prose

Maša Kolanović: FROM iMurica

Maša Kolanović (Zagreb, 1979) is an author of five books, including three books of fiction.
Her novel Underground Barbie (2008) is translated in German. She works as a lecturer of contemporary Croatian literature at the University of Zagreb. She holds PhD in literary history and cultural studies. Her disertation is published with the title Worker! Rebel? Consumer...: Popular Culture and Croatian Novel from Socialism to Transition (2011). She was a research fellow at the Universtiy of Vienna in 2006 and University of Texas at Austin in 2012.
Her book Jamerika (2013) is an ilustrated book of fiction.



At night I just stop in front of that room. And stare. It's my ritual stop on the path between the toilet seat and the bed. My brother used to live in that room. Now orange rays from the nearby park fill all the square feet of its emptiness. Swings squeal monotonously. Time goes by slowly. The curtains shiver in the breeze. A small hurricane spins the leaves, shopping bags, and litter. Crows mangle the wing of a pigeon like in a documentary.

By day, children babble.

At night sometimes someone shouts: "Fock you, you whooore!"

Besides that, it's mostly quiet and boring.

No, the brother didn't die, wouldn't want you to think it's one of those stories.

You can sit back in your chair, you might even see a happy end.

The brother just flew into the air and fell on the New Continent.

And the room remained in the cramp of empty walls. It still has traces of life before America. Things quietly rotting in space. Proof that there really was life in the rectangle until someone pressed cut & paste on the other side of the world.

On the inside of the walls remained Mom, Dad, Sister, and one extra room.

Outside the window was the birth country engraved in every document.

America attracts people to the nth power.

At first the brother's absence seemed temporary. When his life was still close enough on this side of the world, it seemed like he'd come back to it any day now. You could reheat a room in that year or two... But in fact, her deepest innards were irretrievably moving towards the West. Slowly and surreptitiously, like the continents had once drifted apart. Bit by bit, Mom got rid of old things and filled the room with new ones. Like a turkey. Chairs, pillows, an ironing board... Then the guests regularly spent the night in that extra room. And then the brother started coming to the room as a guest. He wouldn't even unpack his suitcase in that week. Doesn't pay. Non-profitable. Like he'd stayed in some motel run by Psycho. The curtains stink and the damp goes through the ceiling. It's unbearably quiet.

And once upon a time that room lived.

Full of Tito's pioneers like a pomegranate, filled with the scent of a locker room.

When they weren't listening to Azra and Metallica or playing Monopoly, the boys from the brother's room would study. Math, history, physics, biology, chemistry. Equations, tables, formulas and cases. Study, study and nothing but study.

All the children of the world that once listened to comrade Lenin and studied for free now carry America on their back. The brother studied dilligently too.

Now he lives on the top of the tallest skyscraper from which his old teacher looks tiny like an ant.

Hey people, my brother's riding high on the Wild West!

America on the palm of his hand.

My brother is Superman.

 

At what moment do you forget the squeal of the swings, the crows and the pidgeon wing, the orange lights and "Fuck you, you whooore"? At what moment does New Zagreb become New York, and the tongue that once normally pronounced Hrvatska now twists over Hourvatska?

Do you ever get a crisis that isn't economic?

The brother points it out.

That there is the New Yorker, the hotel in which Nikola Tesla lived long ago, there's the Empire State Building, there's Chrysler, there's Ocean, that's the Hudson, Brooklynn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and the statue of my brother unreal like the New York vertical lines. I look and try to figure it out. All the skyscrapers, all the silence, the yellow river of taxis spilled over the avenues and the lights that starts to flicker in the New York sunset.

Manhattan on the palm of his hand.

My brother is Batman.

 

My brother is actually a quantum physicist who studied hard, kicked ass and gt a job in an important bank. And then they called him to move to an even more important one.

Bank of America.

Chase

Wells Fargo

J.P. Morgan

Hey man, can't pay back your loan? Sell an organ.

