Brana Dimitrijević


Suddenly and angrily Stephan extinguished his cigarette, turned the television off and hit his fist against the table.

- For God’s sake, these dogs are going to bomb us!-

Then he went to the bathroom landing his smoker’s spit into the sink.

For a long time during his not exactly glorious life he has been expecting this kind of stupid upheaval.  Seemed like his life had to end exactly the way it began: with metal and bombs.  He didn’t look at himself in the mirror.  He knew he was an old rag. 

He pulled down his hat and slammed the door.  Only after a while he realized that he was heading towards his daughter.  Did he have a daughter?  On a clear October day he needed less than an hour by foot to get to her.

He was showing off, that he was making living through the intellectual favors he was rendering to others and through the old connections he had with scientist.

Small pension which was forced upon him could hardly sustain him.

Judging from the way he walked, he didn’t look warned out.  His walking speed, his long established “zu fuß” technique, but now he walked much faster, thinking that tomorrow or the day after he might be walking over the city ruins.

Dogs must hit at the civilians if they are to achieve any results.

He imagined himself walking on this very road, approaching the building in which his daughter lived. 

From far away he saw the building in ruins-but the cellar was untouched.  He relaxed.  They are alive; they must be alive! He too is alive after the initial attack.

Suddenly, this shameful fact that his daughter, son in law and granddaughter were living in a cellar came out as an advantage.  Almost farsightedness.  Touch of destiny.  Adapted basement.  This is the result of his career, a poor scientist, and even more: the workings of his daughter’s mother!  Revenge and sarcasm coming from that messy-haired, squared, flat-assed drunkard!

She was showing off how she managed to grab that place for her daughter. That cellar!  Tenant’s signatures, building’s permit, permit to use the place, registration. Bribes.  Expenses, starting with hydro isolation… Finally, there was a tiny apartment at the end.  All that thanks to her. Hidden and with a look of a whore-house.

The bathroom was the most luxurious looking, with mirrors all the way up to the ceiling. The living room had no window. 

Suddenly, Stephan cried.  Is this is the place where his daughter has to spend her life!  However, latter on, she found a job, got married.

Finally, the building showed up on the horizon.  Stephan slowed down.  He remembered Belgrade of previous years; open fields, empty lots, ruins….Tomorrow will be much worse. Maybe even today?  Tonight? Debris, Fallen cement blocks.  Smashed kiosk stands, which he hated anyway, because they narrowed streets turning them into rat’s passages. 

Stephen sneaked through the gate, and through the short, dark backyard slipped behind the building.

Up, on the second floor basked in sunshine, his ex wife was lounging, together with her husband.  He did not desire her death, no, but their mutual yes, he did.  Just as he desired disappearance of that sunny, spacious apartment from which they were laughing.  All that would be destroyed if the bombardment was guided by imminent metaphysical justice; but there is no imminent metaphysical justice, especially when you are bombarded. 

At moments, just above his head he imagined to see an opening, ruins gazing at him.

In that buried into ground apartment its glass door were slightly opened.  His daughter, son in law and granddaughter were looking at him from above, surprised.

- You didn’t let us know…

- I didn’t...

He didn’t feel like coming in.  He mumbled, that is, he reminded them that the day began a while ago, a beautiful, warm day was out there; but now he felt like smoking.

-Your grandpa came, look your grandpa!

-You are not my grandpa, you are p’ndaca

- And you are a little cloud, Stephan retorted; than the granddaughter hid behind the curtain.  Her kind of “heavy words” did not disturb him.

Stephan’s daughter was carrying her pregnancy with an ease; it is only that she was pale.  It was her eight month, but her tummy was not big.

Stephan pulled out a package of coffee and 50 German marks

- But why…? She was acting as to refuse.

- Take it… When father is giving, everyone is glad, but when it is the other way around, no one is.  His daughter rolled her eyes, she knew the proverb.

- You are a cup! - Cried little grand-daughter behind the curtain.

- And you are skljonka.

