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Words Without Borders "stands as a monument to international collaboration and a shared belief in artistic possibility." — 2018 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize Citation
from the August 2019 issue

2026: In the Beginning

Laith y Nefoedd

Llwyd Owen imagines a Wales where the Welsh language itself is a crime in this excerpt from his novella Iaith y Nefoedd (The Language of Heaven)

He opened his eyes. 

He checked his phone.

“Shit!” Half past one in the afternoon. Not that he’d missed an important appointment or anything. Just half a day. Another one. Same as yesterday. And the day before. And the one before that too. Not that he can remember properly. Manon’s fault, for sure. And the booze. Not to mention the drugs, of course. A shitload of pills, fuck all thrills. He stared at the piss-yellow ceiling and tried to find the necessary energy to drag his body from the bed. He rolled his tongue around his mouth. It felt like sandpaper. Or a sun-dried slug. His teeth were covered in a layer of plaque so thick that he could almost feel the bacteria attacking his gums. He made a mental note to buy a toothbrush. If he could afford one, of course. He turned to face the curtain-covered window. The daylight was doing its best to penetrate the cheap material, but thanks to the lovely view of a narrow back alley and the wall of the neighboring building, the effort was all too much, even for the sun. 

He got out of bed a little too quickly, his lower back on fire, making his whole body convulse. He ground his teeth. He breathed deeply and surfed the soreness; his eyes closed tightly to stop the room from spinning. The pain abated. For a split-second, he considered doing some stretches, but what was the point. He looked down, glad to see that he was still wearing yesterday’s clothes. Especially the socks on his feet. These days, putting on socks was one of life’s main challenges. That and making enough money to pay for the essentials. A new toothbrush, for example. And food. Not to mention his medicine of choice: whiskey and slimming pills.

After emptying his bladder, he came face-to-face with his own features. In the mirror, he looked much older that his forty-one years. Manon’s fault, for sure. And the booze. Not to mention the drugs, of course. Under a nest of unkempt curls, his eyes stared out at him from their caves. A lack of nutrition had caused them to start sinking into his skull. A common feature in the world of today, a decade after the vote. A world full of mayhem, where almost all hope had been lost, leading to almost daily disturbances and arson attacks across the city. A world where little old Wales had been isolated from the rest of Europe and anchored to England’s asshole, like a malignant tumor, beyond all redemption.

In the windowless kitchen, he reused yesterday’s tea bag to make a cuppa. Weak as piss. No milk or sugar. He used to take two sugars in his tea. Before the vote. Before the unnecessary and voluntary segregation. Before all of the predictions and warnings came to pass. Food rationing was now commonplace, while the goods for sale were so expensive that people like him could not afford them. Food banks are one of the country’s main industries now; having replaced actual banks, who fled the island like rats from a sinking ship. In line with their forewarnings. 

He made his way to the lounge, crouching to pick up a letter from the floor near the flat’s front door. His right knee crunched, but his lower back thanked him. Gingerly, he sat in his favorite chair. The only chair. He picked up the remote, turned the telly on and, as he rolled the first fag of the day, bad news spewed from the screen. He watched the disturbing images of armies assembling on the other side of the globe.

America threatening China.

America threatening North Korea. 

And Russia watching everything from the shadows with a sly smile on its lips.

He heard familiar words. Words that used to terrify him. But words that were so common these days that they’d lost all of their meaning and edge. The threat of nuclear war was very real, no doubt, but, considering all the desolation and despair outside his front door, it was very easy to ignore what was going on in the South China Sea. With the perpetual poverty and day-to-day violence, the incessant racism and xenophobia, part of him thought “bring it on” every time he heard another report about the inevitable apocalypse. 

Ten years after the vote, everything had changed in the world of T. Lloyd Lewis and the country’s Welsh-speaking population in general. Where once there was honor and dignity, today they were forced to hide their true identity. Thanks to the power of the hatred that came to light as a result of the vote, the Welsh-speakers of Wales had now been marginalized, ostracized, and pushed to the edges of society, to such an extent that any semblance of a “Welsh-speaking community” had disappeared. This was particularly true in the city, although things were a little better in rural Wales. Apparently. You heard rumors of people meeting clandestinely to keep the language alive. To keep the fire burning. To pray, to sing, or just to have a chat. But the only sign of life that bubbled to the surface from time to time in the capital was the defiant pro-Welsh graffiti that would appear overnight. Of course, these words would soon be replaced by hateful, anti-Welsh messages, but at least some hope remained. According to urban legends, there were gangs on the loose that hunted the natives, burning any Welsh-language tattoos that they found before turning the unfortunate individuals over to the secret police. T was terrified that someone would clock the words to one of his favorite songs, which were inked on his left shoulder, before reaching for the blowtorch.

