Friendship and Sense(lessness)

By Meša

Bismilâhir-rahmanir-rahim!

This story begins with the opening line of each of suras, like the book Death and the Dervish, and will tell you a tale of one of the most important books ever written in Bosnian. It is a confession of Meša Selimović, a writer from the city of Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina, narrated by Sheikh Ahmed Nurudin, the protagonist who had thought had nothing, before losing everything.

I’m starting a new day. I got up at six and sat down in my favorite place in the apartment, ready to leave the comfort of my home every moment. Drinking hot tea, I am questioning myself why I woke up too early, though I could never sleep knowing that the day brings great changes. I’m looking at the wooden shelf in the room, and glimpse at the book of blue covers. I take it naïve, unaware of her power.

Leaning on Dostoyevsky, as if the one who arranged books wanted to introduce the characters of a young law student from Crime and Punishment to a 40-year-old sheikh, the book ends up in my hands. I turn white pages printed in bold letters and recall the details of the novel I read long ago. I know that the core of the work will not be found in those black stains on the paper, but on the margins of the page and between the dark spots on the white surface. Words are the most powerful tool. They are precarious and in a given context they gain greater power. By giving them new shades of meaning, we can make them simple or put them with stellar dust. I read the most intimate human confession, grateful for someone’s courage to put their thoughts on the palm of our hand that will strike us, wake up and warn us of the cruelty and the silence that doubtless rule. Once more, I’m walking through tekke. Although I look for spirituality that graces these objects, I do not find it. This is not just a tekke, but a sanctuary of a helpless creature, which is hidden from the reality of life. The moment he crushes his seemingly peace and begins a journey that will end with his fall. Releasing himself from one fortress, he builds a new, hateful building without an escape option.

I read the marked quotes in the novel and I on one stop: Love is probably the only thing in the world that you do not need to explain or ask for a reason. And yet, I do it, just to mention once again a man who has brought so much joy in my life.[1] Yes, he hid in the fortress of hate, but there was also a window, a small opening through which light was infiltrating to the darkest parts of solitude. That was a love of a friend for him. After losing people without whom we thought we could not survive in this world of cruelty, our friends are those who give us strength and support. They are rescuers and help us fight our greatest enemy in the fight against ourselves and teach us understanding and never condemnation. These are the people we do not need to repeat how much we love them. But we do it again, because we know that without them our days would be null and void. Friends are our light without which there would be no life.

In the infinite game of symbols, there are no rules, and we who want to play with the big ones must be ready to understand the complexity of words. The word has more dimensions than a man. If we look at love as a feeling that occurs between a man and a woman, we destroy every friendship and family. Love to Art. And life. God. If we see only one layer of human personality, we completely destroy it.

One more time, I wandered off. In five minutes, I went through the tekke, the fortress, and the path of someone’s thoughts. Wrong. I have met again with my tekke, fortress and the roads that lead nowhere, besides giving me meaning. Every day can make changes. I still expect them today. Good for me.

In the cruelest game, the winner is a lonely smile on the face or the shameful harlot who does not find their places in the world of evil. The winner is understanding. And this game is mildness, as well as death, and as well as life.


[1] Selimović, Meša (2011.): Death and the Dervish. Belgrade: Marso

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