Love for flying
[Primary school; eighth form class. Atmosphere. Teacher enters the classroom.]
TEACHER: Sit down! Sit down, everybody. I can see all of you are here. Come on, let’s start now! Take out your notebooks.
TEACHER: Start writing. Quiet. Start writing. Come on, quick, don’t be so slow! Listen now. Written assignment...
[Strong reaction by pupils.]
TEACHER: Written assignment. The subject is...
Macedonian Radio, Radio Skopje – Radio Theatre for Children
TEACHER: Nikola, what’s the problem?
NIKOLA: I can’t find my pen, teacher.
TEACHER: I’ll lend you mine. Here you are.
Vlado Dimovski: Love for Flying
TEACHER: Nevenče, you look perplexed. Is there a problem?
NEVENČE: I’m thinking about the title, teacher.
TEACHER: You’d better start writing.
[Music, Nevenče’s voice in the background. It reveals a part of her written assignment, which has inspired this radio play.]
NEVENČE: In the four-storey building, in my room full of sorrow, I lie with my head on the flower-patterned pillow. I am helpless. I can’t do anything, only my brain works. I’ve been seeing the same worried faces for months. My dad and mom with teary eyes, nurses and doctors with their usual mask-like faces. My friends from the kindergarten no longer come to see me. The only contact I have with the external world is through the open window of my room. I feel so weak – I can’t even move my legs. One day the Grey One came to my window. He appeared as a hope, as destiny.
[Music in the background.]
THE GREY ONE: What annoys me most is when someone shouts: Hey, there’s the little one! The little one? What if I shouted at the big ones: Good heavens, how big you are! Big or small. I don’t see things that way, that’s for sure. You can be small, and yet feel big. No, not always. Sometimes. I’ve even had more horrible experiences. From time to time, someone looks at me and says the stupidest thing you can imagine. A man who lives on the seventh floor, with a balcony looking at the river, always says the same to me when he goes out to smoke a cigarette: The Grey One, you’re here again, ha? If I’m small and grey, why don’t they leave me alone? I want to live my life peacefully and honestly. A woman who buys a loaf of bread and yoghurt every day, two days ago looked at me, stopped and said: Stop chirping, my blood pressure has gone up to over 200 because of you!
I have learnt three not so important things: that I’m grey, that I’m small, and that I’m a chirper. No, I’m not angry. I’m just surprised by all those people who love to tease me while watching me. I don’t get back at them; I have better things to do. I sometimes wish to come right in front of their faces and tell them the truth. There aren’t many truths, there is only one. Which one? They tease me because they can’t fly. That’s why. The man who smokes cigarettes on his balcony would have never put that poison in his mouth had he known how to fly. He’d fly instead of smoking. It’d be enough for him to make a circle over the city park, just one circle, and his smile would quickly return to his frowning face. Yes, that’s true. But some creatures can fly, others can’t. The woman whose blood pressure goes up because of me is not aware that flying is a medicine for all diseases. I know other things about her, too. But I never talk about it. She shouts at and insults children. She curses like a sailor. She even blames city buses for disturbing her sleep when she dozes off on her sofa. I used to fly to her yard and jump on the branches of her apricot tree. But not any more. I wouldn’t allow her to ruin my good mood. What mood am I in? Guess. Spring mood. It’s a shame to be sad, edgy and boorish in the spring. When she taught us how to fly, my mother paid great attention to our behaviour. Particularly when she fed us. She tried to distribute the food equally to all of us. What matters most is patience, she said. Do you think I am no longer sad when I think about her? I am very sad. She had little time to share her happiness with me. A boy threw a stone at her and hit her... He then called three other boys boasting what a good shot he was and how he knew exactly where to hit an animal. He took my mother by her legs and threw her in the nearby dustbin as if she were a bad piece of cake. I flew away and hid under the eaves of a deserted house. I wasn’t exactly sure if it really rained or if my tears were the rain. I no longer wished to live. I prayed for a cat to pass by and take me in her mouth. I felt insecure, scared and miserable without my dearest mummy. It’s good when you know that someone there cares for you. It’s good when you know that someone there will come and correct the error you’ve made. It’s so good to have a mother. But there is only one life and we have to live it. The beautiful voice of some distant relative drew me out of the eves of the deserted house. I understood that she was singing about love and all the beautiful things love creates. When I heard the beautiful reply of another of my distant relatives, when I heard the answer to the love she offered to him, I knew that I was alive and that I had to find love. Love cannot be weighed. It’s not a potato, to be weighed on scales. You just feel love. It’s like a playful breeze, like the hyacinth’s smell. It has no colour. It can be a peach tree blossom or a lilac’s bloom. Love flies together with our thoughts and the cleverest people know how to catch it. Love is a story. It is a book waiting for someone to open it and begin reading. Regrettably, there aren’t many readers left today. I try to read it. It’s time.
