Nermana Česko



Chair on my Eye



Warm water at low temperatures turns cold.

Cold water at freezing temperatures turns to ice.

Ice, under pressure, cracks.


The first thing I felt was the touch of a tear. None of the feet that had walked over me, the things that I had supported, the dust that had settled in the absence of people, the stains from the spilt juices and bits of food that had fallen off the table and reached me—none of that summoned me into this world. One tear, unusually heavy, brought me to life. I can feel I’ve grown old. The squeaking is the sound of my pain as feet walk across me, as worms bore through me, as the load I can’t bear piles up, and bear it I must. My purpose in the world of humans is not to talk about myself and my pain. I’m here to bear witness that it’s better to be an object than a human being. Some lives breathe in the cities, on open, straight roads with a few bends. Others, off the map in the hills, suffer from a lack of air on meandering roads full of potholes and rockslides. There one treads cautiously, the way one’s been told, the way one has learnt. Curiosity is forbidden. To wish for something new is forbidden. 


I had had only one purpose before—to lie between the concrete and the rug. People can walk on carpet-covered concrete, of course. Somebody invented me, somebody brought me here. They are my parents and forebears. I, too, have a history.  

No, I’m not going to talk about that. I’m not going to talk about myself.

The tear. I mentioned the tear, and I want to talk about it. When my life started, the first thing I saw was a young woman sitting and wiping her face with her hands. They were shivering. She took off her shawl, uncovering her thin, brown hair, and put her hands on her knees. A lividness crept into her face, showing itself round her eyes and on her lips. Add a bit of red in the eyes, weariness and exhaustion in the cheeks, and the sight will not be a pretty one, although her features tell of the beauty she had before, beauty I haven’t seen since and will not ever see again. Black trousers followed the lines of her skinny legs, and underneath the unbuttoned shirt, her bony ribcage showed. In front of her stood a man a few years older than her, shifting from one leg to the other. He was too young to be her father. Older brother perhaps? I realised later he was her husband.

“Now, then, how’s things?”

“Both. It appeared on the other one, too. They say it’s not worth the risk.”

“Oh, fuckin’ ‘ell! How you gonna do without both of them? What you gonna look like?”

“What am I gonna look like? You know, I could have surgery, have something stitched up down there and become a man, just to see you embarrassed when they start calling you a faggot. How am I gonna do...!”

“Mind your gob. You’ve dragged your arse to the city a few times, and there you are, all mouthy, like those city women. Shame on you!”

I observed everything that transpired in the room in the following months. I got to meet the two of them. By listening to their conversations, I learnt about the world in which I was now, and the one which lay far away from where they lived. They called it the city. “God almighty,” he would say. “You can’t tell who’s a man and who’s a woman. Everyone doing as they please, young and old alike.”

And then came silence, followed by her steps. She walked over me slowly. Gently. We were often alone. He would go somewhere at night. She would talk to herself about her time in the city and the things she got to see and know there. She danced almost every day. She would walk from one part of me to another. I would get the jitters. When her toe caught one of my bristles, it would startle me. I didn’t want to hurt her. I knew my bristles were too rough for her soft skin. But she would just say, “Ouch!” and press on. She didn’t know I was watching her, listening to her. She didn’t know there was someone with her. She wiped me. Washed me.  I wanted to let her know I was there when she cried. One time, when she said through tears that it would have been better if she had died, I spoke to her softly, whispered, “No,” and she was startled, looking all around.

“Oh, great, now I’m crazy.”

I didn’t speak to her again. I didn’t want her to think of herself that way.

His presence at home brought clamour and arguments. I didn’t mind his stomping on me with his heavy feet. I was bothered by the icicles which grew from his eyes and his mouth. They impaled her every time he faced her.

“Give us some salt for the soup.”

“There’s no salt.”

“What do you mean? Where is it?”

“You should know. I gave you money and a shopping list, but then you left and didn’t come back. Till this morning.”

“Alright, it’s passable. Just don’t nag me with that whydidntyou and wherewereyou bollocks.”

“Passable because I seasoned it with my tears. Sorry I didn’t cry more. It would’ve been tastier.”

“Oh, stop that shite.”

“I season your soup with my tears. And don’t be carping at me about the salt. I don’t give a toss about where you were, what you did, and who you were with. Just tell me where’s the money I gave you for salt and everything else we need round the house—the money my mother sent because she knows how you spend the little you make. In my bra, tucked under a tit sagging all the way to the belly button it certainly isn’t. I’ve got neither tits nor bras. It’s not under the rug. It’s not in the box with mountain herbs for soothing and digestion infusions. And don’t blame my cancer. It’s eaten away my tits, so vitally important to you. If you want to touch them, go touch them, knead them, put that empty gourd of yours between them and huff and puff till you puff out your last breath. By your breath, go. I’m not holding you back. I’ve got nothing to hold you back with. But don’t yell at me for staying alive. You spend your money on daft tarts with big tits, not mine!”

With her words she painted his cheeks red. Not a single word of his, said as an order to stop, could break through her scream which wrapped itself around her.

Emira left the room.

“Get back ‘ere, now!”

She didn’t get back. He was left alone to talk to himself.

“How dare she lash out at me so?”

I was happy because of the noise she made. Her voice bounced off the walls, and when it reached me, I absorbed it. I would’ve released it so it would ring out longer, but I saved it for later.

Admir spent the whole day lying on the couch, watching football and emptying cans of beer he had gone to fetch after the argument. That was how he fell asleep. The last time I saw Emira was when she came in that night and left a piece of paper on the TV set.

 He read the message next morning:


I was able to read it myself when it fell on me from his hand. Admir sat and lit a cigarette. He was shaking the cans one by one, trying to find at least a sip to slake his thirst after sleeping. He couldn’t find one. He went to the kitchen and brought out a glass and a pitcher of cold water.

He looked at the piece of paper he had dropped a minute before, picked it up, and read it again.

A single flourish of the arm scattered everything off the table. The books on the shelves were torn and scattered, with so much attention and rage, because they were hers. She’d brought them from the city. The cupboard with glazed doors, holding the glasses, plates, large bowls, and pitchers, hurt me the most when it came down. Although a part of me was broken off after the cupboard fell, I was happy when I managed to draw blood on his foot with that same part.

“Admir, what did you stoop to? Yer own wife left you. What’s people gonna say now?”

“If you could only get this chair off my eye!” I spoke aloud to him for the first time. “Does it matter what others will say? What have you got to say? Is there something troubling you? Have you got dreams? Desires? Do you love yourself the way you are? Are you perhaps a ‘faggot’? What if you are?”

“Who’s there?” Admir said, startled.

I wanted him to take the chair and sit on it. He hadn’t before. It was her chair. The chair of weeping.

I laugh. I whistle. I cry. I laugh again. I call his name quietly, then I scream. I release Emira’s voice, her words, to remind him lest he forget. The day Emira left was the day his wits left him.

He lifted the chair, looking around closely, searching. There was nothing that could talk. He sat on it. He sat long, staring at me. And then it came. Once more I felt a tear, as heavy as the first one, the one that brought me here. Then all the tears came. Each one fell on me with a thud. You could hear the solitude of a prisoner. You could hear remorse. You could hear joy. You could hear freedom.

In all the tears, I heard the end of me.


Translated by Mirza Purić

Topla voda se na niskim temperaturama ohladi.

Hladna voda se na niskim temperaturama pretvara u led.

Led, pod pritiskom, puca.


Prvo što sam osjetio je bio dodir suze. Sve noge što su hodale po meni prije, stvari koje sam držao na sebi, prašina koja se slagala u odsustvu ljudi, fleke od prolivenih sokova i komadića hrane koji su padali sa stola i dolazili do mene, nisu me dozvali u ovaj svijet. Jedna suza, neobično teška, mi je dala život. Osjećam da sam već star. Škripa je zvuk mog bola dok noge prelaze preko mene, dok crvi prolaze kroz mene, dok se gomila teret koji ne mogu da nosim, a moram. Svrha mog prisustva u svijetu ljudi nije da pričam o sebi i svom bolu. Tu sam da svjedočim da je bolje biti stvar nego čovjek. Jedni životi dišu u gradovima, na otvorenim i ravnim cestama sa ponekom krivinom. Drugi, zabačeni u brdima, pate od manjka zraka na krivudavim cestama, punih rupa i odrona. Tu se pažljivo kreće, onako kako se kaže i kako se nauči. Radoznalost je zabranjena. Željeti novo je zabranjeno.


