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Passe-Temps. Story of One Life. III

Yana Malysheva-Jones


We managed to get sick, Max and I. Both in our own ways — me in some weird allergic kind of virus reaction to something, while Max was sick for two days in a row, probably after our pork shashlik (barbequed meat) session on the trip, but I actually believe it was milk he had later.

This reminded me of a story from my childhood when I was around the same age as Max now, but one year older. So I was four. I got poisoned with a watermelon that my mum bought from our local Siberian market — which is a normal thing to do now, but back then in 1990 watermelons in Siberia were a real event that people were looking forward to for a whole year trying to get the best ones so they can have those sweet red memories for the year ahead. Best ones were believed to be bought in late August-early September which my mum did. And still my little body reacted in such a strong way that the same night as I ate the watermelon, my mum was holding me in her hands and I was barely breathing. I can’t imagine what she went through, despite all the difficulties in our current relationship. We spent the next month in a hospital, me and mum. One of her favourite stories is when I was telling nurses there trying to inject my pale tiny veins that they were not very good at their job. It apparently made them all laugh and have me as their favourite so they would bring me empty cardboard boxes of imported (really rare stuff back then!) medicine as presents. I was happy. So I do know what it is to be happy with simple things, don’t I?

For a very long time after the incident my mum saw nothing but rotten yellow mash inside watermelons. That’s what her fear looked like.

Last night I had a dream in which I saw a massive black tarantula. I remember I wasn’t scared of it, more unsettled and intrigued. Somebody — I think it was actually a friend of mine — asked me to look after it. The insect was trying to escape all the time so in the end I had to cover her living space — a transparent glass box with sand — with another layer of flat glass. I remember feeling — no way this tarantula should get out. When in the morning I checked the meaning of the dream and its symbolism, it was as usual full of very controversial things, but one explanation struck me. All spiders are known to be symbols of patience and persistence, stamina in a way — as you can imagine a spider methodically carrying on with their task of weaving their web. While at the same time spiders can symbolise danger, fear, enemies and your own dark side. It said the interpretation is up to how you felt about your spider in your dream. Well, I felt almost curious and excited to watch it — that same feeling that you get when you see something so ugly and disgusting, so unimaginable that it’s difficult to take your eyes off it. Recently I’ve been constantly applying everything to my mental state of depression. So what can this dream say about it then? That I’m still so scared of what I am going through or I already passed a milestone and now I’m looking at my life situation more with curiosity and this weird twisted, almost gambling-like interest to see what this whole experience finally brings?

What differs that four-year-old girl teasing nurses in such a nonchalant way adoring her mum to bits from a thirty-four year old woman with a broken heart (by various people, including that same mum) I’m seeing now in the mirror? Probably the first one would cry over a scary dream of a black hairy spider while the other one is confident that rotten watermelons and their yellow mash is not the scariest thing that can happen to her. Rotten hearts and ill-minded people are.

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