Vol. 8, No. 14, Summer 2011
Saša Važić, Serbia
WHAT'S THE USE?
Will this be my sole intimate confession? Or perhaps you also have someone dear, near, close, who, when you call him or her to share your joy when you get recognition or a prize in some contest, replies coldly: “And...? What's the use?!” Your joy disappears in a moment and you get angry. Then, after a while, you start to ponder: “Really, what's the use?!” And you see... no use, save that you do something for yourself to fill your, otherwise, empty and useless days, trying to give some meaning to your life and expecting that others would add to it, that your efforts are not in vain, that you are alive.
This is exactly what recently happened to me again.
After a month of useless attempts of a lady, who participates in organization of Kloštar Ivanić haiku meetings in Croatia, to make me travel to Ivanić Grad and later to Kloštar Ivanić to attend this year’s (2011) meeting and be their guest, I finally decided to leave my solitary room and my virtual world and to make an effort to what would cost me nothing regarding money but might regarding my poor health condition. Add to that the tiresome and long trip by train and a short time I’d stay there (all in all, Friday afternoon – Sunday early morning), and I hoped I had good reasons she would understand. She did but nevertheless kept on trying to persuade me.
And she succeeded.
I took a train, traveled 7 long hours to arrive in our, once common, fatherland, late at night. I almost missed the station as it was pitch-dark night and I could see nothing but the reflection of my face on the train window. When the conductor pushed me out the door, I found myself in an even darker darkness. From that darkness was running a huge figure that looked like a butterfly to me. A butterfly that carried a big bunch of flowers.
When she approached, I was sure I had arrived and the dream had started. The name of the butterfly is Đurđa Vukelić Rožić. Her male butterfly, Stjepan Rožić, was standing still at the platform.
Kisses, welcome, words, words, words...
The two butterflies drove me to my temporary abode. There a young mistress was waiting for me to show me my warm and beautiful room in an empty palace. I collapsed on the pillows (after half emptying a bag full of various food articles the female butterfly handed me upon leaving me and agreeing on when to fetch me the next day).
The next day I was fetched and driven to Kloštar Ivanić by the very mistress and her beautiful Siberian dog (which tried to kiss me and I was happy to know it loved me dearly...), as the two butterflies had to go to the train station to meet some other guests.
When I entered the Cultural center, the hall was already filled by attendants, some 100 poets who gathered from far and wide Croatia. I opened my mount (in my mind) out of surprise. Soon I recognized a lot of names I have known and with some of whom I have been exchanging emails for years: face to face with Željko Funda, Boris Nazansky, Vida Pust Škrgulja, Željka Vučinić Jembrašić, Dubravko Korbus, Zlata Bogović, Evica Kraljić, Malvina Mileta, Duško Matas, Ljubomir Radovančev...
Hugs, kisses, exchange of words and books...
The award winning ceremony ensued, with many winners and runners-up in several haiku categories. Their poems were recited by the judges and then by the authors. There were children, too, with faces beaming with joy.
Certificates, nice bottles of brandy, made by the butterfly Stjepan, and envelops with money prizes were given to the winners and runners-up. (Not that everyone received brandy and envelope; it depended on the placement.)
Between awards and poems, the jury members, organizers and some of the participants spoke about the newly published Anthology of Croatian Haiku Poetry 1996-2007: An Unmown Sky, and during the intermezzo a small band played. One of its experienced members was the butterfly Stjepan.
A feast for ears, eyes and soul...
I was also asked to give a speech, but I did not know what to say. I wanted to talk about why haiku is dying, but found that the topic was out of time and place, so I quickly changed my mind.
I just said who I am and welcomed them all, thanked them for the wonderful opportunity and hospitality and for giving me my award (a winner in the international division), apologizing publicly to Đurđa and Stjepan for all my hesitations and delays that made them run around the town to find a place for me to stay in and... all the rest.
“But, this is yet another proof that Đurđa as organizer can do even the impossible”, I said.
"Thank you! thank you! thank you!," I concluded my speech.
After a lunch served to all the participants, and after almost all of them left, some ten of us stayed to sing and play, drink and talk...
My next stop was at the couple of butterflies’ home where we continued to eat in our common, ex Yu, manner. This time, ćevapčići u lepinji.
I was intimated with their working places, the piano, paintings on the walls, awards, and introduced to their son and mother (in-low).
A never ending talk...
But my mistress “ordered” me to be home at 9 pm at the latest. So, I quickly put my coat and shoes on and was driven by my hospitable hosts.
No one seemed to be tired save for myself. At least no one complained.
Once again in “my” room, I packed as I had to leave early the following morning. But before I slipped into a dream I could not resist but to look through all the books I was given.
The palace was empty again.
The silence, the nobody. I lapsed into a...
At 5 am I was up and ready to leave.
But, I did not know how to fix my travel bag to a wheel carriage (I am ashamed to tell my kind hosts gave me as I complained of the books' weight). The good mistress was there for me again.
Professor Vida Pust arrived to drive me to the station. She pulled out an envelope from her handbag. A postcard with poems and warm words, a lighter (I complained because of the injustice done to smokers), a tiny stick pad and even tinnier peg with an even tinnier ladybug.
The two butterflies were already fluttering in the cool air waiting to see me off.
The Kloštar Ivanić dream ended with Đurđa handing me a bag full of food she prepared for me at 2 after midnight.
I refused nothing. Stunned and in amazement, I let the dream lead me.
The train arrived and we kissed good-buy.
Good-buy and see you in my place, in Serbia...
I settled myself in an empty compartment and stared out the window almost all the way back. Well, yes, I ate a good deal of the tasteful food and yes, I could not get rid of thoughts and feelings these 32 hours have left in my brain and heart and... memory.
This time, when I talked to my mother of the wonderful butterflies and all the people I met, she just said: “Have you invited them to visit you? And... please give my love to them.”
What's the use!!!