of the novel, translated by Albert Lord
Фрагменти романа Растка Петровића "Дан шести", у преводу на
енглески Алберта Лорда, једног од најзначајнијих слависта, овде се објављују
на основу оригинала машинописа интегралног превода који се налази у Музеју
Надежде и Растка Петровића у Београду. Превод романа до сада није објављен,
а сам Музеј је, због неадекватности просторних услова, затворен за јавност.
Текст се објављује захваљујући љубазности Народног музеја.
The headlights were out and the car had stopped. There was something
wrong with the motor - nothing serious, but enough to keep them from going
on. For the first few minutes nobody said anything. It was so dark that
they couldn't see the road.
"If we only had a lamp", Jack Gordon muttered, and this time
he didn't swear. They were all talking at once; everyone had his own idea
of what should be done, and while they were arguing the water kept dripping
from them. The old lady was frightened: "We're lost, done for! We'll
get our deaths of cold! I know it! We'll get pneumonia! There's no doubt
of it! Oh, oh...."
Her voice shook; it seemed shrill, as if it too had been drenched in
the rain. Although she had spoken almost in a whisper and had intended
her remarks only for herself and probably her daughter, they had all heard
her, but they were so wretchedly lost and so depressed that nobody cared
to add anything to what she had said. They couldn't see each other, and
nobody could tell how anyone else was bearing up under the rain which
was pelting them from all sides in the darkness. Then a voice asked if
they might find shelter in the mill which they had just passed. It was
a fine, deep baritone voice, quavering with excitement. Yes, that was
it! The mill: a house and a roof! They had gone by it just a few minutes
ago while the lights were still burning, and just beyond it they had crossed
over a little bridge of planks which the torrent had half carried away.
"It can't be far from here!" the deep voice continued melodiously.
The gaps between the remaining planks were so huge that one might fall
into the swift stream.
"The mill must be near the river. It can't be too far away!"
Stevan Katich knew that he was the youngest one there. He felt around
in the car, found the bag in which he had some candles and dry matches,
and got out. But perhaps that wasn't the bag! He felt it over until he
came upon the initials. "I.P.K.", "Ilija P. Katich".
That was his grandfather - a whole generation was symbolized by those
letters, "I.P.K.". But now they signified only that that was
the bag with matches. "I am Ilija P. Katich", the old man had
said to his wife one evening when he was undressing, "I've succeeded
finally in collecting an old loan and making a good profit on it. Do you
know what that means? That's success!" And the next day the papers
remarked: "Ilija P. Katich has pulled another deal and made a good
profit again. Where is it all leading to?"
Stevan walked on ahead of the others. For the first ten paces he felt
brave, and then he became frightened that he might not be able to find
the bridge and that he might fall over the cliff in the darkness. He tried
to see what there was in front of him, but he couldn't make out a thing.
The roaring of the water sounded as if it were directly beneath him. Stevan
walked cautiously, one step at a time, waving his arms in the air and
shouting to those behind him. There was a flash of lightning. Through
the pouring rain he could see the purple mountains. He was on the edge
of the road; a few steps farther on was the bridge, and a little beyond
that, the mill. It was all much nearer than he had expected. He crawled
forward now with greater determination. The mud under his hands was mixed
with stones and acorns, and his clothes were soaked with mud and rain.
His father was just a young boy, broad shouldered, with the sun's red
splendor in his hair, when in a blast of anger he left his family home
and didn't come back any more. He did that when he learned that the old
Katich called Maritsa by telephone and told her everything he thought
about her mother, herself and their friendship with Vlada. From the point
of view of the stubborn old man that was the best way to put an end to
something he disliked. He would probably have done the same even if he
had known that there was nothing much at that time between Maritsa and
Vlada. Nothing more than usual companionship between two very young people.
They were more intolerant and impatient than kind in their dealings, and
if before Maritsa 's mother didn't care for her own reputation she was
almost strict with her daughter. She was far from encouraging her to
start a flirtation with a boy only eighteen years old. Even if he belonged
to a rich family. There was only the danger that Maritsa would find herself
involved in a long sentimental love affair with a very problematic end,
so the frivolous elderly lady would probably welcome a break if it occured
between them, but the interference of the old man, his slapping her face,
infuriated her beyond all limits. Only the news that the young man walked
out on his father gave her some relief. She wished her daughter vindicated.
Of course she was not the only infuriated person. She was not the only
one eager to act. Old Katich couldn't believe that his child, that little
boy, would disobey him in a way so humiliating to his parental pride.
