Seyit Ali Dastan

I stopped responding to her. She also stopped squabbling. Silence spread over the apartment. I can hear her occasionally sniffling. Then, for the first time, I thought about what would happen alone in Canada. I might miss her for a few months. I might imagine her with me at my new home. These imagined images of her may accompany me during this period: She may have dinner with me. We may go to McDonald’s and order the filet-fish menu together. She may wipe the table in the restaurant with a wet towel before we sit down. Then we may talk about our day and the people around us loudly in Turkish, confident that the other patrons do not know our language. But after a few months, her image would fade. She would occasionally come to my table, sleep with me, and have a chat with me. As the days go by, I would meet new people and no longer feel the pain of loneliness. Then she emails the cold divorce documents, asking me to sign and send them back. Would we really break up after all?

While I was thinking all these things, I heard her crying again. Then she suddenly yelled:

“You will find a French chick there! Who knows, you may have already arranged one?”

“I am not going to the French part,” I replied in the stupidest manner.

“Really, oh great. I’m fine now. Then you’ll find a chubby British slut! Go ahead!”

“I didn’t mean…”

“You didn’t …, what?” she shouted again. I could hear her murmuring, “Go to hell! I hope you freeze to death on a mountain over there, and nobody finds your poor body!”

She was always harsh and relentless when she got truly angry. I intervened to appease her again:

“Listen!” But it was a futile attempt as a bottle crashed on the wall just next to me and exploded. She had thrown the perfume bottle but missed. I could see her in the black nightgown, standing at the edge of the door to the bedroom. It was now like a horror movie scene as we are at the opposite ends of the corridor, and the mascara turned her cheeks black as well. I suddenly realized that it was the perfume I bought her last year from a duty-free shop at a discount price of €49. She had rarely used it. The almost full bottle of liquid had spilled over the corridor and onto my suitcase. An intense scent of flowers spread through the corridor in this horror-movie scene.

“You will injure your foot,” I said and started to pick up the broken pieces of the bottle.

“Stop pretending that you care about me. I am sure you are now calculating how much you spent on it and how much has been wasted.”

I did not reply and went to the kitchen to put the pieces in the bin. I got back to the door and held the handle of my suitcase again. It was now smelling like my wife who was still standing at the other end of the corridor.

Taking advantage of her excessive behavior, I opened the apartment door. As I opened the door, the automatic light in the building hallway went on abruptly. I pulled the suitcase outside the apartment and tried to find my shoes. When I found them and put them outside, she called to me in a trembling voice again:

“Will you really leave your country? Your beloved country? I know you love Turkey. I know you no longer love me, but you still love the motherland.” She stopped and then stressed: “Your homeland.” Her voice trembled even more: “Your nation…”

I sighed and waited for a moment, deliberately shifted my gaze away from her.

“Sila,” I said her name directly in a cool manner. “I no longer have a nation. I feel like I belong to the entire world, all of humanity.”

She laughed sarcastically:

“If only the world knew it. Wherever you go, you are a ‘Turk’. You can’t escape it. Everybody will call you the Turkish guy. What do you think you can do? change your race?”

“No. I’m fine being a Turk. This is not about that. I am just saying that I don’t have particular concern for Turkey and its people. Yes, I want the best for the Turkish people but just like I do for others as well.”

“Believe me, you will be at best a ‘foreigner’, if not humiliated for being a Barbarian.”

“That is why I’m going to Canada. It is not Europe divided by arrogant nations. And if we have a baby…”. I stopped and restarted my sentence: “If we were to have a baby – which we have not done for five years because the spirit has not moved you – then, she would have chance to grow up in a country whose flag is made of a leaf.”

That was the first time I had incited her in this dispute. I realized that she was finally managing to make me angry. But I did not want that. If it was really the last meeting between us, it should be less painful. So I pulled on my shoes and walked outside the apartment. Now I was in the building hallway. I pushed the elevator button, but I did not close the door to the apartment. She did not come to the door to say goodbye, to keep fighting with me, or to see me for the last time.

(…to be continued…)

Series – Evanescent

January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)

July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)

October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

November: The Writer’s Daughter – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)

Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Yalova, Turkey – Apartment bedroom – Kerem Gogus (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Seyit Ali Dastan

“Did you forget the day you promised not to leave me?” she asked in tears.

“Me?” I replied abruptly. “Besides, I’m not leaving you. It’s you talking about divorce after each quarrel between us. I never wished it. It’s your choice. I’m just packing. If you come with me, you are very much welcome. Your ticket has already been bought. And you still have time to get ready for the trip.”

It was the day I had booked a flight to Toronto, Canada, and we were having another fight at our apartment in Istanbul. While I was hastily packing my clothes in the suitcase, she was sitting on the bed, her knees pulled up to her belly, wearing a black nightshirt. I was avoiding eye contact but still saw how swollen her eyes were from endless crying. She was yelling at me, accusing me of being the coldest person in the world, a selfish monster who did not care about her. I was trying not to answer her and just pretending to worry about my clothes. I knew my emotionless attitude was making her angrier. I did not intend to do so. But any emotional faltering on my part would give her courage to play on my sensual weakness, and I could be encaged one more time. And I knew, as I put my clothes in the suitcase without hesitation, she was becoming more and more surprised. To show my determination, I had printed out the flight tickets – for both of us – and put them on the bedside table.

Then I finished filling the suitcase and closed it. When I had fastened the zipper, she stopped crying, leaned forward on her arms, and asked in a soft and trembling tone of voice:

“Won’t you?”

I sighed and sat on the bed. Now there were three on it: my wife, my suitcase and me.

“Honey,” I said affectionately, “I’m not leaving you. You know it. That’s why I bought tickets for both of us. I planned everything. We will start a new life in Canada. I already found a job at a university. Believe me, that will be a new start for our relationship as well. It will refresh everything! Please, we have already discussed it a million times. Just trust me and come.”

After seeing my determination again, she shouted at an even higher pitch:

“I won’t, I won’t, I won’t!”

Then I stood up, watched my angry wife and gazed at the calm suitcase on the bed. I thought that I would never sleep on that bed again and took the suitcase, extended its handle, and started to pull it through the corridor to the apartment door. When I reached it, I thought that I had forgotten my passport.

“Do you know where my passport is?” I asked unemotionally and without showing any affection. I spoke without any term of endearment only when I was angry with her. She knew it and yelled from the bedroom:

“I’m not the guardian of your stuff!”

“No problem!” I replied and went back with the suitcase. I checked all the wardrobes and drawers one by one. It was not there. She looked at my baffled concern. Then she said:

“You, stupid! Did you check your pocket? You already put it in there.”

“Oh, I’m a bit mixed up. Just confused by the trip.” – I kept hiding my eyes from her and left the bedroom again.

I put my passport into my suitcase and started to pull it again. Its handle looked like a hand to me now. I was holding the hand of my suitcase. When I looked down the corridor, I could see the bedroom door half open. I wanted to see her again but did not want her to see me. Yet she was out of sight.

She called from the bedroom in a reasonable manner:

“Do you think you can go alone? By yourself? Remain whole throughout your entire trip? You look like a little boy in need of parental attention. I am sure when you are at the airport, you will forget or lose something at check-in.”

I leaned on the door and kept listening without responding. She was teasing me and threatening: “Anyway, when you spoil your journey or just ruin you plans or realize that Canada is not the perfect place to live, please do not dare to come back here, to my home. You know, from now on, this is my apartment.”

“Come on, I am 36 years old and I had a life before you. I survived pretty well.”

After a minute of silence, I continued:

“I am not sure everything will be fine in Canada. But it is worth trying. Compared to my life in Turkey, there is not much left to lose. Besides, it’s a good place to live. I got a good offer from the university. And if we go together…”

“We? You still say ‘we’? Stop making plans for us. There is no ‘we’ anymore. You and me. We will join the army of ‘former couples’.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

“Why? Is there any hope to reconcile?”

“Come on, there is discord in all marriages.”

“Don’t make me laugh. This is not discord; this is a fight!” Then she added emphatically: “Especially considering that you are leaving me…”

(…to be continued…)

Series – Evanescent

January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)

July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)

October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

November: The Writer’s Daughter – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)

Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Alanya, Turkey – The bazaar below – Aleksandar Todorovic (Shutterstock)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

And just like that, South Africa’s FIFA World Cup came to an end. A month of celebration, hard work, too much drinking, too little sleep, and copious amounts of adrenalin. That is the epitome of youth. Youth is a time for living life to the fullest and not thinking about the consequences. It is living an eternal now, a time of staying forever young.

All these years later, I look back on the World Cup as a magical time. The friends I had then have moved to other countries or cities. I have also moved on. Those easy connections and spontaneous activities are much harder now. Some of us have lost touch, and bonds have been broken that may never be fixed again.

Perhaps the world too has become a harder place. It is as if the underlying magic that formed an invisible layer on every part of life has dissipated.

Or perhaps the magic ended when Mandela died. His appearance at the final match of the World Cup became one of his last public appearances. He was already 92 at the time and quite frail. Three years later he was dead. The youthful optimism that our country could transform itself into a leader among nations died with him.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about Madiba Magic.

We were watching the World Cup Final in the same pub where Sausage Guy had met his match. I was there with Pauline, Dave, and others who lived in our commune. We were dressed up in the colours of our teams. Dave and I were wearing yellow and red to support the Spanish. The others donned the orange and blue of the Dutch flag.

The finale was prefaced by some Madiba magic. As Mandela arrived at Soccer City in Johannesburg and waved to the spectators, the crowds of patrons in the pub, to a man, rose to greet our struggle hero and man of peace. The spectators blasted their vuvuzelas and the applause roared across the stadium and onto all the television screens of the world. We felt that magic of possibility in the pub. Never mind soccer, this was our champion: the man who conquered a regime and his own demons, the man who started out as an armed fighter and became a peacemaker. He was the quintessential symbol of the resilience and transformation of the human spirit.

The bar was filled to capacity and the audience cheered when Madiba appeared. And then an almost religious hush came over the pub. For the next 120 minutes, only cheers and groans could be heard until Spain finally delivered the winning goal.

The pub exploded into cheering when Spain finally brought home the prize. The supporters embraced each other. Team colours and nationality no longer mattered. We all recognized that something was happening at a far deeper, more spiritual level. Although we came from different walks of life and cultures, we were united by a common love – the beautiful game.