You don’t need a girl to break your heart,
When you live in Wales.

He grabbed the remote and turned the telly off in the middle of a report about the appearance of Comet Read in the sky. T could remember watching a few firmamental phenomena during his life. Comet Hale-Bopp in ninety-seven, in the company of his classmates. The solar eclipse of ninety-nine, when the whole country lost its collective mind for a few days and spent millions on special specs to watch the event. As he sparked his cigarette, he heard a loud bang on the door, which made him choke on the smoke, but he stopped himself from coughing up a lung because he knew exactly who was there. 

“Mr. Lewis, I know you’re in there!” bellowed Mr. Smith, his landlord. “Mr. Lewis, this is getting out of hand.”

T owed him two months’ rent. Money he didn’t have.

He smoked his roll and waited for him to fuck off. 

“I can smell you, Mr. Lewis.”

That made him smile. Thanks to the government’s austerity measures and cuts to the national budget, the whole country stank, especially urban areas such as this one. The streets were awash with litter, while the fires that burned every day polluted the air and the environment. 

At last, the knocking and the shouting stopped. T rolled another fag and turned his attention to the letter on the coffee table. His nicotine-stained fingers looked like radioactive chipolatas against the envelope’s whiteness. He noted his publisher’s stamp in the upper right hand corner. This gave him a lift and filled him with hope. Momentarily, at least. He took a deep breath before proceeding, and prayed to a God he didn’t believe in for some good news.

However, he was soon overcome with disappointment.

Disappointment and shock. 

He was disappointed by the total amount and shocked by the number of books he had sold during the past six months, since the release of his latest tome. The royalty statement noted that his novel, A Better World, had sold a measly fifty-two copies and, as a result, Gwalia Publishing had deposited £62.32 in his bank account. 

Better than nothing. 

Just. 

But nowhere near enough to pay the rent. 

His four previous novels were also listed on the statement, although none of them had sold a single copy. T knew that people had to prioritize, but he was still a little disappointed, especially when he considered the effort that went into writing them. But the simple truth is, when there’s no food on the table, no one’s really thinking a great deal about literature. 

He remembered the excitement he felt when his first novel was published. Manon was with him all the way. Good days, full of creativity and love. Before the vote. Before the threats. Before the country imploded. Before Manon left him for another man. She was so proud of him as she watched from the front row at the launch party, smiling with delight, her eyes overflowing with admiration. But the respect she had for him soon wilted, as the novel failed to find an audience. And although the publishing company supported T through it all, Manon wasn’t so faithful. 

There was a handwritten note attached to the statement, the words written in Welsh. 

T, call in when you get the chance.
We need to have a little chat. 
Regards, J

“J” for Joe. 

Joe Hayes. 

The founder and head of the publishing company. An old man nearing eighty. A man with a vision. A man who believed in T and gave him a chance. A man who probably regretted that decision.

“J” for Jesus fuckin’ Christ! 

A little chat. T can easily imagine the way it’ll go. The end of his career. But, with the end of the world around the corner, was there any point worrying about it?

He choked the stump in the overflowing ashtray. 

He blew smoke toward the ceiling. 

He coughed like an old man suffering from bronchitis. 

He searched in the usual places for some powder and swore when he couldn’t find any. He pulled on his anorak, grabbed his rusty bike and left the flat, keeping his eyes peeled for his landlord. He heard shouting in the flat next door. A man and a woman really going at it—the pressures of life on the margins reaching boiling point. This reminded him of Manon’s last few weeks in the flat. Days of silence, punctured by unexpected emotional explosions followed by tears. 

He still missed her. 

He descended the stairs of the old Victorian house, which had been divided into four flats, opened the front door, and stepped outside. The drizzling rain made him stop on the stoop, where he considered going back inside. After all, he didn’t have to go and see Joe today. The note was pretty vague. He could return to his flat and . . . and . . . what exactly? Watch telly? Go back to bed? Hang himself? Fuck that! Right then, the sun tore through the clouds to tickle T’s milk-white skin. He smiled as a rainbow appeared over the roofs of the terraced houses opposite. He hadn’t seen anything as beautiful in a long time. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time he saw a rainbow. He almost cried, but in the end the spectacle lifted his spirits and spurred him on.

T lived in the middle of the city. 

By the river. 

By the stadium.