It poisoned him so much to have to accept, as he saw it, a fight with
the old "Bitch" and her no better daughter, that he mercilessly
slapped his own son. He denounced him publicly, claiming in a short newspaper
notice that Vlada had failed to meet his obligations. He didn't tell in
what way his son had been disobedient, he only disavowed him as if he
had dishonored himself, almost as if he were a criminal. Vlada didn't
answer his father's accusations and he gave up his girlfriend Maritsa.
She was first to write him that she didn't want to see him anymore and
that by now everything was over between them. Except for his only friend
Djamich with whom he stayed the first two days, Vlada found himself all
alone in the world. He was almost happy that things turned out that way.
Then one evening Maritsa awaited him in front of the house to which
he had just moved. Without a word of hers, or his, she followed him through
a dark corridor, into his small room. There she silently undressed before
him as if she had been doing that many times before in the same place
and with the same boy. Seating himself in the chair he mechanically took
off his shoes and stayed still, mute, looking on her slim body and her
very pale face.
She gave herself to him in a desperate clasping in which neither of
them expected or found joy. Their love-making had no pleasure whatsoever.
In that darkness which enveloped them more and more they were seeking
to find, not each other, but each one himself. They separately appraised
their own force in becoming finally man and woman. Had they enough strength
to dispose of their lives as they liked? Because they were now woman and
man clasping together in an embrace, further from each other in their
spirit and sex and love, than two human beings ever could be.
They were too conscious of each other as they felt in the darkness their
different human forms. Involuntarily their hands encountered mysterious
parts of their bodies, hard and impetuous or hot and wet. They laced their
long limbs. Their heads, their noses and bony foreheads were so close
and dry that they almost choked and hurt in their embrace, but they avoided
finding each other's lips. Their lips remained closed and hostile so much
were they tense and aloof. They didn't caress each other or utter gentle
words of love.
Nevertheless it was a strange relaxation for both of them. In that love-making
which held no pleasure for either of them, even no victory, they had a
mere satisfaction that they were man and woman only because they had decided
to become so. For long hours they remained stretched, side by side, without
a word. He heard nothing strange in her breathing but he was suddenly
conscious of her crying. He touched her face with his hand and found it
still and dry, even though he knew that she was crying somewhere inside
and that by now she was aware why he touched her face and that she was
ashamed of herself.
He gently lay over her and melted their two young bodies in one. She
voluntarily disappeared in him, ceased to exist as another human being.
Enclosing his head in her own arms under the violence of his mouth and
lips and tongue she breathed her own breath for his.
Evening after evening they lay there for hours, her body beside his,
talking very little. He was gentler and gentler with her, asking her many
things about her life. He didn't tell her any thing about his own plans,
even not about his long walks through the near-by fields and hills overlooking
the Danube. He continued to live alone. In his dreams he had already made
up his mind to go overseas and lose himself in a new world.
The warm summer days started in Belgrade. When suddenly Maritsa got panicky.
For months she was dreading the day when he would leave her alone there
and after some time she was almost that she was pregnant. In the beginning
she only wanted to prove to him that she was not in his way, that he was
still free to decide his own future. She thought that she even gave herself
to him only so that her abnegation later should be greater. She couldn't
understand how afterward she lost control of herself and became so cowardly
and why she did the very things she always thought that only some cheap
females do for the purpose of leading a man into marriage. With her last
remaining force she tried to be sincere to her lover. She told him that
she knew very well that she was cheapening everything he trusted in her,
that he had a right to believe that every act of hers was premeditated,
consciously or unconsciously, There was one thing that she couldn't change,
though she felt sick and disgusted inside her because of it, and that
was that she was now so terribly scared. Not of losing him but of having
his child alone. She was scared to death of how she could face the future.
She begged him to marry her, nothing else. He could leave her afterward
and she didn't tell him how much in love with him she was by that time.
Vlada was gentle to her. With kind masculine words he comforted her
and told her that they could be married any day she wanted. As in a trance
of shame because she had failed to back up her own de -cisions she informed
her mother of her condition, telling her that if it were anybody's fault,
it was entirely her own. So she refused to marry Vlada or anybody else.
She repeated to Vlada what she had told her mother only a few minutes
before . The mother herself came to ask Vlada what his intentions were.
"To do exactly what Maritsa wants me to do for her" he told
her almost rudely. Both women became hysterical, rude, so that neighbors
came to see what was happening.
Finally, after all sorts of scenes and arguments which occured during
the next two weeks, arguments between everybody concerned, except Maritsa
and Vlada, everything seemed arranged. Between themselves they didn't
talk about their problems which they didn`t control anymore. They seemed
to pity one another that once having found the meaning of being a man
and a woman they had lost it so quickly. Each deep inside was lost and
tired. He was warm and human but still far away from her who felt only
that she had no pride or shame or anything else left in her desperate
love for him.
