Postcard from Split by Tonka Alujević  – Croatia

Mapping of Dalmatia

Translated by Tatjana Radmilo

A peaceful day. I invited one of my acquaintances to join me for coffee on my sailing boat. He’s a never-ending source of wonderful stories. People call him Captain Evil. He earned this awe by hard work, pain and craftsmanship. Actually, Captain Evil is right thinking that his word has to be the first and last on his boat. That is totally OK and normal. Yet, people have trouble understanding it, particularly managers because they think that theirs should be the last and the most important one.

So… he told me what happened when sixteen people rented two catamarans. Team building crew or, as it used to be called before, trade union sponsored trip.

Their idea was to sail, no more no less, all the way to Palagruža. Captain Evil’s beak dropped to the floor. He didn’t like the idea at all. Stormy and bad weather was forecasted and knowing that these guys had no experience he resolutely refused to ride all those miles towards south. He knew that he would have to sail all by himself. But team builders insisted. Until he lost it:

“C’mon, people, you surprise me. You really believe everything you hear. Palagruža doesn’t exist! Palagruža comes from Greek word pelagos meaning open sea. And clearly, there is nothing on that open sea. People from Komiža made it all up. That island is a myth. Right, nothing but a myth! They offer sacrifices, burn boats on St. Nicholas Day, write poetry and prose in glory of that mythical island. They were even building falkušas — their old fishing boats — for an imaginary mythical voyage. Palagruža is pure fishermen’s surrealism, non-existent place of legends and dreams, like a…, like a kind of virtual island…

“C’mon, you’re fucking with us!”

Captain Evil found a nautical chart (a slightly bigger one where everything is small) and dropped it down on the table nervously.

“OK, now I’m fed up with you! Here, if you find Palagruža here, I’ll untie the boat this very second and let’s sail there. C’mon, show it to me! If you’re so smart, where is it?!”

All sixteen of them gaped at the chart, circling all over it with their forefingers. Sixteen pairs of eyes belonging to pillars of our economic development did not find it because it could not have been charted in the first place. Then one of them said in a confused and disappointed voice:

“Guys, the fact is that it’s not here!”

The moment I fell on the floor laughing, an idea hatched in my head. When I see who comes here, what we do and what they do to our only homeland, it would be best if we made maps and charts without Dalmatia charted at all.

Let them write verses and poems about a blue country beyond the reach of reality. Let them say that the fact is that Dalmatia is nowhere to be found! Let them believe that it is a figment of pure imagination.

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Mapiranje Dalmacije

Miran dan. Na jedrilicu san zvala na kafu jednoga poznatoga.  U njega uvik ima krasnih priča. Zovu ga Zli skiper. Teškin radon, mukon i umijećen on je zaslužija to strahopoštovanje.  Zločesti je u stvari u pravu kad misli da njegova mora bit prva i zadnja na brodu. Šta je skroz u redu i normalno. Ali, judi ne razumu i naročito se menađerima to ne sviđa jerbo oni mislu da ta glavna i zadnja rič pripada njima.

I tako…priča on meni kako je to bilo kad je njih šesnajest iznajmilo i došlo na dva katamarana.

Ekipa od team buildinga ili kako se to prije zvalo sindikalni izlet. I palo njima napamet da bi oni jidrili, ni više ni manje nego do Palagruže. Zločestome se odma obisila čunka. Ta ideja mu se nikako nije svidila. Prognozirali su nevere, slabo vrime, a on je zna da ovi nemaju nikakva iskustva i rezolutno je odbija tuć te puste milje put juga. Zna je da će morat jidrit sam. Ali team builderi su inzistirali. Sve dok ovome nije puka film:

– Ma judi moji, ja van se čudin. Je vi u svašta virujete. Palagruža ne postoji! Palagruža dolazi od grčke riči pelagos šta znači pučina. I na toj pučini nema ničega, jasno. Komižani su sve to izmislili. Taj otok je mit. E, mit! Oni žrtvuju, palu brode na Svetoga Nikolu, pišu poeziju i prozu u slavu toga mitskoga otoka. Oni su i svoje stare gajete falkuše gradili za jedno zamišljeno mitsko putovanje. Palagruža je čisti ribarski nadrealizam, jedno nepostojeće misto legendi i snova, ka…ka jedan virtualni otok…

– Ma ti nas zajebavaš!

Zli skipper je tražija pomorsku kartu(onu malo veću di je sve malo) i nervozno je bacija na stol.

-E sad mi vas je stvarno dosta! Evo, ako ovde nađete Palagružu, ja ću se isti sekund odvezat i gremo tamo. Ajde pokažite mi je! Di je, kad ste tako pametni?!

Stalo njih šesnajest blejat u kartu i kažiprstima kružit po njoj. Šesnajest pari očiju naših stupova ekonomskoga razvoja  nije je našlo jer na tu kartu koju in je on kaza nije ni mogla bit ucrtana. Onda se jedan od njih zbunjeno i razočarano oglasija:

– Ljudi, fakat je nema!

Čin san pala na pod od smija odma mi se u glavi izlegla ideja. Kad vidin ko nan dolazi, šta činimo i šta nan sve činu od jedinoga zavičaja najviše bi volila da napravimo zemljopisne i pomorske karte na kojima Dalmacija nije uopće ucrtana.

Neka po svitu pišu verse i poeme o jednoj modroj zemlji realnosti nedostižnoj. I neka govoru kako fakat, te Dalmacije nigdi nema! Uvjereni da je proizvod čiste mašte.

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