‘The Adventures of Boris K.’ was already published in Serbia, but I’ve decided upon the expanded Kindle edition to have the cosmopolitan protagonist live through cosmopolitan fate, to have him read and loved not only in the isolated space of the Balkans, but also among the aboriginal tribes whom he, often, breaks bread with on his travels.
What I truly love about Samarrai’s writing is the brilliant dislodging of epochs and people, eruditional toying with the documented and the fictitious, the unpredictability, the lavish fancy and terrific dialogues. One should not be Tagore to enter the Garden of her worlds and labyrinths, where Mozart and Trier meet, Wagner and Bach, or rather Bachs. With Samarrai time and space are toys, an occasional means but never an end, rather a limbo where they, in fact, do not exist. In her necropolis living people dwell, , while the dead or undead roam the city streets, and those dislodgings seem quite convincing, realistic, even logical. This writing and Samarrai as the author both deserve a far bigger readership, for the fate of the poem-the verse-the tale is not to be silent nor is it the fate of great authors to be unmentioned.
LJUBODRAG STOJANOVIC WAS BORN IN GNJILANE ON APRIL 22ND, 1972, WHERE HE HAD LIVED UNTIL JUNE 1999. HE WRITES APHORISMS, POEMS, ROCK LYRICS, PLAYS, SHORT STORIES, AND NOVELS.
HE IS CURRENTLY LIVING IN NIS.
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY: ‘THE SERBIAN STORY’ (2002), COLLECTION OF APHORISTIC PROSE ‘BOTH INSANE AND CONFUSED’ (2009).
At springtime, as the locks of his raven hair started blooming, he left all the women breathless (left-wing ones in particular, as they were especially partial to flowers).
“There is a certain symbolism to them,” they claimed.
Boris K. was a seasoned communist, a ruin left behind by the transition, a redundant loser. Like many others, he looked back on the times when he subscribed to the Labourer newspaper with nostalgia. It used to be a matter of prestige.
Due to his former high-ranking positions as the coffee brewer and sentry for the Trade Union sessions, he retained the habit of sitting, sleeping and eating dressed in a gray business suit. On that cold evening he was waiting for the arrival of his landlady while reading “The Trial”. Remembering the times past and the chanting of the famous “Comrade Fidel, if you so said/we’d go live in a car shed,” Boris K. mused how, everything said and done, he was actually still living according to his beliefs. The very thought was heartwarming. Boris’ “car shed” belonged to none other than the very harpy, the very shrew who announced her intent to arrive at 6 AM on the dot. At that time, with the first rays of sun, she was to materialize in the flat. Boris felt hungry and mildly nauseous. Maybe it was the fear of the landlady, or perhaps an omen of the apocalypse. He felt confused. By the powers of the left wing, Boris K. was no coward!
He approached the old refrigerator, opened the handless door, and saw a drunken lady squeezed into a small glass cage. It was a bottle of vodka, the Russian standard with 40 percent of alcohol. The poster on the wall offered him support and encouragement, or at least so it appeared to Boris K. It seemed to be saying “Bottoms up, Boris! Long live the counterrevolution!”
“Alas… if only I could squeeze myself inside just like you,” Boris thought wistfully. He envisioned his landlady, the morning sun illuminating her like a halo, menacingly brandishing the electricity bill. He huddled against the wall, crying like a baby, his cheek resting against a poster. A thought pierced his aching head, which throbbed as if clenched within a hoop. “But I don’t drink.”
“Now or never,” he spoke out loud. After the first sip, it occurred to him that he should attempt to seduce his aging landlady. He was determined to fight to the bitter end.
“This is how Alexander the Great charged against the Persians with his sword!” he thought, detaching his tear-stained cheek from the poster. “Is the casino Alexander still open?” he asked the wall hopefully, his face beaming.
Feverishly, he contemplated the way to get out of debts. Even without a penny to his name, Boris K. decided to try his luck at the adjacent casino. He took a big gulp of vodka and stumbled. Toppling the chair, he knocked down the suit and the grey socks and grabbed for the closet. He let the bottle drop out of his hand after the second swig. Somewhere in the pile of jumbled clothing Boris spotted a formal suit à la Vienna. He looked at it from all sides. He looked both ways furtively, as if he were not alone in the room, so surprised he was at the appearance of a beautiful, shining suit in such a gloomy environment. He stroked the buttons gently with his fingertips. It was exactly what he needed. Boris K. looked up at the ceiling and muttered “Thanks!”
