prose

Peter Dentchev: I will be the mole over your upper lip

Peter Dentchev is a young and prominent Bulgarian fiction writer and theatre director whose novel “Just like a Man Kisses a Woman He Loves” won the first place at the contest for Best New Bulgarian Novels “Razvitie” in 2007. The next year the same novel won the special prize of “Raiffeizen Bank” at South Spring National contest. In 2008 with his short novel “Simple Story” he wins the second place at Ciela’s Novel Prize Competition. His latest novel, Silent Sun, was published in 2012.



I will be the mole over your upper lip

 

Everything began after you gave me that black pen. You then also gave me an ink-pot filled with black ink. I asked you why black ink exactly? And you answered that the blue one seemed too pleasant to you so you’d bought black ink. I smiled at your present because I knew it was probably related to my desire for writing. I often used to write on hand, can you remember that? You got used to me, to my talking in my sleep, to my vanity in front of the mirror; you were reading my stories without showing any reproach, and you used to make comments on them without superfluous flattering. I would sometimes read poetry to you – actually very rarely. You saw me falling in love with you and with another woman at the same time. Well, I have no reason not to love you, but I still argue that you didn’t love me. Actually you used to say that yourself. I had asked you several times to read to me some of your writings but you didn’t wish to. Once, I felt like I wanted to secretly open your notebook, where you had written at least few lines, however I never did that. Probably I will feel sorry for that in the future.

One night, while I was filling my pen with ink, I steeped my finger in it. I did it on purpose, in order to feel whether the ink would be dense. I was wondering if that black liquid is cold, so I steeped my finger inside and it eagerly/thirstily soaked in. I quickly pulled my finger out and my nail remained uncolored – it was unable to retain the ink. But the ink stayed beneath the nail and inside the pores. I continued writing for another hour before I went to bed. In the morning I couldn’t wash the ink so I set off for work just like that – with a black forefinger.

You often told me that you couldn’t stand me to wait for you in the evenings. I didn’t believe you – you were still happy to see me. In that same evening, the one after I had steeped my finger in the ink-pot, you came back home on time. My whole palm was already completely black.

You used to say that you couldn’t always think only of me, but you enjoyed my presence around. You liked staring at me while I was shaving myself before the mirror. There was something very sexual in the way you were watching me removing the foam and the small hairs with the razor. I never cut myself.

After that, I would always wash the razor and put it in its place, so that we could talk about your day. I was afraid we had nothing to talk about, that’s why I asked you the same question several times a night: How was your day? Sometimes I changed the phrase a bit: how did your day pass? I didn’t, of course, changed it a lot – just a tiny detail. I insisted on the time passed by, during which we haven’t been together. The rest of the day we would be together sleeping.

You are talking in your sleep, too; did you know that? I wouldn’t wake up because of that, but sometimes when I stayed late up at night writing, I would hear you. Sometimes you were begging someone for something. Or you were asking questions and I would start answering. Then I would stop writing, light a cigarette (I was smoking only while you were asleep), and we would start a conversation in our sleep.

The thought that you were living with me simply because you couldn’t afford to live alone, and that this was the only thing that kept you here with me, troubled me, because you had told me that yourself. I was wondering why you were trying to destroy me then.

Or I have found my natural escape at the ink.

I started wearing gloves all day long, and even in the evenings, but you never paid attention to them. You thought I was giving myself eccentricity and oddness, but I was just trying to hide my black palms. Later on, the dye raised to my elbows, it spread all over my shoulders and when it started raising to my neck, I began wearing the black polo – a present from my mother. I was wearing it, although it was a summer.

The night when we were coming back from the theatre and I kissed you for the last time in the taxi, while it was stopped down at the street. Then you hold me in your thin, bony arms and I thought you’d never let me go. At that time, my chest was also black and I was scared you would hear my wheeze. This was the only time you had let me be so close to you and I was scared that when you put your head on my chest you’ll hear the whistling of air in it. When we went back home I vomited the whole dinner – it was liquid and black. I was taking a shower when I noticed that my groins were shapeless and I was never going to reach the dreamt moment of making love to you. I was probably never going to reach it because you had forbidden it in advance. Not that the ink didn’t matter. I had to soak it with cotton-wool because I was constantly sweating in black.

I had stopped writing.

I am writing now – for the last time. I am writing to tell you that this is the last time you are reading something from me. I was always afraid that you could read me as an open book, do you know that? But you were even more scared of that, so you’d never let me read your stuff, nor you’d let my body touch you more than the wheezy embrace in the taxi after the theatre.

