надявам се да ви е интересно и любопитно наоколо - алтернативността не е самоцел, а по-скоро интелигентност и сетивност... за блога
I hope you find your stay here very much to your liking - the world of alternative realities is not an end in itself, but rather intelligence and sensitivity.

събота, декември 12, 2009

Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon

by Diyana Ivanova Boeva
Translated by Hristo Boev

In Memoriam of Granny

My head is like a prickly artificial flower – one of those that gather all the dust in a room. My grandmother studied at a Romanian school until the 7th grade. She was born in a village near Dobrich. I bristle up and shake off all the dust. I am a teacher of Bulgarian language and literature and unlike my good old shrewd granny I think I know what all those things about the 7th grade boil down to… . Granny can make a jam of green tomatoes and cook an excellent pepper stew. The pepper stew, actually, has more than pepper in it. It is a dish made with potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, okra pods, pepper, parsley… I love Granny’s pepper stew. What if somebody made my children go all through the 7th grade’s ordeal to… I’m really going to fling all these things out of my head… I don’t need them right now. There should be dust – at least on the streets. Otherwise the world would be unnatural, sterile, unreal, smelly, drab, not free, ugly… like a dog world… (can’t think of other comparisons). If it were spic and span the streets would not be washed, and I love so much to walk on a freshly washed pavement…
Tolerance – Bam! My head gets stuck in between thoughts like a die on its edge. I walk about the backyard and pop up another niggling question: “Granny, who taught you to write in Bulgarian…?” Her dear child seems inordinately excited today. Something is crackling in my head dashing against the back of it. The tomato seeds get stuck in my throat choking me. Granny gives me a perplexed look. She puts her hand on my smooth knee and this time around fails to remark that I go about inappropriately dressed for a teacher in threadbare denim pants and white sneakers. Sometimes I don’t feel I belong to the Dobrudjan people although I was born in Dobrich. I am not patient enough, I am blunt, always knowing what I want… Granny smells something wrong – she senses it vaguely. She pours to me some of the pepper stew, strokes me over the head. What a cunning conspiratorial move! – That’s what they all do when they come across a fledgling like me. The vine in the backyard under which we are seated has a telling smell. Sensual, fresh and ready for the imminent harvesting. There are two dice here – I, however, am no gambler.
Granny says something that makes my insides run cold and the steam of the hot pepper stew hits me in the face. Four to three.
“The Romanians, dear child, were no tyrants or oppressors, they were our friends. Let me tell you about the fair-haired Nikoleta…” I don’t want to know anything about some Nikoleta with grey or green eyes, beautiful smile and good soul. The same can be said of Barbies nowadays. A sharp look on part of my granny and the bump on the surface turns into an oval – Stuck again – the die is stranded between two angles. Resistance is part of my character. There is a cure for every bump, though. Nikoleta was my granny’s classmate in the 7th grade and she cried a lot for herself and her family when the Romanians left Dobrudja. She had left Bulgaria together with her parents. She was Queen of all evening gatherings… fair-haired and her eyes in fact were blue… I can make nothing of this.
Sharp edges I have… I can, however, cook pepper stew. Granny taught me how to make a jam of green tomatoes, raspberries, pears… I lean back in the chair, take off my white sneakers and fold my legs. The ripe peaches in the backyard opposite to ours are truly tempting. The Serbian Ivo Obretenovich is not around. I wonder where Elisaveta, the Colonel’s wife is hiding. I smile to myself. Although there are plenty of fruits in our backyard I covet the neighbors’. Granny is still telling the tale of her love for Nikoleta. I have come to see her and it is about time she did some work on my character. The Romanians are our friends…, “but the teachers at school spanked us a lot”… It is now that I shudder and my eyes turn to steel. Granny regards me calmly, “but in spite of all that we had happy lives”. I clench my teeth and fold my legs again, this time changing the position of the legs. I was as near as I could to falling off the chair. The water melons will be ripe soon. I prefer melons – they have a flavor. Nikoleta was a good student.
What fruits there are in our backyard! When I was little and came to my village during the vacations it sometimes happened that my grandpa would scold me for something I’d done and then I would see how upset he was and how he regretted doing it… Everyone was watchful of what they said and how they spoke to me and at the same time no one imposed any restrictions on what I should or should not do. That was how one learned to think… and to make mistakes… If only there weren’t these bumpy edges in me and these Romanians whirling in my head… I really don’t know what is coming over me.
I clang all over. It is wet in the backyard – just like after a rainfall. Grandpa is watering the garden. He is not from these lands. His parents left all their property in today’s Romania when half of Dobrudja was returned to Bulgaria. They settled in a village near Dobrich. I have never seen him cross, agitated or insulting someone. Granny rambles on: “Ask your grandpa about the Romanians”. They were good and you could reason with them. That’s what had been passed on to my grandparents by their parents. Bulgarians and Romanians twice elected my great-grandfather (my granny’s father) mayor of the village. He was a grave man, prone to silence, a man of character and good stock…
I must be some weird chip off the old block. I lack essentials, leisurely thoughts evade me. I am a crossbreed of plum and damson. I clutch at ideas, my mind creaks madly. I’m chased by owls. I find fields maddening. I touch unseen realities. I am vaguely aware of something. Nikoleta. All my grandpa’s property is in today’s Romania. This is free land. Dust and dice. Stuck again. Cracks in the windows. Wind. I wonder if Nikoleta is still alive. I am being blunt again. Granny lowers her head. She’s not looking at me. She enters the house and starts roasting the chicken for dinner. My legs feel cramped on the chair. I can see the little squares formed on my ankles. The figures on the rest of my body have resulted from the patterned cushion placed on the chair. The woman in the backyard opposite to ours is standing by the fence – she has divined my thoughts and is giving me peaches. The handsome Serbian from the film The Thief of Peaches should be hiding somewhere round here.
I don’t make any protests as I take the fruit. The sides of my calves in contact with the Dobrudjan embroidered cushion are all in little triangles and rhombs. Granny calls from inside: “And don’t wear those underpants at school. You should be ashamed.” I stretch my legs – it has been almost two hours since I folded them – the Turkish way. I feel my whole body numb. I bring it back to life as I walk about the yard. It would be hypocritical and untrue, to say the least, to even think of all around me as dear, close to my heart or some suchlike. Here the people are reserved. Who do I look like in moments like these in which I look around me, feel at home but am reluctant to share it with anyone! “And break that Turkish seat, you’re bound to get bandy legs,” granny runs on… .

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