Wandering the northern suburbs of a new-old Eastern European city sprawl –
Scrawled black graffiti – entombed – sprayed onto a hole-in-the-wall pharmacy’s facade at a minor tramway intersection on the edge of town.
Steaming manhole covers sunk deep into fractured asphalt roads.
Potholed concrete pavements frozen over with a brown-black, viscous goo worked into the cracks.
A faded, full wall hammer and sickle cartoon oozing blood red paint onto a garbage strewn wooden plank bench at the rear of a stone bus shelter
Even the wizened, gaunt woman huddling deep inside the shelter as far away as she can hide from the biting, chill wind isn’t sitting down. She keeps on standing in stoic silence, enduring the tedious wait for the long overdue bus back home.
Back home? Back where? Some dun, sterile apartment block? Surviving on a tiny government pension as best she can?
I push on past the bus shelter taking care not to lose my footing and sprain an ankle on the caved in kerb.
And hurry past a decrepit hovel apartment block. The wide ajar entrance door unveils a dim lit corridor decorated with a single dangling naked bulb so that I catch a fleeting glimpse of black amoeba-like patches of rot and mould spread out over the cracked plaster walls and ceiling.
Drizzling, grey, frigid day.
The only bright colours in sight seem to be those of gloss magazines stacked outside the red igloo street kiosks.
But no one seems interested to stop and buy –
The smoking, ancient traffic keeps on swishing past in and out of the foggy mist.
Imported, on the cheap, used German and French buses and trams still emblazoned with their original city markings (one bus is still sporting its maiden provincial French town’s routes and stops!) constitute the entire public transport network.
The city grime has worked itself deep into these once sleek and chic western European machines.
This town is a wreck.
Even the strays roaming the streets look wretched.
What a desolate place!
The river running through it has fared no better –
A syrupy sludge seeping through a narrow canal spanned by a solitary, double arched, rusted iron bridge across which stooped and haggard down and outs trudge and shuffle.
All Text Copyright(c) David Bugeja 2016 All rights reserved