A nice place. At one time in the not-too-distant past. But now, the city was like a dystopian scene from one of T’s novels, not a nation’s capital. Or a region, as was now the case. Cycling around town these days was a little like playing a game of real-life Mario Kart. You had to avoid all types of obstacles—human, natural, and man-made. In fact, it was almost impossible to go anywhere without getting a puncture. Litter covered the ground, and nobody came to clear it away. Glass. Cans. Paper. Plastics of all shapes and sizes. Everything being pushed around by the wind, piling up in corners and collecting down alleys. T could remember the political and social campaigns to create “plastic-free communities,” and the endless stories of plastic islands floating in the oceans, laying waste to aquatic life, stealthily and relentlessly. 

The vote buried all hope of reversing the situation. 

In fact, the vote buried all hope. 

He crossed the bridge and looked down at the brown water flowing slowly toward the barrage. He could remember swimming in the river when he was younger, some four miles upstream from here, by Radyr Weir—the water full of fish, herons and kingfishers hunting them in the reeds. But the birds won’t go near the water these days. The gulls had moved permanently to the built-up areas, slaying every pigeon that stood in their way. T didn’t have a clue what happened to the ducks, swans, and cormorants. All he knew is that they’d disappeared. 

There are people everywhere, and no cars on the roads, thanks to the fuel shortage—another knock-on effect of the vote. The shortage was going on four years now, with no end in sight. The only vehicles you saw today were owned by the rich and powerful, the police or the armed forces, when things got out of hand. The situation had no major impact on T’s existence, mainly because he’d never owned a car, although the fuel shortage had led to many riots, disturbances, and deaths, not to mention the damaging, and in some cases fatal, impact on businesses and the economy in general. 

As T approached the castle, the former home of a pride of concrete animals peeping over a wall, which had been demolished and destroyed in the not-too-distant past, he saw a pack of wild dogs watching him from the shadows of the ancient trees. 

Seven pairs of eyes, staring in his direction. 

Seven tongues licking their lips. 

Seven hungry bellies.

He got the hell out of there, as fast as his legs would take him. 

The castle walls were covered in graffiti. The local authorities completely incapable of stopping the practice or even cleaning the ink off the elevations. One piece of art in particular caught T’s eye. 

ONE LAND.
ONE LANGUAGE.

He turned the corner and aimed for the civic center, which had long lost its sheen and grandeur, thanks mainly to the graffiti that covered the walls, but also because of the tent city that had established itself on the lawn in front of the city hall and national museum, where T could remember watching Chumbawamba perform live a lifetime ago. The smell that rose from the tent city was bad enough to make T retch, so he put his head down and kept going. 

Joe lived about six miles away, on the slopes of the mountain that rose like a turtle’s shell beyond the motorway, to the north of the city center. But before reaching his destination, T had to cycle through the area where the city’s student population used to live, before the vote changed everything. All of the flats were empty now. Well, they didn’t house students anymore, although every room was occupied. To the rafters, too. The tent dwellers would kill for the opportunity to move into one of these blocks. The Beverly Hills of the city’s homeless population.

T struggled on to the suburbs. He cycled through the area where he grew up, although he barely recognized the place. The green lawns and the glistening cars had long gone. And in their place: tall fences and barbed wire, security cameras and signs warning potential home invaders of the electric nature of the fences. He saw bars over windows and mean-looking dogs guarding most properties. He was glad that his parents had died before the world turned to shit.

He passed the home of one of his childhood friends and remembered playing footy in the street. He recalled a sense of community. He remembered being happy. 

“No cycling!” He heard a voice from behind a bush, and then saw a man in his sixties running toward him waving a spade above his head. “Can’t you read?” 

T pedaled away from the loon, his heart beating fast and his eyes looking around for a No Cycling sign. He couldn’t see one anywhere. Madness. Another common side effect.

He crossed the bridge over the motorway. A graveyard to a bygone era. Abandoned vehicles as far as the eye could see. To the horizon and beyond. Left to rust when the fuel ran dry. He watched a human form move between the vehicles and then noticed faces staring out from behind the dusty windscreens. The homeless had moved in here too. Either that or a zombie apocalypse was about to start. 

T could see smoke rising from a chimney in the trees. This was his destination. His salvation. Less than half a mile away. He tried pedaling up the hill, but gave up and pushed, keeping one eye over his shoulder at all times. Soon, he was out in the countryside, where nature was busy reclaiming the land—trees, hedgerows and grass growing wildly all around.

He was soaked in sweat by the time he reached the estate’s entrance, and he stopped for a rest before pressing the button. His breathing slowed as the thunder rose. A low rumble, drawing nearer. He grabbed his bike and hid behind an ancient oak, where he watched from the undergrowth as an armored truck drove in his direction, with one man behind the wheel and another beside him holding an M16, the rifle’s muzzle pointing out of the open window, ready to fire, ready to kill.
 

