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Din Balcani: Le Bien Aime
de Ioana Avadani
FROM THE BALKANS: THE WELL-LOVED
by Ioana Avadani
translated from the Romanian by Andrei Codrescu

      Em Emovich traieste la Sarajevo. Este ziarist. Este un ziarist bun si serios. Dar nu este un combatant. Em Emovich stie cum sa spuna lucrurile si cunoaste si serpentinele diplomatiei, si unsorile si uleiurile vorbei cumpanite. De aceea, pe Em Emovich il iubesc multi. Si viata il iubeste.
      Inainte de razboi ("care razboi?" ć intreaba ascultatorii, si incapatinarea cu care aceasta intrebare apare in povestile nostre balcanice ne face, iaca, sa zimbim amar. Cel din Bonsia, precizeaza povestasul), Mehmet avea, ca multi alti locuitori din Sarajevo, o casa de vacanta, cam la vreo 15 kilometri de oras. In timpul asediului, zona aceea a fost ocupata de sirbi si oamenii nu au mai avut cum ajunge la casele lor. Dar iata ca s-a semnat si pacea si sirbii s-au retras din zonele ocupate. Unul dupa altul, oamenii din Sarajevo isi iau inima in dinti si pornesc inspre posesiunile de odinioara. Vestile pe care le aduc sunt proaste: case praduite, bombardate, arse. Devastari. Tablou de razboi fara invingatori.
      Zice povestasul, lovindu-se cu palmele pe coapse: Imaginati-va! Un stat destramat. O tara distrusa. Doua milioane de refugiati. Doar Em Emovich isi gaseste casa de vacanta intreaga, cu toate ale ei intr-insa÷ si cu o aripa nou construita. Ia-ma de mina

      Orhan G. este tigan din Kosovo. Arata ca un bulgare de smoala cu propulsie nucleara. Ride mult, cu tot dintii si cu hohote. Ne povesteste despre bunicul lui, care a avut 20 de copii. De tatal lui, care a avut vreo 15. El are deja sase si al saptelea e pe drum (si astfel, numarul copiilor il va egala pe cel al limbilor pe care Orhan si nevasta lui le vorbesc÷)
     
"Traditia merge mai departe," spune una din fetele de la masa si Orhan da din cap a negare. "Nu, nu e vorba de traditie. Sa va povestesc÷ Cind locuiam in satul meu, in fiecare seara, eu si fratii mei ne luam copii de mina si mergeam pina la batrini, sa le spunem noapte buna. Intr-una din seri, gasim toata casa cufundata in intuneric. Era numai vreo opt, nu era posibil ca batrinii se se fi culcat. Ne apropiem pe sub ferestre si il auzim pe bunicul: 'Hai, ia-ma de mina. Haide.' 'Nu se cade', zice bunica, 'vin acuma copiii si ne gasesc asa'. 'Lasa, lasa', spune bunicul, 'tu ia-ma de mina. Gindeste-te ca miine s-ar putea sa nu mai fiu. Hai sa ne iubim. Ia-ma de mina'."

      Em Emovich lives in Sarajevo. He's a journalist. He is a good, serious journalist. But he's a fighter, too. Em Emovich knows how to call things by name and knows the intricacies of diplomacy as well, the slick and smooth weight of the well-placed word. This is why Em Emovich is well loved. Life loves him, as well.
      Before the war ("What war?" the listeners ask, and the stubbornness with which this question reappears makes us smile, bitterly. "The one in Bosnia," clarifies the story-teller), Em had, like other Sarajevans, a summer house, about fifteen kilometers from the city. During the siege, the zone was occupied by the Serbs and people couldn't get to their houses any longer. After the peace accord, the Serbs retreated from the occupied territory. One after another, Sarajevans started to revisit their possessions. The news they brought was terrible: looted, bombed, burned houses. Devastation. Canvas of a war without winners. The storyteller says, "Imagine! A country destroyed! Two million refugees! Only Em Emovich finds his summer house whole! And there is a newly built wing! Be still, my heart! Take me by the hand!"

      Orhan G. is a Kosovo Gipsy. He looks like high-intensity burning coal. He laughs often, with a great big laugh. He tells us about his grandfather who had twenty children. And about his father who had fifteen. He already has six and the seventh is on its way (the number of his children will thus equal the number of languages Orhan and his wife speak).
     
"The tradition goes farther," one of his daughters at the table says, and Orhan nods approval. "Let me tell you... When we lived in the village, me and my brothers all took the children by the hand and went to the elders to say good night. One evening, we found our grandparents' house dark. It was only about eight, impossible that they should be asleep already. We peeked in the windows, and we heard grandfather, "Come, take my hand, take it!" "It's not the time or place," grandmother said, "the children will be here any minute and they'll find us." "Let it be," said grandfather, "Take my hand! just think, tomorrow I may not be here. Let's make love. Take my hand!"

 

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