Marta Górska – A few out of a thousand nights




Night and Day

A long, long time ago, there lived a little boy. Every time he left the house, the sun would vanish, the world outside turning dark. People called him Night. Once, Night overheard them saying that whenever he returned home something strange happened outside. It wasn’t dark, quite the opposite, it “brightened up” and all around a new world, unknown to him, came into being. He decided to find out if this were true for himself and so one evening left his window slightly ajar, to spy on the goings on outside. What happened next went beyond anything he could have imagined. A little girl came out of the house opposite. The moment her feet touched the doorstep, the sun began to rise slowly and the boy, for the first time ever, saw light. People called her Day. Day looked at him for a split second, which was enough for him to vanish. And yet, from that moment on, Night and Day always stand at the same time in the same place, a moment before the sun realises it has to either rise or set. This is their time beyond time, somewhere in between.



Escape

To escape the world somewhere deep within the self, how good would that be. I wanted so much to hide, wrap myself up inside my own centre as if in a sack of dried flowers. Be careful what you wish for, wise people say, you might just get it, they say. But that was what I wanted all along, for them to leave me alone, for the world to vanish. And the world did vanish and I was left to myself. Me and nothing else. But here, on the inside, it is not as if in a fragrant refuge filled with dried petals. It is empty, cold, it is lonely. Take care to think about what it is you run from and where to, for you can get there – I tell you this now as if I were an old man from a Chinese tale, as if I were that sad dried out leaf, the one no one notices any more for it is not imbued with anything, not even yesterday’s rain. Running from the world – tread carefully, else you’ll find yourself, and from that there is no escape.



Open Doors

Imagine me, please. It’s so hard not to exist. If I were to be imagined, things would be easier for me. I could float beside you, you wouldn’t even notice me, wouldn’t feel a thing, it’s  just that you would no longer be alone. She whispered such things to him each night. He wavered, in spite of his terrible loneliness, filled only with her pleading voice. He was afraid. He didn’t know himself if it was of the her which did not exist or the one who would be brought into being. I will be quiet, no one will notice me, imagine me imperfect, such as I would not be there for anyone else, she kept asking. Yes, all right, why not? He decided. And agreed, to at least try it, for a short while, then if necessary… well, anyway, let it be. He closed his eyes and fell asleep.

She woke beside him so terribly unreal it spooked him. Such things do not happen. Instead of the television set, her, instead of lonely nights… but it is hard to be with such an imperfect dream, as she became almost tangible, within an arm’s reach. Someone could see, someone will find out for sure and what then? He couldn’t take the risk.
Make me real, she said to him in the end. Which terrified him even more than before. He froze in deep thought like a meditating Buddha. For many days. I will no longer imagine you, he said to her. But he said this in his thoughts alone. Leave, he said out loud. Where should I go? Go somewhere where you will not be real, actual imperfection is not worth anything. He said this and opened the door. When the wind blew her outside, he felt instant relief. How good is it to have a door in one’s house which can be opened.



The face of loneliness

I press my knees against my chest hard enough for it to hurt, to feel nothing other than this pressing pain. I want to roll up into a ball so tight, so perfectly round, so complete, that it fits into any corner. So that no one will find me, no one will discover where I am. So that loneliness won’t come for me. She is always waiting, to find me in such a moment, to finish me off, so I have no way out, no escape. I don’t know how to defend myself against her, where to look for protection. And she knows just how afraid I am of her and how her very presence, her humiliating grin can roll over me like a tank.
So many people here. Running. Shouting, busy with things. Ideals, learning, important things. In an age of change and revolutions, with each step this struggle of mine to become a little ball turns more laughable and pathetic. My attempts and my inner wars are out of place. Who cares that somewhere inside someone’s inner world things are falling apart, when all around defenders of human rights are screaming out against political prisons? To be as small as possible, a perfectly formed little ball, is my dream. To sleep. Once and for all, or to wake without feeling. Yes, I undoubtedly feel too much. If only these were well adjusted feelings. The kind which could be used in the name of some higher cause. But defending the self against loneliness is not a just cause.
I hide in a hole beneath a vast pavement in such a way as those walking across it will not see me. Conversely, it’s easier to survive loneliness alone. Because then one is just alone, and so even loneliness is not there. It’s hardest among people. I close my eyelids with all my strength, forcing my hands into the sockets, anything not to see. If I see them, I will for certain see that face in all those strangers.
The face of loneliness – his face. Yes, loneliness always looks like him. There is always some kind of “He”, always followed by a her. They always walk in pairs. And the reasons why he leaves are not important, because it’s always with her, and then they always somehow stay together. And in streets, in coffee shops, in the faces of strange men, I see them both. And it doesn’t matter who he is with, because her name is always Loneliness.



