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sea and vuk

 ALEKSANDORA- Jovanka Djuricic  Belgrade    SEA AND VUK   Hot, flickering summer afternoon on one of the Balkans’ coasts. Small beach, as I like it. I avoid crowd. I turned my back to the murmur, sat in shallow water and stretched before me my waiter’s legs, heavy, swollen from the morning shift. Tired and sweaty, I swooped up water in my palms and cooled my shoulders. The sea smelled good. Foamy undertone of the waves mingled with those from the shore. Before me, all the way to the infinity, spread the big blue, which, with, with its mystical, seductive power drove my look away.  The two big blues, connected, emitted light…The sky and the sea…Public and secret, as life itself. I felt my long and skinny legs and big feet rising from the ground against my will, and the water carried them aside. They swayed left and right, as if they had no weight. Somewhere, about a hundred kilometers behind me, my country, my Yugoslavia, and in it, another battle of karmas. So strange is this Balkan, it attracts the war as does the earth a man in his death-bed.    And I? I am a stranger here and I watch my feet swim in the shallow waters of the Mediterranean Sea. I tried to calm them down and keep them at the bottom. As soon as I give up any effort, the feet, again, followed  by the will of the sea, swim out to the surface. I wonder; how is it possible that I never gathered enough will-power to master the art of swimming? As a boy, I learned to so-so keep myself floating on water. When I swim, however, I’m stiff, so that only a few movements tire me.  In the sea, I never go further than the line that provides me security and solid ground under my feet. Just as in life, never further than the border of security, known and experienced. I’m scared of the depths and anything that is unknown and superior.To me fear has physical qualities. I feel it as a trembling mass around me, sometimes more, sometimes less, and it exists within me as a part of my body..  I am not university graduate, because I wasn’t even accepted at the faculty. Even at the entrance exam I was so frightened, as if I had before the JUDGEMENT DAY. I had vertigo. I was in a cloud of grayish vibrations which separated me from the examining professors, their voices echoed somewhere arround me. My body contracted and sweated, and in my mind came none of those data, which came to me in the following few days, but of course, then it was too late.  My talent and my dream from my childhood, to become an actor, I never tried to accomplish. Knowing myself, I could see in advance the failure at the audition, sneer and shame.  I never put  on canvas my surrealistic paintings from my imaginaton’s gallery, which is breathtaking. In my closet I keep a few good drawings that I show to my friends, behind the wardrobe I have some pictures with a few initial strokes, and…There ends my career as a painter.  I am ashamed of not having a driver’s license. I strongly believe I would have an accident at the very first busy crossroad. Somewhere I once read:; ”Man is such a foolish creature…foolish and filled with fear.”  A strong wave pounded me on my chest and it moved me from the spot. I got up and slowly stepped forward into the lukewarm sea. I love this wet sand under my feet. The water tickled my stomach and it made me smile.   I lowered my hands and let them dive into the foamy water. This is where the alchemy begins, a kind of identification of the sea and myself. The osmosis occurs between the sea and those seventy-five percent water which makes up the human body. .I feel the borders up to where the sea stretches, and it is as myself spread to all those shores of the world. This makes me think of a sea as the spiritual being, which carries the arch-element in wich all the secrets are kept, and which fills me in such moments as this. Some kind of trance and strange dreamy state overtake me. In my imagination I sense the smells, I hear the sounds and far-away voices,I see colors. It is all so real, it has  the power of reminiscence and recognition.…The sand on one of the oceanic islands glows with whiteness and I feel its heat.…Before me, the coast of Mozambique appears, slim, dark-skinned pursuer of corals. The man is about one meter ninety-five tall……I touch the tip of the green branch of bramble covered with thorns, sunk in a bay on a far-away New Zeland. About a hundred years ago, some desperate immigrant took with him in his luggage, with his poverty and his hope, a branch of the Adriatic bramble with its root and a clod of red soil of  Dalmatia*. The branch I see in the descendant of the exact resistant Adriatic species.…I see somebody I am fond of, and whom I had not seen for the past fifteen years.Walking the New York bank, he stretches out his hands and touches this very same collection of drops. I hear his laughter and talking in good English, as if he had never spoken Serbian before…We are so far apart, and between us nothing more than these water drops.