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Fiction

The Ridiculous Common Link

by Mimoza Ahmeti

Crazy ideas come naturally from a jumper worth talking about

To speak about someone or about something means, to my mind, awarding them some privilege. For my part I don’t award that privilege to many people. I do it more for things. A few hours ago I bought myself a silver ring. I am quite indifferent to the significance with which this object is invested, whilst its shape, the material of which it’s made and the precious stones set into it all give me a deep pleasure. I am not saying that it’s a huge pleasure, because this kind of pleasure brings with it neither passion nor any emotion likely to make you quiver. This is a pleasure which is warm, gentle, but strange. It’s a pleasure which simply gives you pleasure.It does not provoke you or arouse you in the same way as a meaningful glance which you might get from a young man strolling along, arm in arm, with his fiancée. Don’t think, therefore, that I am wild with delight at having bought myself that ring. Not at all. In any case, I am already wearing two other rings which don’t bring me any compelling joy. Once I had a jumper. It was soft to the touch and was the colour of ripened corn; it was reinforced at the elbows with two pads of leather. It moulded itself round my body beautifully, and I really found it difficult to tear myself away from it when I had worn it threadbare. I have abandoned any number of people, with an indifference it’s hard to imagine and, perhaps it’s better to admit it, sometimes with a sense of bitterness. How I would love to leave someone in the same way in which I bade farewell to my cherished jumper.

That has got nothing to do with nostalgia. Nothing at all. It has to do with the sense of sweetness which the memory of a memory gives you, a feeling which survives to this day. To tell you the truth, I can hardly remember the colour of that jumper.

Perhaps I have stated that it was the colour of ripened corn, because I think of corn when I try to define the colour. I have also talked about pads of leather without actually remembering them very clearly: the thought of them just came straight to me. It’s all about the sweetness of the memory of it, if you understand me. My father used to say that man just lives for a bit of tenderness.
For me, however, it was my jumper which provided it. One’s fellow-man finds it difficult, perhaps, to express tenderness.

It seems that I patched up that jumper which I no longer remember. It’s a strange memory I have got. It resurrects things which I had forgotten; and it brings to the surface trifling problems which can be regarded simply as ridiculous. Some people may say that I am unworthy, that I am someone who simply plays with trifling things. They are right. I don’t even remember how I came to be like this. I feel like crying. My eyes are intoxicated with tears, whilst my spirit is drunk with the sweetness of the memory of that jumper which I now can’t remember.
If only I could love someone with the love I had for that jumper! I am hiding now.

It’s the third time that I have been hiding, and you haven’t noticed. I can’t remember when it was that I hid the first time and the second time: but at any rate I have been able to count, and the third time was when I drew attention to it just now. Because I suffer from an inferiority complex (given the insignificant things which preoccupy my mind), I’m going out of my way to tell you why I hid myself.

Suddenly the memory of a man surged up inside me (actually, it was my memory which retrieved him, not me) - a man I loved. Look again at the phrase in brackets. I took care to write “it’s my memory which retrieved him.” Not me.
What I have just said scares me. What’s more, I would give anything to be able to break off my story at this point, if I were sure I would not hear myself being branded as a pervert for having aroused your curiosity without satisfying it.
That’s done it! Your curiosity has appalled me. It has broken my momentum. Now I’m gripped by a kind of panic. You are only curious about people. You have a passion for tittle-tattle. You get your fill; you’re gripped; and you spew it out again.

Then, with your eyes reddened with repulsion, you swear never to hawk it around. But now, even while you were absorbed in my story about the jumper, you became all eyes, all your senses got aroused, as soon as you saw the plot drowning, which was as soon as I started talking about the memory of memory.
Now you’re waiting, finally, to move in to the most well-trodden part of my soul.
You thought that my jumper was just a pretext. No, my friends, dear souls (it’s strange how my eyes start to fill each time I feel a bitter happiness! It’s a powerful taste!)

It would be unseemly to drag you into everyday cesspits. All writers do it, and that is why they are despised. But even you, you are just trifling with the most hum-drum things that life has to offer, peddling and savouring them.
I will stop; but then I will stress my point again.

You will say “The poor woman! She is a psychopath; she’s an obsessive …."I don’t care! It was a jumper whose hue was of ripened corn, with two leather pads on the elbows.
It obeyed my body; and my body repaid it well. They lived together in harmony. But when we were separated …. Oh, how I would like to leave someone in the same way as that. They would have an exquisite sweetness, the tears that could be drawn out of me by that jumper, the jumper I can no longer remember.

The Telephone Message

It was quite a short telephone message. “Write something about loneliness. It’s very, very important.” I still find it difficult to understand how it’s possible to leave someone a message like that: an unpitying message on a bright, sunny day. You must be asking yourself why I am trying to put myself in such a harsh light, why I should see a link between the weather and the message in question. What you do not know is that I have come to the conclusion, very recently, that my being is strangely dependent on atmospheric conditions (and it was a spontaneously reached conclusion), to such an extent that I can tell myself: “I am an atmospheric person.”

Please don’t tell me that the definition applies only to birds. Birds, like all dogs, are social beings. Governed by the ecology of civilization they have given up all claims to independence. You are expecting now that I should declare myself to be a different sort of being, to assert my independence and own up to about one week’s familiarity with the word “ecology.” No, dear reader, I belong to the same breed as other people, just as subordinate as yours: I am equipped with four limbs and one smiling face, just like all of us. “All of us ?” Everything is in those words. I expected it to be terrible; but I have fallen on all fours, just. If there’s something I don’t understand, it’s that “Us.” I take particular care to watch that strange object very closely. People say that it belongs to a superior order, that it’s characterized by everything that man has created. For my part, I see only a source of extreme lethargy; and I can always hear its echo, rather like the monotonous sound of an invisible weaving loom.

