Should I get up and see the first blazing ray of sun or should I stay in bed and continue looking at the smelly plastic drapes on the window? I think I’ll eat the leftover of a burger invaded by merciless flies that already visited my feet and knees. I look at the wall and see cracks – open wounds of careless humans that resemble sweaty curves below my chest. Cracks on the wall and cracks on the mirror that look at a twenty-six-year old broken tractor. My father rode a tractor to survive but he didn’t survive, he died of a bee sting.

I close my eyes and see a beach. A sandy beach full of birds and there is one man standing in the water. Will he swim, drown, walk, or come back?

I open my eyes and I see the sweat on my arms. I don’t have hair on my arms so the drops of sweat become hot on my skin. The air is stuffy, I cannot breathe. I figure; if I take shorter breaths with longer breaks, I might survive. My father was stung by a bee and he was not allergic to bee stings.

I turn my head to my right and I see the locks of my black hair wet, soaking wet. I can’t reach for the rubber that fell on the floor by the old, wooden, bedside cabinet. If only I could get that rubber and tie it around my filthy hair. Sun rays! They have moved slightly to the left side of the window and manage to peak into the room and tickle my eyelids. Eyelids! How I wish to go out and see the sun.

The bed sheets are yellowish dirty. They smell of mould and of a body that hasn’t been bathed for weeks. That’s me. I haven’t bathed for weeks nor has my conscience. I dream a lot. I dream about how guilty I am and how I could never get rid of the guilt. Guilt hurts like burnt skin repeatedly exposed to sunlight. How I wish to see the sun.

Yes! The sun! As the clock strikes noon, I continue thinking how I should get up. I try to turn around and lie on the other side of the bed but I can’t. This was possible months ago but now it is a far-fetched achievement. An impossible outcome. How I wish to get up and open the door. The door! Why hasn’t anyone come for hours now? Where’s mama? Why hasn’t she fed me?

Sunday. Today must be Sunday and she must have been kept at the church. There is a beautiful church downtown. Everybody calls it the Cathedral because it is larger than other churches in the city. Sometimes we believe that size is rudimentary. The sun is so big and shiny, yet it can’t come inside this tiny, grey room. My room is grey, yes. It has a broken mirror on a cracked wall. It has a bed in the middle with one cabinet next to it that always holds a tray with food. Mama brings food that can last for two days so she doesn’t have to visit me every day. She used to bathe me but she gave up. Now the neighborhood truly knows I exist.

The smell.


Neđla Ćemanović (née Porča) was born in Sarajevo in 1990. She holds an MA degree in English language and literature from the International University of Sarajevo where she is currently employed as an English instructor. Her academic work has appeared in several journals and she has attended conferences in the field of applied linguistics and teaching methodology. Her creative work has been published in the New-York based H.O.W. Journal and within the collaborative project of IWP from University of Iowa, USA through her active engagement in the Sarajevo Writers’ Workshop.

Fotografija: Koen James Woldringh