house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Tuzla, March 1998

This blog is for you Cheeta, and about you. A memory of a glorious, miserable Sunday 15 years ago. Miserable because of all the mud. Glorious because it made it into the time capsule and we open it today.

So here you were, this little guy in a canvas pram, pushed in turns by mother and aunt. Your knees hunched up to your chin (it was a very tiny pushchair). You smiled at bald bushes. You smiled at a rusty car. The little wheels hissed through the mud and vanished. You chuckled as the pram sank.

Alina leapt and lifted the front wheels and we carried you through the mud with these grim smiles that said: 'what are you staring at?' - to any reasonable Bosnian who might have glanced our way. We knew something about a park, past the Zoo. It was Sunday and we were taking you to THE park.

'Doggy' - you shouted as we passed a lanky, shaggy dog in a cage. Big, brown fur. Paws and claws. Small, dark eyes. It was a bear. It had gone through a war. It was a bear. We didn't tell you. Alina gave you a fruit pastille.

A discarded pantyhose got tangled in the front wheel of your pushchair - and stuck fast. The pram stopped. We fussed around the stupid thing, lifted it (with you inside) tried to unravel the knot, put it down again, pulled at the tights, pulled at the wheels, lifted it again, got going. You sat there, smiled, turned around for another glimpse of the 'doggy', sang something, kicked high with your boot, tried to whistle. We carried you the rest of the way.

We got to the park. Black mud to our knees, frozen mud between our fingers. We swore in Romanian and sweated. You swore in Romanian and smiled. The park consisted of a tin slide and a broken swing.

We unclipped you and you made for the slide. 'Good choice', I thought. You held on to the metal rungs of the ladder and climbed. 'How careful he is, how strong' I thought. You got to the top. There, you let go. You fell backwards, arms wide, legs together, straight as a plank. SPLAT - in the mud, before I could think 'pantyhose'.

Alina and I swept to your side. You lay in the mud and looked at the sky. Your face said: 'What just happened?' You saw us above and smiled. We lifted you up. The slide came back into view and you went straight back to the ladder. You climbed and your face said 'Haven't I just done this recently?' You got to the top. Your coat was black with mud and dripping. 'Forward, wee numpty' - I said and gave you a little push.

It's your 18th birthday today and - after all the love and longing - it's still what I want to say.


At 17 March 2013 at 18:49 , Blogger Paulo Mellett said...

In tears. Sob. Paulo x x x x x x

At 18 March 2013 at 11:36 , Blogger emwolfem said...

Me too.... thanks Paulo! We miss you xxx


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