|Don't Be Afraid, God
2002 by Snezana Mihajlovic
What to write for
this intro? Don't know.
Wake up, above the world that you created for your own amusement!
Wash your face; rise and shine, big guy! We are all waiting for your next coming. Who are you going to send this time?
It has been millenniums since we last set our eyes on your emissary. You must have been pretty terrified, since you’ve remained silent for so long! Or is it that you have been here all this time, sleeping!
Don’t forget to brush your teeth, there now. Just like I thought, a beautiful face, just to give you a haircut, and you’ll be as good as new! See, there, that’s you! Our almighty, omnipotent, petrified little God! Who would’ve thought that you are so confused!
Well, before you set off on your journey, I have a few things to tell you.
First of all, don’t be so troubled. You look as an asshole. Put on a mighty look, like this! See my frowning eyebrows? That’s how you should look down on us, little earthlings. You are the man, and we are nothing. If you want respect don’t forget to remind us that there’s still a great pit waiting for the impudent!
Why are you looking at me like this? You don’t believe me! Well, a lot of things have changed, but we’ll come to that later.
Secondly, if you intend to give us another martyr, don’t! It will be absurd. You should try and look for an agent of some kind. Oh, I AM grateful, but I’m not in the business. I mean, you must find a professional, put up an ad, make a commercial, that stuff. Please, don’t look at me this way. I mean no harm. My intentions are honest, cross my heart.
Listen, God, if everything turns out fine, will you remember me? You could, for example, promote me into one of your apostles, couldn’t you?! I guarantee I won’t misbehave. At least you could do is change the size of my boobs! Men are pretty demanding these days. Well, look at me! I’m a walking catastrophe. My bottom is so loose you could mistake it for, well, I’m not going to say that. I’m talking to God, for crying out loud! I do have my pride!
Where was I…. Oh yes, I was talking about martyrdom. It’s not so popular these days. You know, people have evolved. Miracles don’t work any more. We are satisfied with the usual things, houses, swimming pools, cars, money - you know, the material, visible things! In the end we are matter.
No, we are not savage any more. We don’t stone our women to death for being unfaithful. It’s called democracy - you simply get divorced, if you understand what I mean. Wait, there’s more to it. I bet you didn’t know that not believing is legalized! How’s that!? You declare yourself an atheist, and that’s it. Nobody bothers you.
Of course, people go to church! We are not antichrists. You see, the whole idea of going to church has changed. We have various religious groups, such as…well, I don’t think it’s polite to interrupt me like that! It’s not the devil’s work, it’s called variety. And you, most of all, are responsible for that. You created us as we are. Don’t try to chat out of it. Yes, it’s your fault! You should’ve instructed your Christ to kill the half of the world’s population. Those, you spared wouldn’t’ doubt your work then. I really don’t get the message, and trust me, I’m not alone in this, I mean Jesus died for our sins, I understand that. What I don’t understand is, how can anybody purify me through his own suffering. It’s like teaching tricks to a neighbor's dog, expecting that your own will roll over when you tell him so.
What about homosexuals? I assure you, the thing that they can get married is not a sacrilege - it’s for the best. And don’t you tell me that allowing them adopt a child is monstrous, it’s called family and as you probably know, family is sacred.
So what! A couple of people fall in love and decide to spend their lives together! Is there anything more beautiful?
No, I haven’t been married before. I’m not what you call - desirable. I was close once, though, but the old guy died before he managed to get to the aisle. No, don’t you cry now, I didn’t even fancy him. It was just an idea, you know.
My family? Oh, they are all gone. No, not like that, they moved and we are not in touch. That’s how it goes. They have their problems, I have mine; I call them once a year to check whether they are alive. My father died actually - several years ago. I couldn’t make it to the funeral, I had an important business to take care of. Well, you can’t tell a guy to climb down, can you?
Oh, sweet Jesus, why are you staring at me like that? What about my job? I pay my bills, don’t I? I use condoms, I assure you I’m negative.
What do you mean, what negative is? AIDS man, it’s a disease you wouldn’t like in your bloodstream. For all I know, this is not your piece of work. Some scientists got together and mixed various viruses, and they gave birth to this one. We have problems with over population and we have to do something about it. Imagine people swarming around, not having anything to do, anywhere to sleep? It would be a bloody anarchy! In this way a positive selection works out like a charm.
