Blesok no. 52, January-February, 2007
Prose


Photography

Zoran Ilić


    Many decades passed since you have left the town, changing one with another.
    – Please, I want to change the town where I live for another one.
    Nobody is against, nobody remarks that you aren't more in town where you have lived until that moment, and town is going to function. Your disappearance happened imperceptibly. To do this magic or to be a part of it: disappear in one place and appear in another.
    A few decades later, you are coming back to this town with digital camera (which is invented meanwhile) with wish to take pictures of the places with importance in your former life.
    You ask an accidental passerby to take a photo of you on the bench in front of your former building. On the bench, there is two syllabic woman's name incised.
    You put the arm over this part of bench. As if you would like to embrace this invisible girl or woman.
    Although it is summer, August, there are the first leaves on the lawn. Beside your legs there are some cigarette butts, you have stepped on a red wrapper of chocolate desert.
    At that moment two persons, a man and a woman are entering the building. The years are recognized on the façade. And probably on your face, too.
    An accidental passerby takes the picture of the moment previously described, returns you the camera, you thank him and he leaves.
    You are still sitting on the bench. You turn and look around curiously.
    Your presence draws attention of the old neglected woman on a terrace.
    – Who are you looking for, mister? – She asks with croaking voice.
    Who are you looking for, what do you wait? A direct question. What to answer?
    – I am a relict of the past, Madame. Somebody who once belonged to this place as you do now. Your ruined building also was my home until I asked an incautious question: “Please, I want to change my town…”
    And, you won't believe, Madame, a mechanism set going: empty flat, furniture in a covered lorry. A hundred and fifty kilometers to the North it unloads in December's night on New Belgrade's lawn, and furniture is inside the new flat.
    New concrete walls must be inhaled with life; I must tell them about life in the other town, about the best decade in the 20th century which passed… Cold concrete walls are covered with ribbed tapestry. The walls of my former flat didn't know what tapestry is. They knew some other words: lime, brushes, house-painter, ladder… They even knew an unusual, forgotten word – štricla. Perhaps you still remember it, Madame?
    The years pass. I try to make a life in the new town, to finish my studies, to get a job, to make a family. I spend all my energy on this aims. The town which I’ve left is forgotten. And then, this summer, I suddenly came in the town of my childhood. And this strange idea in my sub-consciousness which torments me: what would have happened if I never left it? If I have lived here in your town, in your ruined building?
    Well, Madame, it is the answer to your question: I am looking for no one. I don’t even know anyone from your building. Nor anyone knows me.

Translated from Serbian by: Igor Isakovski




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