How I Transcended Trichinosis / Kako sam prehodao trihinelozu

Gordon Nuhanović

(Translated by Julienne Busić)

[Trichinosis, Lat. trichinosis, Serbian, trihinoza, German, Trichinose; a condition caused by worm-shaped bugs, and characterized by invasions into the tendons and, clinically, by gastrointestinal symptoms, fever, and eruptions on the head. Contracted by the ingestion of undercooked pork]

The name of the beauty shop was "Janja" (Little Lamb)—and though its name doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, it’s easy to remember and pronounce: Jan-ja. It’s just a hole in the wall, three by three meters, intended originally as a foyer where the tenants chatted. An agreement was made with the tenants, a few renovations took place, and, voila, a beauty salon! Janja. Two hair dryers, two shifts, no breaks.

The hairdresser, Janja, had small children at home. Her thoughts were always elsewhere, on dinner, clean clothes for the day. She was dead on her feet. Sometimes, for relaxation, she would visit with her customers: who was ill, who was going to be kicking the bucket any day now, whose children were ungrateful brats... Tragedy, tragedy. And it’s getting worse, Janja would say as you leafed through an old magazine. More and more customers are suffering from eruptions on the head, which is one of the sure symptoms. They pop up everywhere, any time—and that’s what is so terrifying. Sometimes they spread over the entire eye, if you please. Janja had the information firsthand—and all the women sitting under the adjustable hairdryers would today agree with Janja that it had arrived on my head.

I was taken to the head of the line for my cut. Janja isn’t one of those hairdressers who has the habit of expostulating out loud:—Oh, your head has such a strange shape—or: —Have you gone and cut your own hair since I saw you last?— or: —After I do you, I’ll have to go find some gypsy to sharpen up my scissors. —No, not at all. Janja takes care of every head, whether it be a big potato head or a tiny bird-sized noggin, whether perfectly round or oblong, inflated like a balloon, or pinched in places even the Almighty could not have anticipated. The shape of your head is your business and nobody else’s: that’s Janja’s motto. But if it is a man’s head, then only a mini-permanent would do. And that’s that. A mini permanent, Janja would say, is never out of fashion. Even in these diseased times—when heads assume the most unusual shapes—even in these cases, Janja recommends a mini permanent. Plus a Christmas discount. I’d have been crazy not to jump at that.

The problem is that after a few scissor snips—layer by layer—my face feels oddly exposed. This happens every time. So I rarely look up while my hair is being cut: it’s not a matter of principle, but the suspense about what I will see when I look in the mirror. I watch as the hair piles up on the floor. And listen to the scissors, click, click, click. And then come the bent scissors for the bangs, and then the trimmers. The end is near. I usually reject the gel: all in all, chances are that nobody will pay the slightest attention to you at Janja’s. Like I said: small children, dinner, and a big hairdresser’s heart.

But it wasn’t my day. —Oh, your hairline has receded again!—This time she couldn’t help herself. I was laid bare. Janja’s voice quivered. I had the feeling she was trying to remain calm and collected, and I was grateful to her for that. —And on your forehead area, in case you hadn’t noticed.... —she added politely, soulfully. She would have shown the same delicacy toward a husband who had slapped her in a moment of anger. She was accustomed to suffering while slaving over a hot stove.

Pay attention now: just at that moment, someone behind me slung a "Cosmo" magazine to the floor. But Janja didn’t want to cause a panic: —This ridge here—she said as calmly as possible as she touched my upper forehead with her index finger —This wasn’t here the last time you came—

Scuffling and shuffling ensued: it was the feet of the women underneath the hairdryers.

I wanted to tell her: —Well, that’s obvious, Miss Thing.—But I kept quiet. My eyes were fixed on the hair.

—The left cheek—Janja continued —Please look toward the mirror!—

It was a veritable bulge. You could see it with the naked eye!

Some people are narcissistic and love to stare at themselves in the mirror, right in front of the hairdresser, devour everything they think is special about their face in one greedy look. Types like this have a closer relationship with their hairdressers who, in return, turn a blind eye to new "developments" on their head! But, as a matter of fact, studies show that the face changes its appearance every day, several times. So big deal. All I wanted was to reap the benefits of the mini permanent Christmas special, and I wished she’d make it snappy.

