We used to learn math in school. Us pupils used to solve difficult problems and calculations. Our teacher Smilja asked Piggy Nelly to stand up. Then she asked Nelly: “If ten thousand refugees enter Croatia in one day and, out of those ten thousand, three thousand go to Slovenia and five thousand to Hungary, how many refugees are left in Croatia?” Then Strongman Rino shouted from the back: “A whole bunch of them!” Teacher Smilja pointed her finger at him and shouted: “Shut up, Rino! I didn’t ask you, but Nelly!” Piggy Nelly said: “Two thousand refugees are left in Croatia!” The teacher said: “Well done, Nelly! That is correct!” Then that smartass Lidya said: “But, what is Croatia supposed to do with two thousand refugees?” Teacher Smilja told her: “That issue is not for the math class, but for natural and social studies class! Now we are dealing only with adding, subtracting and other calculations!”

Then I said from the back: „But, that’s a little heartless!“ Teacher Smilja wondered: “What’s heartless about that?” I said: “It’s heartless to use those poor refugees for calculations!” Then my friend Dino said: “That’s right! Refugees are people, too! And we treat them like numbers!” Teacher Smilja scratched her left ear. Then she said: “I agree! It does seem a bit inhumane! So, from now on, we won’t talk about people like they’re numbers. We’ll talk about numbers like they’re people! OK?”

Dino and I stared at the teacher confused. Then she asked Gay Sandra to the board. Everyone knows that Gay Sandra is a genius in math. Teacher Smilja asked her: “If ten thousand refugees enter Croatia in one day, and we know that they are mostly Syrians and Libyans, and if out of those ten thousand five thousand go to Slovenia and seven thousand go to Hungary, how many refugees are left in Croatia?” Gay Sandra first thought for a while. Then stared at the teacher like she didn’t understand a thing. The teacher asked: “Well?” Gay Sandra said: “Well, it turns out that more refugees left Croatia compared to how many of them came!” Teacher Smilja said: “I didn’t ask you how many of them came or went, but how many of them are left!” Gay Sandra said: “Well, none!” Teacher said: “Well done, Sandra! That’s correct!” Gay Sandra asked: “And who are those two thousand who left without entering?”

Teacher Smilja smiled in front of the board. Then she said: “That issue is not for the math class, but for natural and social studies class! Now we are dealing only with calculations! We are talking about numbers, and not their ethnic origin!” Gay Sandra asked: “What is ethnic origin?” Then Kane the Menace shouted: “You really are stupid, Sandra! The teacher is trying to tell you that those two extra thousand are Croats posing as Syrians and Libyans and running from the horrors of this country!” The teacher said: “Exactly, Kane! Although, that’s an issue for natural and social studies class!” Then I asked: “What about the Serbs?”

Everyone in the class turned towards me. Kane the Menace asked me: “What Serbs?” Teacher Smilja asked me: “What Serbs?” That little suck-up Niveska said: “My dad says that all Serbs in Croatia wouldn’t fill a single bus! So, statistically, there can only be a Serb and a half among those two thousand Croatians!” I said: “And my dad said that all refugees come to Croatia from Serbia!” Kane the Menace asked: “So what?” The teacher asked: “So what?” I said: “How many of those ten thousand refugees that enter Croatia are Serbs posing as Syrians and Libyans and running from the horrors of their country?”

Strongman Rino said: “Wow, fuck…” Little Thea said: “Maybe the majority of Syrians and Libyans are actually Croats and Serbs…” Niveska said: “Maybe all of them…” Then teacher Smilja said: “Don’t fantasize, children! Your question is relevant, Robby! But we can’t discuss it in math class, because it is an issue for natural and social studies class!” Piggy Nelly asked: “How come all the serious issues about refugees are for natural and social studies class?” Kane the Menace told her: “You’re really stupid if you don’t know that! Because the refugees come into our nature to spoil our society!” My friend Dino asked Kane: “Do Croats leave our nature to fix our society then?”

Then teacher Smilja yelled: “Enough! Don’t further complicate the situation, children! Let’s stick with math! And I suggest that we stick with Syrians and Libyans while practicing adding and subtracting! We’ll talk about Croats and Serbs when we come to division!” Little Thea asked: “And what about multiplication?” The teacher said: “Sister Melita will teach you about multiplication in religious studies!” My friend Dino said: ”That’s too bad! Multiplication is my strongest side!”

Teacher Smilja told Dino: “OK, if you’re so smart, solve this!” My friend Dino stood up. The teacher gave him the assignment: “If ten thousand refugees enter Croatia in one day, and out of those ten thousand, six thousand immediately go to Slovenia and eight thousand to Hungary, how many years before Croatia loses its entire population?” I jumped in: “And the Serbs are already gone!” “You stay out of this! This is Dino’s question!” the teacher yelled at me. Dino cried: “But it’s a bit difficult, teacher!” The teacher said: “Well, you said that multiplication was your strongest side! Let’s see it!” Dino asked: “Can you repeat the question, please?” Teacher Smilja rolled her eyes and repeated: “If ten thousand refugees enter Croatia in one day, and out of those ten thousand, six thousand immediately go to Slovenia and eight thousand to Hungary, how many years before Croatia loses its entire population?” Dino said: “Too many!”

That smartass Lidya then asked: “If everyone leaves, who will vote in the elections?” That little suck-up Niveska said: “Croats can vote from abroad!” Strongman Rino said: “Like hell they can when they are all posing as Syrians and Libyans!” Then I shouted: “Hey! We can’t talk about the elections in math class! That issue is for natural and social studies class!” Teacher Smilja shouted: “We can! Now you solve this assignment, smart-ass!” I jumped from my seat. The teacher asked me: “If, out of one million Croats, 300,000 vote for HDZ and 200,000 for SDP, how many of them will be undecided?” I thought for a while and said: “300,000 at the most!” The teacher grinned: “Sorry, wrong answer! You missed by 200,000 at the least!” I said: “Those 200,000 aren’t undecided! They just can’t vote!” The teacher asked: “What do you mean, they can’t vote? Like who?” I said: “Like me!”

Teacher Smilja started laughing. She told me: “How do you imagine to vote when you’re still a child?” I said: “What do you mean, a child? Why wouldn’t the children be allowed to vote?” The teacher said: “What do you mean why? Because they’re still young!” I asked: “So what if they’re young?” Teacher Smilja said: “When you’re young you can’t understand politics!” I said: “No one is too young to see that Karamarko^{1} is an idiot!”

Robby K. (IIIa)

* Viktor Ivancic’s popular, ongoing column, which chronicles the adventures of Robby K, a kind of Croatian Tom Sawyer. Told in the first person, in the dialect of the Dalmatian town of Split, the column ridicules Croatian (and Serbian) reality.

Translated by Marijana Simic

Peščanik.net, 18.10.2015.

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