Delighted, he cast another glance toward the closet and noticed the secret barrier dividing it into two parts. He grabbed the handle and shook it tentatively, but it appeared to be locked. Boris K. stepped back and stood in the middle of the room. The bottle of vodka back in his hand, he raged at the locked compartment.
“You’re hiding some great treasure, I know it!” “
He heard something rattle in one of the suit pockets. His hands shook as he rifled through the pockets, but all he found there was some brass buttons.
“Pure gold,” he soothed himself.
Donning the suit, he decided to use the buttons as gambling tokens. Thrilled with his incredible discovery, Boris K. danced a few bars of the Viennese waltz in front of the cracked mirror, arranging his hair. Out of breath, he fell onto the sofa. He was transported back to the harsh reality by the picture of Fidel Castro winking – or so it seemed to Boris K – straight at him.
“Too much to drink,” Boris concluded. Pulling himself together he threw the cheap buttons into the corner of the room, took one glance at the electricity bill and burst into tears.
The old lady entered just as she promised – illuminated by the first rays of sun. On her dress, tailored back in the forties, she wore an embroidered swastika.
“The Brazilian tarantula. Such an elegant little animal,” she explained to the curious butcher’s wife in passing. She wore lace gloves, dirty fingernails showing through. Smoothing down her oily hair, she swiped a dainty finger over one of her eyebrows, tattooed according to the latest fashion. Following the unfortunately drawn arch, she cast an Ilse-Koch-like look to Boris K. A cynical smile spilled across her elderly, clenched lips.
“Cash on the table,” she pulled out a stopwatch from her undershirt, “in 60… 59… 58…” As she counted down, it appeared, the last seconds of Boris K’s short life, the age spots on her cheeks broke through the layers of golden foundation and bright lipstick on her cheekbones.
“Do sit down, old Fräulein,” stammered Boris K, pointing to the sofa as full of holes as a Swiss cheese and stinking of cigarettes. The old woman threw him a contemptuous look. Boris K. realized his mistake. “Meine Frau,.. I… I… Frau, bitte,” he stammered, hypnotized by the embroidered swastika flanked by a flashy heart-shaped medallion. Finally, he murmured “Just let me run to the casino. I forgot my wallet next to the roulette here.”
“The casino, you say?” The old woman swiped the corners of her widely open mouth using a forefinger and a thumb.
“I swear by… this poster on the wall, Fräulein Suzy!”
She studied him like one would an insect and, with a sudden twist, cast a look filled with loathing at the poster of Fidel Castro. Stalin was her true love, but it was a fact she carefully concealed.
“Too bad he is an infidel,” she said as the light pushed its way through the dirty windows, illuminating her head like a halo. Her voice rang with the austerity typical of elderly women of reckless youth, who remembered their days of decadence just a touch too wistfully. Once easy, now a puritan, she had changed the dirty skin of her body and threw it on the altar of martyrdom, akin to a snake.
Boris K. repented his actions. He felt like taking off his nonexistent à la Vienna hat.
The old woman turned, eyes bulging, and approached him at a menacing pace. With the stance of an SS officer, her long nose touching the chest Boris K, Frau sniffed him, noticed the empty a bottle of vodka and contemptuously waved her hand. Settling into the sofa, she closed her eyes in the manner of a yogi. It lasted a whole of fifteen minutes, with Boris K. perspiring, dabbing the sweat from his brow and occasionally massaging her feet, until she cried
“Genug! Stop!” Her wide open eyes startled Boris K and he immediately stood to attention. “At ease!” Boris K. threw the left shoe off his right foot, hips swaying. “I forgive you, just as my Fritz would have done,” she murmured wistfully, remembering her old love – a high ranking SS officer, carried off by the maelstrom of war. Boris K. burst into tears of happiness. “But, under ein condition! ,” she roared in a thunderous voice. Boris K. was all ears. “I will write off your debt if you can squeeze yourself into this bottle.” The Frau pointed at the vodka bottle. “Verständlich? Understand?” the implacable Frau screeched.
Boris K. glanced at the bottle, then at his soft, pink hand (he was an artist, and it is well known that they do absolutely nothing under the sun). He wanted to protest, to say that one could not treat the oppressed classes so. Squeezing people into bottles like that? Not even Mengele would have thought of that, he thought – but said nothing. Somehow he managed to bend his back; he crumpled, growing smaller, lowering his proud fists, his skillful fingers curled and his head hung low. Thus his entire body distorted.