—You think I’m imagining things—Janja tries to force my cooperation, holding the open scissors in one hand and the tweezers in the other. —It looks like something’s popped out at the temples, young man!—

—This ridge here—Janja rotates me around in the chair so that I am facing the women, and runs her finger over my cheekbones. —This ridge wasn’t here the last time I cut his hair.—She was addressing a certain woman under the hairdryer.


—Do you see what I see? I mean the swelling on the cheek...—

—Look, Janja, he’s completely asymmetrical—affirmed the woman maliciously, her head covered with huge rollers —like he’s picked up some disease.—

I knew they were exchanging looks with one another above my head. The hairdryers were "running on empty", since the other customers were already on their feet, heading toward the door, towels still wrapped around their heads.

—How long’s the incubation period?—asked a voice which was accustomed to quick and precise answers. —Can it be passed on in the air? Or by touch? Get him out, I don’t want to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a caved-in head!—

The woman began to lose control of her behavior, but it was clear she didn’t intend to leave with a wet head. And Janja, she wanted to return dignity to the profession: epidemics of trichinosis came and went, but customers remained! Or survived, if you will. Janja lowered her voice an entire octave.

—Have you eaten any raw meat?—she whispered in my ear. I knew she was trying to protect me. —I mean, any innards? You know as well as I they always throw in some raw meat from the draining sink when they slaughter the pigs, am I right? You can tell me!— she said in a confidential tone.

—Maybe some sausage? Right? You were eating some sausage?—interjected the woman with the future pompadour, looking for a sign of confirmation on my face.

—Look at him smirk, as though he doesn’t give a darn about all the other heads!—

Then things took a different turn: Janja took up a strand of my hair with two fingers, ready to snip off half of it, while her eyes skittered mournfully along the wall, quick as a spider. She rested her gaze for a moment on the crucifix hanging on the wall of the salon, and the message glued below it: Peace be to this house. And then, summoning her courage, sentenced my cowlick to death while at the same time, in her characteristic, drawn-out voice, sighed: God help us.

The situation seemed to have calmed down. Two matrons sat back down under the hairdryers, legs crossed. The sound of pages being turned could again be heard.

Janja got right to the point.

—Everyone asks why God would prohibit us from eating pork, especially since it’s so tasty, but nobody asks whether He might just want to subject us to a new temptation. To see how great our love is. Whether it has a price. If it does, then I think giving up pork because of a little bug in it means we don’t deserve to ever eat our fill again.—

Meanwhile, she clipped off another tuft of hair.

Then she moved back in order to regard the cut in its entirety, but something was flaming, blazing in her eyes.

—Just tell me this, does anyone want to give up his traditions? The French eat moldy cheese, there! Every holiday appetizer plate has moldy cheese on it. You think those fat oilmen from Texas would give up their bloody steaks because of some mad cow disease? I never!....—

She took up a hairdryer, holding it like she would a Colt 45.

—That’s the way our people are—she continued —They’re always looking for a reason to reject their heritage—Janja warned before the hairdryer drowned her out. The poor thing. She was filled with what under different conditions would be characterized as "civil courage".

And then, between the revolutions of the hairdryer, I heard her words rotating around my head, as though they were being delivered by a doomed soul from the highest peak of some holy mount.

—...Don’t stop....Don’t give up pork....You’ll always get a discount here...and I’ll always take you ahead of the line...just let me know if you don’t want a mini permanent, it’s OK...someday we’ll find a haircut that does justice to your’ll never get bald...I guarantee you...but don’t give it up, keep on eating...just like before...God sees everything...suffering is what makes men heroes....—And so she went, until the last swipe of the comb.

I have to admit that the mini permanent was first class. Janja refused to charge me. She lacked the words to express what I had at that moment represented to her. Agitated, she moved into the corner and wiped her hands with a towel. She was having a tough time of it. As I left the salon, the two women from under the hairdryers were standing quietly, and Janja’s scissors were clicking behind me, in perfect rhythm with my steps. Then I realized that some kinds of love could never die. Q

[Trihineloza, lat. richinosis, srp. trihinoza, njem. Trichinose, oboljenje izazvano ličinkama obloga crva, obilježeno invazijom poprečnoprugastih mišića, klinički je karakterizirano gastrointestinalnim simptomima, potom i vrućicom te, između ostalog, otocima glave. Prenosi se uživanjem nedovoljno kuhanog mesa svinje.]

