Blesok no. 89, March-April, 2013

Shoes for the Oscars

Melina Kamerić

Shoes for the Oscars

While stuffing courgettes, she remembers how she left him. She left him. She didn’t just leave him. She told him to fuck off. At that tram stop in Marijin Dvor. On Friday, at half nine in the evening.

Now she’s stuffing the courgettes. She has had to go half way across the city, half way across fucking Las Vegas to find courgettes for stuffing, sour cream and minced meat. She’ll stuff the courgettes for dinner. Eso and Sajma are coming over. They are from Buzim. She has no idea where Buzim is. Nor do they know where Marijin Dvor, in Sarajevo, is. But it’s not all that important. Now, they are friends. Countrymen. Here in Las Vegas.

They’ll have stuffed courgettes for dinner and watch the Oscars. The four of them. In the morning, they leave for work together. At the Casino. The two men maintain the slot-machines, she’s behind the bar, and Sajma is in the kitchen.

Six months after she’d told him to fuck off, she met Braco. And six months after that, the war broke out.

The night she left him, a full moon hung over Sarajevo. She shouted at him how sick and tired she was that he kept chopping and changing degree courses. How she wanted to know what he planned to do with his life. She shouted. He was silent. And remained standing at the tram stop in Marijin Dvor.

Today she also bought a pair of 300-dollar shoes. All the stash she had she spent on those shoes. A pointy pair with thin high heels. The shoes she’s got nowhere to wear. The shoes for the Oscars. She knows she has to have the chichiest shoes for the Oscars.

She thought of him from time to time. She always remembered the image of him being fucked over at the tram stop in Marijin Dvor. Never and in no way differently. The way he’s just staring. She thinks his eyes are full of tears. Or maybe not. She’s not sure. Because the tram pulls away. And he lowers his head. It doesn’t matter anyway, does it? She told a loser to fuck off.

She has no idea how to put it all to Braco. In a way, she’s got nothing to explain to him. She’s got some new shoes worth $300. And even if she cries a little, so what? And why should Eso and Sajma care anyway that she’s sitting there wearing high heels? None of the three of them will know that she’d told him to fuck off. At the tram stop.

So, let them look at her. All three of them. Stuff ‘em, both them and the courgettes. She’ll be wearing her new shoes tonight. While eating stuffed courgettes. In a 70 square-metre bungalow. In Las Vegas. The Oscars will be live on TV. He’ll step out of the limo. He’ll grin at the journalists. And will look as sad as that night when she left him. Only somewhat happier. And he won’t gaze after her. In that sad and fucked over way. She’ll weep. A little. And will glance at her shoes a little, imagining whether those high heels would sink into the red carpet on which he’s now standing. A bit later, when he goes to get his Oscar, and when he thanks all those who’ve been by his side all these years, who’ve supported and loved him, she’ll be desperately trying to remember. To remember why she left him. That night at the tram stop in Marijin Dvor in Sarajevo.

Trans. Damir Arsenijević


I was four years old. I woke up and my mother wasn’t there. I opened the window and screamed as much as my throat could bear it: “My mother left me!”
The truth was that she’d gone to buy bread. And she returned in five minutes.
How terrible to see me half-naked, miserable with tears as I yelled, leaning out the window on the third floor.
It was mortifying for my mother as she ran up the stairs, hoping I wouldn’t fall.

I was five years old and went to the park for the first time, on my own. The park was sprinkled with fine sand. I knew that my mother was watching from the window. So I felt safe.
I looked at the fine sand, glittering in rainbow colors. The sand was mixed with tiny bits of glass in various tints. I said, “What pretty sand.” Maja said it wasn’t sand but pieces of glass from a chandelier and a vase, and all the other things Amar’s father had thrown from the window of his apartment the day before.
Maja knew. She was older and knew. I didn’t know. It was my first time alone in the park.
Amar and his mother left. Amar’s father sat alone in the apartment with half-boarded windows and cried. So said Maja. I watched how the setting sun made a million radiant sparkles in the sand of the park.

I was seven years old. I got into a fight with Asja at school. She said I had no father. And that’s why I was a bastard child. Asja was bigger and she broke my nose.
I walked home from school with my sidekick Dario. Dario didn’t like Asja. Asja said he was a girl because he played Barbies with me. Dario promised to make an evening gown for my Barbie if I promised to stop crying.

I was fourteen. And it bothered me utterly that, when they wanted to hurt me, they said I was a bastard. I had a T-shirt that read Bastard. To make their job easier.
I went to visit Dario. They’d beaten him up three days earlier because he’d worn a pink T-shirt that read BOYTOY.

At twenty-two, the world looked a little different. Dario and I ambled along the path of the cemetery in Paris. Next to Morrison’s grave we stepped in a bog. Dario cursed the moment when he decided to wear his Prada shoes and set off into the wilds. With me. I am about to visit the grave of my father. He and my mother were together a little longer than was necessary to produce me, and a little shorter than the time that separates one new moon from the next.

Everyone has a father. No one is a bastard.

Bastard is a word invented to hurt those who aren’t like everyone else. I never saw my father. But I have his eyes. And temperament. I know that he was extraordinary. Because if he hadn’t been, my mother never would have chosen him.

At seventy, nothing is as it seems. Dario and I can sit on the balcony of some nursing home. Trade goldfish with the other old people. Cough and become children again. At seventy nothing is as harsh as it used to be, because at seventy you’re not a bastard or a faggot…at seventy you’re just old.

Translated by Jennifer Zoble

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