– instead of an introduction –
I met Jadranka Vladova almost ten years ago. Although I had seen her several times before, as a student, at bigger classes, that was the first time that I spoke to her. We had a cup of coffee at her favorite chronotope and expanded home, the Old Skopje Bazaar. When I told her that I wanted to write about her short stories in my master’s thesis, she was happier and more excited than I was. We spoke about the stories, about life, about what she had read, because back then I thought that I was looking for other authors, other texts in her own, borrowings, traces of what she had read, heard, seen, thought…
Jadranka explained and indicated, gave answers to my questions, and I tried to write it all down. Talkatively, she revealed Kafka, Bertrand, Dostoyevsky in her stories, but also the childhood tales, the counting games, housewives’ recipes… I wrote all of this, and the other things that she never told me, but later I (thought that I) discovered myself, in the part of the thesis dedicated to her stories.
After the defense, I rarely saw Jadranka. I threw away the notes I made from our conversation long ago, and I never fully published my thesis. The other day, when I heard that she was gone, I realized that I had not heard from her in years. I did not remember all the things I wrote about her, nor the things that she told me about herself as a writer then, at the Old Bazaar. But I remembered the sentence that she saw me off with then, after she had absolutely refused to let me pay for the coffee. “Never make any compromises with yourself.” she said, she hugged me and she left in the opposite direction from mine. Alone.
Remembering her now, I had some uneasy feeling, guilt almost, that I had never actually knew her as a person. This feeling made me re-read what I wrote for her back then. Reading my own writing about her stories, I realized that all the things that I felt were “other”, “strange”, “different” there are actually quite hers… The stories were warm and simple, sad at times, written with the words of a dedicated reader who never made any compromise with herself as a writer.
Can you really understand more about a writer if you know him or if you read his books? This is how I knew Jadranka: