I confess I didn’t want to meet her. I had to. It was business. So I told myself. Strictly business. I kept telling myself. Then I saw her. Minutes past. I was staring. She didn’t mind.
She wasn’t beautiful. Not in the conventional way anyway. There was a serenity about her which was unerving. I knew her history. Or so I thought. People said she was dangerous. You watch your back. Don’t let her get too close. It was good advice. They didn’t know her though. She wasn’t dangerous. Well, most of the time.
Its been a month since we met. I look around. We are on a hill. I know I am going to miss her. It is the same feeling you get when you are on a beach staring at the sea. The sun is coming down on us. I have to say good bye. I don’t want to say goodbye. We shared. I seen her shades. I know what makes her cry and sometimes when I try really hard I swear I seen her smile.
I tell her I am going to miss her. She stares back without a word. I don’t know what she’s thinking. It doesn’t matter. She knows I have come to love her. Its getting dark now. I tell her I have to go now. No answer. I turn my back on her. I walk down the hill. I try not to look back.
My heart cracks. My lips part. I whisper her name… Pristina.
Today, a guy was shot behind my hotel.
I was lying in bed when I heard a pop. It was dull like a muffled fire cracker. Suddenly, there was a cry. The cry became a wail. I quickly got up.
I opened the curtain. Right at the end of the alley, a large man with broad shoulders and curly hair was clutching his left thigh. He was barely supported by a friend. Two other men were being fended off. From my vantage point, the injured man seems to be in tremendous pain. Seconds later, a car pulls up and he is whisked away. I pray it is to a hospital. Shortly after, the two aggressors leave.
Five minutes goes by. The police arrive. Someone must have called them. They cordon off the area and start to question people. A crowd begins to gather. The narrow alley becomes a crime scene.
Just when I was about to write that Pristina was as safe as can be, it strikes me how arrogant that statement is. Looking around at a skyline devoid of skyscrapers, you tend to forget that Pristina is still a city. Like most cities, there is a dark underbelly. The yellow police line is a coarse reminder to that.
I close the curtain.
Damn moon! Can you be less beautiful?
I was waiting for the shutter to snap when a light flashed. I ignored it. I was excited. This is going to be a good shot. Then I was blinded again. This time a shout followed. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck rising. It was dark. I was alone. I looked up and a fierce Albanian face looked back. I know 2 words in Albanian. Neither of which is going to help here. So, I gestured the photo snap action. You know the one where you use your index and thumb forming an inverted C. Fortunately it was universally understood.
Hm, time to pack up. One last shot. Naturally that turned to another 4 more.
Tyres skidded to my left. 4 chaps in a Golf GTI met my eyes with the sort of look only 4 guys in a compact can give you. The driver shouted something. I didn’t stick around to find out what that was. I turned my back and strode off. Why can’t I be left alone? I looked up. That was a mistake. Damn moon! Stop being so beautiful. Stop tormenting me. One last shot. That won’t hurt…
I should have just packed up and gone when I saw the 3 girls walking down the pathway. Stupid ‘need’ to be a perfectionist. Only started to pack when the laugh was close. By then, they were less than 10 feet away. Laughter became a suppressed cry. You guessed it. They saw me. Or rather, they saw a potential serial killer. I can’t blame them. It was dark where I was standing and I wasn’t wearing my cape.
Damn it! Now, I can’t shoot the broken window to my left with its brilliant backlight. Reluctantly, I started folding my tripod. The source of my discomfort were in deep discussion whether to pass me or not. One was openly staring at me with her hands on her hips, head tilted forward and it wouldn’t surprise me if her mouth was agape. After much debate, the one with the superior physique boldly stepped forward. She walked pass with tentative side glances. Her body language signaling that she was going to bolt screaming if I so much twitch in her direction.
Once again I gestured with my trusty index finger and thumb while mumbling out the word photography. I don’t think they heard me but the trailing girl did stop. She looked at me inquisitively. I repeated the word. Louder this time. She smiled. The tension dissipated. The others relaxed. Without another word, they ran off giggling and teasing each other. Girls! Deep inside, they never left primary school. I shouldered my tripod and didn’t look back. Neither did I look up. Not this time. Damn moon! Always getting me trouble.