Or you're in for a lynching, said the Merrill Lynch people.

 

And for a long time I thought banks help people and lend them money on sight. Only if you don't pay your loan back in time, only then you have to pay interest! In my math notebook roses always bloomed from the scalps of unsolved problems. Sometimes gourds, too. Because of that, my brother regularly called me an imbecile.

Oh, who the heck knows why understanding an equation is more important than understanding a poem!

Equation, derivation, tax return, bah!

Brother is just a noun that grows into a character.

 

My brother and I are walking through New York. And I follow him.

 

O, dear brother,

buy me

a bike,

a scooter,

an automobile

with guitar accompaniment

sings

the little

imbecile

 

May I have your attention please!

Hey, you there! 1, 2, 3 can you hear me? Sound guy, adjust the tone, 'cause Marx is taking the bullhorn! Check-check-check it out, comrades and camarades, allow "me" to address you, watching all this from a historical distance and a higher narrative and moral-philosophical instance. As you see, it didn't take long for the heroine of this story to start regretting every second spent in this city, to forget about the history of class struggle in the belly of the urban capitalist beast and start weeping over every step that could impress itself on the streets  ruled by the world's leading exploiters, reality generators and simulators. Unlike the progressive proletariat, the heroine of this tale simply cries that if she were by any chance her brother, she'd never return to that room from the beginning of the story, the heroine of this story has rejected revolutionary freedom!

And surrendered to the chains of affluence, capitalism's influence to which she's singing an ode!

 

New York! New York!

Nyeh-nyeh, nyeh-nyeh!

 

Do you hear it pulsing in her brain?

Listen for a moment

to this frightening refrain:

I'll buy a pound of New York for half a Zagreb!

Come on, come on, it's almost gone!

A pound of New York for half a Zagreb!

And a day of Manhattan for a whole Balkan!

And a day of Manhattan for a whole Balkan!

This heroine spews greedy thoughts like a volcano

Look how beats and beats

a greedy little heart

Somewhere deep in all of us

beats a heart

and the characters of this story pour

into the street, molten lava

a colorful electric river

and dissolve in the multitude

they hear an echo deep inside the sewer grates

Consumers of the world, unite!

your day (or nightmare?) too has dawned

only change is eternal

Times Square

Logo next to logo

Logos

All that is solid melts into air

Look readers

A commodity opera in the abyss of commercial acts

Presented only for you by the corporate team of:

 

Coca-Cola

Gillette

Sony

Toshiba

Canon

Apple

Kodak

Swatch

How much?

Every commercial is Carmina Burana

Every product a Carmen

Amen.

Messages come from Heaven, shiny and in high resolution

more is less

God bless American Express!

 

And the heart beats and beats

I wish all this was mine

Like a Virgin, touched by capitalism for the very first time

 

On the southern shore of the tongue of Manhattan is the head of the economic snake

It goes on, builds and destroys towers, masters, governs, multiplies, divides and cooks the numbers. There are the shadows of the verticals, the flashes of numbers and the footsteps of white men in black suits. With a gait that goes who knows where because it follows

money

money

money

step by step

Verticals become numbers

numbers verticals

the pulse of capitalism beats and pounds

hits your pocket

and pounds your head with a nightstick

who wants to be a millionaire?

I, you, he, we, you, they

am, are, is, are,

hidden in Wall Street Bull

I run, you run, he/she/it runs, we run, you run, they run

after the red flag of money

with a money in our pockets

full, full, full

your money or your life?

Life for money

honey-bunny

Buy! Buy! Buy!

Sell! Sell! Sell!

You want heaven, you want hell?

Must be some kinda spell

that became gospel:

In bank we trust!

Bank, bank, you're a skank!

O, why is understanding an equation more important than understanding a poem?

O why is the economy so mysterious?

Answer me, o you, serious, grim people in suits!

 

Why so serious?

Why so serious?

 

Why so imperious?

Why not free, happy and delirious?

When plus and plus anyway make minus.

 

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