Would you like a cigarette? Oh, sorry, I forgot you didn’t smoke. I know it’s killing me, but I like to run a few risks. And I suppose you failed to process what happened to my neighbour, Poor Tom? It’s what we call irony. He never drank, or smoked. He didn’t get angry easily. He ate healthy food and imagine what happened! One day, when he was coming back from his office, a flowerpot fell on his head! He died instantly. So, I’d like to live as long as I’m alive. Do you mind? Should I open the window?
Well, don’t be so sullen, there are worse jobs than mine. Imagine politicians, they have to get laid by everybody. I choose my clients, you know. I have taste. Everybody does it, after all. I am the only one who doesn’t brag about it and I’m honest, most of all. Since you’re God and everything, I’m going to ask you a question. Now, tell me, is prostitution only what I do? Take married women, for example; they have husbands whom they, at least once a week say that they have a throbbing headache, roll over, and go to sleep. Now, tell me what that is? This is even better. Take an intelligent woman, for example, who has to go to a business dinner with her boss, every once in a while. She pretends as if she didn’t get the message. She sits with him, eats with him, candles are on the table, pretty romantic. The waiter brings the champagne. She says things like: -Greg, you shouldn’t ! -Oh, yes I should! - and his hand will search for her knee. If she reacts, she’ll get sacked. How’s that called?
I prostitute my body, and I get paid for that. They prostitute their souls, because they are too damn scared to tell the truth. What’s worse? Tell me, God, what’s worse?
Just try and change your perspective, but enough about me…
What is there you don’t understand about alienation? People want to have their privacy. Who cares about the bus passengers, streetwalkers, people in the subways, supermarkets, parks, graveyards, city halls? Being alienated means minding your own business.
The times of the inquisition are nearly over. We are still searching for our witches, simply we don’t burn them any more. There are more humane ways, asylums, for instance. Today’s witches are not red haired, they don’t practice magic, they are not devil’s disciples, they are what we call nutcrackers. Poor people with a slight chemical misbalance, who just need help. We don’t prosecute - we treat, we repair, we refine.
You haven’t touched your plate! I might think you don’t appreciate my cooking. What do you mean, you are not hungry? Are you fasting? I think I have some fish in the freeze, would you like some? OK, I’m not going to push you, but, that bacon is very tasty. Just coffee? I didn’t know God drank any, but if you say so, I believe you. I’ve always had. Do you see this bible? I’ve read it once. I don’t understand why Christ did nothing about Judas, but, if you wanted it that way, what can I say? I mean, it’s very stupid to die for no reason, but he managed to cure people, didn’t he? That must be faith. His death enabled that we remain.
I think I would be a wonderful saint - Saint Rose. It sounds nice. Imagine me as a statue in a church, and a crowd around me watching intensely into my blood-crying eyes! What a sight! Saint Rose! They are kneeling at the sight of this epiphany, but God, the moment they close the doors of your temple, they curse, everything they touch turns to crap.
I remember going to a confessional once. When I told that priest what was on my mind, he just asked me the price. I couldn’t believe my ears. A perverse priest, right there in your house! I don’t suppose you punished him, did you? That’s what I thought. He probably said a few `Hello - Mary’s` and that was it. Forgive me father for I have sinned! - OK, my child, you are forgiven, now go on doing whatever you were doing before, and, child - don’t forget to come back!
Do you really believe that it is your forgiveness, he was asking for? It is I that asked for it, prayed for it, begged… I may be disgusting, but I still have feelings. I have never hurt anyone in my life, except myself, and if that doesn’t make me a good Christian?! What I do, makes me who I am? Answer me God? I demand the answer!
Should I crucify myself in order for you to love me, in order for anyone to love me? When I had stigmata, nobody believed me. Why did you make ME, a hooker, have those signs? Was that one of your plays, you directed through the expatriates? Am I a part of the great plan in some laboratory? Do you know what they did to me? They put me in a cell! They asked me all over again to confess that I cut myself. They filled me with drugs, locked the door; oh how I prayed. Oh, how I cried for you! Eat your breakfast!!! You, self-centered, screwed up, sorry ass! Couldn’t you find someone more appropriate? Someone they would believe? Do you feel these tears, streaming for you? I used to wonder what you wanted with me. I would wake up in the morning only to find myself swimming in blood. I would wipe my hands, and it would still gush. I was terrified. My whole body was one mammoth pain.
Tell me, what was that? Why are you silent? Why did you choose me? Talk, God damn it! At least I have the right of a simple explanation. Why am I the only one to see you? I know I see you, I am not crazy. I’ve never hallucinated in my life. I touched you, didn’t I. I gave you a haircut, shaved you, I cooked for you. I woke you up, didn’t I?
