ANA PEJČINOVA

Born 1973 in Skopje, R Macedonia, she graduated at the Department of General & Comparative Literature 1997 St.Cyril & Methodius Univ., the Blaže Koneski Philological Faculty, and continued at the correspondent Department at a Ph.D level at the Philosophical Faculty, Charles IV University of Prague. Ana completed her studies in 2002 with an interdisciplinary dissertation subject, which connects basic quantum physics, Maturana's autopoiesis, practical Systemic Life Coaching , post-structuralist philosophy, and William Blake's Four Zoas (see The Crystals Of The Unconscious). Parallel to it, I followed training courses in Prague and Warsaw in Systemic Changework, obtained the degree of Advanced Coach, and held a practice in systemic coaching in Prague 2001-02, with Relationship Constellations groupwork for public.
She worked for the UNDP/UNVolunteers in Macedonia , then served in the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as a Civic Education Officer June-December 2004, when I was recruited to IOM Iraq Out-of-Country Voting Program as a Chief of Voter Education in the Country Office in Copenhagen.
She is writing on subjects from therapy, philosophy and literature. Some of her poems have been translated into English, French, German, Finnish, Polish, Romanian, Belarus, Serbian and Bulgarian. She is engaged also in literary translation and e-publishing, and have translated some poetry and essays into and from English, The Four Zoas into Macedonian, one selection of poems from French/English into Macedonian, etc.


The Man Whom Time Had
   

1.

“No, my dear, the coffee is absolutely fine.”
“Well, if you are sure….” The woman swept her hair behind her ear and expectantly turned the gaze away from him. He knew that she wanted him to take her hand or say something meaningful. She wondered whether he did not want to, or could not. She smiled warmly. He put his hand on top of hers for an instant and then withdrew it.

It was a translucent grey day outside the coffee shop, and the late afternoon hour kept the tables mostly deserted. The low hum of quiet conversations around them emphasized the drooping tension between the two.

“If that is how you want, then…. Alright, we have to get along.” Her voice trembled just slightly revealing that she had stepped back again, given up on something. She could not ask the question, so she gave the answer herself. She knew that he would never say the word she yearned for, as well as he knew that she had been waiting for certain words to be said. The both knew now and again that they missed each other’s lines. Certainly there was hope that the words she wished to hear might come in some future, but these were her words and not his. He did not have words within.
She looked through the window. The glass was clean, swept by the earlier gust of rain. The air was sparkling, emphasizing the light and deep shades of grey that filled the street and the sky.
“It’s time, I need to go,” she said. She rose first and he followed. He paid the bill and went outside to find her. His bearing was composed and his whole bodily movement ascetic. He felt a pang of pain as he held her hand goodbye, feeling that he was half-losing her again, and feeling sorry that he cold not reach out and hold her, prevent her from leaving him. He could not answer to her, to her expectation and to her being, in the way she longed for. She left. He watched her, the only coloured and warm image framed by the greyness of the cold street. Neither of them knew if they would ever see each other again.

So ache begun. The memory of embracing arms, a memory slowly tearing away from the flesh, taking in the warm essence of a living body. The sound of the voice, balm for the secret mind, hungering again to hear the murmur that heals all solitude in the world for an instant. The eyes, the eyes gleaming with laughter, depth, serious presence while talking about the troubles of the times. The love making, forgotten nights with lost dates that left gleaming flecks of sensual masterpieces of closeness, wild invasions across the bounds of delight and freedom. The sense of the other, the ultimate presence, the repeated astonishment, over and over again.


2.

Life was good before they met. He was a lawyer, and she was a manager. They were not young, and both had already made their lives fulfilled to a bearable point. Life had been going somehow, and there had been even joyful mornings to it. It seemed that some sort of order was finally there superimposed upon insecurity. Neither of them had had it easy.

They did not know each other, and then they met. It was not a meeting of two needy individuals looking for a dream in the world. It would be hard to say if they were looking for or looking away from love. He was married, and she was long time divorced. His marriage had plenty of empty slots but it was convenient, leaving him time to devote to other interests. Women were not one of them. He was too tried out for seduction.
Her job was demanding although not too creative, but it also left her a lot of unspent curiosity to explore after hours. Men were not the major one. She loved herself too much for that.