I once told you that your lips are raspberry colored. Forget about that – now when you wake up, there will be parched stains on your lips, greasy spots on your belly and you will be infected with this exhaustion of meaning – the black ink. I like the idea that I have penetrated into you without any violence – I have soused you lightly and tenderly, I have spread onto you like a soap bubble filled in with black ink. Maybe you will start loving me in a way, if you carry me in you, bеcause I know that you wouldn’t probably be befall by the same misfortune like me – you wouldn’t let yourself turn into an ordinary ink spot. That is how you used to call me – a spot. Actually you used another word – do you remember. You called me rotter. Of course, this hurt me a lot, but you pretended not to care. In the glorious between whiles of your dissatisfaction, when you would smile at me, I had the feeling that everything could be a lot more different.

Now, however, it is completely impossible. You condemned me to become what you used to call me. A spot. I don’t believe I will dry up so easily, after I have bulged out like a huge bubble after I have penetrated after its burst. I suspect you won’t be happy waking up in the soaking wet sheets. Maybe you will wake up, feel the moisture and assume this is your own sweat. After that you will move around and you’ll realize that everything is soaked up with that liquid – the pillow, the sheets, and your hair.

If I decide, I could simply turn into a small spot, similar to a mole over your upper lip. Or I could be a few moles – one beneath your left breast, another on the inner side of your hip; a third one on your belly and the forth one will be there indeed – over your upper lip. If I wish, I will spread all over you. I am not going to compromise you, of course – I will only show up at hidden parts of your body – your legs, your elbows. If I want to take revеnge on you, I will color your face, or your breasts. Sometimes I will cover your body with writing so that you can read my short message in the morning, just before the beginning of the day.

Here you go; I am putting a full stop to this letter.

And I start infusing myself into you.

Drop by drop.

Truly yours,

(The spot)

 

 

Translated by Denitsa Petrova

panorama

Istria Through a Literary Lens

It’s not hard to feel the pull of the glistening Adriatic in these especially hot summer months. Istria exerts a special magnetic pull with its rolling, green Tuscanesque hills, stunning historical towns, not to mention excellent seafood and local cuisine washed down with Malvazija wine, numerous blue flag beaches with crystal clear water and of course proximity to Zagreb.

Jonathon Bousfield as usual takes a look at Istria with a touch more depth and sophistication than the average visitor, inviting readers to observe it through the immortal words of famous writers who have some kind of connection to the peninsula.

Read Bousfield’s literary guide to Istria in the link below.

review

Review of Daša Drndić's Belladonna

One of Croatia's brightest literary stars who sadly passed away last year left a trove of brilliant writing as her legacy. Read a review of Daša Drndić's novel, Belladonna (2012), in the link below.

panorama

Zagreb's Street Art

So you're visiting Zagreb and are curious about it's underground art scene? Check out this guide to Zagreb's street art and explore all the best graffiti artists' work for yourself on your next walk through the city.

interview

An Interview with Olja Savičević Ivančević

Step into the award-winning author Olja Savičević Ivančević’s world as she peels away the many layers of her hometown Split and all of Dalmatia in the interview below.

panorama

Zagreb's Amazing Daughters

International Women’s Day offers the opportunity to reflect on amazing women that have made a lasting impression on the world. But recognizing the important ways women shape and impact our world shouldn’t be limited to one day out of the year. Check out some of Zagreb’s most memorable women in the link below.

panorama

Untranslatable Croatian Phrases

What’s the best way for an open-minded foreigner to get straight to the heart of another culture and get a feel for what makes people tick? Don’t just sample the local food and drink and see the major sights, perk up your ears and listen. There’s nothing that gives away the local flavor of a culture more than the common phrases people use, especially ones that have no direct translation.

Check out a quirky list of untranslatable Croatian phrases from Croatian cultural guide extraordinaire, Andrea Pisac, in the link below:

panorama

Jonathon Bousfield on the Museum of Broken Relationships

Just got out of a serious relationship and don't know what to do with all those keepsakes and mementos of your former loved one? The very popular and probably most unique museum in Zagreb, the Museum of Broken Relationships, dedicated to preserving keepsakes alongside the diverse stories of relationships gone wrong, will gladly take them. Find out how the museum got started and take an in-depth look at some of its quirkiest pieces in the link below.

panorama

The Lasting Impact of the 1980s on Zagreb

Find out how the 1980s, which saw the pinnacle of the domestic music scene, uncertain and rapidly changing political circumstances, and a more open and critical media, shaped the soul of modern-day Zagreb.

