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  • Writer's pictureKristina Lang

"Love in New York"/"Ljubav u New Yorku"

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

Sometime in 1992, Don Branko Sbutega published a short story, controversial both in its content and in that it was written by a priest. Don Branko was called out and questioned a lot about this story and in interviews there was often a question of whether the story was autobiographical. Don Branko had no problem admitting that it was and standing behind his story, so I see no reason why I shouldn't do the same, even 15 years after his death and almost 30 years since it was written.

In the story "Love in New York", Don Branko describes his first encounter with New York, the excitement and thrill of this magical and impressive city:


"Yes, everything just as you imagine, how they talk, how the movies demonstrate, everything was really part of one myth, dream or assumption you doubt to be true, and which you are prone to the assumption that it is all a collective conspiracy of exaggeration, like many others which life has exposed."


“Metropolitan, Frick's Collection, Gaugenheim, St. Patrick's, Broadway, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Radio City, which was, that same day, celebrating, I guess, fifty years of establishment, and all of Hollywood and other greats passed by me at the grand gala reception. And so, four wonderful, unreal days, in an unreal and fairytale atmosphere."


On the fifth day the excitement disappeared, and Don Branko experienced and later described the loneliness that caused his despair. Such a feeling of despair is something that is present for at least a little while in many people who find themselves alone in a big city.


"I felt alone amongst all these miracles, alone to the point of pain, to the point of unconsciousness, completely helplessly alone. I was hungry and wanted to share a restaurant table with someone, anyone. I had no one to invite.”


“There was despair within me and a terrible feeling that no one loves me, that I am indifferent, non-existent, except as a drop of a river that just happens to flow, to wear out the asphalt avenues. I forgot about Rembrandt in the Metropolitan, the silver at Tiffany's, I didn't care about Turner's oils at Frick's and the skaters at the Rockefeller Center plateau. I was alone and unloved from despair.”


Despair led Don Branko to the temptation to take drugs and he describes the whole ordeal in detail.


"I pulled on my priest's collar, wrapped the scarf, sighed so mournfully, and not without shame, or rather a certain embarrassment, I quickened my pace."

“I noticed a black woman next to an ugly ground floor house made of red bricks. I encouraged myself, approached and asked quite uncertainly about mescaline. "

"As if we had known each other for a long time, somehow intimate, family and perfect, she simply took my hand, took out a bag of drugs, pushed back my five-dollar bill, closed her fist with her hand and almost priestly whispered, reproachfully and maternally: “Don't try when you haven't already. It's not healthy for a man, it's a shame to be poisoned by it. There are smarter things in life. Do not, please!

"And I cried until I arrived, and I hated myself for my stupid reaction and the money I received back. For perhaps no one has ever loved me so unreasonably and truly in my life, and will not, my foolish honour of the human river on New York's winter evening. I was suspicious and distrustful, not only towards people but also towards God at that moment.”


A few months after the story was published and after I included it in my book of Don Branko's stories, Don Branko invited me to dinner. On that occasion, I told him: "Don Branko, it was very brave to publish this story."

With a smile he said, “A friend told me ‘After this you’ll never become a bishop.’ I told him, ‘How can you tell me that when you know I don't want that.’”

He added: “If I were a bishop, I wouldn't be sitting with you like this tonight. After all, how many names of bishops do you know?


Love,

Kristina

Friday, December 31st, 2021




“Ljubav u New Yorku”


Negdje tokom 1992. godine Don Branko Sbutega objavio je jednu, po mnogo čemu kontroverznu priču, kako svojim sadržajem, tako i činjenicom da ju je napisao svećenik. Don Branka su puno prozivali i preispitivali vezano uz tu priču i često je bilo pitanje u intervijuima da li je priča autobiografska. Don Branko nije imao nikakav problem da kaže da jeste te da stane iza svoje price, pa ne vidim razloga da nebih to mogla učiniti i ja, čak 15 godina nakon njegove smrti i gotovo 30 godina od kako je napisana.

