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M. P. E. Martynenko studied philosophy and translation (from English and Italian), but did not find his fit at university. He lived for a year with monks. He woke up thirteen times in intensive care after hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic comas. Once, his coma lasted for several days. He may have even communicated with transcendental beings, but for that story he now asks for money or cigarettes. Martynenko has worked as a translator, editor, voice-over actor, vegan chocolate seller, lighting cable tester, server, bartender, subtitle writer, postal worker, and night doorman for a hotel. At present, he is studying acting.

reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

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Photo by Marius Krivičius

 

from the book “five minutes to the beginning of the world”

 

 

hole

Yes, I sometimes think that my grandfather was just fucking around with me. Before I was born, he planted a willow in the yard. When I was around five, I asked him why we bury the dead in the ground.

G: Their coffins are like boats. They use them to sail to their loved ones. They live underground.

Me: What do they do there?

G: They slowly push the trees up from below the earth.

My grandfather said
– that you can speak with animals if you repeat words in your head and loudly make noises similar to the ones the animals make: you bark, meow, try to warble
– that little people actually live in television sets
– that the vault of the sky is a covering beyond which there is endless light, and stars are holes in the cover.
When I asked him how those holes got there, he said that when you dream really hard, your dreams break holes into the cover.

– end of childhood –

I spend the night in the hospital by his death bed. He recalls his trials and tribulations, journeys, experiences, and doesn’t stop talking. But none of his stories have an ending. He stops suddenly in the middle of a sentence – the pause lasting for minutes at a time, and then a new story begins completely unrelated to the previous one. Yet he still always asks me if I went to feed the piglet. He was born so small, the runt of the litter, so he needs to be fed quite often, otherwise, he won’t live to see the light of day. At first, I tell him that we’re in the hospital and there’s no piglet here. Then I tell him I’ll go right away to feed him. When my grandfather asks for the last time, I tell him that I’m going to feed the piglet. Actually, I went to the bathroom and splashed my face with cold water. When I came back into the room, my grandfather was dead. That was one ending to all the stories.

– end of one life –

Now I have this question: was the thought that the piglet was unfed the only thing that kept him here? And if I had known this then… if I had to choose who will see the light of day – the piglet or my grandfather?… Later, mom told me that this piglet was the most painful memory of my grandfather’s childhood. That piglet really did not see the light of day.

But it was so important to me that this story would finish exactly in the way in which it didn’t finish. That the laws, not of the world, but of childhood would be in force, where everything is actually just and right.

In my dream, we’re walking and the world does not obey physical laws, but rather, the laws of childhood, and then I get this uncomfortable feeling… He turns to me and asks:

G: What’s wrong?

Me: Everything’s great. It’s just that I miss that willow that you pushed out for me…

G: (smiles)

– end of dream –

Because during his funeral we, loved ones, had to throw a handful of earth on his coffin. And because of a few stones, it sounded like knocking to me. And in the same way that we throw handfuls of earth onto the coffins of the dead, some of the living, and my grandfather too, throw a handful of sky down for us every day – that sky, the one that hides behind the covering, the childish one. And with my words I sometimes try to break a hole in the sky’s cover. And even if it doesn’t work, the most important thing, more important than anything, is that

the willow still grows.

 

 

eclipse

Some psychiatric hospitals in Lithuania look like what the Soviet Union forgot to take with it when it left.

In the morning, trees climb the hill. Evenings, they descend as if they have had enough of looking at everything. Sunlight and shadows create this journey of theirs. The psychiatrist says that my mind has many shadows. But I’m safe here, watched over by the trinity – Risperidone, Haloperidol, and the holy Zoloft.

Karolina says that she sees a spirit watching over me – it looks like a giant used condom. Jonas confessed that his totemic animal, his spiritual being, is Eminem. I had the same idea when I was fourteen. Natasha walked through the corridors with her hands raised, singing. The next day, she was tied to her bed because she knocked out the nurse’s front teeth.

In the ward, what you miss more than loved ones are electricity outlets and door handles. At mealtimes, they give us one butter knife to share among five people. Well, whoever could slice their veins open with a butter knife could do it with a spoon. There’s no toilet paper, and I wonder if anyone ever managed to harm themselves with that. Can you wipe your ass to death?

The shower has no lock – you can’t even jack-off decently. Though I told my psychiatrist I tried to jack-off and it didn’t work. She told me that’s because of the antipsychotics. So I said I don’t feel shame for either attempting to jack-off or for the fact that it didn’t work. She said that’s because of the antipsychotics.