Sport has this magical quality of uniting people. Madiba knew that. That is why he rallied a divided nation behind the Springboks at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Similarly, after the political turmoil of the opening years of the Zuma presidency (which would continue for the next decade), South Africans thirsted for the magic of unity as an antidote to the fear, anger, hatred and distrust that had set in.

For a moment, we were reminded that there is more that unites us than the things that divide us. We were able to holds our heads up high before the concert of nations and proudly proclaim that we had delivered a magical spectacle for the greatest show on earth.

But it was also more than that. It was a reminder that we can do better. The K’naan anthem of that World Cup “Wave your flag” encapsulated so much of what we desperately needed to remind ourselves:

When I get older I will be stronger

They’ll call me freedom just like a wavin’ flag

We were very young then. Democratic South Africa was only 16 years old. She was a child living in the euphoria of her newfound freedom. Everything was possible. Everything was achievable. Filled with the elixir of Madiba magic, we believed that everything would be alright in the end.

But the magic died. We did not live up to our youthful expectations. We failed to make our dreams come to life. “Hope springs eternal in every human breast,” wrote Alexander Pope. We have learnt the hard way that, unless nurtured, hope can wither.

Hope will die if it is fed on corruption, lies, dishonesty, lack of education, crippling poverty, poor health care, and the absence of prospects for the future. That is what the Zuma years did to us.

It took nine years for his party to finally oust him. Cyril Ramaphosa took his place but the long shadow of the Zuma years continues to threaten to reignite the cauldron of despair. When Ramaphosa took office, there was talk of a new dawn.

It has been slow in rising. What can one man do in the face of a deadly virus and a crippled economy? We are older now. We are wiser and more pessimistic. We know better than to believe in magic.

And yet…every time I hear our national anthem, I am moved, and the final verse stirs up something deep inside:

Sounds the call to come together,

And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.

Maybe some of that Madiba Magic will live on forever.

Series – Evanescent

January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)

July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)

October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

November: The Writer’s Daughter – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)

Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Plettenberg Bay, South Africa – Setting – Thomas Bennie (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Some 20 minutes later, Pauline returned, armed with several covered plates of food. None of it smelt very appetizing.

Using me as her interpreter, she explained that she’d ordered various South African delicacies and that only the most virile men can eat them. She told Sausage Guy that he could take her back to his hotel room if he ate everything she’d ordered.

The game was on.

Sausage Guy puffed up like an arrogant soccer player ready to face an inferior opponent.

“Is easy,” he said in broken English. Leering at her, he added: “I eat dis. After, I eat you.”

Pauline gave him a seductive smile and teased: “Only if you are a real man.”

She started him off slowly, offering him some pap en wors.8 That was easy enough.

Next, she offered him a Gatsby. This is a foot-long loaf of bread stuffed with slap chips,9 steak, fried eggs, salad and sauce. After the pap en wors, I could see Sausage Guy was starting to exhibit the strain, but he was determined not to admit defeat, aided no doubt by some high testosterone levels.

Dave and I helped by keeping a steady supply of beer coming his way. The Argentinean’s friends cheered him on, but their faces showed relief that Pauline hadn’t chosen them.

Next came some mogodu.10 Sausage Guy was looking a little green by this time and sweating profusely, but he ate a few mouthfuls.

He pushed the plate away. Pauline pushed it back toward him. “You must finish,” she said.

Sausage Guy continued to pick at it with tremendous effort, belching his way through.

“Now, for dessert,” smiled Pauline. A shadow of relief crossed Sausage Guy’s face. But the half-lit pub didn’t hide his extreme discomfort.

Pauline uncovered the final plate. “These are called walkie talkies,” she stated and looked at me to explain in Spanish that these are fried chicken feet prepared in a peri-peri batter.

Sausage Guy looked at me with a combination of horror and anger. He turned to Pauline, pointed a finger in her face and half-heartedly threatened her: “In bed, you pay.”

She teased him: “If you make it to bed. You have to eat 10 walkie talkies first.”

He picked up the first piece and bit into it. The crunchiness of the fried chicken feet and the heat of the peri-peri made him retch. He shook his head.

“You must eat them all,” Pauline said.

He took a second piece, bit into it, but no sooner was it in his mouth than he turned away from the plate and drunkenly tried to get up. He didn’t get far. He vomited everything we’d fed him right there on the floor.

At this point Pauline got up and poured what was left of his beer over him. She bent over him and said: “You were never man enough for me anyway.”

We gathered up our things and left Sausage Guy’s friends to take care of him. There was no doubt he would have a strong babelaas11 the next day. And hopefully he learned the lesson: South Africans (and Kenyans) can be very friendly, but don’t mess with us!

(…to be continued…)

Footnotes

8. Thick porridge made of maize meal accompanied by a typical barbecued sausage.

9. Soggy French fries.

10. Tripe stew.

11. Hangover.

Series – Evanescent

January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)

July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)

October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

November: The Writer’s Daughter – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)

Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Grahamstown, South Africa -Delicacies – MD Photography (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

The entire month of the World Cup was a jol.7 I don’t think I slept very much. But I certainly ate, drank, and breathed every moment of the Cup. I was also a lot younger and, at 29, could function with copious amounts of alcohol and little sleep!