- What does that mean? Inquired Stephen’s daughter.

- That grandpa can invent words, too.

- What do you say to all of this? – His son in law posed a question.

-Just stupidity…

- Kosovo is gone…

- It is gone…

- And when all this starts, you should hide and with your bodies protect the little one.

- You are grandpa!

- Of course, that’s your grandpa! As if you are seeing him for the first time.

- Shall we loaf a bit, would you like that? Stephan was asking now his granddaughter who was standing next to him. –Little bit, just to the park.

The three year old, suddenly grown little girl was hesitating, but the appearance of a positive answer was present.

- Till the park, with grandpa, you can… her mother was encouraging her.

- I do, I do, and the little one suddenly became vivacious

Stephen’s son in law was hesitating.

- You are sure?

- Sure.

- That they will not hit us today?

- They won’t today.

- The son in law smiled.  And suddenly, Stephen envied them.  He is encouraging them.  He is the one who is encouraging them?  Them who were showing off with their courage:  by living in a cellar and expecting a baby in Belgrade, in this fucking October of 1998.

- Come, let me dress you while grandpa is drinking coffee.  Stephen’s daughter was chasing her daughter.

- He is not grandpa, he is a breakfront!

- You are so calm. – Son in law was admiring him.

 The little one was also feeling that something was happening.

- But me, as if I am not myself this morning….

- It has been a while since I came to see you… said Stephan. – The dogs went wild, my neighborhood too, and I am sure yours, also.  It is mostly the old men and women who are winning.  They are hording.  Close to me, former member of a secret police, an old rag.  But what for all these stories?  They loiter.

My generation!  If they were only to wipe us out!  But there is no justice.  Myself, I don’t give a damn!  Even if the hell breaks loose!  And you must act like that…  Just say: - I don’t give a damn.  Children will suffer less then.  What happens happens.  He was almost comatose. – Fuck the allies…

He sipped his coffee, lit a cigarette.  He was afraid to continue, saying to himself: - I am just a shit, a simple shit…

- But come, stop it, that’s grandpa.  Look, look, do you see him.  He is drinking coffee with your daddy.  And he is waiting… He is waiting for you.  Wait, I have to tie your shoes…

The granddaughter came all dressed up. She was climbing up the steps, her dress rattling about.

Stephan jumped.

- You just started your coffee…

- That’s ok – he answered.  They started walking.  He was radiating.

- Bring her back at one thirty- his daughter said.

- I heard you…  Something was singing inside him.

- This is dad’s car, it is b’oken…- she was explaining; she was still not pronouncing letter “R” as she should.

- An old piece of junk… but we have legs, right?

- We have legs… the little one repeated.

They were going up the hill, on the sidewalk, besides the parked cars, as if going through a tunnel.

Through the open windows of basements and lower floors, the sounds of demons of limited knowledge, politics and entertainment was heard.  On one of the TV screens someone’s buttock was swaying…  Stephan spit; that kind of behind his last mistress had, a woman with all her distinctiveness was quite seductive.  But he ran away from her because of her daughter.  Her apartment was small.  And the mistress’s daughter was always welcoming him with a mute question: why don’t you take my mom away? You are chasing me out from my home…?

He was playing dumb; the same way he did with his daughter.

He sighted.  The granddaughter was waking ahead, surely, courageously.  Then, she suddenly stopped.

_ Grandpa, I want you to carry me…

Her look, her posture didn’t show a request, nor an order or tiredness.

- But of course… Stephan put her on his shoulder, banding slightly as if he was a weight lifter.

- Ops... She was now above his head with her little hands over his face.

- We are starting! – He was walking, holding her legs, never happier.

- Thank you, little cloud.  Thank you, thank you…he kept repeating even though in front of him was a good piece of uphill.

They were not bombed that day, or that month, or that year…

But they were the following year.

(Translated from Serbian by Branka Koljenšić)<\b>

На Растку објављено: 2009-11-04
Датум последње измене: 2009-11-03 21:00:41
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