Marije Hristova: “Mine Maps” (Literary Column)

Written by on August 29, 2016 in Culture, Leisure - No comments

Marije Hristova is a cherished contributor of this site. This literary column she wrote is inspired by a Rhodopian uranium mine worker she knows. It is so sad and wonderful at the same time.


My hands are wrinkled now. There are spots on them where the pigment is gone. This is because of the mines they say. My hands cannot embrace my dearest friends anymore. This, I know, is also because of the mines. Sometimes, when I drink too much, my wrinkled hands are shaky and they are covered with tears. The mines.

All my memories are in my shaky, wrinkled, and spotted hands. Because of them, I found love, I found work, I have a daughter who hates me, and I have potatoes in the winter. Sometimes, my right hand makes a fist from anger and, involuntarily, I remember the fist it learned to make to celebrate our country and our party. Why weren’t we angry? Now, my hand prefers to clap, or to hit on the table following the rhythms of our music. Then I don’t cry, then I don’t see the pigment spots, then they don’t shake. Then, I don’t mind.

My daughter has inherited my hands. Although they prefer to clap and tap rhythms, they are every time more shaky and wrinkled. Only the pigment spots are missing. But luckily they were spared from that. They cannot embrace their mother anymore, and I don’t know if that is because of the mines. Sometimes I think she regrets it was not me who, as I should have, joined my friends who rest in peace and who make me cry when my hands are shaky. The mines!

But I have a thick skin. I plough on, I regret, I forgive, I tap my hands and I forget. I lay my hands over yours, sladurano, and together we plough, thickening our skins with callus. One day, our skin may be so thick that our tears will not be able to penetrate it anymore. That day, we will clap, as if my hands will never shake again, and, if our feet still hold us, they will follow our hands, as if they remember walking together, memories go deep. So do the mines.

Though before that happens, before the callus blocks all my tears, before the callus prevents my hand from making a fist, before our skin will be as thick as that of a sad dancing bear, I want to hand over my shaky, wrinkled and spotted hands. For the mines are covered with a thick layer of concrete now, preventing you from going down into the deep layers with memories of our land and our folks. Yet here, look at this hole right here between my thumb and my index finger. You will recognize a miners hand through that. We have the mines in our hands. Mine maps.

By Marije Hristova



About the Author

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage. Please click to support our advertisers!

Leave a Comment