“Tuesday, 11 October [p. 36]
I went out onto the small, low terrace of the house and looked out into the wide space beyond in the morning light. Yan and Oggy were playing badminton on the grass in the yard. I stuck my head out, had a good sniff, and took a few cautious steps before stopping again. Sandra once said that cats are very brave animals. I’d say that’s definitely true if we have to save our lives or, heaven forbid, if our mother Masha had to defend her kittens – me, Alyosha and Azra. But otherwise we’re careful not to go rushing into danger unnecessarily. What’s new to us has to be carefully probed and explored, that’s how we go about things. So that’s how I now approached the world outside – with caution. Sandra was always busy doing something, but I know she was also afraid I could wander off and get lost.
The huge sunlit expanse of Sarajanovo stretched out before me. It was not like the city, crammed full of tall buildings with hardly a scrap of space in between. Here there were wide open spaces that began right at the end of the yard, then came a boundary strip, another field, a stone wall, big trees like the walnut tree in the corner of Sandra and Kosta’s yard, and then tall poplars reaching up to the sky.
If I’m waxing lyrical a bit, that’s because I felt so inspired here today. That’s how Oggy sometimes writes in her diary, and that’s where I learnt it from, in secret.
When I first walked on the grass in the yard, not being used to it, I felt like I was walking barefoot on thorns. ‘Hey, look at Anya prancing,’ Oggy laughed as she bent down to pick up the shuttlecock, and then hit it to Yan with her racket.
‘A bit like you,’ Yan commented.
I was moving about very carefully – stiltedly but elegantly, Oggy called it – because I wasn’t used to walking round outside. The pads of my paws were sensitive because they had only ever walked on the carpets and armchairs in the flat before. I sampled all the smells, many of them were new to me. I also took in the sounds, I pricked up my ears and stood rooted to the ground. I must admit that the first loud noise made me turn tail and bolt back to the house. Sandra let out a wide-mouthed laugh that told me she was no longer afraid of me getting lost. We cats really attach ourselves to one place, and we like that place best and feel most secure there. But here in Sarajanovo, since I’m with my owners, I’m starting to feel a bit at home already. I walk through the yard, and a bit further, and then come back.
But what am I saying? It’d be better if I didn’t talk about myself – that’s how people come to think that we cats are egocentric – but instead described the area around Sandra and Kosta’s house with the broad sky above.
Firstly, the village looks very large and spread out. Oggy once said it’s made up of nine separate clusters of houses. To the south of the yard, in the distance, you can see a big mountain that’s wooded almost up to the peaks and from here looks dark blue. It’s called Mount Pelister. Down to the left, in the east, the ground falls away gradually until you come to a gorge. In front of the gorge there’s a group of houses, a little village. In front of the houses, to the west, there’s a small river. You can hear it from the front of our house, but I still haven’t seen it. Across the river there’s another part of the village with houses, and a bit further in that direction, after a gentle rise, the western mountain begins. Now, from afar, it looks slightly, ever so slightly yellowish. For me that mountain in the distance marks the edge of this region and the beginning of a different and unknown world.
Suddenly we heard a strange kind of squealing close by, from the walnut tree in the corner of the yard. Yan and Oggy turned to look, rackets in hand, and saw two squirrels. I saw them too – they had huge, raised, trembling tails, and they moved as fast as lightning. Yan and Oggy came running.
‘Squirrels!’ they cried.
This post is also available in: Macedonian