My first spring as a flier. I make circles around the four-storey building and eavesdrop on a couple of linden trees. They are talking about the first time they felt happy, about their first leaves and first flowers. They are proud of their tea spreading its aroma in so many flats, houses and cabins. I don’t want to interfere with their conversation and I decide not to land on one of their branches; I turn to the left and land on... How clumsy I am, you wouldn’t believe it. There is an open window. I’ve had bitter experiences with open windows. While I try to orient myself and overcome fear, I open one of my eyes to look in the room. It’s a child’s room. I can see it by the dolls lying on the carpet, by the... It’s a girl. Wait a minute. Long hair braided into pigtails, and sad eyes. Her face is pale, almost transparent. Someone has put a large pillow under her head. Mother dear, she’s looking at me!
NEVENČE: Is it you? Yes, it’s you.
THE GREY ONE: Are you talking to me?
NEVENČE: You know how to talk?
THE GREY ONE: I know. I manage somehow. My story is unusual and very, very long. No one knows about it.
NEVENČE: My mother reads me three stories every evening.
THE GREY ONE: You can’t read my story; I have to tell it to you.
NEVENČE: Come closer, I want to hear you better.
THE GREY ONE: I’m not coming inside. I’ve had some extremely bad experiences. The other day two boys almost caught me. I barely got away from their hands. Why don’t you come to the window?
NEVENČE: I can’t get up.
THE GREY ONE: You can’t. Why are you crying?
NEVENČE: I don’t know, I feel miserable. My mother cries every day, but she hides it from me. I can tell it by her eyes. They are always red and wet.
THE GREY ONE: If you keep on crying like that, I’ll start crying too. It’s spring outside. Do you want me to catch you a butterfly?
NEVENČE: No, I just want to touch you a little. I want you to come here, at my bedside. I haven’t seen a friend for more than a month. My kindergarten friends no longer come to see me.
THE GREY ONE: But you know, I...
NEVENČE: Are you afraid of me? I know, I’m very sick, that’s why you’re not coming.
THE GREY ONE: You’re sick?
THE GREY ONE: Suddenly a man in a white coat came into her room. I flew away. Great sadness gathered in my little heart, sadness mixed with anger; I almost hit the trunk of a Canadian poplar in whose branches you could see nests of the big black birds. I managed to avoid it and landed on one of its lower branches. I was still thinking of the girl’s beautiful hair, pale face and her two eyes full of grief, like two springs in a desert, springs about to dry up. I saw no hope. And when there is no hope... I sighed. I wished to think of something good.
THE GREY ONE: The Second of May traditional picnic. Parents have filled their bags with meat, driving their cars fast to the nearby picnic sites. I feel empty even though my sweetheart is here with me. We are being silent, waiting for another sunny spring day. As for my love message transformed into a song, it didn’t have far to travel – it quickly reached my sweetheart. I didn’t have to wait long for her answer. That’s why we are here together, on the edge of the four-storey building’s guttering. Today we have to decide where and when we should begin building our nest. But my mind is elsewhere. I’m thinking of the little girl. Is she still in bed in her room? Is her face still so pale? Is there someone she could talk to? Does she sometimes think of me? I flew away. I found breadcrumbs on the tin window sill where I landed. They were dry; I knew they had been there for several days. Wholemeal breadcrumbs... I adore them. I admit, I was very hungry and quickly swallowed them all. The window of the girl’s room was closed. The blinds were down. I strained my ears. The only thing I could hear was her irregular breathing. Then I heard something like...