OK, you don’t have to say anything. Just, please, don’t you look at me this way. I hate when people feel sorry for my stupid, ugly ass! What?!!
You wanted to show everyone how beautiful I am! Me, beautiful!? And they said I’m crazy! God, you need help, I mean, right now.
So, you say you wanted to show them their truth by choosing a hooker, by degrading me as much as you can!
Tell me God, did you fantasize about giving this all up? I mean, nobody listens to your signs any more. Go on a vacation. Enjoy the beautiful beaches, get suntan! Mingle with people! Party!
The priest you sent to perform the exorcism is the one who wanted to get into my bed. Oh, the looks he gave me! They took off my clothes, they mumbled, shouted; their words whipped me, oh, how I cried your name. They couldn’t hear me. I screamed, I fought for you, I baptised them again, the way you instructed, but they couldn’t be baptised, father. It felt like giving birth to Jesus. I was crucified, there on the bed. They tied me up, no, don’t you interrupt me, you don’t have the right to interrupt! You don’t have the right to do anything. They will stop you, you know. Unless you listen to my instructions, you’re doomed.
How do I know that?! How can I know that?! How the hell can’t you know what I know? I feel you all over the place, all over my skin, and you simply think you can pretend that you don’t know what I’m talking about. You what to switch yourself onto a stand-by mode, and turn on you screen saver with stupid animations of a haunted house! Well, I don’t think so! No, not this time! You can fool them, but you can’t fool me. We are one. And if you think you can get away with this, you are really stupid. No, this woman has got something to say, and you are going to listen, my friend. And, when in half an hour, my client comes, you will go into a mouse hole and be quiet. I have to work, I have to feed us, keep us going on. Somebody works in this fucking country, you know. And I won’t have you patronizing me! Understand? No more preaching! I’ve had it! I am an enraged lion, I will roar as much as I think it’s necessary. This time, nobody will take away my children. This time the respectable surgeon will get the bullet in his stomach, unless he manages to leave my ovaries as they are. This time, nobody will psychoanalyse me. I won’t allow it. This time, when my hands sweat with blood, nobody, I mean, nobody, will know. I will paint this pigsty all over again, as long as I see a single word of Sanskrit you scribbled on my walls. I reserve the right to not let you speak through me. I am a repulsive, repugnant, reeking, rambling, wanton woman, who has the balls, unlike the most of men she has had the privilege to get to know, including you. Don’t look around, there’s nobody else in the room except us.
You know, they put it all down to my childhood, as if they had a slightest idea about its contents. They asked me questions like: - Are you sure your father didn’t sexually molest you? - What about your mother? -What about him abusing your mother? - What about some stranger abusing you? - A professor, maybe? - Have you ever had a sexual intercourse with your brother? - Grandparents? - Pets?
I mean, they asked a lot of stupid questions and the more I tried to explain that everything was pretty OK, the more persistent their interrogation would be. One of them had a nervous twitch of his shoulder and when I asked him where that came from, they simply pumped me up with antidepressants and diagnosed potentially schizophrenic. I was released within two weeks, and could do nothing for months. I was an addict and I ended up in a clinic, or something.
When I think again, there was an event in my childhood that put a stamp onto my life. I didn’t understand it at the time, but now I can see its significance. I was very little, maybe 5 or 6. We were visiting my aunt, and since they all bored me with their stupid, little, polite excuses for not being human, I went out of the house in search of something more interesting to do. I remember that garden clearly. There was nothing special about it, but I found it nice. The sense of peace, shadowing from the branches; the birds and butterflies; the withered flowers, nobody paid attention to. There was a bench in the middle of it. Its paint was crumbing in leaves, one of the planks was missing, but for me that bench was a special place. I could hear an articulate voice, coming from above, resting under the sunlit grass, murmuring in my ears like a river. I don’t remember the words, but I can still see its colour, its soft quality bouncing through the wind. I was alone, but I felt the presence of something beautiful; but I wouldn’t call you beautiful now, after all that happened, would I? At the time, I was really bewitched by the possibility of hearing and not seeing, feeling and not touching. It was kind of intriguing - this special pact I had with nature. It was not my secret, it was our secret…
What is it? Don’t you cry on me now! Please, don’t do this. Forget all I said, because I love you. I love you like I loved no one - completely. I love you, every time I look at myself in the mirror, because the glance in my eyes tells me that this is all a dream, an illusion and it keeps me alive. You keep me alive. I don’t care nobody believes me. I believe…in you, God. I don’t ask for anything in return. Just the thought of you is a gift I am grateful for. Don’t look aside! It’s all you. It has always been you! When they ravished me, it was the thought of that bench that kept me sane, preserved my essence. Hookers don’t lie, they simply act, but this not a movie. Don’t be afraid, God. I will help you get out of that forsaken closet. Look at you! You are beautiful. I did a good job, we just need to advertise you a little, and everything is going to be just fine. Whatever they do, I will not renounce you. Do you hear me? I will not renounce you! I refuse to renounce you…
Don’t be afraid. I will teach them to look for you in the breeze. I will show them the place you were born in. I will tell them that your power cannot be diminished by simple religious custom. I will prove you innocent.