My job that year was focused on the security preparations for the World Cup and monitoring for any threats against players and fans. This is how I got to watch most of the matches as part of my responsibilities (a dream job, right?), scanning the crowds pictured on the screen for any sign of a disturbance. It meant long hours at the office. Days started at 6 am and ended after the last game of the evening, often at 10:30 at night.

There was an official fan park across the road from my office, so most nights, instead of heading home for some much-needed sleep, I’d walk across to the Fan Zone and meet up with friends who had been there for several hours already, drinking and striking up friendships with the tourists who had come to experience an African World Cup.

One night I arrived at the designated pub to find that my pretty Kenyan friend, Pauline, had five Argentinean guys lapping up every word that came out of her mouth. Except they didn’t speak much English and she didn’t speak any Spanish! One of them was making a poor attempt to seduce her by telling her that he “make big sausage” while pointing at his genitalia.

Pauline motioned for me to walk with her to the bar. “How do I get rid of them?” she asked me.

“Tell them to piss off,” I suggested.

“Eish, no, let’s make them pay, especially the one, you know, ‘Sausage Guy’,” she laughed with a wicked glint in her eye. Pauline could be impulsive at times. But also dangerous. Whatever she was planning was not going to end well for the Argentineans.

“Nee, man, Pauline. Let’s dump them and go somewhere else.”

“No way! They came here looking for an African experience! I’ll give them an African experience!”

“What are you up to?” I asked, intrigued.

“Watch and learn,” Pauline retorted with a naughty smile.

She made me buy beers for the group and take them to the table with the promise that she would soon be back. “Tell them I’ve gone to organize an African treat for them.”

Armed with beer, I rejoined our other friend Dave who clearly didn’t have the Argentineans as enthralled as Pauline had. Dave looked at me and mouthed: “Where’s Paulie?”

I rolled my eyes: “Getting a surprise for our friends, apparently.” Dave looked at me and winked. He knew Pauline well.

Meanwhile, I tried to keep the Argentineans talking. I speak Spanish, so communication wasn’t a problem. But they weren’t interested in me. “Donde está la negrita?” Sausage Guy asked.

“Está preparando una supresa para ti,” I said. That got his interest. His friends egged him on, making crude sexual jokes.

(…to be continued…)

Footnotes

7. Party.

Series – Evanescent

January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)

July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)

October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

November: The Writer’s Daughter – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)

Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Soweto, South Africa – At the festival 2 – Sunshine Seeds (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

That’s the trouble with South Africa. We have so much good to show, but it’s never the good stuff that makes international headlines. We’re often in the news for all the wrong reasons – the highest crime rates in the world. The greatest levels of inequality between rich and poor. High unemployment. The endless pictures of our squatter camps. Xenophobic violence. Corruption. Scandal.

It was as if the world didn’t give us enough of a chance after apartheid. I sometimes felt like the media was always looking for reasons to show up our failures and ignore our successes. We also are a self-critical people. We see the worst in ourselves and forget the best.

The facts tell a different story. We transitioned out of apartheid without a civil war. Nelson Mandela’s vision for a non-racial South Africa may have been utopic, but his belief carried us through the first difficult years after 1994. Madiba5 is probably one of the great leaders of the 20th century on par with of Mahatma Ghandi, who incidentally, also developed the art of passive resistance here in South Africa.

Mandela served for five years and then passed the baton. Too soon, the magic of Madiba’s rainbow nation faded and hard reality set in. So far, no one has lived up to expectations. His successor made us an international laughingstock for his handling of the HIV/Aids pandemic and did little to build the much-anticipated momentum for economic recovery.

Now, it was even worse. Jacob Zuma started his presidency with a rape allegation. In the trial, he denied the rape charges, but consented to having unprotected, consensual sex with the daughter of a colleague. Asked whether he was not afraid of contracting Aids, he simply said he’d taken a shower. A cartoonist depicted him with a shower head above him. And it stuck! Another national disgrace.

And then there was the xenophobic violence. Living in a part of Johannesburg that contained a large percentage of immigrants from other African countries, I had watched first-hand in 2008 as my friends and their families had their businesses destroyed and their lives threatened by South Africans who claimed that the presence of the kwerekwere6 was the reason for all of the country’s economic woes. As the daughter of Angolan immigrants, the targeted violence affected me deeply and weakened my faith in the country that is the only home I have ever known.

South Africa needed this World Cup. We needed to lift our heads, raise our collective spirits. In times of trouble, sport has always united us. Our sporting gees reminds us of who we want to be. Who we can be. This is what I was thinking as I tried to capture the mood of the stadium on film. I wanted to freeze forever the moment when the diversity of 30,000 people in Loftusversveld gave me cause to celebrate our common humanity, rather than reasons for conflict.

The moment had come. The players took the field. The national anthems sounded across the stadium. The whistle blew. The game began. I sat back in my seat, soaking in the incredible euphoria of watching a World Cup match in my own backyard. I didn’t care who won. To be here, in this moment, was everything.

