At the beginning of March they began to demolish the factory. Without warning, a short-lived snow forced workers to suspend starting work for two to three days, after which, however, they returned to the river bank with their tools and their tall, lonely crane. There was no longer reason to doubt the imminent arrival of spring. White bed sheets hung from the window frames, painters and wallpaperers passed by, and the smell was of lacquer. The house cats were pregnant. They lay there getting fat in the still-chilled sun, and people brought them saucers of milk and bloody liver. Afterwards, as if by some agreement, we threw the cats in the river next to the sewer drainage pipes. The water level there was exceptionally low---between us and the river lay several meters of liquid silt and fecal matter---and the weaker boys did not succeed in throwing their living cargo into the water. Paper bags tumbled and opened in the air, and with deafening screams the just-born kittens fell from them, wandering aimlessly as they sank into the mud with blind, wide-open eyes. Birds soared through the blue Sunday sky. Boys cried. Fishermen swore. There were no women.
Not far from us, on the terrace of a restaurant, retired military personnel, gazing towards the capital city, drank vinjak or rarely, tea.
by David Albahari
Notes: The original text (``Grad'') is by David Albahari, a Jewish Yugoslav writer living in Canada. In our third semester Serbo-Croatian course we undertook to translate several of Albahari's texts, with the eventual goal of publishing these translations in an academic journal; unfortunately the translations were never published. The translation itself is very faithful to the original and seeks to preserve the dark and direct tone of the source.