Now I’m looking again at the object we call “Us.” It’s like something to which I want to get close but which, the closer I approach, the more it turns to dust. “Us!”

I don’t want to ignore it, but it was on a day like any other that I became aware that I was to be, from that time on, free of all attachments. No more strings, nor any feeling of belonging to some community or another. Any attempt to belong in that way had been a painful effort, a strange way of thinking which maintains its predominance in the world, even now. Perhaps that’s why the world used to give me the cold shoulder.

“Used to,” I stress, because nowadays the world is paying every attention to me.
This same world, this alienating world, which used to crush me with its disdain. Crushed me? I don’t think so! I used to make it allergic; but it was not like the poplar’s pollen in full season. That pollen brings on just an easy kind of allergy.
You don’t know what it’s like to see others suffer the reaction; and it is better if I don’t explain it in detail, because I might drift into the most mundane pieces of rhetoric. Why do I spin around the word? Why do I hold beliefs which seem incoherent?
But what can a poor creature do when she picks up a telephone message like that?
It would have been better to leave a simple two-word message “Kill yourself!”

You can’t imagine the effects of such a serious task on that kind of mind-set. The state of solitude was born at the same time as civil society. This statement (perhaps it seems academic to you?) sets me apart again from the spectre of subjectivity.

Now, I could add, for example, that, thanks to the law of physical indefinability, everyone can cope with a certain amount of solitude and that, basically, man does not identify with one thing or another; he simply relates to himself among things.

That seems like a pat formula? Then you haven’t appreciated it! What do you want from me, anyway? That I should empty my handbag in front of you and tell you everything I have had to suffer? That I should tell you how that animal scarred my chest? How it turned me into a long-term martyr just because of my innocence?

That’s it, isn’t it? That’s what you want?

No. It’s not going to happen, anyway. Not again. I won’t insist on drawing out romantic tears from you by lecturing you on the need for a certain amount of misery.

Where I come from we have all had our fair share of unhappiness, just the appropriate dosage.

And please don’t leave me any more messages like that. For a long time now my personal ethic has risked drying up; and may God preserve me from exhibitionist arrogance!

I am one of you, but I am not you: and you are one of us, but you are not us.
That’s exactly why I embrace you.

Life in a Vacuum

“ Do you like making love in a state of weightlessness?”

In fact, it’s a stupid question. It’s fairly stupid; well, more or less stupid.

In any case, I replied like this: “No, because gravity turns me on.”

However, this manner of behaving has not my style at all. There’s any number of ways of behaving which are not my style, which put me under torture. I try to put them aside and, unintentionally, I thereby create a different way of behaving, an original one, which is mine; and yet, as I have just said, resulting from the fact that I have to avoid others … I am unhappy, I have to admit. Accepting this state of unhappiness makes me less unhappy because, in this way, I take the trouble to use my mind: I stray into areas where links are no longer links, and—strange experience, this—I have every chance to stop being unhappy.

The multitude of different ways to behave evaporate. There’s not a single one left for me alone. So that’s how I come to be displaying myself to you in my own fashion, because, in my own mind, at such moments, I find it hard to know who I am or what I am doing. Taste! Taste attracts me in a perverse way. I have a craving for taste; and then I taste, that’s to say I taste again, after the initial sensations. I find I can’t taste at the first stage. It’s what happens the first time we hear a new melody.

It’s a matter of registration. In my case, the taste comes through long after, usually when everything seems to have regained a certain balance; and that’s when the second stage of tasting confirms itself for me as being life itself. Do you think I exist without a break, just because I am alive? It’s not like that for anyone! Not for anyone, I swear to God:

Death is a commonplace; it is part of everything and is continuous, or is interrupted only in those moments when the poor creature (that’s to say, I) decides to take flight but without realizing it, nor where it’s going, nor…
I have no idea what my body is composed of. What I know about its internal workings, my organic knowledge of my own organism, is so unappealing that my knowledge is anything but constructive. It’s useless and I don’t make use of it, by which I mean that—I have lost my train of thought—it’s hard to live out your life for external relationships, for explanations, for painfully rational reasonings, by which I mean one’s strange linkages with physical sensations (you know that thought is physical by its nature: it’s the brain which says yes or no, not the mind).

However, most people don’t take the trouble to understand that. They are surprised when they hear it. What is passion? They are at the mercy of passion. They are driven by it. They are running towards their own downfall. They no longer know how to look things squarely in the face.

With a passion, it’s obvious. It’s right in front of you. You observe it. It’s natural, from time to time, that you can’t escape the feeling of ecstasy which it brings. However, by observing it, you can avoid being overwhelmed. You avoid taking the short view.

In truth, not every concept is capable of its own existence.

Now I am convinced that the concept of “repairing” is current in the mechanism of things. Worlds and races are the result of a bizarre “self-repairing” which is both perfection and sensation. Satisfaction.

It’s surprising! As I detach myself from all that, I find I can taste. The tasting of tastes is a unique taste. I taste it sometimes: actually, quite often. That’s an opportunity. It’s life. I … I am ashamed to own up in the light of day: I am a happy person. What do you think? Does man have the right to offend the others in such a way?



Mimoza Ahmeti' photo

Mimoza Ahmeti | wiki | was born in Kruja, Albania. She is the author of books of poems, Be Beautiful, Especially Tomorrow, Delirium and The Pollination of Flowers. She is the author of the novels The Architrave and The Hallucinating Woman. The Ridiculous Common Link, a collection of short stories, was published in Albania on 1996. She is married and has two daughters. 

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