Don’t be afraid. I will lead you with my hand. Hand in hand we will walk these streets, and nothing bad will happen. I will not let anything bad happen to you. We are one, you and I, for better and for worse, till nothing do us part…
She turned back, facing a smooth surface of a broken mirror. There, the smile of a woman answered the question that wasn’t even asked. The smile of a child in her, told her that there was only one truth - the inexpressible one. The truth you can only hint if you are brave enough to question without saying anything. She combed her long hair with such dignity and peace, that my dream cried. She was not chosen, she chose herself, by refusing to mingle. At the wooden table covered with a green cloth, sat the apparition of a man, or a woman, I’m not sure. The shapes changed like water in a magic fountain and I could just see the edge of the smile, the glance of the eye, the line of the shoulder, flickering under the glimmering rays of a fresh sun. The light played with the fringes of the old carpet in profound silence.
I tried to understand all that, but the feeling of not knowing convinced me that its purpose was not to educate, but awaken.
The child in me laughed with joy. The triumph of life told me that I have to die many times before I learn to live.
The sound of dawn coming out woke me up. A flutter of wings rested on my window, like a shadow, waiting. I’m not sure what that dream meant, but I can still feel its presence wherever I go, whatever I do. The apparition of a woman, struggling through the concrete jungle of disillusioned expectations.
It was the first time somebody, or something changed my perspective and I am grateful, although from now on I am going to renounce everything I was taught. Like a grown-up child, I will walk the streets of this planet empty-headed, looking at things, amazed with their new-born beauty, although it will make me ponder constantly, beating my brains out all over again, although I will not have the definitions needed to calm my exhausted thoughts. Although they will hunt me, in order to repair that, what they call the infectious program, I’m not going to renounce the power of creation, which made me the way I am. I’m not going to renounce myself merged with all that was, is and that will be. The history, written in a textbook is not an answer to my prayer. It is just a documented forgery of how people are kept separated, by being seduced that the flag really matters. My boundaries go far beyond that. I don’t belong to any country; I am not a patriot; I will not fight in a battle; I refuse to be successful in order for somebody to justify the educational system; I don’t need a hymn in order to belong to somewhere; the colour of my skin changes according to the situation; I don’t want to be on TV; I don’t want to be invited to important parties; my policy is no party, not even a green one; I want to teach the children not to believe me; I want to be classified as an expatriate, outsider, lunatic; I reserve the right to talk to strangers; I am beautiful without make-up; I hate fashion shows; I detest pills for losing weight; I mourn my dead without tears; my God has no sex; I don’t believe for the paradise’s sake; I believe, because I feel; I adore my accent and I’m not ashamed of my provincialism; I fall in love every day with everybody; I want to be afraid of the future and for the future; I will not disappear in a drain; I want to fill my pillows with fresh grass. Unnecessary, as I am, I’m still alive, keeping my faith deep enough, so that no one can twist it around for his own purpose or amusement; I don’t belong to a generation of super-human; I’m primitive; I cannot evolve into a supreme being; I am a woman, a man, a child.
My life rests on the possibility of being uniquely intercepted within the movement of my finger, pointed into the direction of a dream, the dream that left a testament, consisting of only a few words. The testament, the contents of which will haunt me every single instant of my life, lurking behind the curtained panes, whispering softly, relentlessly, touching the very core of my existence - Don’t be afraid, God!
Snezana Mihajlovic (28 years old - in a month)--I’m a teacher of English in a private school, where I'm striving to help children see there's much in life than we can naturally see. Trying to stay creative in a mechanistic world. Kragujevac, Serbia Yugoslavia, 27 November, 2002.
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