Written by: Vladimir Tagić
Translated by: Aleksandra Stojković
A LETTER TO FATHER
Mom is fine.
Sonja is a mom.
Ljubica has Sonja’s eyes.
I still don’t know how to live.
Don’t worry, everything is under control.
Jelena and I are travelling to Berlin. I’m going to some festival, I can’t stay longer than 4 days, I have to go back to Belgrade for work. Jelena is coming “to keep me company”. In the meantime, she realized it was silly to stay for only 4 days, so she decided to prolong her stay and visit her sisters who lives in a small town just outside of Berlin, the name of which I don’t know. I can’t stay longer than those 4 days, she’s really sorry about that, she told me “I’m really sorry”. Jelena likes to travel. She decided with our friend who lives in Berlin to go sightseeing, there are already a lot of places she plans to visit. She’s really sorry that I have things to do at the festival and that I won’t be able to enjoy Berlin with them, she told me “I’m really sorry”. She found some boots on some “crazy sale” in Berlin. I have no idea what kind of boots that were “on a crazy sale” in Berlin, but I don’t really need to know. There are some things I don’t need to know. Jelena realized she could buy some extra things, so she decided to bring an extra bag in which she would pack those extra things she buys, but since I’m returning earlier, and she’s continuing her travels, she also realized that it makes sense to pack those extra things in that extra bag and send it along with me back to Belgrade. It makes sense. Why would she drag it around to her sisters’ in a small town just outside of Berlin, the name of which I don’t know, when I can bring it back to Belgrade with me, she told me: “It makes sense”. Jelena likes the illustrations of Johan Potma, they’ll fit in wonderfully in our apartment, we must find some illustrations of Johan Potma while we’re in Berlin, she said “They’ll fit in wonderfully”.
Jelena and I are travelling to Berlin, actually Jelena is travelling to Berlin, she’s really sorry, I’ll bring with me her extra bag and the illustrations of Johan Potma back to Belgrade, they’ll fit in wonderfully, it makes sense.
EVERYTHING I HAVE, BUT DON’T NEED
I have plants in every corner of my apartment, 3 cacti and some others I don’t know the names of. I have 3 teapots, a Chinese one, an artistic one and one from my Grandpa used for Rakija. I have a small plastic Christmas Tree, I have Chinese teacups with no handles, I have a glass milk bottle, a glass water bottle and a glass lemonade bottle. I have two toasters, a sandwich toaster and a pop-up toaster. I have a mechanic citrus squeezer, an electric citrus squeezer, an ordinary blender and a NutriBullet. I have a big fridge magnet that functions like a blackboard where you can leave messages, I have 5 beer can openers and 2 wine bottle openers. I have a vacuum cleaner and a steam cleaner, 3 metal boxes: one for spaghetti, one for macaroni and one for rice; 4 glass boxes: one for coffee, one for salt, one for sugar and one for Vegeta spice mix; a kitchen napkin holder, a toilet paper holder, a Chinese spice mix, a chicken spice mix, chives, ginger, wasabi, “Tom Ka” paste, yellow, green and red curry paste, rice wine vinegar, “piri piri” African sauce (spicy), chilli and garlic Thai sauce (mildly spicy), two drying racks for clothing, three laundry hampers, a digital kitchen scale, a digital weight scale, an ottoman too low for sitting, beautiful colorful mugs which lose a bit their color every time they are washed and small woven baskets for the bathroom in which nothing fits.
I have no bed.
ROUTE OF TRAM NUMBER TWO
I enter the tram. We go down towards Cara Dusana Street. I carefully assess the situation in the tram, and then sit. Lately I’ve been in a bit of a financial crisis, so I’m now illegally using public transport. I open my eyes wide so that I can spot the prowling menace on time. There are not a lot of commuters. Two are sleeping. One is right in front of me, so his stench is making my eyes water. My two petty bourgeois needs battle within me, one to pity the homeless and the other to be surrounded by mild cleanliness and a pleasant scent. A woman wheels her trolley shopping bag. Lugging it around presents a problem for her, since one of the wheels fell off. She mutters and swears unintelligibly. I’m still focused on the door and detecting possible ticket inspectors. I see an old guy monologuing, he’s wearing a ripped green “Mont” jacket and a woolen “Nike” beanie, in a way that makes his ears look loppy. He’s not talking to me, he’s talking to himself and occasionally spits down. He’s complaining, but he’s not angry, more sad than furious. Some boys are standing near and laughing at him. He spits, and they laugh. A middle-aged lady is observing him with contempt. She’s muttering under her breath something I can’t make out, but I’m certain has something to do with old spitter. The tram breaks suddenly, and the sleeper in front of me falls. He gets up slowly and returns to his seat. He goes back to sleep. Spitter gets up and goes to the door, where he spits once more, twice and exits the tram. I completely forgot about the ticket inspectors, luckily they didn’t decide to grace me with a visit that stop. After that I decide to stop worrying about paying a fine for not purchasing a ticket. If they come for me, then let them. I put on my earphones and silently stare out the window. The lyrics “…but it’s all good now, it could have been a lot worse…” echo in my head.