Frizeraj "Janja" ime koje ne obćeava, ali se brzo pamti i lako izgovara: Ja-nja. Uistinu običan boks u prizemlju zgrade, tri sa tri, predviđen za društvene aktivnosti. Jedna nagodba sa stanarima, jedna pregradnja, jedna frizerka. Janja. I to pod dvije haube u dvije smjene, bez pauze.

Frizerku Janju kod kuće čekaju sitna djeca. Misli joj se grupiraju oko zaprške i čistog veša za tekući dan. Pada s nogu. Ponekad, relaksacije radi, Janja se jako zabrine za svoje mušterije: tko je obolio, kome nema spasa, čija su djeca nezahvalna... Tragedija, tragedija. I bit će još i gore, uvjerit će vas Janja, jer sve je više mušterija s otocima glave, jednim od sigurnih simptoma. Ne biraju gdje i kada će niknuti i to je ono što djeluje strašno a katkada se spuštaju preko cijeloga oka, bez pardona. Janja barata informacijama iz prve ruke: da je stvar došla do glave s Janjom bi se danas složile sve žene pod raspoloživim haubama.

Ali Janja nije od onih frizerki koje će glasno uzviknuti: 'O, taj vaš nezahvalni oblik glave', ili: 'Jeste li se u međuvremenu možda sami šišali' ili 'Poslije vas morat ću tražiti Cigane da mi naoštre škare'. Ništa od toga: Janja ordinira po svačijoj glavi, bila ona globura ili ptičji sićušna, bila pravilna ili kabasta, širila se ona poput helija ili se sušavala ondje gdje to Tvorac nije predvidio. Oblik glave privatna je stvar onoga tko je nosi to je Janjino objašnjenje. Ali, ako je glava muška, onda je to minival! I točka.Minival, reći će Janja, nikada ne izlazi iz mode. Čak i u ovo bolesno vrijeme kad glave zadobivaju nevjerojatne oblike čak i u takvim izvanrednim okolnostima Janja preporučuje minival. S božićnim popustom. Bio bih lud kada ga ne bih iskoristio. Moj je problem što već nakon nekoliko prvih zahvata žkarama počinjem osjećati čudnu izloženost vlastitog lica. I to se uvijek ponavlja. Stoga nerado dižem pogled dok se šišam; nije stvar u principu, nego u neizvjesnosti u vezi s onim što bih mogao zatei preko puta, u ogledalu. Pasivno pratim gomilanje kose na podu. I osluškujem škarice: cak-cak-cak. Zatim dolaze zakrivljene škarice za šiške, poslije njih na redu je trimer i u toj fazi kraj je već sasvim blizu. Kod "Janje" postoje velike šanse da čovjek prođe nezapaženo. Rekoh: sitna djeca, zaprška i veliko frizersko srce.

Ali to definitvno nije bio moj dan.

Pa ti... Janjin glas pretopio se u šapat Ti si otečen! Njezine izmoždene grudi kao da su iznenada oživjele pod radnom bluzom. Stala je sa šišanjem. Bio sam otkriven, nepomičan, ščepan, priklješten.

—Trihineloza— dodala je onako priprosto, po duši. Kao što je, vjerujem, kadra oprostiti mužu pokoji šamar u afektu.

U tom trenutku jedan se ženski časopis sklopio za mojim leđima. Nastupilo je komešanje: rad nogu pod haubama.

—Ovaj greben ovdje— jagodicom kažiprsta dotaknula je moju čeonu kost.

Ako se dobro sjećam, nisi ga imao na prošlome šišanju...

Želio sam joj rćei: Pa naravno, draga Janjo, naravno da ga nisam imao. Ali ostadoh nijem. Činjenica da sam otkriven posve me smlavila. Znao sam da će sada doći na red lijevi obraz, sljepoočnice i na koncu glava u totalu.

Lijevi obraz istisnula je Janja, samo sada nešto staloženije. Molim te, digni pogled prema ogledalu?

Siguran sam da postoje oni narcisi koji se obožavaju javno, pred frizerkama, prenemagati nad svojim izgledom u ogledalu, oni koji za vrijeme cijelog šišanja pogledom proždiru vlastito lice, spremni za razgovor o bilo kojoj temi. Takvi su vjerojatno prisniji s frizerkama koje im, zauzvrat, štošta progledaju kroz prste, pa čak i te nove momente na glavi!

I što sad, pitao sam se, hoću li uopće realizirati taj boži popust na minival?