…I hear and see the peace of the Pacific Ocean. This is a place where seconds begin and where nothing has changed since the beginning of the world. There is a mysterious evil in its peace, which is incomprehensible to a human being. A man here, in this blue infinity, is so small, weak, unimportant, where but one dot separates him from perishing…I remember these games of the sea and imagination from my childhood. I saw the rough gray sides of Japanese fishing-boat, felt the coolness of Arctic glacier and experienced the whirlpool of the storm at the Indian coast. Here I am now…The scent of the sea and the crystal indigo color before me. I stand gaping at the sun, and its shiny trace on the surface, with no less allure.  I stepped even deeper into the water, which now reached my shoulders. My entire body swayed in the rhythm of the waves, childishly innocent and sleepily. I felt “in vibe” with the sea, carelessly relaxed, surrendered to the bliss of nonchalance…I SWAM..…I felt the density of the water and was as light as leaf. Warm water cuddled me and I, miraculously continued to swim without any effort. I almost floated united with the waves. To me, this was an entirely new filling of being completely and naturally relaxed. My body, by itself and accidentally, discovered the ease of swimming. I observed my easy movements and long sliding on the dense, thick water, almost effortlessly. I was picked up and lowered down by waves. Even thought I felt every part of my body, from feet to head, it moved without any supervision, just like my thoughts left in me! I was not analyzing nor interpreting, I wasn’t searching for meaning, I wasn’t even overwhelmed. I was immersed in my pleasure, stretched over the tame, soft open sea. Around me, billions of warm and sharp reflections of water surface. At play. Before me, the same clear and wide silence. Only rhythmical murmur of my movements trough small waves. I got carried away in this new experience. I felt simple happiness…just felt.Stroke by stroke, further and further away.A tiny cramp in my left foot roused me. Underneath me there was no bottom, only dark blue. Everywhere around only the sea and me with myself alone. The terror stroked inside me with all its might. I turned towards the shore. I was horror-struck. I couldn’t believe it! How did I get so far? It darkened before my eyes. I wiggled in water, as if I had being trying to run, but there was no support underneath. The water opposed my every move. The blackness under me threatened…I will be swallowed down! Erased as by a rubber. The past, the present, the future, silly scenes…I waved my hands in water with stiff movements and without any rhythm, like in a fight. I was attacked by whirl of merciless visions. Scenes from the movie “The Shark”, sea snakes, monsters from the myths…”Bermuda Triangle”, ”The X-Files”…! I was scattered all over. “Oh, God, help me!”, I brought God out from the oblivion. I searched for and hung on to pieces of self-confidence and recent pleasure. I brought myself together and with shivering, loose strokes moved towards the shore. I did all I could. With all the effort I had. I barely moved forward, I had a feeling  that I actually was not moving at all. A glance below, like a glance at horrible eternity, from my soul’s depths and weaknesses, fear raised its heads again Once more, visions in the reckless race. The scene where sharks plunge their teeth in my flesh, the terror of the scene where my blood is spilled on the surface. Serbia, my mother’s cry, the neighbor’s comments in a far-away Belgrade:; ”Poor man, he left home to avoid war and earn some money, and now …” I suppressed those thoughts; I once read something about the auto-suggestion. Panic-stricken, I said to myself :”I AM ALLMIGHTY!”…And for a moment, even believed in it…Oh, I will go to hell! My death is becoming small. There is no accomplishment, no grand speech at the funeral…No, I don’t want think about it, I mustn’t  think that way…”I AM BRAVE.I AM TERRIFIC SWIMER.” These words were horribly resistant. The unbearable acceleration of exchange of thoughts and feelings. And now, I was terrified by my own thoughts. I hated them; they scared me so much. My heart was beating. I was afraid I was going to die of heart attack in water! God…I am going to die of terror! Treacherously ,the waves were approaching me behind my back. I was panting like a desperate man and I breathed in my lungs a part of a bitter and salty wave. Traitor pain of the ulcer in my stomach seized me. I suddenly started to shiver. Now I am cold…fatigue, pain and feverish strokes…Worn out, emptiness in my head, I give up…What a humiliating way to die! Suddenly, within a hands reach, I saw…my salvation! God’s hand or a hallucination? A yellow float, a rope with floats! Spasmodic grab. I held on to that rope so hard that all the remaining strength gathered in one and only spasm of life. But life was one vile cheat. I realized that I was sinking together with my salvation.  So be it, now anything my happen…I was sinking. Something was caught up at my toes, but I didn’t care. I don’t even give a damn anymore about the end of the world. I don’t  know  how long it lasted, time lost its purpose, until I realized that I was standing in wet sand, water up to my shoulders.Ashamed, I got out of water.“Man is such a foolish creature ,foolish and filled with fear.” *VUK-serbian name (wolf)*DALMATIA-A region of  Croatia TRANSLATION BY-Bojana  Petrovic

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One of the earlier work of mine...