Olga’s rose garden is rectangular, about as long as a man standing. Her man is lying down. She brings him a glass of water, a glass of vodka, a cup of hot coffee, and she lights his cigarette. The smoke curls up into the shady corner of the Armenian cemetery. She pours water all over the flowering plants that clothe the concept of him, and she wails – what a beautiful love we had! 50 years together, so much love… a good man, such a good man. He passed on the 8th of January. New Year was wonderful. So much joy. But we didn’t know it would be THE LAST new year. Oh, milichka! You are crying with me!?
And yes, I am crying. So we cry. A warm salty flow, arms around each other’s shoulders, two women who have just met, in the middle – the place where we are all the same. Two women, gazing at the smoke from that cigarette, stuck upright in the fresh earth, a steaming coffee cup, decorated with flowers, in amongst the real flowers, on a young grave, and that morning sun, glinting off the water, into the vodka. They came to escape the war. And now she is here. And he is there. I leave her to speak with him.
After strolling in this cemetery for quite some time, I come away feeling like I have met a whole collection of extraordinary, ordinary beings. Having gazed into their eyes. Through the veil of time. Having mused over their absence/presence. Potent people. Each life. All of us, perfectly mortal. The power of ephemeral beauty – the living lichen, the cracked resin, the fading details, replaced by new detail. This girl falling in love with strangers she will never meet, but somehow already knows…
Anonymous portraits from the Armenian Cemetery, Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
One thought on “Vodka and Cigarettes”
loving this post