The City of Silence

I cannot recall any reason why would he spot me in a crowd where I was slowly moving. It is Thursday, market day. A river of people loudly bubbling, unstoppably rinsing the market stands.

As soon as he noticed me, he rushed in urgently, didn’t want me to get away,
I guess, and stopped right in front of me, so I halted unintentionally.

The man first lifted, and then slowly, for a hundredth of a second — faster than a sun when setting — lowered his eyebrows. While watching me so, I thought it was very appropriate to offer him my curious gaze. He smiled. But there was nothing to be added, since I am always smiling.

Neither he asked me anything, nor did I answer him. A moment, long as eternity. Surprisingly, my thoughts streamed smoothly into this unexpected confluence of our encounter. It seemed like we were perfectly understanding each other. Like fish do. Flexing bodies.

I got it, the conversation will not be easy. Troublesome are those who start their sentences with “I.”

“I,” repeated it several times a bit louder, “don’t have trousers!” Carefully,
I looked at him from head to toe, but not too noticeably, because of the crowd. From the top to the waist, a pretty decent old guy. From the waist to the bottom, a very bold combination even for evening outings.

Lacquered shoes, size 9.1 (US 10), and navy blue socks. An absence of trousers, duly reported. Therefore, an old man, without trousers, wearing white pants and a gray jacket, and me.

In the middle of the marketplace, face to face. I felt tightness in my throat. Choked up, unskilfully, I tried to swallow the saliva in my mouth, and with tears in my eyes, I realized that I just swallowed my chewing gum.

“The tribes of Arad and the graves of ancestors, my son, have occupied my mind!”

“You crazy, old man!” It almost left my lips.

“With your archaic speech, as if you were a character in a reader.” It crossed my mind, simply, to rebuke him lightly in my thoughts. However, looking at me even more seriously, he instantly provoked a spark of shame within me. Satisfied that it remained hidden, I allowed him to continue.

“Can you hear the sound of silence?”

Obediently, I tried to hear something and the old man continued.

“In 1887 there was a railway here, and the train rolled late into the night. From the inside, a famous poet, curiously looking into the darkness through the wagon window, to see what kind of city is this.

Whether just to cut time or ease boredom from a long trip, I do not know. The Empire ordered a curfew at that exact time. Nevertheless, from time to time, disobedient residents were sneaking around with lanterns through the darkness, wandering from tavern to tavern. Just like stunned, enamoured fireflies in the night, roaming to and fro, aimlessly from appearances alone.

Perhaps because of a chilly night, mist, or from a draft in the wagon. Who the hell knows!”

The scene seemed spooky. As if he had appeared at the graveyard and watched the procession that revered him while honouring ancestral customs. And then what?

An inspiration gave way to a poetic impulse. The wine had spoken from his innermost, his words got into agreement to exult us in a poem. I knew, up until yesterday, which book and title. He called this place a city of silence, thinking of the quiet in a graveyard. However, gentlemen, it is not a romance, it isn’t. It’s a graveyard!

You drink as if in a graveyard! I am heading over there. My one foot is already in the grave.

Where is the romance in this? Here, I’ve forgotten my trousers.

The people do not know that. Would I come to the marketplace without trousers?

This way, when to the grave, who cares.

Photo ©Aleksandar Oklobdzija

Pročitaj i ovaj sadržaj: Grad tišine


She lived on the second floor of our block, her flat was above ours. I was watching, from the perspective of a child, the embodiment of King Kong going through the phases of evolution and finally becoming an old woman. She was a woman of great soul and body, the latter, with its massiveness, making the impression of a stable person. Although she was characterised by her height and broadness, her heart surpassed them both. It was common knowledge. Neighbours, friends, friends of friends, relatives, children, everyone kept coming back to have a bowl of soup, to sweeten themselves up with some cakes or to taste coffee.

I used to be fascinated by the exquisite cleanliness and order in her small kitchen. There was always enough room in this old-fashioned kitchen, even though the washbasin stood nestled on one side, leaning against the oven, the oven against the fridge, a small table placed to the wall, squeezed in kitchen cabinets surrounded by rickety chairs.

That is why we were much closer to each other than we are today. One of the miracles that I remember happened on a late summer afternoon while I was sharing a meal with her grandchildren. That was when goolash turned into goulash. I felt free to ask for another portion.

