When I went to Slovenia last year to visit my friend Vesna, she took me to Croatia to visit her aunt. I have written already about Jelka´s kindness in my Brazilian blog, but I never got to write about an old lady she made us visit in the small village of Stankovic.
Stankovic is a small, one street village. Actually, the only road crosses the village in two. A village of approximately 20 houses, being Jelka´s almost self suficient. A bit after we arrived Darko, Vesna´s uncle, called. Vesna told him she was visiting and that she had brought a Brazilian friend. We woke up the following day with Darko arriving in his small red car, dressed in a Brazilian shirt, and eager to tell me Brazilian football players’ names, and the few words in English he knew. We went out with him the whole day. He took us to beautiful Dalmatian towns, and we took uncountable pictures of his car. Pictures he did not stop planning, or ever got tired of admiring in my camera. At the end of the day we went back home.
As soon as we arrived, Jelka asked us to visit an old lady who lived alone in one of the houses of the village. Jelka told us that the woman was a bit sad, and that our visit would bring her some joy. Jelka, one of the kindest persons I have ever met, visited the lady often, bringing her food, and cleaning her place.
We walked up to the house, and went through the front yard, while Jelka clapped and called the lady’s name. She called, and called, but there was no answer. Jelka went in, while Vesna and I checked outside. After 5 minutes with no answer I started to panic a bit, imagining us finding the lady dead. But I was wrong, a couple of minutes later she appeared. She approached, very old, walking slowly, hunched, and explained she had been to the neighbour’s house.
We went in, and the room, kitchen and living room were actually one and the same. While Jelka turned the oven on to warm up the house, the woman mumbled. I felt I was transported to another world. As if time had stopped, and went back walking really slowly like one of those monks who ring a bell to every step. There was not much light, the colours were yellowish, and the woman moaned. Jelka said kind things while Vesna translated everything to me. The old lady told her to tell me about her second husband whom she had been married to for 40 years, and had died now.
Eventually, Darko appeared. He explained he had new plans and that Vesna should translate them to me. Since he could not travel the world as Vesna and I could, he would do the same amount of km around Croatia. He would do that, he explained, even if he had to cross the country a thousand times. As his plans changed to an intercontinental trip that would take us to Russia, the woman attempted to remember in which countries of South America she had a lost son. Then the trip would reach China, and the woman tried to remember the name of yet another forgotten kid. Vesna did not know what to translate and I felt in a film.
And there, in the middle of a talk in another language, in another world, I could understand the tones, in fact I could relate to the humanity of it all. There in the middle of a remote village, no internet or tv, or good social welfare, these people were treated as people. In other places they would maybe be in homes, or professionally treated. But there they could live, more than that they were part of a society, they mattered to someone, and they had dreams