—Misliš da izmišljam?— Janja me pokušavala privoliti na suradnju. U jednoj ruci drala je kare na gotovs, u drugoj moj uperak kojemu su curili zadnji trenuci.

Gospđoa pod haubom disala mi je za vrat.

—Hm, hm.

Njukala me.

Čujte, Janjo, sav je asimetričan otrovno je konstatirala gospođa s visoko postavljenim viklerima.

Shvatio sam da je i druga mušterija na nogama, doduše, u povlačenju prema izlazu s ručnikom oko glave.

—Kolika je inkubacija?— čuo sam taj glas koji je tražio brze i efikasne odgovore.

—Jel se epidemija prenosi pljuvačkom? Terajte ga van, zovite redarstvenike, ne želim na Ponoćku ići s uduplanom glavom!

Vladanje te gospođe sve je više izmicalo kontroli, ali jasno je bilo da neće tek tako izići napolje s mokrom glavom. Pomislio sam kako je krajnji čas da Janja počne misliti o dignitetu frizeraja: epidemije trihineloze dou i prou, a muterije ostaju. Ili opstaju, ako baš hoćete.

—Jesi jeo presno?— pokušala je Janja prijateljskim tonom. Recimo, od iznutrica? Znam da na svinjokolji vi mladi volite ćapnuti sirovo meso iz lavora, ha, jesam u pravu? gotovo da mi je tepala.

—Taj se sigurno natrpao nekom sumnjivom kobasicom— uskočila je gospođa s budućom frizurom na kat, tražeći neki trag priznanja na mome licu.

Stisnuo sam zube, odlučan da istrajem u borbi za božićni popust na minival.

Uslijedili su dugi trenuci neizvjesnosti. Haube su radile u prazno. Ubodi oštrih dlačica bez otpora su prodirali kroz moje otvorene pore. Uhvatio sam u ogledalu Janjin pogled kako se penje uza zid, brzo poput pauka, prema frizerskom raspelu. Unutarnji plameni jezici lizali su joj zjenice. Nešto krupno doga- đalo se iznad moje glave.

Janja je napokon progovorila.

—Danas se svi pitaju zato bi nam Bog htio zabraniti da jedemo svinju kad je tako fina, a nitko da se zapita ne stavlja li nas On možda time na novu kušnju? Da ispita koliko je stvarnovelika ta ljubav? Ima li ta ljubav cijenu? Ako ima cijenu, mislim, ako se odreknemo svinje samo zbog te liinke u njezinom mesu, onda ni ne zaslužujemo da se više ikada zasitimo!

Usput, trimerom mi je ujednačila zulufe.

Potom se malo odmakla, tek toliko da dobije bolji pregled situcije.

—Tko se, pitam ja vas, odrekao svoje tradicije?— Uzela je fen, kao Browing. Od žena pod haubama viže nisu dolazili nikakvi glasovi.

—Pa Francuzi jedu pljesnive sirove, eno, nema više božićne zakuske bez te odvratne plijesni! Zar stvarno mislite da su oni debeli naftaši iz Texasa odustali od krvavog bifteka samo zato što je tamo neka krava popizdila? Koješta...

—Ali, takav je naš narod—naglasila je Janja—samo čekaju razlog pa da se odreknu svojih korijena! Zatim ju je nadglasao fen.

Na mahove—kad bi elektromotor zatrokiraonjezine riječi izranjale su iz zvučne kulise poput jezgrovitih telegrafskih poruka.

—... nemoj odustati... ne odriči se onoga što voliš... kod mene ćeš uvijek imati popust... i uvijek preko reda... samo reci ako ne želi minival... jednog dana naći ćemo frizuru koja će pristajati tvojoj glavi... nikada nećeč oćelaviti... to ti jamčim... ali nipošto nemoj odustati... samo nastavi jesti... baš kao prije... Bog sve to vidi... na muci se poznaju junaci...

Priznajem da je ispao minival u majstorskoj klasi. Janja je odbila moj novac. Nije imala riječi kojima bi izrazila svoju građansku podršku onome što sam tog trenutka predstavljao za nju. Ganuta, povukla se u kut, i ondje dugo, dugo brisala ruke papirnim ubrusima. Dok sam izlazio iz frizeraja, one dvije sitne duše gnjezdile su se pod haubama, ali nije me bilo briga. Bio sam mlad i otkaen i nisam imao namjeru mijenjati frizeraj. Q