Muesli rules


At dawn our biorhythms are not synchronised. Anna is an early bird. She gets up before the clock. She is in a hurry as soon as she opens her eyes.  In the evening she is planning for the next day. In the morning she is horrified because she won’t be able to fulfill it. She has a habit to plan for more than she can objectively achieve.

Tension wears off as soon as she starts to work. Complete relief doesn’t exist. There is always something else on the list of duties. There’s no life outside of duties. It’s probably that Protestant ethic. It doesn’t let you relax even when you are an atheist.

I like to work at night. Sometimes I stay working until the morning. When I go to bed late, I’m not so eager to get up early. I’m even less eager to get up before the clock. It’s Anna’s alarm that usually wakes me up. What to do… I get up. I jump in the shower. I feed Mici, our dog. I turn on the computer. I check my mail. I browse the  newspapers. I read what I should expect. Everything is written. Black on white. 

‘Get ready for a longer period of giving up one type of joy and indulging in another. Focus on your desire to succeed and don’t get nervous about banalities. Health problems are psychosomatic and are not cause for concern.’

Anna doesn’t believe in astrology. That’s where our views on life differ. She plans without consulting the stars. Then she is shocked when the moon enters into the wrong house. I let the stars say what they have to say. I’m focused on success and I don’t get worried over trivialities. It’s not like I have any say in it anyway. Except for small life choices. Should I take muesli or bread, butter and honey? Muesli, of course. Bread fattens and there is too much cholesterol in the butter.

Anna eats muesli also. Healthy food connects what biorhythms divide. It’s the best investment in harmony. While chewing, we are slowly reaching the same state. Anna is coming down, I’m rising. Then we start to flow as water. After coffee, our emotional propellers are turning on. We begin to talk. This morning we don’t have much time for that. Her packed bag reminds us of the timetable. She is travelling to Leskovac.

“I have to hurry. I’m already late,” she says.

Being an early bird didn’t help. It’s never early enough. We kiss each other.

“Please drive carefully,” I say.

“I will, don’t worry. Don’t forget to call the repairman,” she says while entering the elevator.

As soon as I closed the door, I sat down at my computer. I was determined to finish an article for my favourite female magazine. It started well. I tuned my pen exactly to match the melodies of the female soul. Muesli is miraculous. It’s not only cleaning the intestines, but brain too.

Around 10, the phone rings. It’s Bane.
“We are going,” he says.

“I will come too. I’m finishing the article. Let’s meet at ‘the square’ at 11.30.”

I stop by the green-market to buy one rose. Some other people are buying flowers at the same place. We are looking at each other. Recognising each other. We are heading in the same direction. The flowers are the discerning sign. I’m excited. For a long time I haven’t attended a public gathering.

I was sure that I didn’t believe in anything anymore. We made full circle, we saw it all. And when I saw it all, I swore that I would not be seen at gatherings anymore. I’m sick and tired of everyone and everything.  This woke me up from voluntary social anaesthesia. It shook me, made me feel disheartened and defeated. It turned on the red lamp, the oil in the brakes was gone.

For a long time living in Belgrade assumed that you had to be on alert. Darkness was thick. However, we had our oasis of light. Faith that things would be different. Better. We were peddling when it was impossible to go by car. I didn’t want to run away and leave. I wanted to see the end and a new beginning. I saw the end. But, after the closing credits, the same reality-show continued. The Farm. “Moo-moo” and “Oink-oink”. When Farm’s inhabitants overplay in their games and take somebody’s life, then everyone oinks: „That was not in the script.“ As if there was a script.

The lynching of a mild-faced boy from the other world – in the city’s centre – was indigestible even for an audience used to all kinds of surprises brought upon us by the brutal reality-show called life. Too many explicit scenes without warning. Ten on one – that’s not a self defence – with rods, sticks, chairs, ashtrays… Until the end.

On ‘the square’ there are many people with flowers. I join the line. I place the rose on a makeshift altar and I light the candle for the boy from the other world. I stand in silence and look to heaven.

A moment later I’m with Bane and Emilija. Bojana, Vesna, Ida, Zoran and Vlada are there too. We talk about the banality of evil. Everyone has a story from their personal experience. We part in a strange mood. The day is bright, warm and sunny. We are depressed. Afraid of what is coming in future episodes. This banality is life threatening. And it is pouring out in massive quantities through the main communication highways. Without filters.

In the afternoon I was hard-working. I was editing reports for my radio-show. I called the repairman. After a long time I went to swim. To activate my body and calm my soul. On the way back I went to the pet shop, to buy a birthday present. On this day two years ago Hana, Emilija, and Bane adopted a wounded street dog called Avica. Tonight they are preparing a little dinner for Avica’s friends. I purchased a big vitamin bone. Avica should have a feast too.

As I’m getting ready to leave I’m listening to the news on the radio. “The State will prevent violence. The State bodies will provide security for everyone.” The State this, the State that.

I go to the birthday. Avica is Mici’s best friend. A cousin, so to say. What way to go?, I wonder for a second while getting out of the building. Whatever way we choose, we go through Tasmajdan park. We are heading up. Towards the passage that shortcuts to the park.

Classes have just finished and I’m passing by little groups of high school students that are heading towards the bus station. It’s hubbub. From time to time hubbub is superseded by noise and cursing. Cursing noise is coming from a few guys standing in the passage. I continue in that direction. That’s the shortcut… Mici stops to pee. I stop, too, I hold her leash. While she is peeing I take a glimpse of the cursers.

“What are you staring at?” a voice shouts. It is talking to me? I keep quiet without turning away my gaze. From the dark way one two legged creature runs out towards me. An entangled picolino. Gloomily determined.