NEVENČE: Mother! Mummy!
THE GREY ONE: That was all.
[Blinds rolling up, window opening, steps, door closing, silence.]
NEVENČE: You came?
THE GREY ONE: Yes, I came.
NEVENČE: I need you!
THE GREY ONE: I know.
NEVENČE: Come closer, I want to see you.
THE GREY ONE: I’m here.
NEVENČE: I can’t talk loudly, I’m tired.
THE GREY ONE: I’d like to come to your room, but I’m afraid of your parents.
NEVENČE: They’ve left.
THE GREY ONE: Are you sure?
NEVENČE: Have a look at the parking lot – you’ll see them.
THE GREY ONE: I saw them; they were leaving.
NEVENČE: I asked them, I begged them to go out somewhere, to leave me on my own a little.
THE GREY ONE: You knew I was coming?
THE GREY ONE: I decided to go into her room. Everything looked in perfect order there. Everything was clean and new. Pictures and posters on the walls, a piano to the left of the door. A basket full of toys. Two pigeons touching their beaks. It was obvious, tired little hands made that drawing. I stepped on top of the piano so that we can see each other.
NEVENČE: The crumbs?
THE GREY ONE: I ate them all.
NEVENČE: I’m thinking of you all the time. Do you want us to be friends?
THE GREY ONE: Let’s be friends.
NEVENČE: I love to fly.
THE GREY ONE: I love it too.
NEVENČE: Can I touch you? Just a little, to feel your soft feathers.
THE GREY ONE: Hold out your hand. That’s it. Spread your palm. You see, there I am.
NEVENČE: You are trembling.
THE GREY ONE: That’s right.
NEVENČE: Have you been thinking of me these days?
THE GREY ONE: A lot.
NEVENČE: I’ve been thinking about you a lot, too. I was afraid someone might hurt you. If you hadn’t come today, I’d have cried and felt unhappy. Now you are here, in my palm, and I feel like crying again.
THE GREY ONE: You feel like crying? No crying today, we are about to learn laughing.
NEVENČE: I forgot how to laugh.
THE GREY ONE: She fell asleep. With tears in her eyes. I didn’t know what to do. How stupid I am! I said to myself loudly. Why didn’t I ask her what her name was? I jumped onto the little desk with a brand new computer, with scattered photographs and picture postcards. One of the postcards showed beautiful white flowers. A woman that lived at the end of the quarter had those flowers in her garden. They must be the same. In front of the hedge. That’s right. I turned the picture postcard over. I’m reading it. Happy fifth birthday, Nevenče! Love, mummy and daddy. Fourth of May... So Nevenče’s birthday is only two days away!
[External atmosphere, spring.]
THE GREY ONE: On the fourth of May, first thing in the morning I flew to the garden of the woman at the end of the quarter. I sat on a small branch in the high fir tree and watched the flowers. Soon the woman went out of the house, took the hose and began watering her garden. She suddenly remembered something, and picked a little white flower. She smelt it and... as soon as she went towards the house door, I sprang like an arrow from a bow and took the flower from her hand. Sorry, auntie, I had to. The poor woman could not even see who stole her white flower. Here comes the thief with a flower in his hand on the tin window sill in front of Nevenče’s room.
NEVENČE: I am not feeling well. I need air in this room. Please open the window.
[Window opening, steps, door closing.]
THE GREY ONE: Nevenče! My darling!
NEVENČE: You know my name?
THE GREY ONE: I know everything about you.
NEVENČE: What else do you know?
THE GREY ONE: Close your eyes. Closed them? No cheating? I’m flying in! I flew into her room. There was a big birthday cake with six candles on the table. A few pieces were missing.
NEVENČE: Can I open my eyes now?
THE GREY ONE: Wait a little more?
NEVENČE: How long?
THE GREY ONE: Start counting to ten.
NEVENČE: One, two...
