FIRST VOICE: And so, dear listeners, you’ve heard our guests. So now let’s hear you. You know our telephone numbers, so if you want to ask our guests something or express your opinions about today’s subject, then feel free to do so. Do we have anyone on the line? Hello! It seems not. Yes, we do have someone. Good day to you.
SECOND VOICE: Good day, Joca. It’s a wonderful programme.
FIRST VOICE: Thank you.
SECOND VOICE: No, really, I listen to you every Wednesday and I really have to tell you that your programme is excellent.
FIRST VOICE: Thank you, thank you. Tell us, what’s your opinion on today’s topic?
SECOND VOICE: It’s a wonderful topic, really. And not only today’s but every Wednesday’s. Wonderful topics.
FIRST VOICE: Er…
SECOND VOICE: Both the topics and the guests. Wonderful. Today’s guests are wonderful as well.
FIRST VOICE: Well, you now have the opportunity to ask them a question. Go ahead.
SECOND VOICE: They really are wonderful. Look, I send them my very deepest regards.
FIRST VOICE: Is that the only reason you called them, to send them your deepest regards?
SECOND VOICE: Yes, to send them my very deepest regards. And my deepest regards to you, as well, Joca. I send my very deepest regards to you all.
FIRST VOICE: Well you can go fuck yourself with your deepest regards, do you understand? Haven’t you got the tiniest bit of brain? We’ve been sitting here for an hour, talking about serious things, and your only comment… (Under his breath.) What? I’m not going to calm down – this is my programme and I shall say what I like. (Once again, loud and clear.) Hello, idiot, are you still on the line?
SECOND VOICE: Yes, Joca, I am.
FIRST VOICE: What do you mean, Joca? Where did you get Joca from? My wife doesn’t call me Joca – just you and similar apes who call into the programme. “Hello Joca, wonderful, Joca.” Well, you can fuck Joca, is that clear? My name is Jovan. Jovan! Is that clear?
SECOND VOICE: Yes, it is.
FIRST VOICE: But you mustn’t call me Jovan, either, do you hear? I’m not your schoolmate so that you can call me by my first name. Even if we did go to school together, I couldn’t give a damn. You are to address me as “Mr. Jovanovic”, is that clear?
SECOND VOICE: Yes, it is.
FIRST VOICE: In fact you mustn’t address me at all. What business have you got addressing me, for fuck’s sake? If you’ve got something to say about what we happen to be talking about on a particular day, then say it. If you’ve got a question for the guests, ask it. But don’t fuck around sending me all those shitty greetings, is that clear?
SECOND VOICE: Quite clear.
FIRST VOICE: You’ve no business sending me regards, or saying how wonderful I am or congratulating me about anything. What the hell do you know about me? If you met me in the street, you’d dash over to the other side as soon as you saw my face. For God’s sake, I’m a bad-tempered ulcerous guy who’s disgusted by most of the human race. Particularly by examples such as you. You’ve nothing better to do than to run up your telephone bill praising me, my guests and my programme. To be quite frank, to start with I enjoyed your bleating. I thought I’d really succeeded in what I’d set out to do, that I’d succeeded in reaching people, in getting them to open their eyes, to think, that I’d succeeded in making my questions and comments reveal the obvious hypocrisy, stupidity and perversions of the people who I invite to take part in the programme. Yes, the wonderful guests who you welcome are nothing more than dimwits, thieves and liars who lead this country and all other countries. (Under his breath.) Yes, I’m talking about you, you’re one of the dimwits. I beg your pardon? The same to you, fathead… (Full voice.) Hello, are you still there?
SECOND VOICE: Yes.
FIRST VOICE: Excellent. Because perhaps you’ll finally understand something, because I’m going to spell it out to you clearly. Because up to now you haven’t understood a thing. I told you that I thought that all your compliments, admiration and greetings were evidence that I’d succeeded in my intentions, but then I realized that you complimented each programme regardless. Perhaps not you personally, but sheep-like people like you. You and people like you share the same greetings and compliments with Petrovic. And not only is he a man who doesn’t say anything important in the programme, it’s also quite incredible that someone as stupid as he is able to say anything at all. Every time I meet him in the corridor I’m shocked when articulate words actually come out of his mouth. Bleating, yelping and mooing wouldn’t surprise me in the least, but “Good morning” seems to me like the height of accomplishment for a biped like Petrovic. But the worst thing is that for both you and him, and for ninety-nine point nine percent of so-called Homo sapiens, it really is the height of accomplishment. Man, you’ve got a head like a football, and it’s got no further than: “Good day, I’m hungry, I eat, I shit.” Not only you, but mankind as a whole. We just talk a load of crap about civilization, progress, the future, and we’re nothing more than chimpanzees who can say “good day”. One day, I recorded a chimpanzee on a Dictaphone, and let it listen to it. You should have seen how excited it got: “Hi-iii-iii, hi-iii-iii!” It’s the same with you. Petrovic improvises something into a microphone and then thinks about the same thing being heard on several radio apparatuses, and grins: “Hi-iii-iii, hi-iii-iii!” And you, delighted by this, call out and improvise something even stupider, and then you hear your voice on the radio and collapse into ecstasy: “Hi-iii-iii, hi-iii-iii!” I don’t say that I’m any better. The very fact that I attract you is evidence that what I’m saying is nothing more than “hi-iii-iii, hi-iii-iii.” The very fact that I think that I shall succeed in having an effect on the chimpanzees is enough evidence that I am nothing other than a chimpanzee. A man who can use his brain doesn’t go on radio but to some remote spot where there aren’t any people, like Buddha. Do you know that Buddha spent six years alone in the forest just thinking? Six years, man! You’d pass out in six minutes, because you’d use up all the thoughts that your brain is in a state to produce. I’m not saying that I’d last much longer, but that’s why I’m not going into the forest to think; instead I shall stay here and present this programme and listen to idiots like you.. Because, do you know what’s worse than anything else? That after this they won’t give me the sack, but will probably give me an even better slot and increase my salary. Why? Because after this everyone will be longing to hear me again, even though the majority of them won’t have the faintest idea what I’m talking about. Neither do you have the faintest idea what I am explaining to you, but you do know that the chimpanzee on the radio is getting very excited, as if they’d put him in a room full of Dictaphones. “Hi-iii-iii! hi-iii-iii!”, rings out of radios throughout the country. “Hi-iii-iii, hi-iii-iii!”, the excited listeners repeat. “Hi-iii-iii, hi-iii-iii! Hi-iii-iii, hi-iii-iii!” That’s all that’s heard and that it’s all that’s ever been heard. “Hi-iii-iii, hi-iii-iii! Hit him over the head with a rock.” “Hi-iii-iii, hi-iii-iii! Throw him an atomic bomb.” No progress, no development, and thousands of years have gone by. Chimpanzees are kings compared to us – at least they don’t pretend anything. I’d give everything to be turned into a chimpanzee this very moment and climb a tree, so that I would no longer have to listen to you, nor myself nor to any one of those six billion idiots.
FIRST VOICE: Hello? Are you still on the line?
SECOND VOICE: Yes.
FIRST VOICE: Well, mother-fucker, have I succeeded in shaking something into that dumb skull of yours? Have you got something to say, now?
SECOND VOICE: Yes, I have, Joca. Congratulations. Your programme is wonderful!
Originally published in BCS (Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian) in Par grama drama (A Few Grams of Drama) in 2010. Translated by Timothy John Byford. Translation copyright by Kosta Tadic.