And that day, when he went round the stall I was working at, he stopped and in front of all the guests and dignitaries that were waiting for a speech on his award-winning new novel, he glanced at the name tag on my chest and said:
“M-A-R-I-N-A… What a strange spelling for love in this language!”
And no, I was not embarrassed; because falling in love at first sight is nothing to be ashamed of… it is only embarrassing not to immediately admit it to yourself.
And that day when he recited to me those intangible and incomprehensible Prever’s verses! When he cited a Thai wise man with whom he shared a meal once; when he dug up, from the depths of his mind, rhymes that could only be described as the ones that Balasevic never wrote!
And no, I was not afraid, because scary is only what we wish for to be scary! Everything else is simply – life!
And no, I was not ashamed to memorise his first text message, which I have been saving all these years like a priceless relic:
“The experience taught me never to be the first to show to a woman that I like her. And I didn’t show it to you… I directly told you! Experience also taught me that I should not be sending you any messages, until I realise that you want me at least a bit… And so, you see, I am not sending them! Experience taught me to wait, not to be impatient. And so, you see, I am not. Experience taught me that the one that doesn’t want you is worth more than thousands of them queuing to get under you. But, where did I get all that experience from? Experience, my arse! Be mine! Be mine, at least forever!”
My lucky number all those months was the number of my heartbeats, while he was passing by, within my scent range. Countless beats! My lucky number was the number of butterflies flickering in my eyes while he was trying to catch some more of Kierkegaard’s thoughts.
“Marina, do you know, by any chance, what is the colour of the wind?” my Professor of literature asked me one of those mornings. “Sky blue? Forest green? Sea turquoise? Yellow like the autumn, white like the winter? Noooo! No! The wind always and forever had HIS colour! Whatever the season!
But… forever doesn’t exist! ‘Forever’ was made up by the people who invent fairy tales. The only time that exists is the time when you have to be somebody else in order to be who you really are! There exists simply a fascination with the idea that the whole world is celebrating only you, because you have an impression that by loving one man, you are in love with the whole world.
And then you realise that the whole world is just a stopover between unlimited happiness and complete loneliness! The amount of love that you suddenly capture triggers inside you a wish for only one thing – for this love never to be lost, and the power of that wish is directly linked to the amount of loneliness you surround yourself with after that love is gone.
And that day when he has, in his own peculiar way, said that it is not the end because he wants it to end, but because life dictates so! I didn’t believe him, I defied the truth… but it was too late… he went away without my “I’m sorry!” He left me to grow old alone; he left me without anyone on this irrelevant planet. He left me with a dead sea in my eyes.
And that day when I had for a millionth time wiped the dust from his gravestone at New Belgrade Cemetery, I realised that my solitude through all these years was not that difficult to endure because I had memories which made my life worth living.
And no, I was not ashamed to memorise his last message, written by his weak, shaky hand, and which I treasured throughout the decades like an ancient relic:
“If you ever had to choose between loneliness and being alone, choose the latter! They are not the same! We choose to be alone, but the loneliness is forced upon us! It is a destiny of us artists not to be able to choose a moment when we will depart. That moment always chooses us. It is our artistic privilege to be able to create always… even when it is hard. But what we do create can be called a work of art only if it was conceived and executed while we were in love, or while we were lonely. Let’s be absolutely clear though, I am not describing my current state! This is a description of the state of my whole life. This is what that Thai wise man told me over our modest meal all those years ago…”
“M-A-R-I-N-A… What a strange spelling for love… !”
P.S. This story is only part of my new book … the book is part of my old life
* Special thanks to master Srđan Perović for translation