And then one day, as if it were yesterday, somehow and suddenly she shrank, like your clothes shrink when washed. She was tiny as she came and rang the bell. Traces of being colossal were gone forever, only her heart kept its existing greatness. I understood. My perspective shifted higher, it grew up.. just like that.

Out of the blue.

Prevela: Mónika Mészáros

Pročitaj i ovaj sadržaj: Antonija

Space Interpreter

In the afternoon I was painting on the terrace. Although the artistic adventure did not end, I have managed to displace stains and smears that were crosscut with a variety of lines. It’s all good. Sheltered under a wide roof, I was listening to the silent drizzle of a light rain. In the distance, barely audible, a radio is being heard from the neighbour’s courtyard. Oddly enough, it is not folk music, but classical. Very strange, I thought to myself. He stopped breeding pigs, and the air was filled with freshness of negative ions instead of the stench of the excrement piled up adjacent to the wall separating us. Inevitably, that was a huge loss for the Dadaistic order of thoughts in organizing a painting. I’m trying to degust the taste of the offered peace.

Determined as a soldier, with stained fingers I squeeze the colour tubes. Spelling in my head the English print on labels. Neapolitan yellow and emerald green. They sound like titles.

Without any malice, I demonstrate my mastery of the situation. I’m scoring out this composition of escape from everyday life, yet this beginning is promising, as far as I’m ready to believe in it. I smile, and obliquely stretch my lips. A master of his own, submissive to the painting.

The night is approaching, and there is not enough time. The obligations persistently and inexorably lurk the opportunity, as if they were only waiting for me to get tired and drooped so that they could finally subdue me with their burden.

I know all the tricks.

I’m planning my strategy.

I defy.

When they accumulate, I prioritize and eliminate. There is no planning nor organizing. Later I take a bite of the leftovers, not allowing them to get stale, not letting them stay in one place.

Not allowing them to grow roots, that’s important too. The point is in the freshness of the afternoon and in the smell of turpentine. It is massaging my pituitary gland.

Freedom resides only in choice.

Pročitaj ovaj sadržaj: Tumač prostora


     Živela je na drugom spratu naše zgrade, stan iznad našeg. Iz moje dečije perspektive gledao sam otelotvorenje King Konga koji je prošao sve faze evolucije i postao konačno baba. Žena velike širine duha i tela od koje ovo drugo svojom masivnošću odaje utisak stabilne osobe. Od visine i širine, najšire je ipak bilo njeno srce. To se znalo. Komšije, prijatelji, prijatelji prijatelja, rođaci, deca, svako je po nekad svratio na tanjir čorbe, osladio se kolačima, degustirao kafu.

Oduvek me je fascinirao izuzetan red i čistoća njene male kuhinje. U skučenom prostoru bilo je uvek dovoljno mesta i ako se tu ugnezdio lavabo sa jedne strane, naslonjen na kuhinjski šporet a ovaj na frižider i mali kuhinjski sto sa druge, smešten tik do zida, priklješten kuhinjskim elementima, opkoljen rasklimanim stolicama.

Zato smo tada bili mnogo bliži jedno drugom nego što smo to sad.

Jedno od čuda kojeg se sećam, odigralo se kasnog letnjeg popodneva dok sam zajedno sa njenim unucima delio obrok. Tada je bljuveč postao đuveč, smelo sam zatražio još jednu porciju.

A onda se jednog dana, sećam se kao juče je bilo, nekako i iznenada skupila, kao veš posle pranja. Došla sitna i pozvonila na vrata. Zauvek su iščezli tragovi kolosalnosti, samo je srce zadržalo postojanu širinu. Shvatio sam. Tačka u mojoj perspektivi pomerena je na više, odraslo se.. eto tako.

Iz čista mira.

Tumač prostora – Space Interpreter

Space Interpreter

Tumač prostora – Space Interpreter / Aleksandar Oklobdzija, Oil on Canvas, 60×80 cm.