THE GREY ONE: Happy birthday!
NEVENČE: You know it’s my birthday today?
THE GREY ONE: Look here!
NEVENČE: A white flower? How did you know I liked white flowers?
THE GREY ONE: I heard it on the grapevine.
NEVENČE: Come closer. Can I kiss you?
THE GREY ONE: Just once.
NEVENČE: I’ll kiss you ten times. I love you.
THE GREY ONE: I love you, too. Nevenče?
NEVENČE: Tomorrow I have to go to the hospital again. Will you visit me there?
THE GREY ONE: Of course. And I’ll bring you a little white flower every day.
NEVENČE: Mummy’s coming with the nurse. She gives me medication. They are giving me injections every day.
THE GREY ONE: I’m leaving now. See you soon. I don’t want to leave you like this. You’ve started crying again?
NEVENČE: They are here, at the door.
THE GREY ONE: Cry-baby! I’m on my way.
THE GREY ONE: Sad stories are long and painful. I visited Nevenče every day at the hospital and every day I brought her a little white flower. But it was obvious that she wasn’t getting any better. O, dear! I saw the worried face of her father. The faces of the doctor and the two nurses. The doctor shrugged his shoulders, and there were tears even in the nurses’ eyes. This broke my heart. I wanted to remember something from my past. Flying hurriedly to my dwelling, I suddenly heard my mother’s voice in my mind...
MOTHER: My dear son, goodness is the highest virtue. Goodness is what matters most.
THE GREY ONE: Mummy.
THE GREY ONE: Twenty-first of May. Nevenče’s window is open again. I’m intent on succeeding this time. I fly into her room. Nevenče is asleep. I settle myself on the piano. I’m waiting. Two weary eyes are opening. It is obvious. There is no hope, no will, no voice. Nevenče’s eyes are looking sadly at me.
THE GREY ONE: I came to tell you that I’m very disappointed. I’m very, very angry with you. If I could do it, I’d spank you good and proper.
NEVENČE: You haven’t come to see me for how many days?
THE GREY ONE: That’s not the problem.
NEVENČE: You don’t love me any more?
THE GREY ONE: No, I don’t.
NEVENČE: Aren’t you coming to hug me?
THE GREY ONE: I’m not.
NEVENČE: You’re sad because of me, you’re crying.
THE GREY ONE: My eyes are teary because of the wind.
NEVENČE: You’re lying.
THE GREY ONE: I’m not lying. We need to have a serious talk.
NEVENČE: Please don’t speak so loudly.
THE GREY ONE: There is a place only I know. You can get there only by flying. All those who have managed to get there have discovered all the truths about this world. They have also discovered the greatest truth called goodness. I stole goodness from that place and now I want to share it with you. A little for you, a little for me.
NEVENČE: Tell me about the place from which you stole goodness.
THE GREY ONE: I stole goodness, but I left strength there, and that is what you need now. Hidden strength.
THE GREY ONE: At that moment I invented the most unlikely story and I shared it with Nevenče. She watched me in amazement, absorbed in the story.
