Years pass like turtles

31 January 2017


When Avram was a mere boy of seven––so the story goes––the Turks raided his father’s property and on the road encountered a small contingent from the court, accompanying the child on a walk. When they saw the Turks the escorts fled, leaving Avram and an old man who deftly staved off all the horsemen’s attacks with a long stick, until their leader hurled a spear that he had kept between his teeth, hidden in a piece of reed. Struck, the old man fell, but Avram, who had a stick of his own in his hand, swung it with all his might and caught the Turk by the boots. Yet for all the despair and hate behind the boy’s blow, it was not enough. The Turk only laughed and rode off, ordering the village to be burned down. Years passed like turtles, Avram Brankovich grew up, and the event was forgotten, for there were other battles to be fought, and Brankovich now led soldiers of his own, bearing a flag on his sleeve and a reed with a poisoned spear in his mouth. Once they came across an enemy spy traveling with his son, a mere boy, on the road, carrying only a stick and looking innocent enough. One of the soldiers recognized the old man, spurred his horse toward him, and tried to tie him up. But the old man defended himself so tenaciously with his stick that everyone thought there was a secret message rolled up in it. Then Brankovich withdrew the poisoned spear and killed the old man. At that same moment, the boy struck him with his own stick. He was barely seven years old and, truth be told, not with all the force of his hatred and love could he have harmed Brankovich. All the same, Brankovich laughed and fell as if he had been cut down dead.

Source: Milorad  Pavić, Dictionary of the Khazars: A lexicon novel in 100,000 words (Female edition). The dedication reads,

Here lies the reader

who will never open this book.

He is here forever dead.