Pavel Kovac is going to America (part three)

The old man would sometimes join them, causing a serious shortage of oxygen in the room. On those days Pavel had to squeeze very close to Milan. Their legs would entwine like knobbed branches on young trees. Vicarious and springy. Pavel’s insides moved in unison with the throbbing in his chest. Pearls of breath spotted his upper lip.

Milan’s grandfather translated some of the words for them. Before the war he had studied languages in Prague. He told them that the language is called English and spoken in America. Pavel did not understand what he meant. But the old man insisted on teaching them a few words. Milan later explained that they must learn so they can look for work when they are in America. Milan could already speak a few short sentences. It was the first time Pavel learnt that he was going to America with Milan. He dared not to ask when.

This is how they came by books. The old man left them in the room. Some of them were beautiful, old and worn with thin pages and scratched covers. All in English. Pavel smoothed the palm of his hand over the covers. He wondered how often Milan’s hands touched them.

Pavel wanted to learn English. He wanted to understand the words coming from the radio and lyrics of songs. He wanted to know why Milan often got angry when he was trying to explain to him what communist propaganda is and what it means to be kept blind and deaf, ignorant. But he could not concentrate. He tried his best. Copying English words and repeating them after Milan. Trying to follow meanings Milan was explaining. Until his lungs become full of Milan’s smell and all he could hear were throbbing’s in the depths of his belly. Insistent and unyielding.

Spring slowly turned into an early summer. The long field behind their school would soon be turned into the podium for the school’s annual celebration. All the teachers and some important district party officials will attend. The end of another school year.

Pavel was worried. About his unfinished school work and about the long summer holidays. He did not have any idea how to continue visiting Milan once school was over. And he was worried that his father would send him to one of those youth summer camps where voluntary physical labour and Marxism theories are practised daily. Like he tried to practice daily English words Milan gave him. And he could not remember them. All he could remember was the chiselled line of Milan’s jaw and sounds of his voice. Like ripples of water cascading over cobblestones.

On some days, Pavel would hide behind the outer walls of his mother’s studio and cry until his eyes become red and swollen. He wished to lie down on the warm concrete and close his eyes. Until he dissolved into the endless blue sky bathed in sunshine.

In the last weeks of school Milan was ecstatic. His body was in constant motion, rippled with energy. Flood waters bursting river banks. He was absent from most classes and told Pavel he was finished with school. And with this place. ‘We are as good as gone my little pal’ he would often say.

Milan never explained to Pavel how they were going to reach America. He only spoke about shiny cars and the big houses people have over there. And shops full of stuff you can buy any time you want. Music you can listen to whenever you want. On those afternoons when Milan’s hands and mouth painted pictures of their new life in America, Pavel forgot all about his inability to memorize English words, his father, and his school. He even forgot about the dreaded school holidays and voluntary youth labour camps. He simply hugged his knees and watched.

With the end of school approaching fast it was becoming harder to slip from the army youth meetings. The teacher was insistent on making sure that all of them were well trained for the annual display. And he was keeping an especially keen eye on Pavel. He had already arranged for the letter of invitation to reach Pavel’s father and wanted to make sure that Pavel would perform flawlessly and receive one of the highest rewards.

After that it would be easy to start conversation. With backing from such a man as Pavel’s father he might finally manage to move from the classroom to an officer’s job. It was not his fault that his own brother was adamant not to join the party even though he spent hours trying to make him see sense. To make him see that all he is achieving is ruining his own life and the life of others in the family. But you cannot talk to the man any more. All he would say was: ‘So you do not believe in all that crap yourself, all you are after is a cushy job and an easy life!’ It was pointless. But it did bother him. He knew they were holding it against him that he cannot even convert his own brother. But now with this little boy, a sorry excuse for one to be sure, he just might have a breakthrough if he can make the boy’s father proud. Especially since rumours have it that his wife has locked herself into a room and hardly ever comes out. Sick apparently. And boy is no better either. All transparent and feminine looking. You almost wish to tie a ribbon to his hair. Or around his throat. It was a miracle he learnt to operate weapons so well.

Fourth and last part will be published tomorrow …


Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

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