I heard Marjan died. The dude who lived on the street parallel to the one I live on. We were never friends, but we did spend part of our childhoods together. We played soccer and basketball. He had no talent for either, but he was a great defense in soccer. A little like a rock, you couldn’t get past him. He had that simple way of thinking: “The ball just needs to be as far away from my goal as possible”. He was a little clumsy in basketball, I guess he didn’t have good hand-eye coordination, but still, he was tall and strong, he could jump. I kicked his ass in marbles, one time we got in a fight and he literally kicked my ass. Another time we were bullied by some older Gypsy kids, and Marjan was the only one to stand up to them and I quietly stood behind him like a pussy. I don’t know what high school he went to, I only saw him around the block a few times with his girlfriend. They took a lot of walks. And then after that, I didn’t see him for a long time. A few days ago I heard he croaked and have no idea what to think or how to feel about that. I’m a little numb and confused and it seems to me that the Marjan who died really has nothing to do with the Marjan I played football with, just like I probably have nothing to do with that little Tagic kid who played marbles really well.
I HATE PLANES
I hate planes. I hate grubby taxi drivers at the airport, their rudeness and aggressiveness, the freezing people that congregate near the trash cans and smoke just in front of the entrances. Giant suitcases, the baggage carts and the poor employees who collect and push them. Screaming children who run in the hallways and their mothers who scream at them annoy me. I can’t stand those overpriced cafes, plastic €8 sandwiches, €6 espressos, €3 water bottles, the duty free shops, giant Toblerones, “exclusive” drinks and chocolates, “Nicole Kidman” and “Antonio Banderas” perfumes, foreign magazines and economy magazines, stuck-up waiters and sellers, serious business types with their little black suitcases and tablets under their arms, leaving your baggage, the passport controls, taking your shoes and belt off, the metal and lie detectors, taking your clothes off, being frisked, putting your clothes back on, waiting, boarding and those fake smile flight attendants, captains who speak to the passengers in two languages but can’t actually speak either one, instructions on what to do in case of emergency and the oxygen mask “training”. How is that oxygen mask and that training going to help when we go tumbling down from whatever the fuck height we’re up on. I’m terrified of the pressure I feel in my ears, that crackle, how your ears feel plugged, the pain in my jaw, headaches and the feeling like my veins are about to explode and the capillaries in my brain will burst. I hate that I can’t hear anything after, not even myself speak, I hate that everyone beelines for the exits even though we still have 10 minutes to wait for them to put the steps in place and bring the bus around. I’m annoyed by the person who sits next to me and is annoyed by me for being the only one still seated and not crowding to be among the first who exit, so they can’t get past me. I hate those people who rush to get off the plane first as if their next flight takes off in a just a minute and for which they’ll certainly be late for if they don’t run out first. I hate planes. Everyone leaves this country on them, no one ever comes back.
Vladimir Tagić was born in Belgrade in 1986. He completed undergraduate and master studies of Film and Television Directing at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. He is an undergraduate student of General Literature and Theory of Literature at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade. A student of Film and Television Directing generation at the FDA of 2011. An assistant director on feature-length films“Panama” by Pavle Vuckovic, “Homeland” by Oleg Novkovic, “Requiem for Ms. J” by Bojan Vuletic, “The Load” by Ognjen Glavonjic and “Asymmetry” by Masa Neskovic. A screenwriter of a short-feature film WIRE by director Ivan Bukvic. An author, director and screenwriter of TV series Morning Changes Everything (2018) in production of RTS. A screenwriter and director of short feature films Emergency Exit (2014). Awards: Best Screenplay – Munich Film Festival 2015, Best Actor In A Leading Role – PAFF 2015, Special Recognition Award for Direction – Golden Knight Russia 2015, Special Recognition Award for Artistic Vision – Cinema City Novi Sad 2014. International film premiere at the CLERMONT FERRAND festival competition section in France. The film was screened at the Cannes festival in 2017, within the ACID TRIP selection. The film was screened at over 30 international festivals in Germany, Italy, Israel, Thailand, Lithuania, Japan, Russia, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Belgium…Stevan M. Zivkovic (2010) Awards: Duka Fest Banja Luka 2010 – Best Film, FSF Belgrade 2011 – Best Balkan Film, Short Meter Belgrade 2011 – Best Editing, Cinema Cty Novi Sad 2012 – Best Direction, SBB Contest 2013 – Best Film, JSFF 2015 – Best Serbian Film. The film participated in over 30 domestic and international festivals: Munich Film Festival 2011, Golden Knight film festival in Russia 2011, Vukovar Film Festival 2011, Comedy Cluj Film Festival 2012 Romania. Good Morning, Petrovic Peter (2009), Kriterion Film Festival Sarajevo 2009 – Best Film.
Aleksandra Stojković, born August 23rd 1995, lives and attends University of Belgrade. She is currently in her final year of studies in the Faculty of Philology of the University of Belgrade, department of English. She works as a freelance translator and voice actress. She loves stories in all their forms, whether they be comic books, video games, movies or television shows.