Anna Karenina – the Alternative Destiny
Written by: Jovana Deljanin
Translated by: Lena Ninković
– Mum! Mum!
It wasn’t just a simple call. It was a scream of a drowning person, a cry for the lost mother.
It was her one and only Seryozha.
His scream encompassed everything – all the pain and confusion he felt due to what it seemed as eternity without her; a gaping void in his soul in its entirety; his endless longing for her presence in his young life.
How could she not answer it? Such an intense call for motherly love cannot remain unanswered, even when you feel wretched and destroyed, unworthy of living in this world.
Had he come just a moment later, he’d have been calling out for a lifeless body, cooling off from its former human state. But he arrived just on time to find her alive and ready to answer his begging.
She turned around. Just a second ago she was ready to throw herself under a train and end it all, but his voice and yearning immediately made her more lively than she’d ever been. Spreading her arms and waiting for his hug, she felt as if she was being reborn again. How powerful a single moment can be – to awaken, shake, and turn somebody into a completely different person! While he ran to approach her, she saw only him. There were no trains, railway station, or other people. There was only him, bright and warm like sun. And that was the only thing she needed.
Illumined by his glow, she realized –she allowed these gentlemen Karenin and Vronsky to rule her life for too long. Who were they anyway?
Karenin – a reserved and petty old man serving as her mask for the public and a source of funds for comfortable life. It’s true that he cannot offer them living high on the hog, but even a slightly uncomfortable life is better than a miserable one, or worse – death. Even she herself had female employees in her house, capable to earn for a living. Now that she thought of it, those women seemed a lot happier and healthier than the upper class despite having no money, new dresses, or ostentatious balls. She’d flee with her son far away – maybe to France or Germany, to some small town where she wouldn’t encounter any Russian acquaintances, and where she’d work as a governess. Who wouldn’t want such an educated and courteous governess for their children? It wouldn’t be impossible to find a job like that which also pays well – she thought. They wouldn’t lead the same life they got used to so far, but at least she’d never make her son be in a similar situation where he’d have to summon her from the grip of death. He wouldn’t have to – she’d always be there for him.
Vronsky – a spoiled brat whom she used to love. Or was that only foolishness and obsession? Now that she reflected on it – as we always do with past loves – it wasn’t at all so grand and significant as it had seemed before. She had never loved the decrepit old geezer either, and it was only a matter of time when somebody else would’ve appeared, attracted her attention and spiced up her life. It could’ve been a completely different person. Her mistake was that she mistook a spice for love and love for pain, and it did her so much harm that she decided to kill herself instead of killing the pain. It’s better to end the pain, and a new life in a new country sounded like a perfect place for it.
France – she decided in an instant. It’s closer than England, the climate is better, and her son and herself better know their language and culture. After all, France is an excellent starting point, and from there they can easily get to Italy, Germany or England, maybe even across the ocean. Having escaped almost immediate death, she obviously felt so much alive that everything seemed incredibly easy and possible.
She should leave the baby behind, she decided while buying two train tickets to France. Returning to the city and taking the baby would only slow her down in her plans, and it would be questionable whether she’d succeed in returning to the station while remaining unnoticed by anyone she knew. And nobody but her brother would’ve understood. She wrote a letter to him in which she explained why she was leaving and convinced him that she’d miss him and Dolly and that she’d definitely write as soon as she settles there. “I leave the baby in your mercy,” she wrote in the postscript.
A thought from her childhood went through her head – a gray village cat with five kittens that persistently continued pushing one away. She didn’t clean her kitten, nurse it, or taught it any life skills every kitten should know. After so many years she finally understood – it was better if four out of five make it out, than none. This is why she took only Seryozha – she knew they’d have a better chance to succeed if was only two of them. She’d never loved that baby anyway – the symbol of all of her mistakes and failures.
This is the reason why the train to France was departing without that little unwanted traveller. Having glanced at the station for the last time, she spotted him looking for something – her. Vronsky was running to and fro, and then he rushed after the train in a last-ditch effort. It was obviously someone at the station who recognized her and told him which wagon she was in. He was searching for her look through numerous windows, and when he finally found it, it was only for a moment – a moment which assured Anna that she was doing the right thing.
The first time they met he inadvertently welcomed her at the station and thus started a new chapter in her life. This time he was seeing her off from her life, while she continued to write new andhopefully more appealing pages in the novel of her life.
Jovana Deljanin has been a dreamer since she was a little girl, a curious devotee of Serbian language, writing, animals, and stars. Nowadays, she is a Serbian language teacher – she teaches Serbian to people all over the world, and writes a blog About My World.
Translator, Lena Ninković: Graduated from the Department of English language studies at the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Philology.In her free time, when she’s not busy contemplating life, she writes poetry, plays the piano, and reads books. She is interested in linguistics, literature, gender studies, and translation.
Translation edited by: Dejan Mujanović