U priči “Ljubav u New Yorku” don Branko opisuje svoj prvi susret sa New Yorkom, ushićenje i uzbuđenje tim čarobnim i impresivnim gradom:


“Da, baš sve kako zamišljaš, kako pričaju, kako filmovi svjedoče, sve je zaista bio dio jednog mita, sna ili pretpostavke za koje sumnjaš da su istiniti i sklon si pretpostavci jedne kolektivne zavjere pretjerivanja, poput mnogih drugih koje je život raskrinkao.”

“Metropolitan, Frickova kolekcija, Gaugenheim, Sveti Patrick, Broadway, Greenwich Village, Kineska četvrt, Radio City, koji je upravo toga dana proslavljao valjda pedeset godina ustanovljenja i pored mene su prolazile sve holivudske i druge veličine na veliko gala primanje. I tako četiri divna, nestvarna dana, u ozračju nestvarnog i bajkovitog.”


Peti dan ushit je nestao i Don Branko je doživio i kasnije opisao osamljenost koja je prouzročila njegov očaj. Takav osjećaj očaja nije nešto što izneneđuje i prisutan je na neko vrijeme u mnogim ljudima koji su se našli sami u nekom velikom gradu.

Osjetih se sam među svim tim čudima, sam do boli, do besvijesti, sam potpuno bespomoćno. Bio sam gladan i želio sam dijeliti stol u restoranu s nekim, bilo s kim. Nisam imao koga pozvati.”


U meni je bio očaj i strašno osjećanje da me nitko ne voli, da sam idiferentan, nepostojeći, osim kao kap rijeke koja teče tek tako, da bi izlizala asfaltne avenije. Zaboravio sam Rembrandta u Meropolitanu, srebro kod Tiffanyja, bilo mi je svejedno za Turnerova ulja kod Fricka i za klizače na platou Rockefeller centra. Ja sam bio sam i nevoljan od očaja.”


Očaj je don Branka doveo u iskušenje da uzme drogu i on opisuje detaljno čitavo iskušenje.


Uvukoh svećenički kolar, omotah šal, ucvilih se onako ucviljen, i ne bez stida, bolje reći stanovitog snebivanja, ubrzah korak.”


“Primijetih pored jedne ružne prizemne kućice od crvenih cigli jednu ženu, crnkinju. Okuražih se, priđoh i prilično nesigurno upitah za meskalin.”


“Kao da se znamo odavno, nekako intimno, obiteljski i savršeno jednostavno uze me za ruku, izvadi iz nje kesicu s drogom, gurnu natrag novčanicu od pet dolara, zaklopi mi svojom rukom šaku i gotovo svećenički prijekorno i majčinski blago prošapta: “Nemoj probati kad već nisi. Nije to zdravo za čovjeka, šteta se tim trovati. Ima u životu pametnijih stvari. Nemoj, molim te! “


“I plakao sam sve dok ne stigoh i mrzio sam sebe zbog glupave reakcije i vraćenog novca koji mehanički primih. Jer možda me nikada nitko toliko bezrazložno i istinito nije volio u životu, i neće, mene budalastu čest ljudske rijeke u njujorškoj zimskoj večeri. Mene sumnjičavog i nepovjerljivog, ne samo prema ljudima nego i prema Bogu u tom trenutku.”


Nekoliko mjeseci nakon sto je priča objavljena i nakon što sam ju uvrstila u svoju knjigu Don Brankovih prica, Don Branko me pozvao na večeru. Tom sam mu prilikom rekla: “Don Branko, bilo je vrlo hrabro objaviti tu priču.”

Nasmijao se uz riječi: “Jedan mi je prijatelj rekao ‘Nakon ovog nikad nećeš postat’ biskup.’ Odgovorio sam mu ‘Kako mi to možeš reći kad znaš da ne želim.’”

I još je dodao: “Da sam biskup nebih večeras sa vama ovako sjedio. Uostalom, koliko imena biskupa znate?”


S ljubavlju,

Kristina


Petak, 31. prosinca 2021.

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