~ Vardar ~

“As I watched the deep Vardar go out loud, I wondered where my life would stop. Will I stand by a river again or will I run wild horses around the mountain? And here, something completely different happened. I went east, far from my homeland. Surrounded by strangers and the war that surprised me, I was trying to make my dream come true. Sometimes, what we are persistently trying to escape is waiting for us at the first corner. So, no matter how hard I tried, I was never able to get rid of the wars. I wore them with my early youth. Nevertheless, I was somehow used to them and to surprises. I guess that’s coming with age. And years have come really fast. Sometimes, while I watched my grandfathers, I thought that life was long and that I would have time for all. My first white hair, against my will, appeared quickly afterwards. I even created my family quickly, so that at least for some time, I could save myself from oblivion. I pulled it everywhere with me as well as my desire to get something worthwhile and lasting. Somewhere in the east, deep mines were waiting for me, which I was preoccupied with. I persistently sought ways to get closer to them and to grab some of their rarities, about which various stories circulated continuously. Somehow I am convinced that the war started just because of these rarities. The word “diamonds” is always powerful enough to trigger many avalanches both in man and in society. I, together with my family, tried to stand on my feet on one of those avalanches, believing that it would stop in front of some mysterious mines. We were ready for all the challenges and risks in order to get some rare diamonds. When we first held them in our hands, we were afraid to lose them. When I began to buy them, I was afraid that they would lose value if a new feature appeared in those deep mines. I was always on the alert. At those moments I often thought about Vardar. Is everything the same or maybe it has changed the flow? Are there still battles about it? Has it also discovered a well-kept secret in its long journey? Like Rembrandt, I always stood at the beginning of some thoughts and searches, while most of my peers have long since completed experiments. Perhaps, instead of diamonds, I should have bought one of his paintings, to remind me how much, and yet, a little I had. “I was born as a Rembrandt, and as a Rembrandt I will die”, he said many years ago. His artistic truth lives even today. All that we create can disappear in just a moment if we do not play by the rules. Usually we become our own when we no longer exist. I was my own until I went east. Already after the first step, I became a slave of great desires, who constantly persuaded me to go to them. I did not look back, I guess because of the fear that I can see how far away I am from myself and from the deep Vardar. I had difficulty connecting my thoughts. It always seemed to me that somebody was following me, and that he would overtake me at the goal. At one point, I was no longer sure that I knew what my goal was. Did I have to go past all those corpses to see it? Or maybe I should have come back until it was not too late? Some roads lead over bridges that you can only cross once. The only way to get back is to know to swim well and the river is calm, without any sudden ships and boats. The life of some people is like one of those rivers that constantly pass through unknown cities and countries, but they do not stop anywhere. They never stop packing suitcases and can not find peace anywhere. Some invisible, inner force constantly makes them move. I was one of those people. I started looking for diamonds, and when I found them, they did not matter to me anymore; I realized that it was just jewelry that shines differently. You can wear it or not. As much as it is more expensive, shiny and different from all other jewelry, it can not change what you carry in your heart. I was carrying Vardar in my heart. Once on his banks I loved and swore to the eternal love that I had betrayed for diamonds. I lied to myself that I could be lenient to everything false just to get real glow. This glow picked up all the lights from my heart like a leech and left behind an endless emptiness. As I watched the expression of my face in the mirror, it seemed to me at moments that I was looking at some new Rembrandt’s painting. In the shadows of sorrow on that face I saw Titus looking at me with a question in the eyes. I stood before that question like a coward, persistently avoiding the answer. I was thinking of Vardar again. It always helped me find the answers. I loved its quiet power, smell and waves. Everything seemed easy and quick on them. It meant so much to me that I could calmly spill all my diamonds around it and not to repent. There are things in life that can not be measured with anything, but we somehow always understand it late, usually only when we pass half the world. We leave the other half waiting for us because, as much as something new and interesting it offered, it can not be better and more beautiful than what we carry in our hearts. Many of us go somewhere, make a circle, and again they stand at the beginning. It looks like they did not go anywhere, but they just wanted a way to waste their time. And I, after many marathons, have returned to Vardar again and I wonder if I should have left it at all. All those years of ceaseless struggles passed as a moment. I did not even get to talk to myself, nor do I see many purple sunsets, nor many bright mornings. I spent my best years in a haze and hurry to some goal and success, which I’m still not sure I achieved. After all, I realized that, no matter how successful, in a city where you were not born, you are always a stranger”, said a man of a tired face, and turned to the window.
Vardar, author Suzana Stojanović, August 18, 2018