Antipsychotics are really good – they calm you down so well. I sleep like the dead. I sleep so well that I peed in my bed – twice. The nurse yelled at me as if I had done it on purpose. As if I had chosen that as some form of rebellion: “Fuck off, system! I’m not a part of you – I pee in my bed, after all!”

I pretend not to notice how Andrius pees himself as we talk. It’s quite simple once you get the hang of it. A voice from on high says to me: “Pee yourself! Pee yourself! Pee yourself!” Just like conversations in the office. I pretend that I don’t notice. After five minutes, I’m still talking to Andrius and I’m all wet with pee. I pretend that I don’t notice, but that’s a bit more difficult.

In the morning, trees climb the hill. Evenings, they descend as if they have had enough of looking at everything. Sunlight and shadows create this journey of theirs. The psychiatrist says that my mind has many shadows. Then you, my love, visit and bring me light. Where there is light, there is shadow. Now, I remember – the shadow is your most in-the-moment limb. It touches the earth with the speed of light. Or, more exactly, with the speed of darkness. Darkness is even faster. For, the first words were, “Let there be light!”, which means that darkness had reached the finish line first, the one beyond which we begin to exist. When your shadow falls on me, I take part in your moment with the speed of darkness. A human cannot touch more tenderly or more quickly than that. A shadow is as tender as meaninglessness itself.

In the morning, trees climb the hill. Evenings, they descend as if they have had enough of looking at everything. Sunlight and shadows create this journey of theirs. You gave me light, my love, you gave me shadows. The psychiatrist says that my mind had many shadows. But I’m safe here, watched over by the trinity – Risperidone, Haloperidol, and the holy Zoloft.

And sometimes, I sense this quiet question – how did they destroy all the shadows in my mind? And why, for the love of god, is it so dark in here?

 

 

animals

I said I was hungry. For the third time. So my father smacked me on the back with a metal ruler. Suddenly, I was full. My grandmother was a Nazi. She had two photographs by her bedside: Pope John Paul II and Adolf Hitler. I was a perfect copy of my other grandmother, who was Jewish. My Nazi grandmother whipped me with her rosary as if I were some spawn of hell. My father, my grandmother, and a few others gave me the gift of fear.

We often compare people to animals. We say, “Don’t be a pig!”; we say, “Sneaky as a weasel!” It’s strange because animals are incapable of evil. No pig ever hit me with a rosary. A human did that. The gift I have received – a fear of humans. Sometimes, I can’t even move – just a frightened animal.

In my darkest moments, I think of the sloth. Sometimes, when sloths fall from trees, they grab their own limbs thinking that they’re branches, then they fall and die. To hold onto the thought that you’re not a sloth can be comforting at times. But falling into darkness, I really do grab my own limbs and cry, “Write, you maggot, write!” And then I go splat on the ground. You see, I need another hand to grab me. But even more frightening than the fact that I will go splat on the ground and die is the fear that in stretching out my hand, there won’t be anybody there to grab me. That’s why I grab my own hand. I go splat. I lie on the ground and can’t get up, afraid of pain, tired of raising myself from the dead. Frozen in fear.

There are these red, velvet ticks. The males build homes out of stems of grasses and their own sperm. I tried to do the same, but my roommate called the exorcist. So I’m single, frozen in fear of exorcists.

Male giraffes sometimes come up to females and kick them in the rear. The females then wet themselves, and the males smell the urine. That’s how they can tell if they can successfully impregnate a female. Sometimes, I kick my days in the same way. I want to know if they can give birth to something. But they don’t pee on the ground. I can’t smell anything. I freeze in my tracks out of fear of seeing my barren days. I can’t move out of fear.

The jackdaw can only focus its vision on moving objects – on what it can hunt, or on what can hunt it. Sometimes, I’m frozen by the fear that certain memories will hunt me. I can’t move out of fear.

The life of a hummingbird lasts for a year. In the fluttering of its wings, it traces the symbol for infinity. With our tongues and lips, our vocal cords, we trace the words “love, eternity, god”…

Humans gave me the gift of fear.

You know… it seems to me that hummingbirds have no fear.

You know, it seems…

I just moved.

 

 

how you’ve grown ! (?)

I’m over twenty. I’ve ascended into my third decade. I can’t believe it myself.

As a child, there were many things I couldn’t do. Now, I can eat ice cream for dinner. Except that now I understand that I only do that because of my inability to solve my psychological problems. But we don’t need the problems here, it’s enough that I don’t have my other half.

