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The Young Dramatist

February 2, 2012 by · 4 comments

Nikola Nikolov

Translated by Jasmina Tacheva
Edited by AnnMarie Rudin

The Young Dramatist
Photo: Kheel Center, Cornell University

Teenese raised his hand sharply and shot the cockroach onto the clay ground with a careful motion of his left hand without losing sight of the sheet on which his right hand continued scribbling as if guided by a reason of its own.

The words were born one after the other, and the young man was more of a silent observer in contemplation of his own creation than its creator.

A drop of perspiration remained on his nose for a split second, then flew like cadence to the page, and the boy thought he saw the colors of the rainbow in this tiny, rotating sphere, and each of them was a human weakness – indecisiveness, greed, envy or excessive ambition.

Unfortunately Teenese couldn’t formulate the majority of these words either in English or in his native Bantu;, he was only twelve. The drop sank prosaically in the rough paper just between the words “Mano” and “Bastard.”

The two largest rival tribes in Liberia. A girl and a boy from the rival clans and their impossible, doomed love. Will the flame of passion quench the centuries-old conflict, or will they become the next indirect victims of the senseless bloodshed the reason for which no one can remember anymore? Teenese himself didn’t know yet, but his thin little hand covered with scabs was leading the short pencil ahead to the inevitable conclusion.

A sharp cry drew Teenese out of the trance of inspiration. It was his brother Odeleya who must have been moaning for at least a quarter of an hour to afford to scream so loud. He would usually act like a man even though he wasn’t even eight years old yet. He would hardly have turned them anyway, because he was dying of AIDS, and his birthday was not until May. Teenese jumped up, and without any time to feel remorse, flew into the little chap’s room from which only a thin, ragged blanket separated him.

He burst into the stuffy crib, while moving his lips in a silent prayer that his brother may be not conscious. It was so much easier when Odeleya didn’t speak, or at least didn’t stare at him with his huge, inflamed eyes that were burning, full of tears and yellowish mucus, like two ritual bonfires of the accusation. Perhaps he would be able to imagine that the dying boy were a doll, a shabby dummy; he would wipe his forehead and leave.

His plea was heard and the little fellow didn’t look at him. Teenese adjusted the lousy mat which served as a pillow for his sick brother, and wet his mouth with water from the earthenware bowl on the floor. Odeleya’s face relaxed and older brother hurried out of the room because it seemed to him it started expressing a mean of gratitude, which was even harder to bear than accusation.

He returned to the short pencil and the words started lining up on the greasy paper, while another drop of sweat began forming on the forehead of Teenese. Murder and exile, the lovers are separated, a wise pastor offers his selfless assistance. However, he was once again rudely interrupted by a sharp whistle, like the cry of a Zambezi honeybee. The young man carefully folded the sheet of paper and slipped it under the jar of beans in the corner. He grabbed the AK-47 that was propped against the wall, checked the magazine under way and pulled the safety-bolt. He had already left the door when he swung it mechanically over his shoulder.

Tonight they would once again attack the quarters of the usurper Taylor in a suburb of Bensanville. They would stand up like a forest of bodies against his corrupt butchers. Usurper… forest… army of trees … the idea slowly began to take shape in Teenese’s mind. He should definitely write it down when he came back. If he came back. The boy shook his head and joined the emerging column of barefoot kids with rifles on their shoulders who were giggling at children’s jokes only they could understand.

The text won the honorary prize of the literary contest “Writing is Madness” in the category for Prose.

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