So, when they met, they were rather satisfied people, more or less selfish, and not too interested in the events of the complicated human-to-human world. But they got interested in each other. And who can explain the mystery of intimacy, why two people get drawn to each other with an inexplicable force, why then, why thus, why those two people and not some other two? Why at all? Before long, before having spoken about it, they knew, each alone, they were in love. And they knew that love was a mortal thing.


3.

In his job, he was a committed lawyer. He chose early not to defend cases where in his judgment the accused one was guilty. Thus he had turned down a number of clients in his career, which made him a lawyer of moderate status, not too noted amongst his peers. He knew that their success would hurt his sense of justice, and he knew the consequences. He did not bother to explain his stand to his colleagues and his wife, growing insensitive to their well-meant advice to sometimes bend his principles. He didn’t.
He tried once, in his youth: he defended a case of a young woman who used her charm and a tough-childhood story to elbow her way in a private company, but was then caught at her first attempt to commit a fraud. She was guilty, and he knew it. He tried at the time to silence his consciousness; he won the trial, turned down the girl’s offer to reward him sensually, and went home feeling void and sick.
He did not get sick; the next day he went back to the office and never mentioned the case again. It was a job cleanly done, they said. Yet he grew stricter toward himself afterwards, and lost some of the enthusiasm he regarded his job with. He was unable to feel guilty, so he could not forgive himself, and his self-blaming was too abstract to evoke any stronger emotion.

He was at ease with time and knew that it was better to let it solve things that are out of our control. And years just went by. If there had been an answer he was waiting for, he certainly had forgotten the question. Life was sufficient, perhaps a bit monotonous, but one certainly could not have everything, and the wisdom of life is to concentrate on what one has, and cherish it.

Certainly he was once in love with his wife, but that was far off in the past and the traces of that glamour slowly evaporated through time. It was quite a few years back that its last trace drowned between them. They, he and his wife, drowned it deliberately. It was somehow easier to live without the ups and downs of passion than to continually make the effort of spurring the old flames and re-living the failure of the other to fulfil one’s expectations. All that was hope and passion died quietly, without drama, on the floor of their drawing room, where all their differences came into the crude light and stayed there, immobile, stooped monuments of earlier desires and un-revoked decisions. They did not talk about their differences: they simply went on different ways into different worlds. They both regarded each other as an unspoken, although friendly failure.

He was unfaithful to her occasionally, having very rare and short-lived affairs. From each affair he would soon withdraw, to his cold surprise not finding himself interested enough to maintain the effort secrecy requires. Sex was wonderful, and he did strongly need to touch and to be touched, to immerse himself in a body’s beauty and warmth. That joy would diminish all too soon, paling in the black-blazing lack of anything significant to connect the lovers. Unbearable tension would collect in him and he would silently withdraw, leaving the other to say the deadly words. Time did change things, bringing order back into actual life.
Sometimes a thought would cross his mind, if his wife was unfaithful to him, if she had ever been. And except a slight jolt of jealousy, which he would scold and put aside as childish possessiveness, he felt nothing but an unattached curiosity and a good wish for his wife to be happy, to perhaps evoke her passion with an unknown lover. And he would let that thought slip from his mind. He never felt the need to know. As for himself, he would never admit to his wife that he had had lovers. It was simply not the thing to do.

His love life with his wife was a decent effort on both sides to comfort each other at minimal personal expense. As if the strain of unbearability between them would grow to a point of bursting; the art of staying together was to sense that moment and just prior to it to do something loveable for the other. Something small, something known to be wanted, and by doing it to trigger the other’s happiness. Their marriage became a compassionate and reasonable gesture not to hurt the other, and they persisted in doing so for the sake of that loneliness two people feel when they are alone at night in bed, naked, and the vast dark world infinitely surrounds them. Then selfishness rekindled something that resembled warmth, enough for an instant of pleasure. The gloomy solitude that was driving them to intimacy would vanish by the arrival of the morning when they would find each other superfluous again, and rush off to work; and yet there was some sort of bonding there. The hours away from each other gave them strength to go back together. And the continuity of these successful but risky returns, never spoken of and perhaps never thought of consciously, strengthened a feeling of continuity between them. Now the physical time spent together, the daily decisions to come back to their mutual home as partners, bound them, although indecisive, although weakening their desires each day. They had time to wisely tame reckless passions.

He never left his wife, nor he admitted his desperate thoughts of any sort of change he might have felt possible for him. His wife sensed this, but was fearful and gracious enough to let it pass without a word. He did not leave her and that was enough. She would not open that box and endanger the future they had together, she wished not to face the thought of being deserted, the broken promise that was the sole thing that kept the heart together, no matter how crumbled and outworn; it was the only thing left.