Prije sam imao samo jednu svrhu, da ležim između betona i tepiha. Ljudi mogu da hodaju po betonu prekrivenim tepihom. Neko me izmislio, neko me donio tu. To su  moji roditelji i moji preci. I ja imam historiju.

 Ne, neću o tome. Neću o sebi.

Suza. Spomenuo sam suzu i hoću da pričam o njoj. Kada je započeo moj život, prvo što sam ugledao je bila mlada žena. Sjedila je na stolici i brisala lice dlanovima. Drhtali su. Skinuvši maramu sa glave, otkrivajući rijetku smeđu kosu, spustila ih je na koljena. U njeno lice se zavukla modrina, pokazujući se oko očiju i na usnama. Dodajte još malo crvenila u oči, umora i iscrpljenosti u obraze i prizor neće biti lijep iako crte njenog lica govore o ljepoti koju je posjedovala prije, koju nikada nisam i neću vidjeti. Crne pantalone su pratile liniju mršavih nogu, a ispod raskopčane plave košulje virile su kosti grudnog koša. Ispred nje je stajao čovjek, par godina stariji, cupkajuci s noge na nogu. Bio je premlad za oca. Možda joj je stariji brat? Shvatio sam kasnije da je to bio njen muž.

"I, šta je reć', hoće li?"

"Obje. Pojavilo se i na drugoj. Kažu da ne vrijedi rizikovati."

"A majku mu! Pa kako ćeš bez obje, na šta ćeš ličit'?"

"Na šta ću ličit'?! Mogla bih otić' još i na operaciju nek mi dole nešto prišiju pa da budem muško, da se stidiš kad ti svi počnu dobacivat' da si post'o peder. Čuj kako ću!"

"Pazi ti malo kako pričaš. Guzica ti par puta otišla u grad i odmah razvezala taj jezik, sram te bilo!"

Posmatrao sam sve što se narednih mjeseci dešavalo u toj sobi. Upoznao sam ih. Kroz njihove razgovore naučio sam o svijetu u kojem sam sad, o onom koji je daleko od njih. Zovu ga grad. ''Da Bog sačuva,'' govorio je. ''Ne zna se ko je muško, ko žensko. Svako radi šta hoće, bilo mlado il' staro.''

A onda je došla tišina praćena njenim koracima. Polako je  prelazila preko mene. Nježno. Bili smo sami često. On je uvijek odlazio negdje noću. Govorila bi sama sebi o svom boravku u gradu i onome što je tamo vidjela i upoznala. Plesala je skoro svaki dan. Prelazila bi sa jednog dijela mene na drugo. Ježio sam se. Kada bi prstom zakačila moju dlačicu, ja bih se prepao. Nisam želio da je povrijedim. Znam da su moje dlačice preoštre za njenu nježnu kožu. Ali ona bi samo uzviknula ''Aj'' i nastavila. Nije znala da je posmatram, da je slušam. Nije znala da ima nekog. Brisala me. Umivala. Želio sam da joj se javim kada bi plakala. Nisam smio. Jednom, kada je kroz plač rekla da bi bolje bilo da je umrla, javio sam joj se tiho, šapnuo ''Ne,'' a ona se trznula i razgledala okolo.

"Evo, još sam i luda."

 Nisam više ni progovarao. Nisam želio da misli tako o sebi.

Njegovo prisustvo u kući je donosilo buku i svađe. Nije mi smetalo mi što mene gazi svojim teškim nogama. Smetale su mi ledenice koje su izrastale iz njegovih očiju i usta. Probadale su  je svaki put kada bi se okrenuo prema njoj.

 "Daj da posolim supu."

"Nema soli."

"Čuj nema, a gdje je?"

"To ti treba da znaš. Juče sam ti dala i pare i spisak šta treba uzet', ali ti kad si otiš'o nisi se više ni vratio. Do jutros."

"Dobro, evo može se pojest' samo me nemoj nervirat' svojom pričom što nisam, gdje sam i kako sam."

"Može, kad sam je solila suzama. Izvini što nisam više plakala da bude ukusnija."

"Hajd ne seri."