(…to be continued…)

Footnotes

5. Term of affection for Nelson Mandela.

6. A derogatory term for black foreigners coming from other African countries.

Series – Evanescent

January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)

July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)

October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

November: The Writer’s Daughter – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)

Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: South Africa – Abandoned – Glen Carrie (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

The mood in the stadium was electric. The piercing wails of vuvuzelas1 could be heard far beyond the confines of the stadium. I was still standing in a slowly-snaking line waiting to get into Loftusversveld Stadium. I’d never had a reason to come here before, the bastion of South African rugby. But I wasn’t here for rugby. I was here for the soccer. I was here for the FIFA World Cup.

The crowd around me was impatient. We wanted to be inside, singing Shosholoza2 and showing the foreigners that we have gees.3 Complete strangers struck up conversations with one another. South Africans and foreigners. A few words in English. Hand gestures. Excitement on every face. It didn’t matter that we didn’t understand each other. All that mattered is that we all spoke one language today: soccer.

As South Africans, we were excited to be playing host to the world’s greatest soccer tournament. We were showing the world that we could do it. Just months before, there were fears we wouldn’t be ready. The stadiums, airports, and the roads were far behind schedule. The FIFA president Sepp Blatter had become an almost de facto president, usurping the powers of our own government, telling us what we could and couldn’t do.

Blatter kept threatening to take the tournament away from us, citing failed construction deadlines, crime, terrorist threats. They were worried it would be a fiasco. The trouble was, they just didn’t understand how South Africa works. We never get anything right the first time. But we get there in the end. By hook or by crook.

And we did. Miraculously all the construction work ended within days of the opening match.

It felt a little surreal to stand in line to watch Spain play Chile in a first round match with my commune buddies. I was draped in a Spanish flag I’d bought off one of the hawkers4 down the road near where I had parked my car. Dave was wearing a Chilean cap that a South American fan had exchanged for his South African scarf. Pauline was wrapped in as many flags as she could find!

It didn’t really matter. We were swimming with the tide of national pride. We weren’t there to support a specific team. We just wanted to be a part of the South African magic. And we wanted everyone who came to South Africa to enjoy the party!

Finally, after passing through several checkpoints, we presented our tickets and made our way into the stadium. We got lost trying to find our seats. So, we just sat down in two empty ones. We could always move if the real occupants showed up. That is the South African way.

The field was far below us. The players warming up were just tiny specks. But we had a birds eye view of the entire stadium. The game hadn’t started yet, but the crowd was already in high spirits. Everyone was trying to sing their songs above the din of the vuvuzelas.

“Sjoe, this is a lekker vibe!” Dave shouted into my ear. I nodded in agreement, knowing he’d never hear me above the noise. Instead, I snapped pictures of the crowd. I wanted to remember this moment forever. More than that, I wanted time to stand still. South Africa at its best.

(…to be continued…)

Footnotes

1. Traditional horn-like instrument characteristic at soccer games.

2. South African sporting anthem.

3. Spirit.

4. Street vendors.

Series – Evanescent

January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)

July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)

October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

November: The Writer’s Daughter – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)

Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Johannesburg, South Africa – In the midst – Vladimir Melnik (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

By Gennady Bondarenko

Kolya immediately suggested going to the ‘Black Cat’. “Maybe,” he said, “they haven’t finished everything and there are still a couple of drinks remaining for us.” I reassured my friend, telling him about the unexpected editorial generosity. I suggested showing our visiting celebrity the city center and taking some photos in front of the local sights – Admiral Nakhimov’s monument or Grafskaya pier, and so we did, telling our guest along the way, who was who, and why this was here. Jackie Chan listened attentively and obediently posed for photos. He did seem to have heard about our country. For example, he knew that every city here has a monument to Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the anti-globalization revolution. He only wondered why Lenin was in military uniform, with a naval dirk on his side and a telescope in his hand? The question caught me so unaware that for a moment I pondered to myself why Lenin really needed that weapon paired with a telescope.

I didn’t have time to answer. We were already near the column of the Scuttled Ships monument. Here’s where our guest evidently got interested. Under what circumstances, he asked, did the ships sink, and so many at once, or for what reason? I explained as best I could in English, “On purpose to prevent the enemy fleet from entering the city bay.”

“We,” added Kolya, “have such a tradition here, to start something first by breaking everything, and as radically as possible. For example, if we have ships, we sink them first. And why – we’ll figure that out later.”

Our guest was visibly miffed by such a tradition. Then, after reflecting a little, he cheered us and said that it was very much in the spirit of Bushido. “Real heroes indeed behave this way: If you were to choose between life and death, choose death.”

“Oh yes, that explains everything,” we agreed in one voice.

I even was a bit ashamed that I had not come up with such a simple and elegant explanation on my own. The Bushido Code! Our “mysterious Slavic soul” was not alone in this vast world, after all.

We walked at a leisurely pace down Primorsky Boulevard, admiring choppy waves on the autumn sea. Then Kolya stated resolutely: “Yes, our guest is already quite familiar with our city, its architectural features and heroic past. The next move is to meet the local people!”

The ‘Black Cat’ was, quite predictably, crowded as usual. I was not surprised to find our partiers still there too, and not even very drunk. Kolya stopped at the entrance, raised his hands.

“Listen up, folks!” he shouted, and somehow everything immediately quieted down. “Look who I’ve brought here! The great Jackie Chan himself has visited our city and will shoot a movie here!”