The place looks like a part of the painting of a famous artist who paints landscapes. In the middle of a forest in which there are thousands of creeks and hundreds of waterfalls, there is an open space. Surrounded by climbing plants, juniper trees and blackberry bushes, it looks like a deserted tennis court. Someone has made swings, seesaws and toboggans there. When you swing on the swing you reach the sky, and when you gather courage to jump, you actually begin flying, together with the clouds. It is there that you learn how to fly. There are two teachers: a talkative seagull, and a quiet swallow. The talkative seagull will teach you how to perform real loops in the air for a piece of fish, and the quiet swallow will teach you how to fly quickly to the clouds and over for a dozen gnats. The teachers give only As there. But let’s put marks aside. Once you get there, it is important to find out where strength is hidden. If you are not strong, all your efforts to learn how to fly will be futile. But in order to find strength, you have to believe that you will find it. A gurgling creek can hide the secret; don’t you think so? Even if it hides it, there are many creeks! Strength. No, not the strength to crack a nut or hit a sparrow with a stone. The strength to defeat death. Don’t laugh at me, please. Have you seen those little jars filled with hazelnut and cocoa spread? Strength is hidden in a similar little jar; it is closed by a lid and can be found in one of those thousands creeks. I forgot to tell you: the creeks wind around the open space and, before reaching the throne where the seagull sits, they bow to him. Have you seen creeks bowing to someone? Yes, that’s true. That’s what they do. Now you’ve guessed it, I have to tell you this very quietly – someone might overhear me. Only the seagull has seen the little pot of strength. You have to be clever and trick the seagull somehow. He is not allowed to tell you, but he can whisper it. You understand? Nevenče? But before we go there, you will have to do something. No, it’s not difficult. There is hidden strength in all of us. You have to find it in yourself – you just have to walk to the open window alone every day in the morning and in the evening. Let us count how many steps you will have to make. One, two, three, four, five. Only five steps. What? How will you find your hidden strength? It’s easy. Feel your navel with your right hand. That’s it. Make a few circles with your palm around your navel. Have you felt the warmth? Strength is close by. Did you find it? My beautiful darling. Is it enough? Yes, it’s enough. Come on, stretch your legs. Please. I know you haven’t stood on your feet for months. If you think I am wrong and if... Now you, see you can move your legs. Hold onto your bed. Move your right leg forward. Then the left leg. Stand straight, my darling. Let’s count together: one step... one. You did it! Good for you! Two. Lean on the wooden part of the window. And now? I am so happy, I am jumping already. You just look at the sun and say this: Please, sun, show me the way to the strength hidden in the strange land with thousands of creeks. Say this clearly, as if you were reciting a poem. A poem about mummy’s eyes. Is there anything more beautiful than mummy’s eyes? Please, sun. Your voice will melt a glacier. No. I’m crying. But these are tears of joy. Nevenče, every morning before sunrise and every evening before sunset you have to come here, to the window. I’ll come to see you and... Have I told you about my friends, the bees? They live behind that mountain over there. Everything is so clean there; there are many meadows, black locusts and plum trees. All the plants are in blossom now. My friends, the bees, will gather honey every day, and a part of that honey will be for you. I’ve arranged it. What do you need to do? Nothing much; you will just open your mouth, put out your tongue and... that’s all. I’ll pour the honey onto your tongue, you’ll swallow it and I’ll tell you: See you tomorrow again. Now turn around slowly. How charming! I’m sure you’ll be a ballerina one day. Now, let’s do the counting. One, two...
[Musical transition, Nevenče’s parents enter the living room.]
FATHER: She’s asleep.
[He turns the TV set off.]
Want some coffee?
MOTHER: No, sit down. I can’t believe my eyes. Is this really possible? I’m afraid to be happy. And I have to be happy; I should be the happiest mother in the world.
FATHER: The doctors are baffled, too. They expected the worst, but all the checkups have shown that she’s in perfect health. Did you see the blood tests? She’s never had such good test results.
MOTHER: She asked me to buy her a bicycle.
FATHER: Tomorrow we’ll hire a decorator; she said she wanted softer colours on the walls of her room. We’ll also make a new agenda for her. She only doesn’t want us to move the piano.
MOTHER: She mentioned a birdhouse with a green roof, two windows and a balcony at the entrance. I don’t know if you can buy those somewhere.
FATHER: Tomorrow I’ll try to build one for her. Let’s move her slowly to her room. She told me to leave the window open.
THE GREY ONE: Where should I look for the message? On the desk in front of the computer. A drawing! My darling has drawn something for me. I jumped onto the desk. Using coloured pencils, she has drawn the forest, the open space, the creeks, the waterfalls, the seagull and the swallow. In the lower right corner she has drawn a small heart, putting me inside it. Nevenče. The message was more than clear. It is time that we learn how to fly.
THE GREY ONE: Seventh of June. The forest, the open space and the creek are on my mind. I’ve decided. I’m heading south. North, the opposite is south. I’m not in a hurry, I don’t want to get tired. I enjoy the flight. I fly and think of Nevenče and of my sweetheart who laid the fourth egg this morning. The city and its smog have remained far behind me. I’ve crossed the river. A large valley in front of me. It reminds me of a casserole full of pies and pastries. People in the fields. Tractors humming. I say hello to a kestrel. He enjoys the wind. Hovering, he catches columns of hot air. We fly together for some time.
