Alla Velts

Страна : Чешская Республика


Я работаю в двух направлениях – фотографирую и пишу уже много лет. Эти два занятия в итоге переплетаются, и их нельзя так уж четко разделить.
Для меня нет ничего более увлекательного, чем наблюдать за людьми – для того, чтобы потом о них написать, или для того, чтобы показать их уникальность через фотографию. Красота повседневности, момента и эмоций – это то, что я стараюсь уловить и передать.


Country : Czech Republic





Heavy cloud (excerpt)


The wind moved small pieces of rubbish along the side of the stone house and the quiet rustle was like the whisper of rain. He caught hold of an almost-forgotten sensation of a blanket, heavy upon his body as he lay, of his room being dark while the rain whirred behind the curtain, of the feeling he had no need to go anywhere just yet and the privilege that gave him to close his eyes once again. This sweet sequence of sensations used to happen quite regularly when he was a child and he had grown to rather enjoy rain since those times. But there was no rain now – over the past few weeks there had only been a thick fog. It penetrated the houses and the mailboxes, the kitchen cupboards and even the early cups of coffee. There was neither sky nor earth to be seen, only silhouettes – of houses, of trees and of people. They appeared for a while like memories in a photo at the bottom of a developing tray – there just to dissolve in a milky shroud once again.


The streets smelled like a church – candles and cold stone. He saw four men on crutches and four profoundly imminent mothers on his ever so slow way to work. A small pickled cucumber, still intact but pitiful and faded, was resting on the pavement. A huge security guard in a burgundy red shirt was devouring a carrot in the doorway of a casino. A german shepherd appeared from around the corner carrying two sausages in its jaws. They were carefully wrapped in plastic so the dog could carry them home, while its owner, an old lady, minced along behind it with the rest of her shopping. Two men were keenly discussing a pompous old building with their mouths full, pointing at its most prominent parts with pointless triangles of pizza. That would do for today.


A man in a suit and oversized headphones was strolling through a long and empty arcade, singing aloud. Two timid pairs of black men socks were hanging on the window of an expensive hotel. A tram containing a kindergarten troop passed by – bobble hats all in a line, a seat for a child – as if the tram were going mushrooming before work. There was no end to this, just no end.


He couldn’t help but go over the day’s little events and rhymes in his mind before sleep. Why did he notice such trifles? What purpose did they serve? For him to tell someone? Those to whom he did try to tell his observations tended to drop off rather quickly, like those who failed to get his ferric irony despite its soft velvet lining. A terrible void filled him up after every first unappreciated joke. He grew disappointed and uncomfortable inside. The feeling was as unpleasant as, for instance, having an errant flake of fish stuck between your teeth. Or the skin of a red currant as it clings to the roof of your mouth. Or an insole that has slipped to the back of your heel – you can still walk but the toes are constantly running along the sole’s edge at the front. And that too is rather akin to how one’s tongue always gravitates towards the cavity a tooth left behind. Enough already.


He hadn’t had time to drink anything hot at home so he felt miserable the whole way to work. He stopped at a farmers’ market before turning into a side street to buy a little round cheesecake. It had a drop of apricot jam in the middle, at least. He hadn’t eaten a thing at home that day either. A young saleswoman, fresh and soft like a bun herself, poured him a cup of hot cocoa as a gift. The gesture was so unexpected, yet so timely, that his glasses got wet. But he was the kind of person who silently sneezes into the inside of his elbow and yawns inside-out with his mouth closed so she didn’t notice the humidity. And actually she didn’t need to.


He turned into a gateway and opened the door of his small workshop. In summer, he worked with the door open but now he had to plug carefully every cold threat to his orange warmth, and he only opened the window when he heard the sound of steps from outside. It looked so strange how their faces developed through the window in the fog. How they silently parted with their preciousness, as if he were a fortune teller or they were paying him a toll to pass. There was no need to speak – he knew what he had to do.


The thickset butcher would bring his steely smell of sanguinity. The boy bearing ice skates smelled of camomile soap. The seamstress with jolly eyes was imbued with the smell of fried onions. The fading beauty with a manicure set held on to the smell of cigarettes as well as a bad tooth. One old lady he didn’t know, with a hairdo floating above her head, appeared today. Her offering was a pair of sound old scissors, and she looked at him closely. He sat with his back to the window so that the sparkles from the grinding machine wouldn’t fly outside, yet he could feel her inquisitive eyes roam. She examined his shirt, his silver hair, his walking cane in the corner, a pile of books, a bunch of umbrellas hooked to the wall. He would pick up broken umbrellas, abandoned by irritated wet owners after big thunderstorms. He fixed them when he had no books left to get through and there was no one to be seen behind the window. Some of them got sold but most stayed with him for a long time. They missed the floods, so he would take them for a walk one by one. And he would intentionally leave the saddest of them in trams so someone might pick them up and they would get a chance to be open again.


He could judge the life outside his box room shop only by sound – snatches of conversations, the applause of children’s feet running, the customer doorbells, the sinister hum of invisible trams performing a lasting effort at a turn – an endlessly multiplied note as if from the edge of a thin glass as a wet finger ran around it. He almost never turned the radio on as he didn’t like to interrupt the music.


Out of habit, he continued to listen carefully even when he was at home, especially when he couldn’t fall asleep. There were times when he felt like sharing the night’s smells and sounds with someone else again, particularly in spring when the trees were blooming, but the longing would go away as quickly as the flowers. The moment he opened up a bit, he would always be accused of not being able to compromise or to express his emotions properly. And he would just want to sleep again – just read and sleep.


Every Friday night the street would explode with short waves of young laughter that reflected off the walls and melted into the distance. Every Saturday at dawn the whole block would be shaken by a tremendous glass thunder – the garbage truck emptying a container of bottles – and every time this happened he sat up in bed with fright. He would sit up in the same manner three more times in the week when an early plane flew low over the house to the airport just across the river. In his sleep at times like this, it felt like the whole street was falling, like everything was going to end. It felt like this strange dream was finally going to break and everything would return to its rightful place. The unbearably endless rasping of suitcases rolling on the pavement would pull him from his half-sleep again – tourists going back home with their pockets full of change and fog; taking with them the wet yellow leaves stuck to the wheels of their luggage. And then again his mouth would sweeten and he would take a little more sleep with him.

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