“Sir, the Republican Democrat of the Congo urges you not to malversate against the gross incompetence of such as the Russian government calls ‘officials’ of the state of incompetence.”
The translator looked down at his dictionary. Page 311 was dog-eared and heavily bruised, hanging on by a few determined fibers. Water and coffee stains sullied the entire thing, carrying over into the Ls and the Ms.
Dead silence held the weight of the room. In the grandiose, cathedral-high negotiation rooms of the United Nations, conversations of such import underwent revision after revision. Israel would yell at the United States; the United States would respond with a sip of stale, day-old Starbuck’s coffee. Incidentally, there were two Starbucks in the lobby.
“What do you have to say for yourselves?!” came the dry, unfeeling voice of the translator, two words behind the Israeli representative. An odd baritone quality soaked into the natural high-pitched voice of the short politician. He was balding, portly, and carried a graying moustache that fluffed at the edge of his lips. Such a man—at a paltry 5’3”—should not reverberate like a massive black man. The disconnect was frightening, if also slightly amusing.
While the calm translator tucked behind a glass wall sped through his Hebrew with uncanny ease, his African counter-parts struggled. It was so bad, in fact, that many of the delegates would ignore the African comments entirely. Many of the sub-Saharan officials noted this bland indifference to anything emanating from their continent, and responded only louder. Which would then prompt the translator to shout out his translations. The mistakes, however, only compounded with the volume.
“I have NO compunctuation drilling oil in YOUR country!!” shouted the Republican Democrat who liberally stated his fiscal conservatism from the farthest seat in the half-circle of delegates. For some reason, all African officials were given seats on the periphery of the conversation. True, it began with a divisive discussion of Israeli rights in the Gaza Strip, but quickly snowballed into global concerns like imperialistic interventions and the lack of soda machines in the lobby.
The American delegate set down his coffee for a brief moment. He ruffled through his papers as though the next great addition to the debate would come from a somehow-missed bullet point in the previous day’s memos. Finally, he pushed them all aside and stood to face the Israeli delegate. Incidentally, the President of the Congo sat next to him.
“Mr. Delegate,” began his suave argumentation, “I believe you have over-stepped your bounds by using a religious motive to implement Israeli policy in the Gaza Strip. That much is clear. And there is no one here who can condone your actions by acknowledging your religion to be the Truth.” He coughed, reaching down to take another sip of his caramel frappacino, no foam, four shots.
Unfortunately, the African translators, desperate to empower their delegates to join the conversation, rifled through their textbooks and dictionaries, frantically searching for words. Many of them pulled out pages in the process, tossing them behind their glass cells and cursing in at least 15 African dialects. One of them knocked over his cappuccino and soaked 300 pages of Larousse’s 10th Edition dictionary. He slumped in his seat, defeated, tossing the entire book with all of its torn pages behind him.
At the tail end of the American’s long-winded sip, several of the African translators had begun to spout translations at their eager delegates. One of them even managed to finish the translation before the American continued his tirade.
As America lifted his hand, ready to gesticulate in tandem with a world of points in favor of the West and against the Middle East, he was hushed by a large black man in the recesses of the room. It was the delegate from Zaire, quickly rushing in to debase any argument coming from the American side of the panel. He sputtered something in a chopped and discombobulated language, throwing his briefcase down next to the President of the Congo, and waiting with pulsing veins for his translator to throw the harsh words in the direction of Starbuck’s-drinking America.
The translator frantically began, all the while coursing through book after tattered book.
“I will not begin to understand the reasons why American has decided to imperialize the death that comes like your wicked coffee to the annals of the world! It is dirigible to think all of West America’s interest is to be the one we turn in to when we need adviseable advice!”
The room went silent again. America’s delegate went silent, unsure of how to proceed. Israel’s delegate uttered something quietly in Hebrew which the skilled translator immediately returned: “Africa knows what it is like to be conquered. America does not.”
The President of the Congo didn’t even wait for a translation. He merely nodded, firmly tapping his hand on the table in front of him.
The American stood at the two with awe. One, the short and portly Middle Eastern, balding since puberty most likely, grinning with a ridiculous pride-ridden smile. Towering next to him, the giant of a man, President Oumbara of the Congo. There was no hair on him; everything was a deep ebony black. His shoulders jutted out perfectly horizontally, falling in long strides to account for thick, fibrous arms. And then, toying with the straps on his briefcase and shaking his knee in nervous anxiety, the delegate of Zaire stared unceasingly at the Westerner. His eyes were an intense, unmistakable brown. He was gaunt, but his angular features told the story of many wars, many losses, and too little peace.
The American looked down at the floor, finding his pocket with his right hand. He laughed to himself, nervously. He didn’t know how to contend with these three. What could he say? What could he possibly say?
“Let’s take a break,” he said as his face lifted again. “I need some more coffee.” And without waiting for a consensus, he wandered out through the doors to find an eagerly awaiting barista.