Translated from Bosnian by: Elizabeta Bakovska
I can’t sleep. If I turn over, I’ll wake her up. She sleeps lightly. Since always. She was woken up by my restlessness the very first night. When I opened my eyes in the morning, she was sitting on the bed and looking at me. “You had a bad dream”, she said: “You gnashed your teeth, mumbled in your sleep, squeezed your fists.”
I get out from under the blanket as quiet as I can. Kili dozes in a pile under her feet. She moves her ears, opens her eyes and stretches her paws when I move. She yawns.
“Shhhhh”, I press my finger to my lips. “Go to sleep, Kile”. I’m looking for my slippers under the bed. I peek through the curtains. Noise and rage outside. The southern wind has arrived to Sarajevo. It stretches the tree crowns, blows the garbage on the deserted streets. A dog shivers next to the kiosk. I read about the horrible storm in Croatia today. It pushed people, blew away roofs, in Dalmatia the bulging waves hit the coast. I turn to her. It’s OK, she’s asleep. I make myself some coffee in the kitchen and I light a cigarette. The clock marks two thirty. Long way to dawn. I walk up and down. Fear squeezes my heart. The little lamp blinks on my mobile. Those lighthouses down at the Adriatic must talk about the storm in such a way now. I read a message from Nermina: “Shall we go for a cup of coffee on Wednesday, Nermina, you and I?”
The first morning, saying that I have to do something, I quickly leave her apartment. I keep on receiving messages from Hana and Nermina: questions, curiosity, teasing. In the end we agree to see each other in the evening at Nermina’s place. I arrive the last, and they have prepared everything: coffee, cards, music… I only have to talk. Spit out everything, to tiniest details.
But this time they are bothered by my pensive, otherwise usual facial expression. “Where are your smiles? Why do you look like a wet mushroom?” What can I do – I admit that everything did not go well. “Come on, Lela, it’s the first time. What did you expect, anyway?!” says Hana clearly and out loud.
“It’s not that, but after.” I say my nightmare have waken her up and that it’s not a good sign. Because my past… Nermina doesn’t listen to me anymore, she hands over the cards, and then she says her famous: “Leli, it would be good to forget!” We laugh. Hana takes us with a shovel in the cards and she keeps on adding water to her coffee because it is too strong. After couple of hours she looks at her cup: “I keep on drinking this coffee and my cup is still full!” We laugh again. They look at me curiously, they are all impatient. Hana in particular: “Come on, tell us all the details. What happened? How did it happen?” And I am more and more n the mood. I become talkative, we speak until late in the night. And we play couple of rounds of cards.
The storm increases the cacophony inside me. I peek: I’m afraid of this wind. I look at my watch, I walk up and down. I put some food in her dish. Brikets crunch under sharp cat’s teeth. She licks her snout. I light another cigarette. She jumps into my lap, I pat her neck, she purrs. I type to Nermina: “OK.” I know she’s asleep, that noise and rage do not wash her dreams, but I add: “It’s fucked up outside”.
I walk to Cheka. We agreed for seven. I have time, I’m in no hurry. I think: maybe Nermina’s right. Maybe it’s time I screw myself and forget. In the end, I survived the psychiatry. I’m here in the street, in the open. I walk. And I don’t think that I will collapse with my next step. The sky above, the earth beneath. Those girls encouraged me last night. And the doctor did this morning.
I entered her office, without any plans. The desk, white robe, typewriter. Full bag of pumpkin seeds in her hands. I apologise that I come without an appointment and I tell her that I can wait outside if I’m interrupting something. She smiles, there is no speech, I can come in. She asks me if something has happened, with concern, if I am out of medications? “No, no”, I tell her. She offers me a pumpkin seed, she says she stopped smoking so she has to. “No, thank you”, I wave away. I’m embarrassed, but this situation is pressing me so much that I need an expert opinion. I tell the doctor about her, about our mails, us going out, I also mention the first night, but somehow looking at the ceiling – I mean, I would not like the doctor to think that I would give her any details, but, she has to know that it has happened. I look at her. She chews those pumpkin seeds, she smiles. I am even more ashamed now, and I stare through the window and I beg the skies and the earth that I don’t blush. I feel like smoking, but how can I – the woman has just quit. We keep quiet. I don’t know what to say, so I repeat that I am awfully sorry to have busted into her office like this. “What’s the problem?”, she asks. “Look… It’s that… I don’t know if this is fair… I mean… You know how I was… I was falling apart in front of your eyes… And now…” She interrupts me: “And now we’re in stable remission, right?” “Yes, we are. For a year already.” “So what does this girl say?” I can’t help but smile. “She… just looks with her blue eyes, as if nothing matters. She says, she doesn’t mind, we can do it.” “So, what’s the problem?” the doctor says. “Look… I mean… is it fair to drag her into all of this? I mean… into what has remained of me… What if I break again? If the noise and rage again…”
The doctor takes me by my arm: that’s her way to interrupting the attack of my doubts and fears. She looks at me directly, and then she mechanically offers me the bag with pumpkin seeds again. Woman, I don’t want any pumpkin seeds! – I feel like screaming, but I just smile a bit. “You too have the right to love”, she says. Well, fuck it… I’m red as a fresh wound. I see, she finds my shame cute, but I pretend I don’t understand. I stand up all of a sudden, I thank her and I apologize for coming announced once again. The doctor turns her chair to the window, she pushes the pumpkin seed between her teeth with her fingers and mumbles to herself: “That’s life.”
I see her in the distance. A cap, vest, an umbrella in her hand. I stop. The by-passers wonder at my smile. And I feel like standing and watching her. She looks at her watch a bit nervously. I approach. Something pulls me to her so strongly. The joy in her eyes when she sees me. She asks me where I would like to go. Somewhere where there are no many people. “You know”, I say carefully, “I’m not comfortable with crowds yet”. It’s OK for her. We sit in a café. We are alone, the two of us and the waitress at the bar. We speak quietly, leaning to each other more and more. She asks with concern if everything is OK, because I left in a hurry yesterday. I know it’s time. I stand up, I put on my jacket and I say. “I have to show you something.”
The wind brings small raindrops to our faces. We walk in silence down Zagrebacka Street. We enter the building, we climb to the first floor. I unlock the door. I switch on the light in the empty, deserted apartment. “Where are we?”, she asks.