Trafika Europe 5 - Slovenian Interlude

her back on them, so she wouldn’t have to see them dance.


Years before, my mother – then a young pedagogy student from Ljubljana – had arrived in the city of Pula just before ten in the evening. Her head was glued to the window of the little green train, watching with increasing excitement as the thousands of lights that first glittered in the distance, grew larger and closer and then morphed into shapes. She knew that, somewhere in the midst of those lights, on Platform 2 of the Pula train station, Lieutenant Borojević awaited her, dressed in his army uniform and carrying a single red rose, which he tossed nervously from one hand to the other, leaving tiny thorn-tracks in his palms. It was like this every time, and part of her felt that it would be better if he didn’t bring her a rose – after all, it cost enough to earn her love: Lieutenant Borojević had to buy time off-duty with a litre of grape schnapps for Captain Muzirović, so he could remain with her until 4am, when the green train returned to Ljubljana. But Borojević was a gentleman, and thought it only appropriate that an officer of the Yugoslav People’s Army welcome his ‘Slovenian girl’ with a rose, and then take her to the ‘Hungarian café’ for cake and lemonade, hold her hand as they walked along First of May Street and across the forum, kiss her cheeks at half past three and wish her a safe journey home. Who


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