We come to a copious, dense forest full of tall beeches, pines and an occasional oak or aspen. The creek appears to me as a curved line in a child’s drawing. I come to the open space, and this is obviously a new scene for me. But the sight has upset me. How could have I come so close to this place in my imagination, when it is clear that I am seeing it for the first time in my life?
I’ve lost the kestrel in the blueness of the sky. I am alone now. I land on a dog rose that grows in the middle of the open space. I can see the creek hurrying to reach the river so that it can look more important and stronger. I have to bring Nevenče here. Here we’ll have to feel the strength of nature. Here we’ll have to open our lungs so that they can be fully cleaned. I can feel the clear air as soon as it reaches my nostrils. It invigorates me. There are no words to describe this feeling and beauty. I’ll spoil the silence if I start talking. Silence is in perfect harmony with the place. The swaying of the branches reminds me of background music, of the backdrop of a mystical painting. If you only knew how small I looked in this painting. A grain of sand. If I were bigger, I might have spoilt something. I jump into the creek to cool off. Bathing in the clear water, I can feel the inner juices that keep us alive. I roll in the shallow water cuddled by freshness, real, elemental freshness. I jump to the aspen’s highest branch and I tell it that I envy it. Sometimes when we look at something, it is clear to us: there’s nothing missing there. The forest around me looks like a painting where everything is in divine harmony: the colours, the objects, the sky, the rock, the creek, the bird playing with wind. Even if we can’t find the little jar filled with strength that can defeat death here, we should invent it. I invented it and so I am here.
THE GREY ONE: I’m on the roof of my new home, Nevenče’s gift. I’m waiting for my sweetheart to lay our fifth egg. I’m a little nervous, I admit it. You’d say: nervous because of an egg? But it isn’t just an egg. There’s life inside. One day, after it is hatched, another grey sparrow like me will start chirping. Don’t children take after their parents? I think about everything that has happened to me this spring. I feel really good. Wonderful things have happened to me. Nevenče was cured, we have a great relationship with my sweetheart, and our new home makes me feel happy and fulfilled. I sometimes wish that Nevenče would forget that story, I’ve never wished... It reminds me of some granny who tells a story to her grandson every evening and falls asleep before he does. If you were her grandson, what would you feel? You’d feel duped, am I right? So many unresolved situations... Will the prince come to the sleeping princess in time? Will he succeed in bringing her back to life? Storytelling is a serious business. A story told poorly or an unfinished story only creates pain and indignation; it becomes a part of an ugly experience. No, I don’t want to make myself sound academic; I simply hate unfinished stories. Would you like me to cut my story short, at this point? To leave you here, on the roof of my home? And there flows a river of questions? Did your sweetheart lay your fifth egg? Will five little unfledged grey creatures see the light of day? Will the Grey One and Nevenče go to the forest with the open space and creek? Do you want me to torment you even longer? While I’m thinking about all this, Nevenče appears at the window. She’s in a good mood and smiling.
NEVENČE: Guess what’s his name!
THE GREY ONE: Guessing all day long.
NEVENČE: Still waiting.
THE GREY ONE: Wait a little more.
NEVENČE: I can’t, I must be off. I have a date.
THE GREY ONE: Nevenče. Favourite... That boy with the bicycle down there is your favourite?
NEVENČE: Guess what’s his name!
THE GREY ONE: If I guess... Wait a little. What would be the name of the favourite boy friend of a beautiful girl like you?
NEVENČE: Think, but quick.
THE GREY ONE: Alexander!
THE GREY ONE: Nevenče.
NEVENČE: I’m in a hurry.
THE GREY ONE: I know.
NEVENČE: Tell me.
THE GREY ONE: My sweetheart has laid our fifth egg and left me thinking. I’ve promised something to her, but I can’t remember what it was...