Boris K. kept diminishing before the terrible powers of the frau, finally growing small enough to squeeze his tiny hand into the vodka bottle, followed by his shoulder, chest and spine – the latter proved easy enough to squeeze into the bottle – and finally his feet, which by that point had completely refused to obey him. Thus Boris K. successfully completed his task under the Frau’s contended smile. Only Boris’ two large, terrified eyes remained visible.
The giant frau stood up, took the vodka bottle and headed for the locked compartment – the strictly guarded secret of all secrets. For years she was suspected of hiding, if not jewelry, then at least Fritz’s letters there. She reached into her pocket for the gilded key and opened the plywood compartment. Frau looked with pride upon the arranged bottles of numerous manufacturers – English and French, but mostly German. One bottle contained Sir Gawain, her former tenant, the second Herr Hans, and the third, Jean-Paul. From the fourth, the Obergruppenführer Fritz (the former supreme commander of the Waffen-SS) smiled at his lover, the Frau, who blew him a tender kiss. Each of the bottles contained a tenant hopefully peering through the stained glass of his prison, every one of them grateful to his landlady for being so very generous as to write off his debt.
Imaginarium, Igor Morski 1960
I, Franz Kafka, He who is versatile with light sentences, as well as everyday lexicon, have in regards to finishing all of my novels found a way out by writing this Code of Law, through Kafkaesque De Sade- von Masoch Code- KDSVMC statutes which have a final, totalitarian order, with a well-rounded meaning and significance which can serve as solace to Kafkaesque characters, suggesting to them and providing them with the materials to conduct independent research as a hobby which will cut their dark days in half and preoccupy their sinful thoughts.
As I read these lines written in a neutral eerie tone and engraved by means of bloody knife into history,
- I, Franz Kafka, have permanently relinquished myself of the guilt which haunted me and heavily obstructed me in performing my government job, and have done so by adopting the following Kafkaesque De Sade- von Masoch Code- KDSVMC statute:
- All of the trials are limited to a Castle of your own choice.
- All trials are to be conducted solely in the Castle – and we will select what castle it is via fixed lottery.
2. I, Franz Kafka, oppose die Autorität, the Scourge and Saint Attila, by flogging myself. I do not need the Scourge – I will carry out my own justice.
- 3.Slanderers are not to be flogged but slandered because they are above the law, and he who feels no guilt is the biggest sinner of all. He is to be flogged but exclusively by a three-wire quirt.
THE KAFKIAN LEVITICUS (THE BOOK OF THE KAFKAESQUE LAW)
This Code was discovered by a washed up actor Simon Culpeper, who was working at a quarry. He found it right next to a bloody dagger.
FOR IT IS WRITTEN:
Respect thy Father and thy Mother by having them whip you.
QUIT YER BITCHIN’ FOR HERE COMES WHIP TWITCHIN’!
- Whipping is to be executed exclusively with a sterilized whip, dipped in a hydrogen solution.
- Whipping is sponsored by tanner shops and salt factories.
- Salt is a necessary element to be rubbed into the post-whipping wounds.
- Whipping is the same as whipkrieg and is not to be permormed without the blessings of the church.
- The church is obliged to bless both the convict and the whip with holy water before the execution is to take place.
- Whipping in BDSM establishments is forbidden.
- Whipping must not be performed with an old Avarian quirt.
- The whip must not be manufactured from horse skin, which would work for nomads.
- The libelous person accused of libel is to be set free for honor is defended by dueling.
- Duels are forbidden.
- Should both duelists die – duels are permitted.
- Citizens are not to be arrested nor killed at night but during the day, mid-day, in the open.
 A subtle refference to Serbian protests to the 2017 Election results.
After the landlady kicked Boris K. out onto the snow for unpaid rent, our hero, endlessly cursing the soulless Frau Susie, lit a matchstick to warm himself up a bit. Lights burned in the surrounding houses, for it had been Christmas. A powerful, very squally Belgrade wind was whipping away chilling our hero to his bones.
Roaming along the snow and ice Boris K. cursed the day when he forgot to bring the New Year’s sparkles, hence, when one matchstick went out, he proudly lit the next, and then another, and then one more, up until he spent all of the matches in the box.
With the last stick he set fire to his coffer, used it to transport fire to his pants and coat, only to finally lit his whole self on fire in order to keep warm. While the cold whirlwind scattered his ashes all over the city streets, a bright sun shone and melted all the snow and ice.
