Blesok no. 108-109, July-August, 2016
Reviews


LEJLA KALAMUJIĆ’S THREE ESTEBANS

Mehmed Begić



LEJLA KALAMUJIĆ’S THREE ESTEBANS


Translated from Bosnian by: Elizabeta Bakovska

   The first thing that crossed my mind after I had read the last story and closed Lejla Kalamujić's book is the question from her opening story. I said it out loud: “Why do I need a typewriter?” Then I asked myself which typewriter should I think of when I ask myself that question? My mother’s typewriter, my love’s one, psychiatry’s, the one of the woman-poet whom I had left long ago… Each one of them had soaked in itself numberless stories. And it would gladly tell them all. My typewriter has been watching me from the highest shelf of my closet for years now and seems as if asking: “Why have you dragged me all the way to Nicaragua so I finish here, after everything that we’ve been through…” Have those typewriters become our mute witnesses? Are they the thing that I need after our past convinces the memories that it is enough and death has grown on our side and now it does not look so big… And then, the times come to spill on the paper the darkest thing, at least a story on anybody and on anything. And I catch myself reading with ease about those hardest moments that Lejla Kalamujić described. The power of contrasts leaves me breathless.
  
    There is music for everything that is important to me. It is stronger than me. It clicks itself before I even understand that I might have had the right to vote. Reading Lejla Kalamujić’s “Esteban” I heard Nina Simone. It was not a specific song. It is even possible that it was a song that I had never heard before, which many would say did not exist, but the voice, that voice, it was definitely hers, Nina’s voice. Even when Lejla would take me to Almodovar, and when I remembered Marquez’s Esteban, when I read what only Elizabeth Bishop should have read, Lejla’s father’s pigeons still fly on the sky above her family house and I hear: “Freedom is mine, you know I feel… “, and then with the arrival of the falcons, the music changes. However, the voice remains the same, from the first to the last story, from the first to the last letter of the book.
  
    I surrendered to Lejla's world and the stories through which she gives it to us without any reservations, as if I had myself experienced what has been written. What I did not expect was the extent to which she would shake me when she speaks about betrayals, which are not really betrayals, but I can clearly see why she calls them like that. I myself was the culprit of some betrayals in the same way, and as a traitor I sneaked through deaths of people very close to me. Simply because I knew no other way, because one could not do it differently, because I have not learned to be smarter yet. I don’t avoid intimacy in writing, nor do I death, just like Lejla, I keep on studying it with letters, while the shadows of those who are death, just as the ones that I carry with me with every awakening, patiently wait for me to open my eyes once again. I do not know how an adult deals with these things, and I cannot even look at them with the eyes of a child. That is why I admire the heroine of each of these stories, because she is what she is – a heroine, especially when she lists in details all of her betrayals as missed calls on her cell.
  
    It is paradoxical how Lejla writes with such an ease about such difficult topics, loneliness, wild roses, hugs in the endless darkness, holes in the asphalt, fear of surrender, as well as the fear of fear itself. I repeat it out loud. Speaking with those that are gone, writing them letters, this is all so familiar to me. I too often write poems to the other side. So that we can afterwards talk about it for a long time. I and those that are no longer here. Because nobody gives better advice than those that are no longer here. For example, how to survive to the morning. Or how to fulfil your right to love. Which we all have, indeed. Because we know – as Leonard Cohen would say that “there is no cure for love”.
  
  
    End of January, 20
    Managua, Nicaragua.


Nina Simone
"FEELING GOOD"
Leonard Cohen: "Ain't No Cure For Love"




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