Uit:How I Ate the Dog
“They got out at every station and walked around the platform with an old cassette player, glancing to the sides, meaning – Are they looking at us or not? Aha…they’re looking! Very good! I was surprised at the time by how their sailor hats stayed on the back of their heads, it was obvious that they should have fallen off, but they stayed on, all the same…. Without any sense of idiotic metaphor, they hung like haloes…. I only found out later, how they stayed on… sailor hats. And that there’s no secret, they simply stay on, and that’s it.
The sailors were entertaining…. We came up to them with questions about how it is, and they gladly told us how…: “Well, we went through La Pérouse Strait, then we went to Cam Ranh, we stopped there…, then we went to New Zealand and they didn’t let us come ashore, but in Australia they let us come ashore, but only the officers went and…”
And I was thinking: “Geeeeee whiz… After all I studied English in school… Why?” Well, there were countries where they speak this language, there was Europe, well somewhere there… Paris, London, you know, Amsterdam, there were those, and leave it at all that. What’s it to me? They sometimes vaguely disturbed you in that they nevertheless kind of existed…, but they didn’t draw out any concrete desire. The world was huge, like in a book….
And these sailors had been, my God, in Australia, New Zealand…. And the same awaits me, just put me in that same uniform…. And little by little, already quickly, the train takes us to Vladivostok, and there is still a little left – and some sort of sea, some sort of countries…. Reluctance!!!! Because even though I didn’t know anything concrete, I suspected that, well, of course, it wasn’t quite that simple, Australia, New Zealand, and still some other place like that, the essential of what I didn’t want to know, of what I was afraid, of what I was very afraid and what would very soon come up… without fail….“
Yevgeni Grishkovetz (Kemerovo, 17 februari 1969)