After a minute’s pause, people cheered the famous guest and welcomed him to their tables. Everyone in the bar immediately wanted to have a drink with him, or for that matter, with Kolya, as the closest friend of the movie star. Bartender Sasha brought us another couple of vodka bottles, sandwiches and asked for an autograph, which our guest readily signed on the bottle without having to be asked twice. Everyone liked the idea, and Jackie Chan had to sign ten or twelve more bottles. Meanwhile, Kolya and I, as his close friends, left our autographs on several too.

Then, the police came, evidently summoned by someone who thought that we were here to have a fight or an unauthorized demonstration. We explained to the officers that the great kung fu star Jackie Chan was our guest today. He would shoot his next wonderful film in our city, about … in a word, they would see for themselves soon.

The police didn’t believe us at first and politely asked us to lead them to the famous actor. Initially stunned by his fierce appearance and fur hat with a red star, they nevertheless greeted him by shaking hands. Then they too asked for an autograph, on the blank police ticket block. Then, after some quiet consulting among themselves, they said that actually they were not supposed to drink on duty, but on such an occasion …

Jackie Chan took off his fur hat and put it on a nearby chair. It was getting pretty hot in the bar, and a police cap was immediately put on his head. This caused an explosion of cheers again, and Kolya invited everyone to take a collective photo. Thursday, he promised, these pictures would definitely appear on the newspaper’s front page.

All the rest went in episodes for me, like a movie trailer. Here we all drink once again to the health of our guest. Then, for the further flourishing of the friendly People’s Republic of China. Here we are already walking in a cheerful crowd along the Bolshaya Morskaya street in the direction of the hotel and singing songs in Chinese. A police patrol car slowly followed us as an honorary escort.

At the very entrance to the hotel, we handed the movie star over to our acquaintances, the naval sabers. The bodyguards took him by the arms, as he was swaying, but balanced. Kolya and I saluted them in a soldierly manner. In the lobby, we were met by our friend, the girl at the reception. It seemed that this time she was less than happy to see us.

“What have you done!” she exclaimed. “Everyone here is running off their legs looking for him! They even called the police… a foreigner going out to fetch a hat – and disappeared! With all that film shooting, just tomorrow morning, in the mountains at Baydar Gates! Even Jackie Chan himself has inquired where his wardrobe supervisor disappeared.”

We asked, “…who?” and gasped simultaneously. “And who disappeared …? And who then was with us all that time?”

“Come on, guys!” – Katya made a helpless gesture with her hands. “Having that drinking bout, and you don’t even know who you were with? This is Mister Lee, the star’s costume designer. When the fur hat they ordered for tomorrow’s shooting was brought to the hotel entrance, he just went down to pick it up…”

We stood for a moment and then left the hotel without saying a word. It was past midnight and the street was empty. Fumes of alcohol evaporated surprisingly quickly in the fresh night air. For a moment, we breathed silently.

“So, what now?” I asked, addressing more myself. “The editor’s expecting an interview and photos tomorrow. He is burning with impatience to know Jackie Chan’s opinion of our wonderful city. What his impressions are. How he likes it in Ukraine and in Crimea in particular.”

Kolya gave me a pensive look, then smiled, as if it were he who had been asked about his impressions on the night in the city. He glanced at the sleeping houses and the deep night sky twinkling like the glimmers in the nearby sea.

“So what’s the problem? I’ve taken the photos, remember?” he said finally. “And you – yes, you will write about his impressions of our city. You are a reporter, aren’t you? Always at the forefront of events, with all those battleships blowing up and kung fu matters, sharing the most secret techniques! You’ve got it, man… so live up to your story! Besides, the newspaper will come out on Thursday, and the film crew leaves on Wednesday … and he does not read our newspaper anyway, that Jackie Chan! And as for his impressions, what were they? I bet you anything – only the best, that’s for sure!”

Series – Evanescent

January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)

July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)

October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

November: The Writer’s Daughter – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)

Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Yalta, Crimea – At night – German S (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

By Gennady Bondarenko

In my mind I scrolled over where I could have blundered in my newspaper responsibilities last week to arouse the heightened interest of the editor. I had not done anything in particular to warrant such attention lately…

Okay. I composed myself. There’s probably some minor issue, and it would take at a maximum no more than ten minutes time.

The editor sat at his desk absorbed in reading the galley proofs. Glancing at me briefly, he silently nodded toward a chair. Without a word, I sat down and waited. The editor-in-chief finally looked up from the papers.

“Do you know what is happening in our city?” he began, but somehow not in a very confident tone, as if he himself was not yet sure whether this ‘happening’ was worthy of such an educational moment. “You work in our information department, don’t you?”

“Everything I am supposed to know, I know,” – I nodded assuredly, “and what I do not know, I am not supposed to. After all, our city is subject to nothing but the utmost military and state secrecy.”

“You’re right there, and no arguing with that, but here’s the thing: A film studio from America will be shooting here, in our city. Yes, no kidding – right from Hollywood, as chance would have it, and not just in Ukraine, but right here, in our Crimea. So, I suppose the fact that we now have a famous Hollywood actor, Jackie Chan, in our city is not a military secret for you?” – my editor could not resist a stinging remark.

I only shrugged and tried to interject, but he stopped me with a gesture.

“So the situation is clear to you, and we can cut the unnecessary introduction short. Take Nikolay, your photographer friend, and get a moment to talk with that Jackie Chan. Tomorrow, at the latest, have an interview with him on my desk, and five or six good photos!”

“What… tomorrow?” I was taken aback. “He just arrived! Needs some rest, needs to relax, and then, why me? I am the youngest in our editorial office, and this is a responsible business. Someone with more experience should be assigned to this.”

“That’s exactly why,” – the editor nodded. “You’re young and, as I’ve heard, fluent in English…”

“I appreciate your trust in me and my abilities,” I said. “But let me disagree. I don’t know English well!”

“And you’re sure Jackie Chan knows it well? Do you think all them Japanese speak English so fluently?’”

“He’s Chinese,” I corrected grimly. It looked like I had to drop the party at the Black Cat.

“Even more so!” the editor snapped back. “Everything has been arranged. Take your friend and go! Ask this artist why he’d decided to shoot here, what he expects from our city, and how he likes it here… well, why do I need to teach you this!”

“But he just arrived, you know! He hasn’t seen the city at all!”

“So show it to him!” – the editor raised his hands emphatically. “What did you learn English for? Take him on an orientation tour, have an informal interview over a cup of coffee …”

“Yeah, sure… and money for the coffee?” – I could not resist a sarcastic remark. “From that bonus we received recently for our… e-e-eh… hard work?”

The editor sighed, reached for the jacket hanging over the back of the office chair, and pulled out a few bills from his wallet. He handed me a couple of banknotes.

“Enough for coffee.”

I remained silent.

The editor chuckled, but added another one.

“By the way, any idea about the movie? At least what its genre might be – drama, comedy, historical film?” – I gave him the forgiving look of a movie aficionado.

“Well, you can’t go wrong telling that with Jackie Chan. Everything will be as usual – I mean, the typical movie with Jackie Chan. International mafia … or even the Russian mafia. Bad people mistreating good people. But they won’t get away with that because Jackie Chan comes. Then shooting, kung fu fights, and all that stuff. In a word, everything the audience loves. Long story short, good guys beating bad guys. As you see, you can retell the plot without even watching a movie.”

“And why here? We don’t have Russian mafia in our city,” I remarked, but not very convincingly.

“But we have beautiful vistas, mountains, the sea. It’s cheap here, and our people are energetic and curious. They would eagerly sign up for the crowd scenes.”

I still had to drop by the ‘Black Cat’ on my way, if only to see the birthday boy and tell him the news. Kolya was already there. When I came in, the fun was in full swing. People greeted me with cheers and immediately offered a shot of vodka. I sat down next to the party boy and briefly recounted the conversation with the editor. Kolya was already in such a mood that the news upset him in no way. On the contrary, he immediately agreed and was clearly welcoming the unexpected adventure. After a little pause, he declared publicly:

“Guys and gals,’ he said, “go on without us for awhile. We two will be back soon… and probably with a surprise!”

At the hotel reception, as it turned out, he had a friend, a girl named Katya, and she told us that Jackie Chan was indeed staying there.

“Only you won’t see him or get to his suite,” she added. “There are his…e-e-eh…guards!”

Kolya just grunted at that, “You go ahead and tell me what room it is. As for those guards…”

We went up to the third floor and at the end of the corridor saw two huge guys standing at the suite’s door. It was only when we came somewhat closer that we noticed the most unusual look they had. They wore gray officer’s trench coats with a major’s stars on their shoulders, blue buttonholes and emblems of the Air Force of the former USSR. At the same time, the trench coats were girded with golden ceremonial naval belts and cavalry broadswords with red lanyards hanging on the side. Each had a general’s Astrakhan hat on their head. The light of the neon lamps reflected on their polished high boots.

“What the…?!!” said a stunned Kolya.

“Hi, guys,” I addressed the sentries.– “Huv ar yoo?”

The guards stared at us in bewilderment.

“What do you want?” one of them asked in plain Russian. In addition to a broadsword, he had a naval officer’s dirk on his right side. Apparently he was the superior.

“Oh, so you are locals,” Kolya brightened up. “But why this masquerade?”

“May be a masquerade for you, pal,” answered the superior as he wiped the sweat that was seeping from his forehead under the general’s papakha. “But we are on duty. Guarding a Hollywood artist. What do you want?”

We introduced ourselves by showing our press cards. Recognizing locals in us, the guys softened up, in every sense of the word. It turned out that they were from the marines brigade. Apparently, the arrival of a Hollywood celebrity had drawn not only our editor’s interest. By all appearances their superiors chose the tallest marines and assigned them to the artist to portray the local police, at the same time entrusting them with the responsibility of guarding a visiting celebrity. As for those bizarre uniforms, that was the idea of a costume designer who came with Jackie Chan – so, he said that the local police would look much more authentic.

“As soon as they arrived…still in the Kiev airport,” said the other guy plaintively “he saw some lady in a fox fur hat. And immediately requested exactly the same, only with a red star – for their villain, as he explained. Somebody has already gone to look for it. Sure, there won’t be problem with the star in our city, but as for the fur hat …”

“Yes, in movies it’s always gotta be larger than life. And where is our movie star in the flesh?” I asked, “so we to have a chance to take a picture of him in that most authentic of headwear. I can imagine how delighted our readers will be!”

