TE21 Serbian Moments

The Pear Field (novel excerpt) Nana Ekvtimishvili Translated from Georgian by Elizabeth Heighway 2 Lela can’t remember when she first arrived at the school. She doesn’t know where she was born or to whom, who it was who gave her up or first brought her to Kerch Street. Tiniko knows nothing about Lela’s background either. There’s nothing she can tell Lela about her parents that might bring her some comfort. Tiniko must have pulled Lela’s file out a hundred times; all they know for sure is that Lela used to live at the children’s home near the old locomotive works and that when she was old enough for school they brought her here. That is the sum total of Lela’s biography. Sometimes Lela tries to remember the children’s home. She can just about recall a woman sitting at a piano, a New Year’s party, a cone-shaped hat on her head made from spotted paper with tinsel stuck on and held in place by a thick rubber band under her chin. Sometimes she wonders whether the woman at the piano and the hat with the spots ever existed. Every time Lela walks in through the school gates a familiar smell hits her. The closer she gets to the dormitory block, the stronger it becomes, and she can feel the school pulling her 195

Nana Ekvtimishvili

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