A bridge the flavour of tangerines

A bridge the flavour of tangerines. Juice from an over-ripe skin sprays all over the hands. Running down to the elbows. I feel good here. Beneath me a river of cars and a hill up ahead. And all of it mine. Down to this taste; who else has tasted hills and exhaust fume rivers and cools winds – everything in tangerine? And the smell somewhere inside my head, the one I cannot shake. I inhale air in the hope that I will taste it again. Everything seems ordinary and pretty, and yet something down there below something is calling out quietly. I fill my mouth full of fruit. Suspended between its taste and that distant aroma. It’s because of the bridge. You are at one end, then step out, cross the bridge and reach the other side. But not today. Today someone suspended me here and I cannot move. To move means to choose one or the other shore.



Choosing is the hardest thing

I have nothing left. I want nothing. All the items you need to live on can always be got at, but freedom has to be nurtured, somewhere deep within; begin and then slowly, slowly exhale it outside. Only then do choice and space appear. Even if you lived on the biggest desert in the world you would never find space if it cannot be found in the very depths of your skin, seeping out of every pore. Yet even if you do have it inside you, you have to then choose it. The hardest thing is to choose choice, because then there is no turning back. No one else to be blamed for your enslavements, which is often easier. Which is why you say “they won’t let me”. It’s harder when everything depends on you. On your courage, on your ability to be free. Then you no longer need care that someone will rob you of something, because there is nothing left to steal. You have nothing outside of yourself – which isn’t easy. Freedom is the hardest choice of all.



A time of non-existence

I spend my time not existing. I do no thinking, no feeling, nothing. It’s a choice made in a previous world. In the world of waiting. It’s very hard to once and for all end waiting. Especially if one had been waiting for something wondrous, especially if that something did not arrive. That whole life, organised around the Great Awaiting, collapses suddenly. At a certain moment, one simply runs out of strength, because the very waiting is incredibly exhausting and demanding. It takes over one’s whole personality, strips you of the ability to perform the simplest tasks. Waiting takes your life away, but it is also its point, therefore you cannot stop waiting if you want to live. The only way out is to hide in inaction and come to rest in petrifaction – letting the waiting pass.



The dreamt up life of mussels

I am a clenched mussel, always looking for eternal rocks. I cannot accept the waves tossing me along the ocean floor. I cling tightly with every bit of my silken tongue to the indifferent shell which is mine. Cold, cutting and repellent to me whole. In the end, I always fall by the wayside. Bits of me remaining on the rough surface, like the remains of chewing gum on a pavement. The rock will wash itself of me in an instant, with salt-laden water which will seep into my ripped insides. Sand will tear into my stinging interior, pinching even when I shut myself up again. Grains of sand will embed themselves and plague the very heart of me. And yet even a mussel has its own dreamt up life, the one it seeks as long as any part of it still has some strength within to cling to any other rock.




Syria
24.01 – 19.02.2011



translated by Marek Kazmierski




Marta Górska (b. 1984) – writer of short stories surreal and poetic prose, cultural articles, literary and theatrical reviews and a travelling blog written under her own name or under the pseudonym “Nadia”. Marta works as an independent human rights journalist, working with Radio Tok FM (radio and portal), campus radio, and now the magazine Mida, portal “kulturaonline” and arttravel.pl; co-creator of the surrealist magazine Puzdro. Would most like to live her life on the go and turn it into something more than a metaphorical journey.


Marta Górska (ur. 1984) – autorka opowiadań surrealistycznych i prozy poetyckiej, artykułów kulturalnych, recenzji literackich i teatralnych oraz podróżniczego bloga pisanych pod własnym imieniem lub pod pseudonimem „Nadia”; działająca na rzecz praw człowieka niezależna dziennikarka; współpracowała z redakcjami: radia Tok FM (oraz portalem radiowym), radia Kampus, a obecnie z magazynem Mida, portalem “kulturaonline”, arttravel.pl; współtworzy magazyn surrealistyczny Puzdro. Najchętniej spędziłaby życie w ciągłym biegu i stworzyła z niego nie tylko metaforyczną podróż.