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”, From Shakespeare’s play Hamlet (1.4), Marcellus to Horatio.
Boris K. took the “Mens sana in corpore sano” mantra deadly seriously and was on his way to the nearest gym. Out of sheer excitement, he forgot the towel. Truth be told, Boris K. never really sweated, what’s more the doctors diagnosed him with some armpit gland defect. He wore his tracksuit that he usually wore when he went to the farmer’s market and had sneakers on, clean, but with a tiny hole on their side.
The moment he stepped into the luxury space, akin to the gyms of Los Angeles where the Japanese Yakuza work out, the treadmill caught his attention. As he was running, green pastures went through his head where he soared as a child, running after a ball.
“Boris, get the ball!” he remembered the voice of his uncle Ivan The Terrible Fisherman, who often took him fishing.
He ran faster, catching the ball in his thoughts. Giggling, he lifted his arms up and whispered: “Death to fascism, freedom to the people”, respecting the house rules.
Luckily, others noticed the new workout guy, others who ran along the treadmill with light steps, wiping off the invisible sweat, exchanging many a word between one another:
“Sweetheart, I have discovered the Café Menstrualle. You pop one Café Menstrualle and no more ovary pain.”
“Such nice people, these folks”, he thought after a thirty minute cardio workout, ran his fingers through his odorous hair, with but a hint of sweat to it. He reeked of sweat and it felt good to him.
As he was fantasizing about making “Rocky VII”, a young man of 25-ish approached him, dark curly-haired, engulfed in a strong perfume, with buff arms, a square Lego torso and short legs, and he whispered into his ears words that almost froze Boris K. solid.
“Good evening”, he shook his hand with his own, dry chapped one. “I am Boris K.”
The trainer shook hands, unknowingly stepping away from Boris K., while down his tiny wrinkle on his young forehead, born out of constant frowning and grimacing, sweat poured.
“Forgive me, sir, but you stink. All the other folks that are working out are complaining about you.”
Boris turned around himself, sensing the sweat and the hostile looks. He shook.
“Male or female?” he applied logic.
He felt being bathed in cold sweat. As if something had been crushing him bone by bone, his field of vision narrowed. Him? He never broke a sweat. Even when he had to go to the doctor’s.
“What?”, Boris K. looked at him nearly maniacally.
“Nothing”, he said and wiped the sweat of his forehead. Catching glimpse of this motion, Boris K. facepalmed, merely uttering that he did not bring a towel which he would use to clear any doubt-raising link between him and sweat.
“Mistah Trainah, I have never once in my life…stunk, not even had a hint of an odor…and even if I did – is this not the right spot for it?” Boris K. was pulling these and similar arguments while counting the seconds in his head, bouncing the words around under his tongue, gulping, until finally he bent the knee and admitted defeat.
He was certain that he did not break a sweat, but this young trainer, who was a bodybuilder for at least a decade, certainly knew everything there was to know about stench.
“I’ve been wrongly accused!”, a slight rise in his tone.
The trainer shrugged and clenched his fists. The other customers started approaching with menacing faces. Boris K. noticed that he’s in a pinch and tried to apply some strategy. He smiled, to which the customers stepped back. Boris K. noticed that the workout gear was unoccupied, seeing as the people using them were surrounding him, therefore nobody was there using them. He felt the uncalm and the desire to leave, but he couldn’t leave well enough alone. He had firmly decided to continue the discussion with the discount Tommy Gann here by any means necessary, come hell or high water.
He felt that he was about to cry any minute. He held himself with both arms, comforting himself gently as the trainer, his voice a chill, suggested that he brought a towel next time, more modern sneakers and a Dolce & Gabbana tracksuit, like the ones other customers had. For a while he trembled out of confusion, uneasiness, he even wanted to cry. He cursed all the towels of God’s green Earth. He shook away the invisible sweat off of himself as the in-full-make-up female customers, casting a glance or two in his general direction, glared at him scornfully. One observed the sole of his left sneaker. Rolling her eyes, she whispered something to the lummox next to her who looked at Boris K., as if ready to crush him. Boris K. was smiling. He went out into the street shook up, confused, disturbed and offended, realizing that there was a stench there and that the trainer was absolutely correct.
“I know what it was! It was the scent of rot!”, he concluded, and stepped into the dark streets towards a new comedy.
Tomorrow Boris K. purchased a café menstrualle deciding that, as soon as he gets the right opportunity, he would complain to other customers at the gym about the pain in his ovaries.