I'm translating a story, and there is scene in it where an ex-colleague asks the man who had slapped the female protagonist the reason for his doing so. In reply, all he says is something like, “What can the person who has given the slap say?”
In the original, this is a rather obscure statement but at the same time has a nice impact. Because there's no further explanation about the slap in the story.
I am wondering how best to carry over this into English.
First, the excerpt where I have to write this:
The man who had slapped her had already passed away. Apparently, he had worked in an overseas branch for some five years and then returned to the headquarters and worked there for six more. And then, he had caught pancreatic cancer. By the time the man had come to know of his illness, it was already too late to fix it. The sender said he had asked the man a good while later why he had slapped her. At this, the man had smile and replied, “What can the person who has given the slap say?”
There was a question at the end of the mail. “Did you know? That I liked you?”
I've thought of the following sentences:
- What can I say?
- What's there to say?
- What do you want me to say?
I don't want to make him sound too flippant. Any suggestions on what would work best here?