NEVENČE: You should go there and sit on your eggs. Remember it now?
THE GREY ONE: Yes, I remember it.
NEVENČE: You’ve promised something to me, too.
THE GREY ONE: Nevenče, my darling. I looked down, in front of the building. Nevenče and Alexander mounted their bikes and rode away. My eyes were full of tears. I was so happy.
THE GREY ONE: Seventeenth of June. I caught the first sunrays on the seventeenth of June on the balcony at the entrance to my home. I hadn’t seen Nevenče for some time. I was really worried. I was afraid that she might be upset or disappointed, or that she might have cried. I looked down, towards the car park in front of the building. Her father fixed some metal bars onto the roof of their car, something like... roof luggage racks, I remembered. Then he put some bags, a folding table, folding chairs, a gas cylinder. And many other things. Nevenče came together with her mother. Her mother got in the car. Nevenče looked up, looking for me. When she saw me she smiled. I felt relieved. She showed me with her hand that we were setting off. I was very nervous, I admit it. My legs trembled, my heart was beating more than three hundred per minute, a million questions popped up in my head. What I feared most was that I might disappoint her. She might say to herself: what’s this, it’s just a nonsense story for little kids. I couldn’t fly freely, I was so afraid; I felt that I might fall on the ground and break like glass. Nevenče was upset. She made circles around the car. She didn’t know what thoughts ran through my head. Whom should I talk to? Whom should I tell how I felt? Then I remembered my own words, those that I told Nevenče when she was gravely ill. “We all have inner strength, we only need to find it.” Where is my strength hidden? I began looking for it. I put my head under my wings, near my bosom. When I touched my little heart with my beak, something seemed to move and... My legs stopped trembling, my pulse got calmer. I flew away. Nevenče got in the car. We set off. I flew as lightly as a feather. No, I didn’t feel the weight of my body. I would tumble in the air, then fly as high as possible... and I’d suddenly take a dip like an arrow, down to the car window where Nevenče was sitting. She enjoyed my antics. We crossed the river and entered the large valley. The sun seemed to be running after us. We flew and drove hoping to find it. We climbed up and saw sceneries that seemed to support the great mountain. We gradually approached the place from my story that I created for Nevenče. The open space suddenly appeared before us. Nevenče got out of the car and started shouting with her arms up: This is my forest! My place! My creek!
It was getting dark. I looked at the sun which was setting behind the mountain’s crest. The sun winked at me with its left eye and fell like a ball over the hedge into a yard full of fragrant flowers. The fragrant flowers, this was in fact the dream that came to me as soon as I settled among the branches of the handsome aspen.
THE GREY ONE: Eighteenth of June. I was just an onlooker. An ordinary onlooker. Someone watching a football match or basketball game. Sitting in a box in the aspen, I watched Nevenče and her parents. I truly enjoyed the view. Her father fired up the grill near their tent and was beginning his ‘fight’ with the hamburgers and sausages. Her mother was making some salad. I couldn’t see from where I was what kind of salad exactly she was preparing. Cucumber, tomatoes, young onions and grated cheese. I could see Nevenče near the creek. We watched each other and exchanged signs, we communicated well. She collected some smooth stones and put them in the empty jar after she had eaten the hazelnut and cocoa spread over the past week, spreading it on two pieces of bread every day.
NEVENČE: Mummy, is the salad ready? The fruit salad.
THE GREY ONE: She clearly wanted to give me some of the fruit salad, and I admit it...
NEVENČE: Come here!
THE GREY ONE: Your parents might see me.
NEVENČE: No, they won’t. There they are, busy preparing dinner. Where should I put these little pieces of kiwi fruit, wholemeal crumbs and carrot juice?
THE GREY ONE: You find a stone.
NEVENČE: I found one. Here you are. I’ll pretend nothing in particular is happening.
THE GREY ONE: Thank you.
NEVENČE: What was on my mind?
THE GREY ONE: You’ll remember it, we have plenty of time.
NEVENČE: It was something very important. I’m sorry, so many good things are happening to me in a single day.
