Goran Samardžić


Sarajevske Sveske br. 34

translated from Bosnian by Irena Žlof

Goran Samardžić was born in 1961 in Sarajevo. In 1963 his parents moved to Belgrade, to Vračar, where he spent the next twenty years. His formative period had an elemental force to it. His foundations are often weaker than what comes on top of them, so he tends to break, but he also regains himself quickly. He is alive and healthy only because of nature's partiality to some of its creatures; it cares for them and loves them as if it has some higher plan in store for them! As if it might be sorry to see such valuable genetic material disappears into the void!
In the one-time capital of a phantom country Goran merges and collides with everything that comes his way. This usually happens within the perimeters of Vuk, Kalenić, Radnički, and the Sports Centre Vračar, though he also frequents the areas of Dorćol and Čubura as well as the windy avenues of the semi-built, semi-live Novi Beograd. This is where the force of the wind runs wild. People are selotaping their hats onto their heads. It was said that košava once snatched a child out of its mother's arms! Some lies...
Goran hurls himself here and there as if impersonating the wind, a small wind which blows for no apparent reason. He means nothing to anyone. He uses the big city the way some animals use the forest. He climbs on top of the higher buildings to scan his habitat from up in the air. He then climbs down to inspect the grounds over which sparrows hop, those brown birds which make an impression only when in flocks and on high ground. What a fuckup. There is nothing there, only asphalt, new and old patches of it, a manhole, spit, dog's shit curled into a question mark! Then, out of some protest, blaming what he has seen and stuffed into his conscience, Goran hooks himself onto a speeding tram. His cheek and body are glued onto the rear exit door. His arm is inside the tram, up to his elbow. Although empty, confused and ungrounded in life, he still does not feel like dying. He is looking ahead, to better times. Pointy twigs are slapping his face back and forth, tickling him pleasantly. He is riding without an aim, absorbing the vibrations. He is in search of himself!
Around that time, as if in warning, a young man crawls around Belgrade, a Roma boy without legs. They were chopped off, perhaps by this very tram which Goran is now clinging to. From that position, the frog perspective, the Roma boy is pick pocketing. It is not easy to kick a creature in such a state and at such a level of existence so, when they feel his hands crawling up their legs, people generally shriek in disgust. They shoo him away as if he were a dog at their feet, not a human being cut it half by a tram. Despite this, he will have children, several of them. They will outgrow him quickly. By the age of three of four they will already be looking him straight in the eye, annoying him. Once Goran watched the cripple with deep interest as he was beating up a woman at the Kalenić market. With one hand he clung onto her belt and was repeatedly hitting her in the stomach with the other. Nature had pumped vast amounts of energy into his upper body and the woman was stumbling, screaming. Once he brought her down, that is, snapped her in half, he continued his torture at the ground level. Goran was smaller and weaker back then. He was not yet strong enough to help others.
In the summer, during summer breaks, he spends entire days on Ada. He rides his pony bike to this muddy bathing spot and the kingdom of mosquitoes. His bike has neither mudguards nor breaks. He sunbathes, swims, daydreams… exists! In his swimming fervour, every now and then he embraces human shit. Those murky waters, into which the city empties its bowels, will make him immune to dirt. Their dirt inoculates him against all future dirt. He sometimes goes to the river Sava too. All sorts of things roll in that thick, wide and greasy water. The most unusual forms of junk and waste. Once a dead cow floated by under the Sava bridge, another time a dead horse; once Goran floated by, reclining in a tractor tyre. He was screaming with no apparent reason or aim. Letting the people on the bridge know that he was there. He imprints himself onto the world around him.
Not even the separate or collective contaminations residing in the Belgrade swimming pools, where he goes to observe others and show himself, will take hold of him. Many go to swimming pools to wash away their dirt, or at least soak off its top layers. They immerse their feet, soaking their corns and heels. What terrifying contrasts Goran has witnessed! Hordes of baked and soaked people, ranging from babies to some really old people, and women in particular, or more precisely, women putting their bathing costumes on! My God! Once he was in a middle changing cabin, between a young woman on one side and an old woman on the other side, the South Pole and the North Pole. The young woman was changing in the direction of the south, the old one in the direction of the north, according to the compass needle. Goran carried this apparatus at all times so as not to lose his direction in life. It was one of his last toys. He was spying on them, the women, through holes in the cabin walls. Practicing for his future as a writer. He was breathing deeply, pumping oxygen into his excited being. He was fifteen at the time. Nudity impressed him. When he was not watching other people's nudity, he was carefully observing his own. At times he felt he could see himself growing up just by watching himself in the mirror. Clothing, according to Goran's view at the time, was altering people's natural fur coat. It left us with but smidgens of it, on our armpits and around our genitals. Those were in general Goran's deeper thoughts at the time…

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