Spike Island Journal 2


I am not so concerned with the truth, but with memory and my own projection.
Paul Mpagi Sepuya


It appears that my grandma loves watching football on TV. Every Wednesday and Sunday there is a match from the Premiership featured on one of the national TV channels. How we relate lately, me and my grandma, has a lot to do with British football.

She has grown fond of Arsenal. It is hard to understand. I don’t know how this happened, when it happened, she doesn’t know either, maybe because she spends long hours in bed (she has not been well since last winter)...Her TV is an old one, one-channel sort of TV, and it happens it is the channel that plays (and re-plays) Premier league matches twice a week. So that must be it.

She thinks the Arsenal players are all very handsome and they look great in their deep-red jerseys. I ask her who is her favorite. She says “TERI ANRI” and smiles. She tells me he plays like a ballet dancer, that is what the TV commentator sometimes says. She is all excited when we talk about him. As we watch football sometimes together, I look at her and think how amazing this is. My grandma knows of Arsenal and Thierry Henry and cares.

She forgets to eat sometimes. She wears a golden necklace my sister has recently given her. Her jaw and her hands tremble. She wears a few sweaters one over another. She tells stories about the old days, the village, the big move to the city, the hard work, the things we did when we were little. She offers you apples and apologizes there is no coffee in the house.

The first time we watched football together, I tried to tell her what (I thought) was going on, to help her understand the rules of the game until she yelled – “Offside!” The referee also called an offside. She smiled and looked at me and said – “I told you”.

When I visit her on a football-free day, we talk about other things, like the extended family and all the intricate inner relationships that are never simple. We try to figure out the ongoing family drama over some property, and at some point she gets tired, disinterested and changes the subject. She wants to know what is going on with “me”. She worries I don’t eat enough. She is worried that she will die and will not see me get married and produce great-grandchildren. She is afraid to die during bad weather. “Cold winter is not a good time for funeral! We are less forgiving than.”

Her son, my father, is a poet. He had a stroke 3 years ago. He lost and than recovered his speaking, reading and writing abilities, but remains disappointed. – “I can’t even say “metaphor” let alone apply one!”

I returned to Skopje couple of years ago to start an art space with friends. That, and also, not to miss on the opportunity to be there when my father learns the alphabet again. I have been away for 13 years. I used to remember why I left Skopje, now I only remember why I am here.

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A friend of mine has a 4 year old. His uncle asked him some time ago “Why are you here, in this world? He replied: “To see my parents”.

You do, and then what?

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