Maria had always dreamed like her mother of going on a trip to Paris. However, her first journey was not to that city, it was to a town (its name- really like Paris- was beginning with “P”) which was more remote and at the same time nearer than the French capital . This was the town of Prishtina. “Pri-shti-na” not like a Parisian’s caprice or like a fairy tale about a journey around the world but rather like a fearsome Russian "command" 1. Maria had to obey the order. Not because someone forced her. She had merely neither means nor a job. And the others who invited her to go on the excursion with them were like her. They had only understood faster than her that one should travel to Prishtina , not to Paris. They had told her what she should take with her on the trip.
Maria started packing her luggage together with her mother, who had packed hers for Paris many times in her dreams when she had put in the bag new clothes and things that people need on the road: a sweater, a dress, trousers, a jacket, a scarf, socks, a hat, gloves, a watch, a camera, a dressing-bag, sunglasses, an umbrella. They put the same things in Maria’s bag, except that every single piece of clothing or item was old, and its number was multiplied by as many as pieces they were able to find in cupboards and drawers. Only the camera "Fet" was one single piece. It belonged to her father who had died about ten years ago, having not lived long enough to enjoy the freedom to travel abroad and take photographs with it. A father keepsake was also the clock "Seiko". It was also like the camera- one singe piece. The camera worked , but the Seiko –did not. However she took it. The instructions were such, "Fill the bags and backpacks till they are overflowing, put on the rest of the clothes till you look like Barbapapa pulled on you like on a hanger.” The hanger was almost invisible, and Barbapapa was as big as a container.
Heavy with luggage and worries, Maria started for the bus. There was not place enough for the trash load in the luggage compartment of the bus, so Maria was buried under it in the way the entire corridor and all passengers were . They all were women. There had been no men long since .
The women travelled westwards, westwards from Sofia, westwards from Slivnitsa, Dragoman, Tsaribrod, Pirot- places praised by the Poet and consecrated by the bones of school-boys and students, grown up to soldiers and captains in few days with their eagle impulse to defend their nests 2.
To their nests now, the women had to bring bread, but first - German marks. This was their impulse - to reach the 100 –Mark-banknote with the eagle with the outstretched wings driven also by an impusle . Nothing would stop them: neither hundreds of luggage checks when the women had to take off the bus with hundreds of bags, nor hundreds of words of derision spoken by foreign customs officers, nor hundreds of kilometers on the dark November