Excerpt from the novel “Sleep my little one, sleep”

/, Literature, Blesok no. 148/Excerpt from the novel “Sleep my little one, sleep”

Excerpt from the novel “Sleep my little one, sleep”

“Eh, brat, you’re going to gasp…” said Aunt Pierina, who was just then emptying the trash can in front of the building.

“Girl, little girl, come to Pierina, give me a kiss”, and she was already lifting me from the bike in her arms.

But I was no longer the baby she once took care of; I was pulling myself out of her arms and running away. Aunt Pierina lived a few floors below us and was my babysitter even before I started kindergarten. My mother and father had to enroll me first in a crèche, in a very disgusting, gray building, where the teachers were terrible, who did not care about small children and they were leaving me lying all day peed and shit up to my throat, as sometimes my father spoke excitedly when he recalled that event. Then he saw me staring at him and smiled.

“You were stealing the cork, and you were stealing the spinach, right?”

My father was a sailor, I thought. When I was two and a half years old, he picked me up in his arms, went out with me to the balcony, and from the ninth floor, he showed me the big ships that were sailing towards the port.

“These are cargo ships, and the small ones that are being towed are tugboats[1]. Do you see them?”

He pointed to the sea with his finger and explained to me about the containers with bananas and similar things that ships bring to us from all over the world. Then, still holding me in his arms, he entered the apartment, and into the living room. We had large French windows and a low fence on the outside.

He carefully approached the open window and said, “Look, there’s our ship down there.”

I looked for it with my eyes, but I could not see it.

“Where it is?”

“The one over there, the one with the highest mast[2], the one over there, look, the one over there, the one over there.”

I thought I was seeing it.

“Guna,” I said excitedly. “Guna, guna!” I shouted, happy to see something.

The sailboat was still at the dock. Only the lower deck needed to be painted. And my father wrote GUNA in his own hand, with special colors under the steering wheel. So, my sister and I became sailors. She still didn’t know how to walk, but she had already seen half of the Adriatic islands. Of course, I thought my father was a sailor. The fact that he really works for the company “Gradis” was completely false. To me, he was a real sailor. And, of course, the best sailor of all.

In a way, I was a sea child. And not only because I grew up at sea and because the ship was my second home; it wasn’t just because of that at all. My sister, for example, just wasn’t feeling it. Much later she told me that she does not feel any nostalgia for Capodistria. It was different for me. I don’t know how to describe it. Capodistria and the sea were a part of me. Even when we sailed and there was a strong storm, I accepted it as the most normal thing. Then I calmed down my sister a little, who was scared and all pale in the face and crying, and my father and mother could do nothing else but lock us in the cabin, put on yellow rubber boots and a rubber suit, and they both went outside on the rain to deal with the storm. I wasn’t afraid. Never. I jumped from the sailboat to the deck and from the deck of the sailboat like I was chamois. I had a short-sleeved navy T-shirt and a white hat with a dolphin on my head. And I knew how to swim. Like a real shark from the Adriatic.

“Shark, shark!” I shouted and threw myself into the water, which reached up to my navel.

Nothing could happen to me. And especially not in Susak. Susak Island was a little paradise, both for parents and children. The ship was anchored in the port, and my mother and father with their friends Valencic (who also had a boat, the little “Zhuberchka”, that’s what my father jokingly called it) were sitting in the restaurant, which had a view of the bay, and we children in the sea with a sandy bottom – we had fun like crazy. Where we played, the sea was nowhere too deep. Even if it was deep, we knew how to swim and dive. The little locals were tanned and burnt by the sun, and I, just as tanned as the others, had light, almost white hair. It was here that I learned to swim, in that unique mud, on the island of Susak, where there was nothing but sailboats and boats on the dock, a little further on was the restaurant “Barba”, around the corner from the big supermarket or “grocery store” was the patisserie “Osmani Osman” and almost in the upper village was the small butcher’s shop. There was mud everywhere in the village. It was clinging to bathing suits, and we were bringing it all over the boat. After a while, our hair became hardened from the sea salt, but we didn’t care. We licked the watery, orange, mandarin-flavored ice creams and walked barefoot along the pier, looking at which of the local kids caught the bigger fish. Then with our nets from the harbor, we tried to catch something ourselves. I never had the patience for fishing. I quickly gave up and preferred to climb the harbor wall and jump from it into the sea. My mother would come from the “grocery store” and would carry a loaf of bread, tomatoes, and garlic in her bag. Then she would stop at the port and buy fresh fish from the fisherman on a small boat.

[1] Ships that move very slowly (all footnotes are notes of the translator).

[2] A curved beam, wooden or metal, vertically placed on a ship’s deck that serves to spread the sails, for observation, etc.

2023-01-06T10:06:03+00:00 December 30th, 2022|Categories: Prose, Literature, Blesok no. 148|Comments Off on Excerpt from the novel “Sleep my little one, sleep”