“We have our orders, pal: Don’t let anyone in,” the senior of the two answered wearily, the one with a naval dirk, “especially you, the press. And, between us, he is not in the room right now. Recently left. Maybe, in the hotel’s restaurant? If you need him so urgently, try to find out…. Good luck for now.” We headed to the hotel restaurant. Going down the hall, we almost ran into a short, sturdy Asian in a red nylon jacket. Under his arm he held a shaggy hat. No red star was visible in the fur’s curls, but apparently that was our man.

Our eyes met and I realized that our hour of glory had struck.

“My friend!” – it was Kolya getting ahead of me – happily opening his arms to meet the Chinese man. “Here we are, looking for you, searching high and low!”

We introduced ourselves again, showing our press credentials one more time. I greeted the guest to our city as best I could in English, “We are happy to host your film crew here in Crimea. Especially today, when my friend Nikolay has his birthday. And we would be happy, to the utmost, if Mr. Chan gave us at least half an hour for an interview over a cup of coffee in some nearby café.” All this while Kolya eagerly nodded, and when he heard the word ‘coffee’, he only smiled eloquently. Mr. Chan listened attentively, paused for a minute, then nodded too in agreement.

(…to be continued…)

Series – Evanescent

January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)

July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)

October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

November: The Writer’s Daughter – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)

Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Crimea – Latticed beach – PhotoCrimea (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

By Gennady Bondarenko

We all returned to the pier where Vasily ordered two of his sailors to go to the warehouse for explosives. Under the leadership of our, albeit extracurricular, but still, demolition specialist, the explosives were reinforced on the minesweeper in the necessary places. He set the timer while we quickly hid behind the corner of the barracks. Kolya prepared his camera for the shots the news agencies were about to fight for. At this moment, a midshipman rode his bicycle out on the pier. We all in one voice started shouting at him from around the corner and waving our hands, but he just smiled happily and made a welcome gesture in response.

The minesweeper exploded…

Our cyclist was the first to take the blow…

The midshipman, together with his bicycle, were thrown into the sea by the blast. A second later, a combat alarm wailed over the territory of the unit. As the smoke cleared, we saw sailors running towards the pier with machine guns in their hands. Sirens were also turned on ships nearby. It looked like they were already urgently giving up the mooring lines, preparing to go to sea and repel a sudden enemy attack.

Finally, the black smoke cleared and I looked at the pier. But instead of the nice and neatly ‘transitioned’ parts of the minesweeper, I saw only smoking blackened concrete. The minesweeper itself had disappeared, as if it had never been there at all.

Soon everything cleared up; the alarm stopped; the midshipman was taken out of the water – frightened, but alive and not even wounded. Kolya climbed a tree and took a camera off a branch, slightly scratched, but in quite good operating condition. A bit more problematic was getting the bicycle back from the bottom of the sea near the pier.

As for the leading news agencies, they too were left with nothing. The fabulous transition to the track of peace was never captured.

We returned to the editorial office empty-handed.

As Vasily explained, when we met him the next time, he accidentally put a comma “not after the right sign” in his calculations. However, he did not mention this fact in the report to the unit commander, which he was ordered to write. Still, his idea with explosives was ultimately crowned with success: The minesweeper was really blasted into fragments, which they collected over the entire territory of the unit for several more days. Ultimately, the midshipman was given three days off to recover, and the senior lieutenant Vasily was given a severe reprimand, but at least no one was killed or maimed. And as for us, well, the editor blamed me and Kolya for everything that happened, although Kolya tried to explain that we literally had no hand in all of it.

A few days later we almost managed to regain our reputation as documentary reporters. The police planned a night raid with the code name “Special Operation to Detain Drunk Drivers.” Local press participation was also encouraged to highlight the police’s “uncompromising commitment to principles.” The editor’s choice inevitably fell on Kolya and me. “Mind you,” he added sternly, “this is your chance to prove yourself worthy of the good name of journalists. In a southern city like ours, and especially in the summer, such a ‘special operation’ could not fail to be successful.” By midnight there were about a dozen ‘highway’ lawbreakers. The policemen were writing out tickets; Kolya took pictures; and I recorded statistics in my notebook for future reporting. Yes, I told myself, that would indeed be great material for the newspaper, especially the contrast – the disgusting faces of drunken drivers and trustworthy sober police officers.

It turned out as I expected … well, almost like that. The chief of police was pleased and personally called the editor, thanking the journalists for their good work. Our editor-in-chief liked this reaction from the chief of police. He shook hands with us and promised hefty bonuses, but very soon he got a call from the city government inquiring if it was really necessary to publish a photo of the governor’s daughter. Kolya and I tried as best as we could to convince him that it was neither his nor my fault. Who could have known that she got married and changed her last name? As for those bonuses, well, we never received them.

(…to be continued…)

Series – Evanescent

January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)

July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)

October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

November: The Writer’s Daughter – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

December: Translation Perfect – Zhang Lu (China)

Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Cover photo: Crimea – The Minesweeper – Yaroslav Zinyukov (Unsplash)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed