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Sivosten webZine :: Tales from Rainsburg Death Is a Lonely Business
Tales from Rainsburg Death Is a Lonely Business

Author: Dimitar "Cliff" Stefanov, Thursday, 17 January 2008.

In Articles :: Creative Works; Propose a Second Opinion

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I got up late. At 3 o\'clock in the night, I had the premonition of a phone call. When an hour and a half later the phone did ring, I knew what would follow. I didn\'t want to answer it (as if that would turn back the spiral of time), but I had no choice. The foreboding had not misled me.

Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don\'t know.

In a trembling voice, my grandmother told me that grandfather has passed away. I couldn\'t get a word of what she said, but I KNEW. I simply knew...

I spent the next 6-7 hours under the blankets. Shivering, crying with dry eyes, unaware (of what?). I tried to go to work, but after an hour of blank staring at the screen (I worked on a Java project then), I got up, I told my boss that my grandfather had passed away, and I left.

I let my feet take care of themselves On the Road and I drifted away in thoughts. I was a little child again, there in the Balkan, in the village of Velchovtsi - the birthplace of grandfather. It is a hamlet of some 20 houses, a little way above the town of Tryavna. The memories rushed into my head one after the other. Grandfather was making a cornel bow, and I was shooting with it right up to the sun; together, we were picking large black raspberries heavy with sweetness, and then we were watching the threshed grass, where the wild pigs had rolled about. I was bathing in the small cold river pool, and grandfather was standing at one side, telling me legends from the Turkish times and stories from his bachelor\'s days. The kaleidoscope of my peaceful childhood showed no other figures besides me and grandfather. Could it be this man no longer existed? But I loved him so much! How was it possible that he had gone where I couldn\'t see him, without even saying a last Farewell. Without realizing it, I had reached Avram\'s place. I rang the bell, woke him up and invited myself to a cup of coffee. It\'s not that I like instant coffee, but if I remained alone, there was a risk I wouldn\'t find my way back. With a part of my mind, I kept up the conversation, while my greater \"half\" was interweaving marvellous memories and unreal dreams.

Time... This truly wondrous healer... At first I thought I wouldn\'t be able to live with the pain, but it started skulking somewhere in the nooks of my (sub)consciousness, always ready to remind of itself, and yet buried deeply. I remember calling dad in Italy that very same day and having nothing to tell him. The only thing that came to my mind was, \"Dacho, how are you?\" He sobbed painfully (damn, even at 20, men don\'t get into such states, let alone those approaching 50) and gave the receiver to mum, who quickly closed up the conversation. Obviously it wasn\'t just me who needed to be comforted...

The days till my return to my home country dragged on. The land where instead of grandfather, I would find a fresh grave. Though slowly, the painful date was drawing near. It was sometime then that I arrived at the revelation. The realisation that he Lives on. Though not among us, his image kept shining.

The plane was gliding along the runway, and at the Burgas airport, Hristo was waiting for me. I jumped on his neck and we started chatting about everything we hadn\'t told each other for the previous ten months. We hardly felt the time it took the car to bring us from the sea to Stara Zagora, where a storm welcomed us, tearing the sky with fiery lightnings.

My autumn sorrowful return
After so many days of spring
In father\'s inconsolable house
With yellow-painted walls.

(from \"Esenno zavrashtane [Autumn Return]\", a poem by Bulgarian poet Atanas Dalchev)

The house met me gray and empty. Grandmother was already asleep, but that was quite normal. After all, it was past 3 am, and I had decided to surprise her. I couldn\'t fall asleep for a long time \"here, in this place, grandfather has lived his last moments\" that was the leitmotif of my thoughts. I tried to stop them, but no self-control techniques helped. I chewed them over in my head till the morning and with the first sun rays, which didn\'t reach my southern room, I got up and went to make coffee. I woke grandmother, and she was glad to see me although she didn\'t like coffee from a coffee-pot. We talked about the burial already at breakfast. Grandma used to be energetic and lively before, but it was only on that day that I realised what a symbiosis they had shared with grandfather... After the breakfast, I got to see a lot of my friends, but a few hours later we did have to make a trip to Hrishtene.

Like a man risen from an illness,
My verse is barely walking on,
But in a helpless rage, a strange sorrow
Fills up my words.

(from \"Malchanie [Silence]\", a poem by Atanas Dalchev)

The graveyard was quiet and empty. Empty like grandma\'s face. How, how could I possibly explain to her that Death is not what we knew it to be. We are afraid of its bony embrace but are we aware that besides it and birth, there are no certain things in this illusory world? I tried to explain that to grandma, but a single look at her was enough to understand I was doomed to fail. That\'s it! I had arrived at Knowledge, but the shackles of words gave me no Opportunity to express it. I laid the glum carnations at the grave, poured out wine in the shape of a cross and was ready to burst out crying. My god, did I not know that things are not like that? Why, why, damn it, all those emotions? Obviously the place itself was too powerful...

I left the graveyard distraught. I was supposed to have realised that everything is temporary and inconstant. That one continues one\'s existence even after death, though in another place and manner... Nothing helped; the emptiness at home weighed over me.

Near the beginning of October, I headed back to Germany. Quite soon, I managed to re-enter my routine and \"forget\" that a Man whom I loved was no longer among us. The semester was dragging on toward its middle, and the year was drawing to its end. Mother and father were going back to Bulgaria for the holidays, but I chose to remain in Regensburg. My other grandfather had been lying in bed with pains in his waist, surviving only because of the painkillers. On December 30, mom called and in a calm voice told me he\'d passed away too. I felt neither sad nor distraught. I KNEW that HE TOO will forever be with ME. That same day, I went to an ice rink and enjoyed myself, and on the next day I saw the New Year in in Munich. Among the German fireworks, rockets and Bengal lights, I seemed to be discovering Eternity (Dao?). Something new was being born?

Everything repeats, again, without end...

Translated by Kalin Nenov

Commentary topic: http://www.sivosten.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=196375#196375

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