panorama

Cool Things To Do in Zagreb

Zagreb is Croatia’s relaxed, charming and pedestrian-friendly capital. Check out Time Out’s definitive Zagreb guide for a diverse set of options of what to explore in the city from unusual museums to legendary flea markets and everything in between.

panorama

Jonathan Bousfield on Diocletian's Legacy in Split

Diocletian’s Palace is the main attraction in Split, the heart and soul of the city. Because of the palace, Split’s city center can be described as a living museum and it draws in the thousands of tourists that visit the city annually. But how much do we really know about the palace’s namesake who built it, the last ruler of a receding empire? Jonathan Bousfield contends that history only gives us a partial answer.

interview

The Poetry of Zagreb

Cities have served as sources of inspiration, frustration, and discovery for millennia. The subject of sonnets, stories, plays, the power centers of entire cultures, hotbeds of innovation, and the cause of wars, cities are mainstays of the present and the future with millions more people flocking to them every year.

Let the poet, Zagreb native Tomica Bajsić, take you on a lyrical tour of the city. Walk the streets conjured by his graceful words and take in the gentle beauty of the Zagreb of his childhood memories and present day observation.

panorama

Jonathon Bousfield's Take on the Croatian Cultural Landscape in 2018

What could possibly tie together island musicals, political thrillers, 60s Yugoslavian culture, contemporary Croatian authors, graphic novels set amongst a backdrop of urban decay, Le Cobustier inspired architecture and a classic 20th century author’s firsthand account of 1920s Russia? Proving that he really does have his finger on the pulse of Croatian’s cultural scene, Jonathon Bousfield expounds on all of this and more in his 2018 Croatian Cultural Guide, check it out in the link below.

review

Jonathon Bousfield Reviews the English Translation of Krleža's Journey to Russia

Krleža, a giant of 20th century European literature, is woefully undertranslated into English. Read Jonathon Bousfield’s compelling review of the master Krleza’s part travelogue, part prose account of the time he spent in Russia as a young man in the mid-1920s, Journey to Russia, which is accessible to English readers for the first time.

panorama

Mirogoj Cemetery: An Architectural Jewel

Going to a cemetery may not be the first idea that pops into your mind when visiting a new city. But the stunning Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb, which was designed by the renowned Austrian architect, Herman Bolle, is definitely worth a bit of your time. Read more below to find out why.

panorama

You Haven't Experienced Zagreb if You Haven't Been to the Dolac Market

Dolac, the main city market, is a Zagreb institution. Selling all the fresh ingredients you need to whip up a fabulous dinner, from fruits and vegetables to fish, meat and homemade cheese and sausages, the sellers come from all over Croatia. Positioned right above the main square, the colorful market is a beacon of a simpler way of life and is just as bustling as it was a century ago.

panorama

Croatian Phrases Translated into English

Do you find phrases and sayings give personality and flair to a language? Have you ever pondered how the culture and history of a place shape the common phrases? Check out some common sayings in Croatian with their literal translations and actual meanings below.

panorama

Discover Croatia's Archaeological Secrets

Discover Croatia’s rich archaeological secrets, from the well known ancient Roman city of Salona near Split or the Neanderthal museum in Krapina to the often overlooked Andautonia Archaeological Park, just outside of Zagreb, which boasts the excavated ruins of a Roman town or the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, Vinkovci.

report

Hollywood and Dubrovnik

The medieval city in Croatia is having a geek-culture moment as the setting for King’s Landing in the HBO series “Game of Thrones”.
Hollywood seems to have discovered Dubrovnik. Parts of The Last Jedi, the eighth episode in the Star Wars saga, also take place in the fortress town. Filming wrapped this year on a new Robin Hood film starring Taron Eagerton, Jamie Foxx, and Jamie Dornan (and produced by Leonard DiCaprio). The 25th James Bond film is reported to begin shooting in the city in January 2018.
But not everyone appreciates all the attention.

panorama

Croatian Sites on UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

A little know fact is that Croatia, together with Spain, have the most cultural and historical heritage under the protection of UNESCO, and Croatia has the highest number of UNESCO intangible goods of any European country.

panorama

Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb

The National Theater in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, is one of those things which always finds its way to every visitor’s busy schedule.

panorama

Zagreb Festivals and Cultural Events

Numerous festivals, shows and exhibitions are held annually in Zagreb. Search our what's on guide to arts & entertainment.

Authors' pages

Književna Republika Relations PRAVOnaPROFESIJU LitLink mk zg