TE21 Serbian Moments
The Pear Field
‘No.’ Silence. ‘Do you remember Sergo?’
Lela hears the click as Irakli’s mother puts the phone down. Irakli replaces the receiver.
‘From school. He died.’
‘Shall we go?’ says Lela, and gets to her feet.
‘Oh, good Lord! What happened?’
‘Yep,’ says Irakli.
‘A car hit him.’
As they are leaving, Mzia appears and gives each of them a couple of slices of lobiani flat bread wrapped in newspaper so that the hot bean filling doesn’t burn their fingers. They walk down the stairs in silence. Their appetites have gone. Outside it’s a warm, sunny day. Venera’s son, Goderdzi, is washing his car in front of the entrance, flooding the yard with water. ‘So did she say this week or next week, or can’t you remember?’ asks Lela, jumping over a soapy rivulet. ‘I dunno.’ On their way back they bump into Marika. She’s only a few months older than Lela, although when they were little the age gap seemed much bigger. When they were about six, Marika used to have Lela round to play. There was one game in particular,whereMarikawouldtakeLela’sknickersoff, followed 207 Irakli hops over after her.
‘My God, the poor thing. How awful. How did it happen?’
‘He was out front in the road, walking along.’
‘Oh, the poor mite…’
More silence. Lela studies Irakli’s pale, pellucid skin, furrowed brow and downcast eyes.
‘Are you listening to your teachers and doing what you’re told?’
‘Good… Listen, Irakli, I’ve got to go. I need to get to work.’
‘Begood. Dowhat your teachers tell you. Anddon’t goout front.’
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