I wave with my hand, gesturing ‘get off me’. From the running start picolino smacks me on the head with his fist.  A cross to the cheekbone under the right eye. Is this really happening or is it some kind of candid camera? Simulation of violence that everybody is talking about these days? It seems to me that it stung me for real. I wouldn’t say it’s psychosomatic. I really loose my balance. I grab his shirt. One more blow comes. An uppercut right next to the mouth. One second later picolino and other creatures disappeared. It’s exactly 8 p.m. This must be the beginning of a new episode.

Mici seems to be OK. Standing frozen. She is used to active peaceful coexistence. Cats are getting on her nerves, she is barking at them, but she never attacks. I’m spitting blood. Touching the cheekbone. I really got smacked. That picollino has a solid blow. I didn’t even have time to raise my hands.

“Why did you mess with them at all?” I hear the voice of a middle-aged guy with a beard. He heard something through his window and came out to see what was going on.

”I know them”, he says and follows the way that the creatures left. How did I mess with them? Just by walking in front of my building and by looking in front of myself?

I call the police. Is it 92? Never before in my life had I dialled that number. A female voice answers.

“I was just assaulted in front of the Fifth Gymnasium. ”
I gave my contact details.

“Are you injured? Is an emergency-car needed? ”

“It’s not that bad. I got two fists in my head. I don’t think there is anything broken. ”
“What exactly happened to you?”

“Well, I was walking my dog… Some guys were shouting… And one of them struck me on the cheek twice.”
“Do you know your attackers? ”

“No, I don’t.”

I dial the other number. Bane is answering.

“I’ll be late for the dinner. I’ve got beaten in front of my building. I’m waiting for the police to come…“
“What… What happened?“

“I can’t talk right now.“

“Wait for me. I’m catching the cab and coming…“

A few minutes later a patrol car arrives. One fat and one tiny guy – Topalović and Stojanović. They are addressing me kindly.  They don’t seem very enthusiastic. They see these kind of scenes all the time and are not able to do anything. They also asked if I needed an emergency car. Do I really look that bad?

The skinny Topalović is holding the pen. Stojanović is in charge of the thinking part. That’s the division of labour. After the initial kindness we move to the official part.

“Do you have your ID? ”

I’m giving my ID to Topalović. He is writing my data into his notebook.

“What exactly happened? What was the reason? Do you know who are the attackers?“
I’m trying to verbalise the ‘event’ that happened in just a few dozens of seconds.
“Did they steel something from you?“

“I don’t think so. My wallet is here.”
“Would you be able to describe the attacker? ”
“Well, I only saw him just for a split second. I would say that he is around 20, skinny, smaller than me. He had shorts, a t-shirt and I think that he had a sports cap as well.”
“Do you know anyone who could identify him?“
“One man from the building saw what happened. I think that he is somewhere nearby…“
I look around.The bearded guy is gone.

Topalović is closing his notebook. He is putting the pen in his pocket.
“So, that’s it. Nothing?”, I say out of frustration.
“They could be far away by now. How can we look for them? Do you see how many people there are on the streets tonight? If you find someone who can identify the attackers, let us know. We are on duty at the station,” Topalović is telling me.

He and Stojanović are leaving. ‘State organs will provide security for everyone.’ Yeah, sure, when you provide that for yourself. Maybe that is exactly what the ‘big plan’ for the determined fight against violence is all about.

Bane’s cab is arriving. I jump in together with Mici.
“Continue to the Emergency centre, please.”

Bane and Mici are walking around in hospitals garden, I’m waiting in the line. I feel guilty. I’m taking precious doctors’ time. There are so many worse cases.
A high school student with a broken nose. Escorted by police he came directly from the mass ‘school party’. A grandpa with a broken head. Hit by a car while crossing the street. Grandpa remained on the street, the car continued. A female goalkeeper kicked with a football boot in the head. I’m in the company of the chosen ones. The stars wanted our horoscopes to meet and our life paths to cross.

Dg: St. Post contusionem faciei
Diagnosis: : Claims that he got beaten by unknown assailants. Able to reconstruct the circumstances of his accident and didn’t throw up. Conscious, oriented, communicative, neurologically without signs of rough pyramidal lateralization.  Locally: contusion, zigomatic right. RTG of skull: no visible signs of break in the skull base.

I was given a head scan and an official stamp that I’m crumpled. I could submit criminal charges if I find the picolino and his company.

Finally we get to the dinner. I’m opening the bag. The vitamin bone was missing! Aha,  that’s the catch! Picolino smelled the bone, and couldn’t resist. Avica is forgiving me for coming empty handed. She is not voracious. And she is eating well. Doesn’t suffer vitamin deficiency. “Thank you for everything“, she says to me with her eyes. Then she goes to play with Mici.

We are contemplating. My new profile is the main topic. We are reviving the memory of similar unforgettable moments. Bane is concluding that global violence is connected with my beating in the very local neighborhood of mine. I disagree.
“Everything happened because of the bone. Kids lack vitamins.“

When Anna came back home the next day she was fascinated with my new look. “How handsome you are. Almost like Uncle Fester. You should put your new profile on Facebook immediately. ” Since I’ve been taking prescribed painkillers my lifestyle has changed. I don’t go out. I don’t drink beer. I spend time by myself, meditating. Solitude is healing me physically and spiritually. I don’t work until late anymore. I go to bed earlier and get up early, before the alarm. As soon as I’m on my feet, I do gymnastics. I have adjusted my biorhythm to Anna’s. The old proverb is completely truthful: the beating stick came straight from heaven. We didn’t change breakfast, though. Muesli rules

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