"2026: In the Beginning" © Llwyd Owen. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by George Jones. All rights reserved.

Laith y Nefoedd

Agorodd ei lygaid.

Estynnodd ei ffôn.

“Shit!” Hanner awr wedi un yn y prynhawn. Dim ei fod wedi methu apwyntiad pwysig na bore o waith. Jyst hanner diwrnod. Arall. R’un peth a ddoe. Ac echddoe a dweud y gwir. A’r diwrnod cyn hynny, mae’n siŵr. Dim ei fod yn gallu cofio’n iawn. Beiai Manon am hynny. A’r booze. Heb anghofio’r cyffuriau, wrth gwrs. Lot o bils, dim lot o thrills. Syllodd ar y nenfwd hufenfrown gan geisio canfod yr egni i lusgo’i gorff o’i gwâl. Symudodd ei dafod o amgylch ei geg. Teimlai fel papur tywod. Neu falwoden sych. Roedd ei ddannedd wedi’u gorchuddio gan haenen o blac; mor drwchus nes y gallai bron deimlo’r bacteria’n ymosod ar ei ddeintgig. Gwnaeth nodyn meddyliol i brynu brws dannedd yn y dyfodol agos. Os allai fforddio un, hynny yw. Trodd ei lygaid at y llenni. Ceisiodd golau’r dydd ei orau glas i dreiddio trwyddyn nhw, ond diolch i’r olygfa hyfryd o ali gefn gul a wal yr adeilad drws nesaf, roedd yr ymdrech yn ormod, hyd yn oed i’r haul.

Cododd o’r gwely braidd yn rhy gyflym. Gwingodd gwaelod ei gefn, gan wneud i’w ddannedd grensian. Anadlodd yn ddwfn a syrffio’r tonnau o boen, tan i’r ceffylau gwynion roi’r gorau i garlamu. Ystyriodd ymestyn ei gorff a’i gyhyrau am eiliad, ond beth oedd y pwynt. Roedd yn falch o weld ei fod yn gwisgo’r un dillad a’r diwrnod cynt. Yn enwedig y sanau am ei draed. Gwisgo sanau oedd un o heriau mwyaf ei fywyd bellach. Hynny, a gwneud digon o arian i dalu am yr hanfodion. Brws dannedd, er enghraifft. A bwyd. Heb anghofio’i foddion dewisol: gwirod ac amffetaminau.

Aeth i’r toiled ac, ar ôl pisio, daeth wyneb yn wyneb â’i nodweddion ei hun. Yn y drych, edrychai yn llawer hŷn na’i bedwar deg un. Beiai Manon am hynny. A’r booze. Heb anghofio’r cyffuriau, wrth gwrs. Rhwng y nyth o wallt gwyllt ar ei ben a’r blewiach anniben ar ei ên, syllai ei lygaid arno o ogofau dwfn ei benglog. Diffyg maeth oedd wrth wraidd y suddo. Nodwedd gyffredin iawn yn y byd sydd ohoni, ddegawd ar ôl y bleidlais. Byd llawn anobaith ac anhrefn, a arweiniai at derfysg a thanau dyddiol yn y ddinas. Byd lle roedd Cymru fach wedi’i hynysu rhag gweddill Ewrop, a’i hangori at dwll tin Lloegr, fel tiwmor malaen tu hwnt i unrhyw achubiaeth.

Yn y gegin ddiffenest, ailddefnyddiodd fag te o’r diwrnod cynt i wneud paned. Un wan, heb laeth na siwgr. Roedd e’n arfer cymryd dwy lwyed o siwgr yn ei ddisgled. Cyn y bleidlais. Cyn yr arwahanu diangen, gwirfoddol. Cyn i’r proffwydo a’r rhybuddio ddod yn wir. Roedd dogni bwyd yn gyffredin bellach, a’r nwyddau ar werth mor ddrud nad oedd pobl fel fe yn gallu eu fforddio. Banciau bwyd oedd un o brif ddiwydiannau’r wlad nawr; wedi disodli’r banciau arian, a wrthgiliodd o’r ynys fel llygod ffyrnig o gwch yn boddi. Yn unol â’u rhybuddion.

Anelodd am y lolfa, gan godi llythyr oddi ar y llawr ger ddrws ffrynt y fflat; cyhyrau gwaelod ei gefn bron a rhwygo wrth wneud. Eisteddodd yn ei hoff gadair. Yr unig gadair. Cododd y remôt a thanio’r teledu ac, wrth iddo fynd ati i rolio mwgyn cynta’r diwrnod, chwydodd y newyddion drwg o’r sgrin, fel gwastraff gwenwynig. Gwyliodd ddelweddau brawychus o fyddinoedd yn ymgynnull ar ben draw’r byd.

America’n bygwth Tseina.

America’n bygwth Gogledd Corea.

America’n bygwth Iran.     

A Rwsia’n gwylio’r cyfan o’r cysgodion, gyda gwên fach slei ar ei hwyneb.

Clywodd eiriau cyfarwydd. Geiriau oedd yn arfer codi ofn arno, ond oedd mor gyffredin heddiw, roeddent wedi colli eu hawch a’u hystyr. Roedd y bygythiad o ryfel niwclear yn real iawn, heb os. Ond, o ystyried yr holl drafferthion ar stepen ei ddrws, gallai anwybyddu’r hyn oedd yn digwydd yng ngogledd y Cefnfor Tawel yn ddigon hawdd. Gyda’r tlodi a’r trais tragwyddol, yr hiliaeth a’r estrongasedd beunyddiol, roedd rhan ohono’n meddwl “bring it on” bob tro y clywai adroddiad arall am yr Armagedon anochel. 

Ddeng mlynedd ar ôl y bleidlais, roedd popeth wedi newid ym myd T. Lloyd Lewis, a siaradwyr Cymraeg y wlad yn gyffredinol. Lle bu balchder ac urddas gynt; rhaid oedd cuddio’u hunaniaeth heddiw. Diolch i rym y casineb a amlygodd ei hun o ganlyniad i’r bleidlais, cafodd y Cymry Cymraeg eu gwthio a’u herlid i’r ymylon dros y ddegawd ddiwethaf, i’r fath raddau fel nad oedd cymdeithas Gymreig yn bodoli mwyach. Ddim yn y ddinas, ta beth. Roedd pethau ychydig yn well yng nghefn gwlad, yn ôl y sôn, ond nid oedd modd cadarnhau hynny chwaith. Byddech yn clywed sïon am bobl yn cwrdd yn danddaearol i gynnal y fflam ac i ymgynnull er mwyn gweddïo, canu neu jyst i sgwrsio, ond yr unig arwydd ar yr arwyneb o fodolaeth pobl o’r fath, oedd y graffiti Cymreig diffuant a fyddai’n ymddangos dros nos o bryd i’w gilydd. Wrth gwrs, byddai’r geiriau’n cael eu disodli’n ddigon cyflym gan negeseuon gwrth-Gymreig, ond o leiaf roedd yna rhyw obaith yn dal i fodoli. Ar ben hynny, roedd chwedlau dinesig am gangiau yn llosgi tatŵs iaith y nefoedd oddi ar groen brodorion fyddai’n ddigon anlwcus i gael eu dal. A gobeithiai T yn arw na fyddai neb yn gweld y geiriau i’w hoff gân, oedd wedi’u hysgythru mewn inc dros ei ysgwydd chwith, ac estyn am y lamp losgi.

Does dim angen merch
I dorri dy galon di,
Pan ti’n byw yng Nghymru.

Roedd y geiriau’n fwy gwir heddiw na phan gafon nhw eu ’sgrifennu, doedd dim amheuaeth am hynny. Gafaelodd yn y remôt a rhoddodd bwt i’r ynfytyn-flwch yng nghanol adroddiad am ymddangosiad Comed Read yn yr awyr. Gallai gofio gwylio ambell ffenomen ffurfafennol yn ystod ei fywyd. Comed Hale-Bopp yn nawdeg saith, yng nghwmni ei ddosbarth ysgol. Eclips solar nawdeg naw, pan aeth y wlad yn wallgof am gwpwl o ddyddiau, gan wario miliynau o bunnoedd ar sbectolau arbennig i wylio’r digwyddiad. Taniodd ei sigarét. Daeth cnoc gadarn ar y drws gan wneud iddo dagu ar fwg, ond stopiodd ei hun rhag pesychu, gan ei fod yn gwybod yn iawn pwy oedd yna.

“Mr Lewis, I know you’re in there!” Ei landlord. Mr Smith. “Mr Lewis, this is getting out of hand.”

Roedd arno ddeufis o rent iddo. Arian nad oedd ganddo.

Smociodd.

“I can smell you, Mr Lewis.” 

Gwnaeth hynny iddo wenu. Diolch i fesurau llymder y llywodraeth a’r toriadau i gyllid gwladol, roedd y wlad i gyd yn drewi, yn enwedig ardaloedd dinesig fel hon. Roedd y strydoedd yn fôr o sbwriel a’r tanau oedd yn llosgi’n ddyddiol yn llygru’r aer a’r amgylchedd.

Tawelodd y cnocio a’r gweiddi. Rholiodd fwgyn arall a chod’r llythyr oddi ar y bwrdd coffi. Roedd ei fysedd melyn fel tsipolatas ymbelydrol ar gefnlen yr amlen wen. Nododd stamp y cwmni oedd yn cyhoeddi ei nofelau yng nghornel uchaf yr amlen. Rhoddodd hynny hwb i’w obeithion. Anadlodd yn ddwfn cyn ei hagor, gan weddïo i Dduw nad oedd yn credu ynddo am newyddion da.

Ond siom oedd yn aros amdano.

Siom, a sioc.

Cafodd ei siomi gan y cyfanswm oedd yn ddyledus iddo, a chafodd sioc o weld cyn lleied o lyfrau a werthwyd yn ystod y chwe mis ers cyhoeddi ei nofel ddiweddaraf. Datganodd y TALEB BREINDAL fod ei nofel, A Better World, wedi gwerthu hanner cant a dau o gopïau yn unig ac, o ganlyniad, bod y cwmni cyhoeddi, Gwalia Publishing, wedi talu £62.32 i’w gyfrif banc.

Gwell na dim. Jyst. Ond ymhell o fod yn ddigon i dalu’r rhent.

Roedd ei bedair nofel flaenorol wedi’u rhestru ar y taleb hefyd, ond doedden nhw heb werthu’r un copi rhyngddyn nhw. Gwyddai T bod pobl yn gorfod blaenoriaethu, ond roedd e dal yn siomedig, yn enwedig o gofio’r ymdrech aeth mewn i’w hysgrifennu. Ond y gwir oedd, pan nad oes bwyd ar y bwrdd, does neb yn meddwl rhyw lawer am lenyddiaeth.

Cofiodd nôl i’r cyffro o gyhoeddi ei nofel gyntaf. Roedd Manon wrth ei ochr trwy’r cyfan. Dyddiau da, llawn creadigrwydd a chariad. Cyn y bleidlais. Cyn y bygythiadau. Cyn i’r wlad fewnffrwydro. Cyn i Manon ei adael am ddyn arall. Roedd hi mor falch ohono, yn ei wylio o res flaen y lansiad; ei gwên yn llydan a’i llygaid yn llawn edmygedd. Ond, pylodd y parch yn ddigon cyflym, pan fethodd y nofel ddod o hyd i gynulleidfa. Ac er i’r cwmni cyhoeddi ei gefnogi trwy’r tymestl, ni arhosodd Manon mor dryw. Ond ni allai ei beio am hynny.

Roedd llythyr mewn llaw-ysgrifen wedi’i atodi i’r taleb, a’r geiriau yn y Gymraeg.

T, galw draw pan gei di gyfle.
Ma angen i ni ga’l chat fach.
Cofion, J

‘J’ am Joe.

Joe Hayes.

Sefydlwr y wasg. Pennaeth y cwmni cyhoeddi. Hen ddyn yn agosáu at ei wythdeg. Dyn gyda gweledigaeth. Dyn oedd wedi credu yn T a chyhoeddi ei lyfrau. Dyn oedd yn siŵr o ddifaru gwneud hynny bellach. 

‘J’ am Jesus fuckin Christ!

Chat fach. Gallai T ddychmygu ei chynnwys yn ddigon hawdd. Diwedd ei yrfa. Ond, gyda diwedd y byd ar y gorwel, oedd unrhyw ots mewn gwirionedd?

Tagodd ei rôl yn y blwch llwch llawn.

Chwythodd y mwg tua’r nenfwd.

Pesychodd fel claf bronciol.

Chwiliodd yn ofer am bowdwr, felly gwisgodd got law ysgafn, gafaelodd yn ei feic rhydlyd a gadael y fflat, gan gadw llygad ar agor am ei landlord. Clywodd weiddi trwy ddrws y fflat drws nesaf. Dyn a dynes yn mynd amdani – straen bywyd yn cyrraedd y pwynt berw. Cafodd ei atgoffa o wythnosau olaf Manon yn y fflat. Dyddiau o dawelwch, ac yna ffrwydriad ffyrnig a dagrau i ddilyn. Gwelai ei heisiau o hyd.

Aeth lawr grisiau’r hen dŷ Fictoraidd oedd wedi’i rannu’n bedwar fflat, ac allan trwy’r drws ffrynt. Oedodd ar y trothwy, gan ei bod yn pigo bwrw. Ystyriodd droi’n ôl, wedi’r cyfan, doedd dim rhaid iddo fynd i weld Joe heddiw. Roedd y nodyn yn ddigon amwys. Gallai ddychwelyd i’r fflat a... a... beth? Gwylio’r teledu? Mynd nôl i’r gwely? Roedd y dewis yn dorcalonnus. Ar y gair, torrodd yr haul trwy’r cymylau, gan oglais ei groen gwelw. Gwenodd ar weld bwa enfys berffaith yn ymddangos dros doeon y tai teras gyferbyn. Nid oedd wedi gweld unrhyw beth mor brydferth ers blynyddoedd. Yn wir, ni allai gofio’r tro diwethaf iddo weld enfys o unrhyw fath. Codwyd ei galon ac fe’i sbardunwyd ymlaen.

Roedd T yn byw yng nghanol y ddinas.

Ger yr afon.

Ger y stadiwm.

Lle braf, mewn oes a fu. Ond nawr, roedd y lle’n debycach i ddystopia yn un o’i nofelau, na chanol prifddinas. Neu ranbarth, fel ag yr oedd hi bellach. Roedd seiclo i unman heddiw fel chwarae gem o Mario Kart. Roedd rhaid osgoi pob math o rwystrau – rhai dynol, naturiol ac artiffisial. Yn wir, roedd hi bron yn amhosib mynd i unrhywle heb gael fflat. Roedd y sbwriel yn drwch ar lawr, a neb yn dod i’w gasglu. Gwydr. Caniau. Papur. Plastigau o bob lliw a llun. Popeth yn cael ei wthio yma ac acw gan y gwynt, nes pentyrru mewn corneli a chynrychioli cywilydd y ddynol ryw. Cofiai T ymgyrchoedd gwleidyddol a chymdeithasol i fod yn ‘gymunedau di-blastig’, a’r holl straeon am ynysoedd o blastig yn arnofio yn y cefnforoedd, gan ladd anifeiliaid y môr yn gwbl ddidostur.

Claddodd y bleidlais unrhyw obaith o adfer y sefyllfa.

Yn wir, claddodd y bleidlais unrhyw obaith.

Croesodd y bont dros yr afon, gan droi ei ben a gweld yr hylif tywyll yn llifo’n araf tua’r morglawdd. Gallai gofio nofio ynddi yn ifanc, rhyw bedair milltir i’r gogledd o’r fan hyn, ger cored Radyr – y llif yn llawn pysgod, a’r crehyrod glas yn pysgota yn y brwyn. Ond ni ai yr adar yn agos at y dŵr heddiw. Roedd y gwylanod wedi ymgartrefu’n barhaol mewn ardaloedd adeiledig, gan ddifa pob colomen a safai yn eu ffordd. Roedd yn well gan T beidio meddwl beth ddigwyddodd i’r hwyaid, yr elyrch a’r bilidowcars.

Roedd pobl ym mhobman fan hyn, a dim car ar gyfyl y ffordd, diolch i’r diffyg tanwydd, un arall o sgil-effeithiau’r bleidlais. Roedd y prinder wedi para am bedair blynedd hyd yn hyn, a doedd dim golwg o’r diwedd. Yr unig geir oedd i’w gweld yn gyson heddiw oedd rhai’r heddlu, a rhai’r lluoedd arfog o bryd i’w gilydd pan fyddai galw arnynt i ddod i ddelio â sefyllfaoedd difrifol o drais dinesig. Roedd trafnidiaeth gyhoeddus yn atgof pell erbyn hyn, diolch i’r diffyg tanwydd a’r isadeiledd adfeiliog. Byddai trenau’n cludo nwyddau prin i’r ddinas, ond doedd neb yn teithio arnynt bellach. Beic. Ceffyl. Cerdded. Dyna oedd dewis y werin heddiw. Cofiai T yr holl sôn am gerbydau trydan a dyfodol di-lygredd. Breuddwyd gwag arall a gladdwyd gan y bleidlais. A gyda’r byd ar drothwy rhyfel niwclear, doedd dim dyfodol i’r mwyafrif ta beth. Ond ni effeithiodd y diffyg tanwydd ar T yn bersonol, gan nad oedd erioed wedi berchen ar gar. Wrth agosáu at y castell, lle arferai praidd o anifeiliaid concrid bipo dros frig y mur, oedd wedi ei ddymchwel erbyn hyn, gwelodd T haid o gŵn gwyllt yn ei wylio o gysgod y coed.

Saith pâr o lygaid yn syllu i’w gyfeiriad.

Saith tafod yn llyfu gweflau.

Saith bola’n griddfan.

Pedlodd o na, mor gyflym ag y gallai.

Roedd waliau’r castell ei hun wedi’u gorchuddio â graffiti. Yr awdurdodau yn hollol ddiymadferth i’w atal, oherwydd y diffyg cyllid ac adnoddau. Daliodd un darn penodol ei sylw.

ONE LAND.
ONE LANGUAGE.

Trodd y gornel a seiclo i gyfeiriad y gogledd, heibio i’r ganolfan ddinesig ar y dde, oedd wedi hen golli ei sglein a’i hurddas, yn bennaf oherwydd y graffiti oedd yn gorchuddio’r muriau, ond hefyd achos y ddinas o bebyll amryliw oedd wedi ymddangos ar y lawnt o flaen yr adeiladau urddasol. Roedd yr arogl a godai o’r pebyll yn ddigon i lorio dyn, felly anadlodd T yn ddwfn a chadw i fynd.

Roedd Joe yn byw rhyw bum milltir i ffwrdd: ar lethrau’r mynydd oedd yn codi fel cragen crwban tu hwnt i’r draffordd, i’r gogledd o ganol y ddinas. Ond cyn cyrraedd pen ei daith, seiclodd T yn gyntaf trwy’r ardal lle roedd myfyrwyr y ddinas yn arfer byw, cyn i’r bleidlais newid popeth. Roedd yr holl fflatiau yn wag nawr. Wel, yn wag o fyfyrwyr, er bod pob ystafell yn llawn. Yn llawn dop, ’fyd. Byddai preswylwyr y pebyll yn dyheu am gael symud i un o’r blociau hyn. Beverly Hills cardotiaid y ddinas.

Stryffaglodd T i gyfeiriad y maestrefi. Dyma lle y tyfodd fyny. Er bod yr ardal wedi newid yn sylweddol ers iddo adael gartref. Wedi mynd oedd y lawntiau gwyrdd a’r ceir ar y dreifs, ac yn eu lle, ffensys tal a weiren bigog; camerâu teledu cylch cyfyng ac arwyddion yn rhybuddio darpar ladron o natur drydanol y ffens. Gwelodd farrau dros ffenestri a chŵn cyhyrog yn gwarchod bron pob eiddo. Diolchodd fod ei rieni wedi marw cyn i’r byd bydru fel hyn.

Pasiodd gartref hen ffrind iddo a chofiodd chwarae pêl-droed a cwato yn y cyffinie. Cofiodd ymdeimlad o gymuned. Cofiodd fod yn hapus.

“No cycling!” Clywodd lais yn gweiddi arno a dyn â gwallt gwyn yn brasgamu i’w gyfeiriad, gyda rhaw yn ei law. “Can’t you read?”

Sbardunodd T i ffwrdd, ei galon yn carlamu a’i lygaid yn chwilio am arwydd dim seiclo. Ni allai weld un yn unman. Gwallgofrwydd pur. Sgil-effaith cyffredin arall.

Croesodd bont dros y draffordd. Mynwent i oes a fu. Roedd cerbydau dirif i’w gweld, yn ymestyn o’r fan hyn at y gorwel, wedi’u gadael yn y fan a’r lle pan ddaeth y tanwydd i ben. Gwelodd gorff yn symud o un car i’r llall, ac yna’r wynebau yn syllu arno o’r cerbydau. Roedd y digartref wedi ymgartrefu fan hyn hefyd. Un ai hynny, neu roedd apocalyps sombi ar fin cychwyn.

Gallai T weld y mwg yn codi o simne ei gyrchfan yn y coed, rhyw chwarter milltir i fyny’r allt. Gwthiodd ei feic i gefn gwlad. Roedd natur yn brysur ailhawlio’r ardal, a’r coed, gwrychoedd a glaswellt yn tyfu’n wyllt.

Roedd yn chwys drabwn erbyn cyrraedd mynedfa’r ystad ac oedodd i ddal ei wynt cyn gwasgu’r botwm. Yna, clywodd y dwndwr. Rymblan estron yn agosáu. Gafaelodd yn ei feic a brysio i guddio tu ôl i glawdd cyfagos lle gwyliodd trwy’r prysgwydd yn geg-agored wrth weld lorri arfogedig yn gyrru i’w gyfeiriad, gydag un dyn yn llywio’r cerbyd ac un arall yn gafael mewn M16; trwyn y reiffl yn pwyntio trwy’r ffenest agored, yn barod i danio, yn barod i ladd.

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