~ In the trough ~

“At those moments I did not know which world I belong to: this one, that one or no one. I only knew that I was in the trough, glued to it by plaster. I could not look either left, right, or down; just up there. My gaze was always pointed to the ceiling and in the eyes that were constantly walking above me. I did not feel pain. Some unknown feelings and trepidation were constantly lurking around my new dwelling. I thought about my children and the dust that covered me. Someone said that, by mere luck, I was only survived. I did not know whether to cry or to rejoice. Sometimes it’s better not to survive, because everything after that becomes agony. I was struggling in that trough for a year. If they had not brought me together with it to sometimes see the sky, I think I would never recover. I would have remained trapped in my own thoughts and in the blackness that constantly dragged me. Continuous nightmares swallowed up the last atoms of power that I had saved for talking to children. Fear in their goggled eyes has caused even greater restlessness in me. I was constantly thinking about what would happen to them if I did not survive, that I did not return. Would they also become miners or wander around the world like sad dogs? Would they ever be able to get rid of the darkness that took me away or would they keep coming back to where I did not come to say goodbye to them? I was trying not to look for answers to persistent questions. I forced them to read to me, so I could, together with them, turn the thoughts away from our heavy destiny. All our tomorrow was gathering in that trough where I counted my days as an impatient soldier. And if I wanted, I could not change anything. Life always travels in an unknown direction. We can join it or give up. I had to join it, no matter how it was, because of those goggled eyes, which looked at me fixedly. My children were the only light in the dark and dust from which I did not go out for years. I had to survive because of their weak wings, which were not yet ready for strong winds. I prayed for them before every entry into the shaft and celebrated the Sun after every exit from it. Day after day, I lived together with others. Despite everything, in each of these gray days, we found moments of laughter, with which we were cut tiredness and sorrow. At night, when everybody fell into a deep sleep, I remembered those moments and cried for a long time. All my friends, with whom I shared the last bite of bread and the last drop of water for years, were buried in a deep grave, for which we often, jokingly, said that it would save our money. I knew every inch of that grave and all those strange scents of the different layers of the ground, which were deep into all our senses. They often helped us to orient in the mine, when we could not call for dust. The lamps we carried did not help much. They would just dazzle us at every movement and remind us even more of how deep the darkness in we lived is. Nevertheless, we did our hard job. Gray and exhausted, we pulled dust particles deep into the lungs every day, aware that there are not many days ahead of us. We did not have a choice. Many hungry souls awaited our exit from the mine. We sacrificed for their better tomorrow and for a little dream that they would live under the Sun, far from unpredictable tunnels, from whose entrance we never talked about them or the agony they led us to. It was just our world which, and if we wanted, we could not share with others. We tried to leave it in the mine, together with trepidation, uncertainty, and fears. We lived two lives, completely opposite and different, separated from each other by only one shaft, from which, together with us, all our little desires entered and went out. Those desires were the only thing for which our heart was knocked in the silence of the dark hallways. We did not have to talk about them, because they were perceived in the tiny drops of sweat and in dry tears behind the gray clouds. Silent hope that once in the future everything will be easier and different was defeating the languor and the tiredness, about which we stumbled upon at every step. We constantly moved the limits of our endurance, but some unrest in us reminded us that the day, recorded in the calendars of many miners, will come once. And it came. It passed through hidden cracks, which patiently waited for their moment to merge. I was trying to remember what we were doing all this fatal day and whether we set up mines well. Maybe we wronged somewhere, and maybe it was heavy, the black land simply decided to collapse on us and, together with us, cover all our fears. We could have predicted everything except it. Sometimes the smallest quake was enough to move it. Somehow I always hoped that we would avoid those moments, but we did not succeed. Everything happened quickly, without much noise. We did not have time for the last greeting. All we wanted was left to sleep deep under the ground. I do not remember how I ended up in the trough. I only know it was creepy cold and I could not open my eyes. My eyelids were heavy, as if all the tiredness of this world leaned on them. Somewhere in the distance I heard voices and picks. I only had the desire to dive into a deep sleep and sleep away my grief. And so, in a few days I’m getting out of the trough and I’m not sure whether I’m ready for life outside of it. Maybe I forgot to walk, and maybe I just do not have enough courage to meet again with dust”, ended the story the only survivor.
In the trough, author Suzana Stojanović, June 27, 2018