Autumn-winter 2004


  Autumn-winter 2004

  Nura Bazdulj
As if she had her own time table, exactly at noon, Yahna showed up in her alley and headed down the main street towards the city exit. A light flowery dress was hugging her voluptuous body; the worn tennis shoes were on her feet and a plastic bag in her hand.

The July hot sun beat down and the street was almost deserted. She was walking fast, firm, with her eyes down.

People, mostly men, were sitting in front of the coffee shop, in the garden, under the sun umbrella. Braco, a doorman at the City High School, who’s closer to 50 than 40, with puffy face and watery eyes, a bachelor, an oddball, looked at Yahna then at the watch on his wrist.

“Hey, guys, you can actually set up your watch when you see Yahna.”

Everybody laughed loudly. Yahna showed up at that moment. She stopped by the Braco’s table which was at the age of the curb. She looked at him and uttered not a statement but a question:


He glowered at her over a beer mug and said rudely:

“Go, crazy Yahna, go.”

“Poor thing is not at fault neither being crazy nor trying to find her father in every mature man”, someone said.

She lowered her eyes and continued her way.

Yahna didn’t know her father. Nobody knew her father. Not even her mother. Everybody knew her mother. Not far ago, she was an often talk in the city and surrounding places. Not for her beauty, though she was beautiful; not for her goodness, though she had a good heart. She was known as a whore.

Years passed. The wrinkles creased the face, slouched her shoulders and turned white in her hair. There wasn’t a trace of her beauty left. Something new showed up, belated – remorse, shame.

Children gathered in front of the ice cream stand. When they saw Yahna, as if they followed the rhythm, they clasped their hands and started chanted:

“Cra-zy Yah-na, cra-zy Yah-na!”

Blacky got out of the pastry shop and shouted:

“Get lost! You know, you’re not going to get any ice cream. How many times I have to tell you that Yahna is not crazy.”

The children fell silent.

Yahna wasn’t really crazy. She was only retarded. And, she wasn’t always like that. She was the best student until her fourth grade; she would bring her mother only A’s and her laugh would vivified the small askew house in the alley. What a laugh was that! As if numerous bells tolled at the same time.

Then the sickness came. Suddenly, just like everything bad comes. For days and nights, Yahna was in a state of deep unconsciousness with fever which was within the margin of that one that a human being can survive.

Mother forgot about her work, food and sleep; watched over her child who was unreachable to her sorrow and dreadful worries. She would stand there. She would be petrified. After, she would go to the church, kneel before the crucifix and pray like no one ever had done it before:

“Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!” she would endlessly repeat only to burst into flow like a river through a collapsed dam:

“Jesus Christ and Blessed Mother, please leave me Yahna! She is everything that I have. I know, I sinned, gravely, but not because I wanted to but because I had to. There is no pleasure in that, only misery, utter misery. I will never do it again. Ever. Damn all man jerks … If I have to, I will beg and steal for my Yahna. But, don’t let her die!”

Miracle happened. The fever went down. Yahna woke up. She continued to live. The body was growing, firming up, maturing; only her mind was confused. Yahna was unable to memorize anything new; the fever and sickness erased for good everything that she had learned before.

When she was sixteen, she had a body of a woman and a soul of a young girl. The laugh withered, too. Only her exactly-at-noon visits to Falcon Cliff, a rock overhanging the Drina River, were regular and daily. Beak was projected beyond the cliff face, an overhang narrow and sharp like a raptor’s beak. Nobody knew what she was doing there.

Yahna arrived at the pastry shop. Blacky was waiting for her with an ice cream in his hand. He just glanced at her. Her eyes were green and deep like the Drina. There was no keenness or sparks in them, only something sadder than sadness. She looked at Blacky, her eyes glistened sadly; she took the ice cream and continued her way.

Through the whole season Blacky, 25, a pastry shop owner, would wait with an ice cream for Yahna to come. There was great tenderness in his heart for Yahna. Not for a woman who was burning in Yahna’s body but for a child inside who was lost and alone.
He would feel inexplicable fear every time he saw her looking like a speck high up on Falcon Cliff.

That day, he couldn’t resist, he followed her. Climbing was hard. He sweated excessively. Only a breath of wind would bring some coolness.

She was sitting on the edge of the rock, taking out dry bread and crumbs and throwing them into the river. Quiet, beautiful, incredibly beautiful. Her white linen hair was falling down over her shoulders. The dress slipped up and bared her round knees.

“What are you doing here, blond siren?”, he said softly so that he wouldn’t frighten her.

She turned her head and looked at him with her eyes of deep greenness and sadness. A soft arch of her lips curved slightly upward.

“Talking to fish.”

Her voice was pleasant, warm, like warm summer night.

“Fish don’t talk.”

“They know how to listen to me.”

As if it obeyed the command, a shiny trout jumped out of the water, gulped the crumb and disappeared. Another one appeared just after the first one. Everything happened in a wink. There was only a gleam in her eyes left.

“See. They get out and listen to me.”

“You may slip and fall. It is dangerous to come here. Look, they are not getting out any longer.”

“They are waiting for you to leave.”

“Will you do what I tell you?”


“Go wherever you want to but don’t come here.”

“I will come.”

“Stay well, blond siren,” he said and went back restless.

Yahna continued throwing crumbs. She wasn’t alone for a long. This time her piece was shattered by the strong man’s hands that grabbed her shoulders. She turned her head and again, as a question, uttered:

“Daddy?” trying at the same time to slip out of his hands covered with yellow hair.

“You’re beautiful,” Braco said drunkenly. “You’re pretty as a picture.”

“Don’t touch me. Pictures are to be look at.”

He laughed loudly. The echo was sent back from the other side of the river.

He dragged Yahna from the edge of the rock and pushed her on the grass. She saw a wicked glint of his eyes under the unibrow. She was filled with fear and closed her eyes ready to scream. She didn’t scream. He clasped her jaws with the right hand while he was tearing of her light flowery dress with the left one.

Darkness, only darkness and horror filled Yahna. Then the terrible, unbearable pain torn her groin, her womb.

“I love best an unwritten sheet of paper,” he mumbled, moaning inhumanly. Yahna moaned, too. Because of the horror; because of the pain.

The right hand came off the jaws; Braco rolled on by her side. She could scream now but she didn’t have either strength or will to do it. She was lying with her eyes closed. The sun was burning; crickets chirped on the rocky ground.

She lifted her self up and sat. She gathered the torn pieces of her dress and tightened them around her nude body. Then she saw it. Something sticky and warm colored in red her white thighs. Her eyes widened.

She looked around herself. Braco was lying on his back with his eyes closed. He even didn’t pull up his pants. A big pointed rock lay by his head. She got closer to it, carefully, on her toes. In great effort she lifted the rock up over his head and then dropped it. The rock hit the odious face and rolled. Braco’s body cringed and calmed down. The site that the rock left behind made Yahna freeze; she turned away her head. She gathered the shredded dress around her and headed towards Beak for the first time, holding them with both her hands. Slowly, step by step.

She came to the very edge. The Drina River was spread below, calm, green.

To forget pain. To forget terror. To forget the misshapen face. Let thighs be white again. Tell fish interrupted dreams. To get all that just one short step is needed. Yahna closed her eyes and stepped…

She cut in the green surface of the Drina River like a knife. Just for a short time. The water closed. Like a book.