Apart from them, everything was well arranged. Emerging suddenly from
his sullen silence the old Katich asked his son and Maritsa to come to
see him. When he learned that Maritsa was expecting a child, he urged
them to get married and to go off anywhere they liked. Strangely enough,
he was extremely pleased at the turn of events, though he didn't tell
anybody just why. In a small city like Belgrade, it would be rather a
proof that the girl was unworthy of a respectable family, yet the old
man seemed to understand then for the first time, the courageous part
of the girl's character. Katich liked her enormously now and wanted her
for his daughter-in-law. He planned how, after the young people were married,
he would go with the girl's mother to see them on the train and give them
as an additional gift a lavish sum to spend on their trip. But one summer
morning a few days later some workmen had found Vlada's body up on the
side street where it makes a turn behind the greenhouses. It was lying
on the edge of the sidewalk, the corpse of the strong young man whom his
schoolmates had nicknamed "Irish" and who was soon to become
He had sat alone in the house all afternoon, not stirring even when
Maritsa had come twice to knock on the door, amazed that he had gone out
so early. At night he left the house and went up the street and sat on
the edge of the sidewalk and killed himself.
Many years passed. At the time of Zorich's suicide Stevan Katich was
a nervous and excitable boy. It was as if he were the son not so much
of the whole Vlada but only of that state of mind with which he had gone
to his death. When Zorich died Stevan wore a black band on his sleeve
and his friends hated him for it because that was the mark of the upper
class in which they thought he liked to belong. As people began to talk
about his father's suicide, he gradually pieced together the facts which
he gleaned from veiled conversations at home and from his friends' frank
questionings. There were evenings during that period when he didn't join
his friends at the gate but stayed in the house, thinking it all over.
When Stevan was born his grandfather did everything to straighten out
things which in the future could harm the life of the child born both
posthumously and out of wedlock and also helped in every way his unwed
mother. He adopted the child, registering him as his grandson and even
before she was in labor he took Maritsa to his home. He asked that the
wives of his friends should come and make his daughter-in-law feel that
she had many friends in her new home. Katich even thought to ask Popovich's
wife too, because she had been his wife's best friend. He was afraid however,
that her husband, with whom he was on bad terms by now, would forbid her
The death of her companion was such an overwhelming blow to Maritsa
that for days she was not conscious of what happened around her. She couldn`t
explain how it happened that with her white motionless face, all dressed
in black she was standing in church beside old Katich, her eyes seeing
all the time through the huge white flowers the metal parts of the coffin.
Then she was following the same coffin (is it possible that her companion
was enclosed in it?) through the sunny streets of Belgrade, ahead of a
big procession, her hand in the large fleshy hand of the old Katich.
And again the arm of that old man was around her shoulder when she looked
in the open earth smelling of the field freshly labored. Never a day was
more glorious than there among so many monuments with whole baskets in
blossom and birds diving in the infinite blue of the sky. Almost all summer
remained like that springlike, and was followed by a gentle autumn.
Then Stevan was born. The first illegitimate child since time immemorial
born in a respectable family of Serbs. Silent, his grandfather went often
to the nursery. One evening when he left the house, their neighbor, Mrs.
Popovich, came unexpectedly. It was the first time that Maritsa had ever
seen her and she knew that the two families were not friendly anymore
so, frightened, Maritsa remained aloof. But the lady visitor kissed her
on both cheeks and spoke about her late best friend, the grandmother of
that child. She observed little Stevan with the tenderness of a still
young mother herself. Her own daughters were at that time ten and four
years old. Expecting that she would ask her to keep the visit a secret
from her father-in-law, Maritsa was uneasy again when the 0 lady was leaving.
Again Mrs. Popovich cleared the atmosphere:
"I don't think", she told Maritsa, "that you will see
very much of me here. When you tell your father-in-law that I paid you
this visit, he will explain to you why. But if you ever need anything,
please do not hesitate....."
Maritsa didn't disturb the old man with the story about the visit. A
few days later two small girls came with gifts for the baby. They were
extremely excited and walked through the house on their tiptoes. The youngest
one, Tony, asked Maritsa:
"Is it true that it is a baby boy? Isn't he a baby boy?"
"Of course", said the elder "it is worth nothing at all
to have a baby girl you know". And little Militsa turned her dark
eyes to Maritsa: "It would be so wonderful if we could only have
a baby boy for ourselves."
They kept on speaking about it over their milk and cake swinging their
feet and licking their spoons.