Pierre J. Mejlak est né à Malte en 1982 et a commencé à écrire dans sa jeunesse. Son travail littéraire comprend des livres pour enfants, des adaptations, un roman pour adolescents et deux recueils de nouvelles, lesquels ont remporté de nombreux prix. Parmi ceux-ci figurent le National Book Award, remporté cinq fois, le Commonwealth Essay Writing Award et le Sea of Words European Short Story Award.
Son premier recueil de nouvelles pour adultes, Qed Nistenniek Niezla max-Xita (litt. : « J’attends que tu tombes avec la pluie ») a été publié en février 2009 et a reçu les éloges du public et des critiques. Dak li l-Lejl Iħallik Tgħid, son second recueil de nouvelles, considéré par la plupart des critiques comme étant encore meilleur que le premier, a été publié en juin 2011. C’est l’une des nouvelles qui se trouve dans cette dernière publication, "Nixtieq Ngħajjat lil Samirah" ('Je crierais à Samirah'), qui a remporté le Sea of Words European Short Story Award.
Un certain nombre de ses nouvelles ont été traduites en anglais, en français, en catalan, en portugais, en serbe, en arabe, en espagnol, en indonésien et en italien. Elles ont également été lues à de nombreux festivals littéraires en Europe et au Moyen-Orient. Quant à son roman pour adolescents Rih Isfel (« Détendez-vous »), après avoir été primé, il a été adapté en une série télévisée de 13 épisodes pour la chaîne maltaise NET et a été diffusé en prime-time.
Translated by Antoine Cassar
I Went to See Her, Pa
I bent down, cupping my hand over my eyes, as if shielding them from the sun, and I whispered to him, “I went to see her, Pa. I went to see her.”
The last time I visited him, he didn’t look so good. My younger sister had just left and, as usual, she had kept harping on about how he seemed to be getting worse. I felt I should keep things light and so I asked him about the women who had marked his life. That’s how we ended up talking about the Spanish woman.
He used to enjoy talking about the women he had known. In those moments he would seem to forget his pain, his eyes would sparkle and suddenly focus. Because, since he had gotten ill and been taken to the hospital, the women he had loved during his life had become for him a photo album, which he never tired of thumbing through. And beneath every photo there were another 50 hidden. There wasn’t one single detail that had escaped his memory. Sometimes I used to think he was making it all up, but when a month or two later, he would repeat it all with the exact same details, the same conviction, the same look and smile, my doubts would disappear. “Thank God I have them,” he would tell me when we were alone. “Tell me how else would I get through these interminable nights?” and then he would usually go on reflectively, “Sometimes I wonder, what do they think about, those other old men like me – alone – if they’ve never known the thrill of loving another woman?” And when he’d be strong enough to argue, I would tell him that maybe they would think about the countries they had visited, old friends they had had, adventures they had lived through, stories they had heard, the work they had done, dogs they had raised, days they had spent swimming in the sun, beautiful moments they had shared. And he would stop me with a wave of his hand, typical of people his age, “No, no, my son. It’s not the same. Oh, the number of jobs I had in my life! What do I remember about them all? Nothing. And the number of countries I visited and the walks I took….”
“How she’d love to see you,” he told me when we got back to the Spanish woman. “Listen, will you promise me to go and visit her before I die?” And he went on without giving me time to reply, “Go tell her everything and bring me news of her.” He was adamant about my going, and when he saw I was seriously toying with the idea, he pleaded earnestly with me to go.
“Go talk to her, my son, before I die.”