"Solim ti supu svojim suzama. I ne zvocaj mi što nemamo soli u kući. Boli me briga gdje si bio, šta si radio, s kim si bio nego mi reci gdje su pare što sam ti dala da kupiš i so i sve ostalo što je trebalo za kuću, pare koje je moja mati poslala jer zna na šta potrošiš i to malo što zaradiš. Jer  meni u grudnjaku  ušuškane ispod obješene sise do pupka nisu. Nemam ni sise ni grudnjake. Ispod ćilima nisu, u kutijama gdje stoje trave sa planine za čaj za smirenje i za probavu nisu. I ne krivi moj rak, meni je pojeo, tebi za život toliko bitne, sise. Ako želiš da ih diraš idi diraj, gnjavi, zavuci svoju praznu glavu u njih i dahći dok ti iz pluća ne izađe zadnji  dah. Daha ti tvog idi, ja te ne držim, nemam čime da te zadržim, ali ne deri se što ostajem živa. Svoje pare troši na sisate praznoglavke, ali moje nećeš!"

Riječima mu je obojila obraze u crveno. Svaka njegova riječ, izgovorena kao naredba da prestane, se nije mogla probiti kroz njen vrisak koji se omotavao oko nje.

Emira je izašla iz sobe.

"Vraćaj se 'vamo kad ti kažem!"

Nije se vratila. Ostao je sam sebi da priča.

"Kako samo smije da se dere na mene onako?!"

Bio sam sretan zbog buke koju je napravila. Njen glas se odbijao o zidove, a kada bi došao do mene upio bih ga. Izbacio bih ga  ponovo da traje duže, ali zadržao sam ga za kasnije.

Admir je cijeli dan proveo ležeći na kauču, gledajući utakmice i ispijajući limenke piva po koje je otišao poslije svađe. Tako je i zaspao. Zadnji put sam vidio Emiru  kada je naveče ušla i ostavila komad papira na televizor.

Ujutro je pročitao poruku:


Mogao sam pročitati kada je iz njegove ruke padala na mene. Admir je sjeo i zapalio cigaretu. Mućkao je jednu po jednu limenku, tražeći bar jedan gutljaj da malo ugasi žeđ poslije sna. Nije ga bilo. Otišao je u kuhinju i donio času i pun bokal hladne vode.

Pogledao je komadić papira koji mu je maloprije ispao iz ruke, uzeo ga i ponovo pročitao.

Jedan pokret ruke je razbacao sve sa stola. Knjige sa polica su poderane i razbacane, sa toliko pažnje i bijesa. Bile su njene. Donosila ih je kada se vraćala iz grada. Ormar sa staklenim vratima u kojem su stajale čaše, tanjiri, velike zdjele i bokali me zabolio najviše kada je pao. I, iako je jedan dio mene slomljen nakon pada ormara, bio sam sretan kada sam uspio raskrvariti njegovo stopalo tim istim dijelom.

"Moj Admire, šta ti sebi dozvoli! Da te žena ostavi. Šta će tek sad ljudi reć'?"

"Kad bi samo mogao maknuti ovu stolicu sa mog oka!'' progovorio sam po prvi put glasno. ''Je li bitno šta će drugi reć'? Šta ti imaš da kažeš? Je li tebe nešto boli? Imaš li želje? Da li sanjaš? Voliš li sebe takvog kakav jesi? Jesi li možda 'peder'? Šta ako jesi?"

"Ko je to?" trznuo se Admir.

Želio sam da uzme stolicu i da sjedi na njoj. Nikada prije nije. Stolica je bila njena. Stolica plakanja.

Smijem se. Zviždim. Plačem. Opet se smijem. Zovem ga tiho, pa vrisnem. Izbacim iz sebe Emirin glas, njene riječi da ga podsjetim, da ne zaboravi. Dan kada je otišla Emira je dan odlaska njegove pameti.

Podigao je stolicu, zagledao, tražio. Nije bilo ničega što bi moglo govoriti. Sjeo je na nju. Sjedio je dugo  gledajući u mene. A onda je krenula. Još jednom sam osjetio suzu, tešku kao i ona prva koja me dovela ovdje. Onda su krenule sve suze. Padale su s treskom na mene. Čula se samoća zatvorenika. Čulo se kajanje. Čula se radost. Čula se sloboda.  

U svim suzama, ja sam čuo svoj kraj.