4.

But life did not finish its say. The man and the woman met and fell in love.

There were times of deep sorrow and turmoil when he would have wished to turn back time and prevent this new relationship from happening at all, and he could not do that. He wished to undo things from his farther past, to unsay words, to un-happen events, but he was, as human beings are, utterly helpless. And there were times when he wanted to stop time, bend it like heated wax and make an infinite curve in it which would lead to an ever deepening and continuing ecstasy of pleasure, but he could not do that either. He was banging his head at the staring wall of blank time. His biggest ally, his teacher and friend, worked against him; it betrayed him.

There are changes that love entraps with: suddenly one feels all the things they could have been and desired to become, and their intimate power fills the person again. In the furore of love, all past dreams seem possible, and life seems too short to be lost on anything else but the fulfilment of one’s dreams. In the turmoil of love there emerges the despair of having failed the sincerest goals and having forgotten ultimate dreams.
People may betray themselves, gradually, at certain key points of life, in moments of decision that come quietly and without announcement. When a person chooses a lesser dream, they choose the less of one’s self.
Yet one knows that one gives up on something invisible but essential. After each of these decisions when one plays down life, cold creeps in and stays. Then a person adjusts quietly to a colder world, that is, to a colder self living in a belittled world. Life seems then like an infinite desert where the currents of passions are being drained in the order of day. The decisions taken without a full heart, for reasons right to others and for dreams of others who had played down life and had unfulfilled dreams of their own. Failing them and failing one’s self, and keeping on the pretence, more or less successfully, that it was a fulfilment. And then the gravity of days that follow, when one has a lifetime of consequences to look toward to, in open joy or in clandestine misery. A non-dramatic misery which does not kill.
The latter seemed to have followed the key decisions in this man’s life. He knew that this was the consequence of his having brought life choices with half a heart, due to circumstances and for the sake of joining the rhythm of society. His occasional happiness was mainly based on the luck or art of forgetting himself.
And yet, when he asked himself what else he would do at the decisive moments of the past, he still could not find another way. He was unable to imagine himself any different than he was already. And although he was in love more than he ever though capable of, he could not change his core of continuity. Continuity that seemed like an inviolable tablet of commands that repeated one thing: “Change is violence where everyone gets hurt. Harm not. What was must be again.”

He was willing to do things right, but he knew he was imperfect. His lover herself was not a perfect being. She was a symptom of his love and not its spring. She was sometimes weak and frightened, sometimes petty and overemotional, but he loved her, like one loves the sun.

“You would never decide, would you?”
“I cannot, he said. I cannot make a decision at this time.”
“I understand.”
“I hope you do,” he said warmly, but with a tremble of disbelief in his voice. “I am awfully sorry that I cannot help you now.”
They both looked aside and stayed silent for a while. At that moment they went into different times: she was wearily looking at future, waiting for a thing that was less and less likely to come; she imagined a rainy day when she finally leaves. She wondered if she would have the strength to leave him for good. He was looking at the past with anguish, bonded by the bulk of time spent like a married man to a shadowy woman who was still and always his wife. He still did not desire strongly a way out. And he looked at his lover with fear from her future, because he knew that one day she would give up hope, fatigue would flood in and uproot all love has sown, and she would be gone. “But not today, dear Lord, not now; just a little bit longer. Time will bring a solution, I cannot,” he thought.

5.

She knew he loved her. One thing she could not understand was why he never left his wife and started a life with her.
She did not understand, until later in life, that time was the force that worked against her. Time was the element that was binding and unbinding her lover’s soul: each ecstatic moment they shared provoked Time, poking it and disrupting it, turning it hostile in the end. So, in time, his only life tool, Time, turned swiftly against their bond and brought it into cold land. Time bound it and completed it instead of them.

Time also tamed their pain, and they even feebly attempted to be friends for a short while after the separation. They both felt that they had learnt an important lesson, although they were unwilling to try and put it into words.
So, after this affair, which at late point of their lives brought to an unexpected touch of one of the human dreams, even if they had missed full comprehension, the elegant grandness of the loss stayed with them to reflect upon in the long years of the generous lifetime.


 

Copyright © by Ana Pejčinova & Balkanski književni glasnik - BKG, 2006.

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