Earlier, I couldn’t make an appointment for myself for a doctor’s visit. My mother took care of all the medical issues. Now, I don’t make an appointment with the doctor because I just believe that I won’t croak. Yet, more and more often, when I feel a new pain in my body it seems that it won’t go away.

When I was a child, if I heard a noise at night I would become frightened that it’s a monster. Now, when I hear a strange noise, I’m afraid that’s it’s a new bill.

As a child, I used to think that I could be anything I want to be. Now, I just want to find a job in which I won’t be tortured by the desire to croak. When people used to ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I thought they where taking an interest in me. Now, when I ask children the same, I hope they will show me the way.

Now, I eat even the bruised part of the banana because, fuck, it’s my banana and I paid money for it. Earlier, my mom used to say, “He acts like that because he’s tired/sleep deprived/hungry/over-excited…” But my mom hasn’t said that for a while now. Without those excuses, people think that I’m just a retard or a boor.

The closer I come to a “mature age”, the more I hope to find someone more mature than myself who could take care of all kinds of mature things in my life. It’s quite nice to think that the feeling of “I can barely take care of my own shit” is temporary. This thought, even if temporary, could be more contemporary, because it’s been going on for three years now.

These days are strange. Half my friends are getting hitched, and the other half are too drunk to find their phones. And the older I get, the earlier an older age begins. Children have started referring to me as “uncle” instead of “boy”.  Now, I think of running away more than I did as a child. Mom asks me what I want for my birthday, and I tell her what I want most is to pay off my debts.

In childhood, she would say, “Go to your room and think about what you did…” Now, it seems to me that this was training for being a grown-up. In the year 2000, I really wanted to be a grown-up. In 2017, I would like to stage my own death and collect the insurance money.

I’ve ascended into my third decade, and people say to me, “These are your golden years.” Tonight, I’m stuck in Aéroport Paris Beauvais Tillé. The airport closes for the night. My next flight is in twenty hours. It’s a hundred kilometers to Paris. I have no money and no place to stay. It’s winter. I spend the night wandering through the closest town. “Your golden years,” I repeat to myself as I curl up in a McDonald’s tunnel slide for children so as not to freeze. “Your golden years.” I whisper these words into my own ears as I pull a half-eaten sandwich out of the trash bin.

In childhood, I didn’t think about time. As I grew older, I still didn’t think about time. I thought about lack. And about time past, like some kind of Proust.

Now, it seems to me that the time that is given us is either entirely golden, or entirely shitty and pulled out of a trash bin. If I can’t even feel thankful for the little things pulled out of a trash bin, then I really am a retard and a boor who should not be excused by even my own mom.

 

 

reason to be

I have woken up thirteen times in intensive care after a diabetic coma. On three occasions, the doctor said I should not be alive. I have scars on my brain, problems with long-term memory. I burned my house cooking up fireworks – saving myself by accident. I have scars on my hands. During office conversations, I hide them under my clothing.

After so much time spent in hospital wards, a question arises: is there some reason for my being that hides behind my existence?

In childhood, I thought that the best job would be a character in a fairy tale. Each character had a clear reason for being that was hidden behind his existence. I wanted to know mine.

I read the Bible, Upanishads, Vedanta, Koran, sutras and the Talmud. Sometimes, it seems that everything is in Allah’s hands, but his hands are in Buddha’s consciousness, while the Buddha’s consciousness is dreamt by Brahma, whose dreams are sent by Yahweh. And sometimes, I fuckin’want to send them all out to pasture. But that too, is a prayer.

Sometimes, it seems to me that the first word spoken by a human being was “fuck!” Because it’s quite painful to come from nothing and to begin to exist. Each time I woke from a coma, it seemed that every cell in my body was called into existence and answered this call with pain – as if there were no better way to prove their existence.

Was there some reason for being that was hiding behind the first human’s existence? His first word was a curse. He is our ancestor, my ancestor. And my ancestor said many words after that first one, never knowing which one would be his last. He saw fire and was afraid. I understand him. He took what was left after the fire and drew on the walls of the cave. Because he, too, needed to find out the reason for his being. Or maybe not so much for himself as for those who came after.

Years later, the fire drew itself on my skin. I took what was left after the fire and began to write. Because this life is not a fairy tale and we’re not characters in it. Because we don’t know the reasons for most things, so we try to create them.

It’s entirely conceivable that there is no reason hiding behind our existence. But there is at least one in front of it. Like ancient drawings on cave walls.

We just live. And with our lives we will determine the last word of the last human being. And I think that it will be a simple

“thanks.

 

 

 

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

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