When I was little, I didn’t have records, I had cassettes. One of those that got most play time was Od šanka do šanka (“From Bar to Bar”) by Andrej Šifrer.
He is a Slovenian singer/songwriter even though the songs on this album are in Croatian language (in order to reach other republics of Yugoslavia beyond Slovenia, no doubt). We all knew Croatian, or what was called Serbo-Croatian at the time, so I tried writing down lyrics and singing along with him.
The song below, which I have just translated into English, was written for his wife by the name of Marija. I loved to sing the chorus as Maaaaanja instead, pretending he was singing it for me.
This summer I had a drink with a friend in the centre of my hometown, where I return only twice every year since moving to Tuscany: once in winter, once in summer. During the conversation she lowered her voice and said: “Don’t turn now but look who is coming! He and his wife divorced this year, did you know that?”
by Andrej Šifrer
Translated by Manja Maksimovič
Somewhere close to us
sometimes a voice can be heard
as if the Earth
is calling us to work.
When I plough the field
I’m thinking of sowing
and when I sow
I’m getting ready for harvest.
We had known before
what would happen and what not
but I can see the face
from which the darkness drinks the tears.
Believe the morning after a night
believe the Earth and its might
we are the grain
out of which the world is growing.
Don’t be afraid of the days before us
don’t be afraid of the dumb and the evil
the light is with us
we are better than them.
Marija, one Marija
arranges life out of tiny pebbles from our island.
Marija, one Marija
in the mirror of my parks, of my pride.
Those who know everything
and those who know nothing
those are the dangerous ones.
Yet as I go through my day
I’m more and more convinced
that they are
one and the same.
Featured photo: Yesterday, from the roof. Photo: MM