THE GREY ONE: To me, too. Let’s enjoy it. I’ll enjoy the food, and you the beauty all around us.
NEVENČE: You didn’t lie to me. That was what I wanted to tell you. I love you immensely. Now I love you even more.
THE GREY ONE: How much more?
NEVENČE: I love you as much as I love all the stones, plants and creeks! That much!
THE GREY ONE: And I love you as much as I love all the trees, birds and all the stars in the sky, that much!
NEVENČE: Your story cured me and made me think of so many beautiful things and...
THE GREY ONE: Let’s leave the story for some book where it will be printed. Now I’d rather fly a little and try to enjoy the day. Would you like me to touch that cloud over there?
NEVENČE: Yes, do it. Say hello to him and tell him to go away. Secrets should be told with a whisper. I need the sun today.
THE GREY ONE: That’s a deal.
NEVENČE: I need the sun today.
THE GREY ONE: That’s a deal.
I flew up into the sky. Nevenče was running after two butterflies with eye patterns on their wings. It was easy to come to an agreement with the cloud. These were the best moments of my life. I caressed the two beeches with by wings, I touched the pine tree and I thanked the aspen for receiving me as a friend within its branches.
“Aspen, my friend, can you still feel my trembling? Did Nevenče’s soft voice caress you? Did you feel the miracle? Life is a great adventure, my friend. It is full of surprises. Living this instant is like living the whole of life. What should we believe? Should we believe our scars or the smiles? Everyone lives his or her own story. It’s great when you can tell your story to someone else. There will surely be a point of touch. My story and your story have already touched each other. The blueness, the sun, the gurgling of the creek, the freedom, the happiness of those people. That’s where we’ve touched each other. Only true stories have a happy ending, my friend.”
This monologue to the aspen came directly from my heart. As a relief. The aspen shook his leaves making a sound that reminded me of Christmas bells, to tell me that he had understood me.
The sun slowly moved to the mountain crest on this eighteenth day of June. But today it did not sink quickly behind it. It stopped a little so that we can hear the full story.
You’ve listened to the radio play, Love for Flying by Vlado Dimovski.
Cast: Toni Denkovski, Stefana Momirovska, Ivana Džingova, Sofija Gogova-Vrčakovska, Ljupčo Bojkovski, Nade Galevska and members of the Children’s Drama Studio of Macedonian Radio and Television.
Sound engineers: Ratka Pangovska and Vesna Spasovska.
Directed by Vlado Dimovski.
Music from the album Beethoven Forever by the Sea was used in the radio play.
Radio Play: Love for Flying
Author: Vlado Dimovski
Director: Vlado Dimovski
Sound engineers: Ratka Pangovska and Vesna Spasovska are Macedonian Radio sound engineers with more than twenty years of experience, working on a large number of radio play projects, some of which have received major accolades from a number of festivals.
Length: 54’ 19”
Broadcast on 8 April 2007
About the Author
The author of the radio play, Love for Flying, Vlado Dimovski is a prominent writer, television screenplay writer and journalist working for Macedonian Radio. He has published fifteen books and written several television series as well twenty radio plays. He has participated in a number of distinguished festivals as a radio play author: Prix Italia, ABU Prize, Prix Marulić, Fedor and the Berlin Festival.
About the Radio Play
Love for Flying is a play about goodness. Using the attributes of an amiable bird such as the sparrow, Vlado Dimovski explores our deepest instincts that make us more humane and capable of doing good. With a lot of emotion, the author deals with some enduring life values such as hope, faith, patience and love.
The masterfully created character of the Grey One (the Sparrow) is raised to the level of a paradigm of goodness and strength. The message the Grey One conveys to Nevenče (a girl who is seriously ill) is clear: Strength and hope are not to be found in the forest where thousands of creeks flow, or in the closed jar; they can be found within us – we only need to discover them.
The story about the Grey One and his friend, Nevenče, transcends the boundaries of imagination. For this reason this radio play should not be just listened to, it should be felt. Spontaneously and casually, the author draws us into a world of fantasy where sparrows talk, creeks run, the sun smiles and clouds wink. Enjoy it.
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