6 May 1957
Belgrade, The Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia
After Breakfast and After My Second Walk of the Day
Dearest Colleague, Keen Observer, and Noble Friend,
I have received the letter of the fourth of the month with which you have kindly deigned to honor me. I shall take every care to give you an account of my life since we last spoke. I fear some of my abilities may be slipping. Am I getting older? Yesterday, after taking my breakfast at home, as you know, we returned to the small Turkish café near Knez Milosa*. Our regular waiter, who noted my absence, responded quite blankly to my statement, “Well, It’s good to be back this morning*”, which I uttered in flawless Turkish. Could it be that my Turkish is not as flawless as I have been led to believe? Was something wrong with my use of the infinitive form of the verb “to be”? I’ve been wracking my brain about this all morning. Did I speak in the Ottoman dialect instead of Ataturk’s modern revisions*?
Upon this I cannot dwell. I must speak of my walk. It is not that the birds were loud this morning; it is that they were everywhere. Glimpses of feathers were just beyond my peripheral vision yet sounds were so numerous, I could practically touch each one. Within layer upon layer of notes were volumes upon volumes of songs. Buried, deep within the music, I am certain, I heard the Picus Virdius* calling. I am either hearing the bird or the bird is hearing me. Is this possible? The repetitive nature of its call is much like percussive section from the Sarajevo Radio Symphony I have often enjoyed. Like the orchestra, I wonder; are the other birds protecting its sound? As with the orchestra, are we listening correctly? Perhaps these too are questions worth asking.
Until tomorrow, we must think on these things.
*Knez Milosa (Prince Milos) a street in Old Belgrade
*”Well, it’s good to be back this morning.” Approximate Turkish Translation Peki, bu sabah geri dönmek güzel
*Ottoman Turkish/Ataturk Reforms After the First World War, Turkish was no longer written in a modified Arabic script and began to be written in a Latin script. This is due largely to the influence of the Kemal Ataturk, the father of the modern Turkish state.
*Picus Viridius is the common European Woodpecker
*Sarajevo Radio Symphony (Philharmonic) one the oldest orchestras in the former Yugoslavia