I came back home this morning after going to the hospital. I smoked too much yesterday and this caused some severe side effects which resulted in me going to the hospital. Nothing serious, of course, but I am now on a medical course to get rid of my addictions. The physician told me not to drink and smoke, lest I wish to continue vomiting tar and fainting all over the place. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way and I am glad to inform the reader that I have been sober for the last 11 days. I don’t feel the urge to drink and as of now, I am not craving nicotine either.
But my concern at this point isn’t a long rumination of my health. On the contrary, I am still unsure of how to go on. I sat on the sofa next to Marija, my right hand around her shoulder. She cried pitifully, sobbing softly and silently. She didn’t know what to do, she said through her tears and at that moment, I was at a loss for words. I was there to be an Ear for a while and an ear I would be. I waited for her to speak, and she did.
the fingers on my right hand can still feel her collar bone under her thin dressing gown. I can still feel her trembling, I can feel her light touch on my hand as she held mine. Our fingers interlocked as she began her story which I hope I can do justice to.
She has just finished her chocolate, and I am waiting for her to speak. She wants some water, and I get up to hand over the bottle of water I bought for her. I walk to the table and I see many books that I have read. I hand over the bottle to her, but she is too weak to open the seal. I gently pry the bottle away and break the seal, helping her to sip some water. She is lighter than a dream, she is so weightless that I am afraid that she will be swept away by the evening breeze that flows into the dimly lit room where a girl talks softly.
“You were the last person I expected to see here,” she says, her face in her hands.
“And yet, here I am, ” I said. I have a habit of stating, inconsequentially, the obvious.
“I don’t know why I drink so much. I take the pain killers to ease the pain, but I don’t know where the pain is”, she is still speaking with her head in her hands. Her voice is thick with despair. There is a note of resignation in her words and I am alarmed by her intonation. I choose to remain silent.
Marija drinks to be able to feel something. She longs for a smile to voluntarily play upon her lips. She drinks because the world is so dark and colourless to her that the alcohol makes her see things with more contrast, with a certain warmth that makes her day brighter. She felt happy for a few minutes when she was drunk, but when the alcohol takes grip of her, the shadows return.. The colours are drained and her world becomes monochromatic, cold, clammy, deserted and silent. It is the silence she dreads, because that silence was her company in her teenage years and that silence drove her father insane. Her father was a man of very few words, and she didn’t know why. There was nothing that could make her father smile, and that silence, that monochromatic melancholia from her father infected her like a disease. She didn’t remember him, his voice, or anything specific, but she remembered his shadow falling on her. She remembered her father like a shadow, and she didn’t remember his voice. He was dead to her long before he actually died in a Croatian city.
The alcohol she drank took away the numbness for a while. She felt the weightlessness of her limbs, her shoulders felt lighter, her eyes could see the colours. After spending months here in this Eastern European city, sh felt nothing but an emotionless drudgery in her walks to the University. Even her books had turned mute, as if they had nothing to say to her anymore.
She leaned back and rested her head on my arm, and I lay back too. Her sofa is so soft, her hair was softer, and I felt drowsy. Outside the window, the sun was setting, but I could see only the diffused light of a monochromatic evening.