– Where do I come from? The third planet. A country doesn’t mean anything. My place of origin? The Earth. I am an independent woman. I can travel across rich countries and only they can ensure my safety – the safety against the Third World War, which has just begun. If Syria doesn’t destroy itself from the inside, Russia will. And if it’s Russia then it’s the whole world. But it’s not the war that’s going to be the end of us. Global warming will kill us. You can already see it; there is no spring, no summer, no autumn and no winter. But before that happens, I will enjoy my freedom nonetheless. I can travel. I am happy. And I don’t need a man. Even if I did find one, he would have to accept my independence. Therefore, if I were to get married, which is unlikely, I would sign a prenup. Some things are mine and some are yours. My freedom, your freedom. This is important in the face of war and climate change. It’s important to have your own space.
She was sitting on top of her two-storey bed. Her face was reflecting the light emitted by the computer screen. She slept with a small yellow plastic bowl. I don’t even know why. The entire hostel room was dark.
After some time she decided to descend from the preaching pulpit and take the open position of the Orator, a Messiah of the word. She’s standing in her washed-out pyjamas, shadows are falling on her. The light that was reaching the room came from the lamps of the opposite apartments.
– No, I don’t mind if you switched off the light. This gives us more freedom. People in Belgrade have nothing to do so they stare. They want to know what others do because they don’t know what they’re supposed to do themselves. I prefer to have peace. I’m alone and I’m fine with it. I really appreciate it but others want to ruin it, they put pressure on happy people. They are jealous of freedom. As a single woman, I experience the jealousy of others – they have families, children and debts. I am a citizen of the Earth, I can travel through rich countries and I know what I want. And people are putting pressure on those who are living a different life. They are tied up so they can’t do what I do. I travel, I work, I move… Therefore, without trying to impose anything on anyone, I simply express my opinion – a prenup is necessary to stay true to myself. Nowadays, it’s hard to get a job. It’s hard in general. And if you are in a relationship, you need to have yourself. What’s it like in your country? Where are you from?
– Poland. It’s not bad, except we don’t have left wing parties in our parliament.
– Well, as far as I know, you people are having a tough time. It’s not easy.
– It isn’t, but I’m not one to complain. I have a job and there are a lot of opportunities.
– I mean, I am not complaining either but Poland is rather insignificant when it comes to global politics. This is why the solution for a safe existence in the world and a peaceful mind is to move to a larger country, i.e. a wealthy one. I’m talking a lot. You probably want to go to sleep. I’m sleepy too. People are constantly asking me about something. Once I start talking, I can’t stop. I will let you go to sleep.
– Sleep as if you were to die tomorrow.
She really said that to me.
I fell asleep after an hour. I was woken up by an intermittent laughter. Coming from her bed, it was getting clearer and louder. Silent mumbling changed its tone and started piercing my ears. I slowly open my eyes. I’m terrified of meeting anyone’s gaze in this room. As the laughter continues, the woman sleeping by the door on the bunk bed starts to get up. First, she gently stretches out her chest and her lower back. She eventually bends her body like a bow, with her head still on the pillow. Her eyes are closed, the laughter is getting more and more nervous and loud and her body is in an unnatural position. Just as her squeaky throat is starting to shriek, she wakes up suddenly. She’s straightening her spine. It’s quiet now. She’s sitting there with a blank look. I’m watching her from the other side of the room from, hiding. I hope she doesn’t see me. She starts to look around nervously.
– Where am I? – she spat out while exhaling. – I knew they were going to kill me. – She giggled quietly and lied down again.
All I hear now is the snoring of some old man to my right who joined us late at night. I can’t sleep.
After two hours of sleep, I’m awakened by my phone’s alarm clock. I’m gathering my things. As I was about to leave the building, I met her again near the reception desk. She came downstairs while I was drinking tea. Her face was hard to describe, she was rather slight, wearing washed-out bright lilac pyjamas. I’d guess she was 33. – Oh, hello! – She walked me out with her eyes fixed on me which I pretended not to notice.
There are fat, amaranth-coloured roses being planted at small railway stations in Serbia, just like in Poland.
Belgrade is one of those cities in which the people who flee the war in Syria have found a temporary refuge.
Belgrade, 1 November 2015.