One of my first memories is the memory of death. I was two years old. I was standing next to a heavy two-and-a-half-meter high wooden gate at the end of the passage and slumped in a corner to watch Gaga being taken away. Gaga was a woman who lived in a part of the old German house where my grandmother and grandfather had moved in after the war. Several young men took her out on a stretcher… put her in the van and drove away. The gate was closed. In her will, Gaga left her part of the house to my grandmother. The walls were painted. Pacman was making a party.
If this is your first memory in life, all the deaths come as the continuation of the game. It bites off a piece by piece…, and you have no idea how many pieces there are in the advanced version of the game called life.
Pacman attacked me when I was just a few years older. My mom had her kidney pulled out. Her seven-year-old child stood next to her silently. Pacman bit another piece of me.
My mom came home. She was lying in bed for days. Žuća the parrot which we let out of the cage was sitting on her shoulder all day and making her company. Shortly after that, Žuća died because of the stress caused by Dad’s colleague’s unruly children kicking the cage. Pacman had a good meal that day. A part of me was gone.
He was still attacking me… and the game was never reset. The game was double or nothing. I wasn’t adept.
When I was not even 12 years old, my mom’s dad died. I loved him just like my mom. Pacman said: “I am winning, but you can get an extension of the game if you feed your grandfather last.” I agreed to the extra time. I swallowed Pacman and he has been biting me inside since then. I still don’t like the little orange bowl which I sometimes come across in the family home. I have fed my grandfather from it and got the extra time from it.
When I was 16, my dad’s sister died. Pacman said: “I am winning, but you have a challenge if you want to have another life. You’re going to be the last one who cuts your aunt’s hair.” Double or nothing. I was the last who cut my aunt’s hair.
When I was 20, the grandfather, whom I often mention as someone who has been married five times to four women, died. I got the opportunity to skip a level and avoid that Pacman and that is what I did. The grandfather was not my favorite one.
At the same time, Pacman told me over the phone that my elementary school crush was ill with brain cancer … but that by including some other players, he stays in the game.
Twenty years later – I didn’t have a spare life to give it to him.
At the age of 25, I got married for love, young and crazy, which does not necessarily go together because I am now less young but still crazy. When I got divorced at the age of 35, although it would mean a few extra lives as a reward, the big-tooth Pacman came following me everywhere where we used to go shopping, spending our summer vacation, drink coffee … to take a bite out of me every time and reduce the number of lives every time.
In this game I got a plane to fly over the levels… I was flying over them, but a lot of passengers were actually hidden dangers that were taking away the energy.
I have arrived at the Frankfurt airport from Malta and a vicious German Pacman met me at the terminal and said: “Entschuldigen Sie mir bitte, your mom will pass away, it’s just a matter of few hours. “Can I risk anything to skip this level?” I asked. “No, you’ve lost all possibilities …”
My mother died on April 2. At the age of 41, I yelled that I want my mom, but Pacman came and pressed the “mute” button.
That same year, my life partner number 2 appeared, a tough guy from the streets of Germany and Belgrade with soul, decided to move to the next level of the game, sit in a plane, use all backup points and go away from here. It was a one-seat airplane. Pacman was clapping his jaw and approaching me.
The game was now close to the end. The level of life was in the red.
There was some new energy. It cost a lot, I had to clench my teeth and risk and say: “Ok, Tanja, so that Pacman does not eat you now alive, clench your teeth and take all your energy. Bet it all. Life is a gamble. It’s not smart, but you live today and not tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow all the batteries will be wasted and there will be no more games.”
And so it was.
However, the last remaining energy was being wasted faster than ever before by giving dangerous signals that my Pacman, the one from the beginning of the game when people from the undertaker’s company took Gaga away on the verge of victory.
Although having been muted, the game started to beep … Red alert … and the “Do you want to stop and to upgrade the game?” button.
“Yes!” – I pushed a button.
The screen was black.
A few days later, the messages was still there: “Please Be Patient With Us! The End Product Will Be Well Worth The Wait …” with the plane in one corner and Pacman in the other. I chose the plane, paid it with extra energy, and the message will still be there until the plane takes me to where I belong – whether to the place where Pacman is or where he is gone.
And, yes, the game is still beeping. We are in the red … even when we are on the plane.
So Pacman is eating even the last parts of my life, and I am waiting for the game to upgrade… the message “Please Be Patient With Us! The End Product Will Be Well Worth The Wait” is still there. When is the upgrade is going to be complete and how — it is uncertain. You know how it goes with technology … same as with life. You may get only blue screen. Uncertain, until someone wins or turns off the power and says: “Go away, god damn it, I will play without the purpose to win the game. Because I love the game and want to play now! Tomorrow I might not be here, either. I will play until my batteries last.”
In such a game, my opponent is just me. And yours is just you.
Do you have the strength to turn a game?