So, imagine me in a stuffy little room, quite like some kitchenette-hut. The kitchen is chock-full of old ugly furniture, with the smell of fried eggs, onions, and that invariably rancid cooking oil still lingering in the air, to boot-as if I were somewhere, God knows where, back there, in nowhere land, some forsaken hellhole, in Serbia, let’s say in Belgrade, let’s say on upper Cvijićeva Street, by the overpass, or by the underpass as you please, as you like it – actually pretty near Roosevelt Street, that would be the second Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and not that first Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt; basically, near ex-Grobljanska Street, right at number 115, and on the fourth floor, no lift, of course. When you finally reach that illustrious fourth, and last floor, your soul shoots right through your nose, and floats upwards, completely upwards, straight into the cosmos, settling amongst the stars and the idle angels. And while the chubby little honey-cheeked angels are playing cards, betting on beans and worn out buttons, your soul disintegrates into a billion invisible particles, but the absorbed winged youth do not care for any of it.
I’m standing, you know, barefoot on the concrete floor, by the electric stove, and on the large hot plate, the largest one, I’m boiling water in a massive, deep maroon cooking pot, with no lid, as if I were a soothsayer-seer. Of course, I have no wax or melted lead on me. The current is weak, the plate is warm, at best, and the water is failing to reach boiling point. Don’t really know, myself, why I’m boiling this water in this maroon pot, as noted, manufactured at the Emo Celje factory, over there in Slovenia, when, out of the blue, as if she plunged straight down from Mars, my beloved little mother appears in front of me, my Andjelka, the thoroughly bald Andja, whom Marinela and I used to affectionately call Angie, and who is, may she rest in peace, heroically rotting, for three years thus far, at that miserable suburban graveyard called Orlovača. There rests my poor thing, under one simple wooden cross, under a small lopsided little cross, amongst thousands and thousands of eerily black plebeian marble tombs, mainly churned out for small change somewhere down in China.
Angie stands in front of me, like a statue, like so, a few feet away. Angie, standing in her tattered coat, practically a rag, with a rhombus print, blue ones and dirty white ones, and, I should add, vertical rhombuses, woven in some Serbian textile factory, a Serbian Manchester, for sure, probably according to the designs of a hastily trained provincial fool and cut with a heavy pair of shears by a little peasant-seamstress, all in those times long gone, fifty-odd years ago, the era of the allegedly golden aka unbridled informant Yugoslav socialism. It’s hard for me to comprehend how it came about that we would, my Angie and I, suddenly sprout out in our old flat in 115 Cvijićeva Street, when we had moved out of that dump of an attic, exclusively intended for cockroaches and the undeserving poor – to Cerak, Jablanička Street, number 21, along with our flower pots and cats, exactly twenty-two years ago.
There is nothing left for me other than to carefully roll my Angie up, like a priceless little kilim, and to walk away with her under my arm, with an easy stride, down the grubby staircase, straight into the arctic nothingness of Belgrade at the very start of the 21st century.
Third Text, Volume 32, 2018 (Issue 5-6: Lost in Europe: In the Wake of Britain’s Inner Emigration), published online: 23 Jan 2019