 했을 것이고 아버지는 이제 힘겹게 마저 풀고 있었겠지요. 쉬,
쉬! 우주가 참 조용하였겠습니다.
Moon In-soo (1945-) was born in Sungju, Gyeongsangbuk-do. He studied Korean literature at Dongkuk University in Seoul. He made his debut when he was forty two years old. He published such poetry collections as All the Roads In the World Lead To Home (1992), The Horn (1992), The Nesting Mountain (1999), Shhh! (2006), Umbilical Cord (2008) andThe Sound of Silence (2012). His prestigious literary awards include the Kim Dal-jin Literary Award (2000), the No Jak Literary Award (2003), and the Meedang Literary Award (2007).