So it's that time of year again! And I'm pretty sure I should be committed this time around (to an institution, haha.)
But anyway, here follows a short excerpt from this year's novel, Moja Bosna / "My Bosnia"
That morning, on the borderline between dawn and darkness, Wall was none-too-gently shooed out of the dispensary by one of the elderly nurses, and he was told to bring the “brat” with him. There was, after all, no room for Ant to sleep in the crowded inpatient room and hallways, and no bassinets for him even if there had been room. It was all, Wall insisted to himself, totally unfair.
And then there were two, Wall thought to himself, shifting uncomfortably to get a better and more solid hold on the kid in the crook of his elbow. But of course it was all but impossible for him not to transition from that relatively sober and tranquilizing thought to the far more alarming and honest, holy shit I’m holding a baby
. And his mind was all but lost from there.
It all felt so frightfully close, so new. He could still smell the latex on his hand, from the gloves that he only later realized the bloody doctors didn’t even wear all the time. As if that wasn’t something short of ridiculous.
He was forced into a sort of autopilot that guided him back towards Nadja’s hovel (it seemed even more like a hovel now that there was going to be a baby living in it, having to share in the poverty that, up until that point, when it had only been a matter of two adults riding it out in their generally ascetic and separate lives, hadn’t been much of a problem.) Without thinking, he mixed up a batch of the cheap Red Cross baby formula that he really hoped wasn’t tainted with mad cow or some horrible Chinese fungus because really, that just wouldn’t be on. And he heated it up on the little propane stove and he tried to remember the way that one is supposed to test to see if it’s too hot for the baby to drink – wasn’t there some spot on the wrist that’s supposed to be sensitive enough? And he stuck his finger in the pot to try it out and nearly cursed in surprise because the thing was really fucking hot
but little children weren’t supposed to hear words like that so he restrained himself and just bit the hell out of his lip instead, being very very careful not to drop the baby.
A few hours passed, in which little Ant had been fed and changed and amused with strange faces and Wall was really starting to wonder when the kid was going to get tired because, honestly, wasn’t being born supposed to be some sort of big ordeal and all that? But he just sort of lay in his little bassinet (which was probably all of seventy years old and had been found in the bottom of a junk heap and smelled funny) and looked alternately up at the corrugated tin ceiling and back at Wall and he had really big eyes for something so small.
“You know,” said Wall suddenly, “ you really ought to get some sleep.” The child does not move, does not alter his expression, but Wall could not help but get a distinct vibe that said something along the lines of oh yeah, and who’s gonna make me? It did not feel at all strange to respond to that unspoken rebuttal, so he did.
“I’m just saying, you’ve had something of a trying day. It wouldn’t be a bad idea.”
Ant chose that moment to turn his gaze back towards the ceiling, either in cold response or just because he was tired or Wall’s face, there was no way to tell. You’re not the boss of me.
“I am so the boss of you, young man!” said Wall, feeling the need to tack the exclamation point onto the end of that sentence, but also doing so remarkably gently. “And you will do as you are told.”
He could have sworn he heard an impatient little huff coming from the direction of the bassinet, but it had to have been his imagination. It seemed, in fact, a crazy enough thought that Wall forced himself to stay seated where he was for at least a good five minutes just so he could sort himself out and make sure that he wasn’t losing his mind.
But then, when he finally did get up and peer at last into the little bassinet, ready perhaps for one more one-sided war of the words, the boy was somehow, already asleep.
And this of course left Wall to consider the possibility that he had, somehow, in the course of his relatively short existence, miraculously developed decent parenting skills. Go figure.