     Tokom popodneva sam slikao na terasi. Mada se likovna pustolovina nije završila, uspeo sam da po platnu razmestim fleke i mrlje ispresecane raznovrsnim linijama. To sve dobro dođe. Zaklonjen pod širokim krovom, osluškujem kako tiho rominja kiša. U daljini, jedva razgovetno, čuje se radio iz komšijskog dvorišta. Začudo, nije narodnjak nego klasična muzika. Baš neobično, pomislih. Prestao je da gaji svinje, i vazduh je ispunjen svežinom negativnih jona umesto vonja izmeta koje se gomila tik iza zida koji nas deli. Neminovno, to je veliki gubitak za dadaistički poredak mojih misli u organizaciji slike. Pokušavam da degustiram ponuđen mir. Vojnički odlučno, stežem umazanim prstima tube sa bojama. Sričem u sebi natpise sa nalepnice na engleskom. Napuljsko žuta i smaragdno zelena. Zvuče kao titule. Bez imalo inata, demonstriram kako vladam situacijom. Precrtavam kompoziciju bekstva iz svakodnevice a taj početak obećava, onoliko koliko sam spreman da mu poverujem. Smešim se, i ukoso razvlačim usne. Sam svoj gospodar, pokorava se slici.

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Grad Tišine

      Ne mogu se setiti ni jednog razloga zašto bi me primetio u gomili u kojoj sam se lagano kretao. Četvrtak je pijačni dan. Reka ljudi bučno žubori, nezaustavljivo ispirajući pijačne tezge. Čim me je opazio, žurno se primakao, valjda da mu ne uteknem, i zaustavio tik preda mnom, pa sam nehotice zastao. Čovek je prvo žustro podigao a potom polako, za stotinku – dve brže no sunce u zalasku, spustio obrve. Dok je tako gledao u mene, smatrao sam vrlo prikladnim da ga ponudim svojim radoznalim pogledom. Osmehnuo se. Ali tu više nije imalo šta da se doda jer se ja uvek smešim. Niti me je šta pitao, niti sam mu odgovarao. Trenutak, prolazi kao večnost. Začudo, misli su mi bez smetnji tekle ulivajući se u ovo neočekivano ušće našeg susreta. Izgledalo je kao da se savršeno sporazumevamo. Poput riba. U trzajima. Slutio sam, razgovor neće biti lak. Nezgodni su oni koji rečenicu počinju sa ”Ja”. Ja, ponovi još nekoliko puta malo glasnije, nemam pantalone! Odmerih ga pažljivo, ali ne previše upadljivo, zbog mnoštva sveta. Od gore do pola, sasvim pristojan matori momak. Od pola na dole, vrlo smela kombinacija čak i za večernje izlaske. Lakovane cipele, broj 43 i teget čarape. Odsustvo pantalona, uredno prijavljeno. Dakle, starac, bez pantalona, u belim gaćama i sivom sakou i ja. U sred pijace, oči u oči. Steglo me nešto u grlu. Zagrcnuvši se, nevešto sam pokušao progutati pljuvačku i suznih očiju, shvatio da sam upravo progutao žvaku.

      Aradska su plemena i grobovi predaka sine, um mi okupirali! Lupaš, matori! Samo što ne izustih. Kao da si iz čitanke izašao sa tvojim arhajskim govorom. Došlo mi, eto tako, lako da ga prekorevam u mislima. Međutim, pogledavši me još ozbiljnije, začeo je u trenu, iskru stida u meni. Zadovoljan što je ostala skrivena, dopustio sam da nastavi. Čuješ li zvuk tišine? Oslušnuh poslušno a starac nastavi. 1887. ovuda je prolazila železnica i voz je tutnjao kasno u noć. U njemu, poznati pesnik, radoznalo, kroz prozor vagona gleda u mrak, da nasluti kakav je ovo grad. Da li da samo prekrati vreme ili dosadu od duga puta, to ne znam. Al carevina, dala naredbu da je baš u to doba policijski čas. Ipak su se s vremena na vreme, neposlušni stanovnici prikradali sa fenjerima kroz tamu, lutajući po obližnjim kafanama. Kao omamljeni, zaljubljeni svici u noći, bazajući amo tamo na izgled besciljno. Možda zbog prohladne noći, magle, ili promaje u kupeu. Vrag bi ga znao! Prizor je delovao sablasno. Kao da se pojavio na groblju i posmatrao svetinu koja ga obilazi poštujući običaje predaka. I, šta? Nadahnuće iznedri poetski poriv. Vino progovori iz nutrine njegove, složile mu reči da nas opeva u pesmi. Znao sam do juče koja knjiga i naslov. Nazvao je ovo mesto gradom tišine, misleći na tišinu groblja. Samo gospodo, nije to romantika, nije. Groblje! Pijete kao na groblju! Tamo sam pošao. Jednom nogom sam već u grobu. Šta je tu romantično? Evo sam pantalone zaboravio. Ne znaju ljudi. Zar bih na pijacu bez pantalona? Ovako, u grob, ko te pita.