Peter Dentchev, born 1986 in Varna, is a Bulgarian writer, theatre director and publicist. He graduated in Drama from the Krastio Sarafov National Theater Academy in 2010, and completed a Master’s degree in Theatrical Arts in 2012. He has been nominated and won awards at various competitions for poetry, prose and drama (New Bulgarian Drama, Contest Ecstasy, Light Stretch Award). He was twice the recipient of the second prize at the National Youth Poetry Competition Veselin Hanchev. His novel Like a Man Kissing a Woman He Loves won him the ‘Razvitie’ Award for Best New Bulgarian Novel in 2007. He has also published a collection of stories Stories from The Past (2010) and the novel The Quiet Sun (2012). He was also twice a guest at the short story festival Kikinda Short in Serbia.
Dentchev Theatrical portfolio includes staged plays by authors such as Edward Albee, Jordi Galceran, Shakespeare and Molière, which have been performed at various festivals in Serbia, Romania, Montenegro and Kosovo and been nominated for various national awards.
The Silent Sun
The voice you are hearing right now is mine.
At first it felt humiliated to speak alone. It felt alone and unsteady. I didn’t hear it either. But after it shot through the chimney, it shouted out my story in a single breath: as a dying man’s last words and felt that it didn’t reach people’s ears but their hearts. It separated from my body, which had turned to ash and dust and it began calling for me. It called but I no longer existed. Then it began to whisper then shout. And so on until the end of the world.
The voice you are hearing right now is mine.
The story it tells also belongs to me. Unplug your ears and don’t look for the source of the sound waves. Don’t think that this voice is yours or these are your own thoughts. Even if it seems so, you must know that this is my voice. Now, when a part of my body turned to dust in the wind and the rest turned to ash, my voice is the only part of me that’s left alive. I don’t remember my name because I have long forgotten it. Names no longer take root in my head. I don’t even know the number of the urn in which my ashes are stored. This number replaces my name but it means nothing. I know who I am thanks to my voice.
I forgive nothing and no one deserves forgiveness.
To all those who destroyed me I wish endless suffering. I am in debt to those forced to be silent. That is why I’ll continue to speak. So the only thing that still belongs to me is my voice. More precisely, I belong to it. No matter the distance or climate change, it moves under the sun, telling my story. In bedrooms and corridors, auditoriums and bathrooms. Without the need for memory it speaks the story of a man, whose body turns to an old shell; an ossuary that hides the secrets to destruction. My voice tells the story of how a ban and the desire for justice have transformed me from a man into a bald baby with a wrinkled brow. For whom is this story; will anything change for me to be so excited? Hardly.
If my voice speaks of me, it does so out of love.
There was a point in my being born under the sun, to live a short life, to endure the abuse on my body and mind, to roam the quiet town, to stand by the deserted shore and to imagine the sounds of crashing waves, or so it seems to me. I didn’t like the sea as much as I loved the smell of seaweed. My father, the opposite, didn’t like even that: he was irritated by the splashes of the waves and the screams of the seagulls. But as I stood by the shore and looked at the sand, pebbles and rocks, I always thought: this is the place. The suspicious feeling that life began from here and with it the abuse didn’t leave me.
My voice has no stance on this.
Every time I thought how exactly on this very beach the sun rose one day and a slimy creature emerged on the shore from the water out of boredom and then creature divided into two. I don’t know the technology, the process by which it all took place. But something within me gave me confidence that it happened like that. The two bodies that appeared from the single creature divided further into two and formed four new creatures. Segregation and violence have begun when one had to make decisions for the many.
And so: the strong started ruling the weak.
The smarter began prohibiting the more stupid.
The trusting started to suffer because of those who lied.
When it happens, that you are destroyed, the last thing you expect is your voice speaking to everyone else by itself. The voice cannot resemble me, it is not created by me, it is not a creation in my image and likeness but it carries me within it. How do I recognize it, you ask? By the fact that I remember what it sounded like before the revolution. By the fact that I remember how it sounded before the operation that they made in order to punish me.
My voice speaks.
Up until this point I turned out to be right about everything: one morning the sun rose, wet from the morning mist and shone upon the earth. I wasn’t there. Of course, I didn’t see my death, because I haven’t seen my birth either. This moment was special, because everyone heard my story. The sun was shining and quietly illuminated the town that I lived in. A chimney was blowing grayish-yellow smoke and the water from my body had evaporated. My voice shot through the space over the town, over the whole world and screamed my story. That’s how it happened.
That is why you hear it.
All it has left now is: to speak.
I was tortured before, because I didn’t hear the words coming out of my mouth. But now I belong to my own voice, which will haunt you and scare you in your sleep. My screams will drive you insane and I will be certain that all of you, my executioners, will be listening. I know that all of you who forbid speaking and listening, hear very well. I know that you regularly clean your ears and rub your hands when you look out the window, to see your mute subjects.
That was your goal: to hear and the rest to be silent.
Once, my father had achieved the exact opposite.
Everybody heard him, but he didn’t hear a thing.
He was silent most of the time but when he discovered his great invention: pressed cotton for cleaning ears, he didn’t stop talking. I don’t regret him discovering it. I know that you are hearing me now: guards, executioners and bouncers. You never assumed that my memory will return in order to foresee that even my voice will continue to live on after me. It’s the beginning of the end: your well-arranged world of control and power will be collapsed. One voice will speak in the space of silence and will try to make deaf ears hear it.
You think that those to whom you forbid to listen won’t hear me?
My story will be told many times over: that’s for sure.
If there is anyone to hear it.
Once, after the first punishment and the first healing procedure you caused me, I promised myself that you will never break me. You didn’t know silence back then, you hadn’t met my father, so as to impose your ban. But your desire to kill was massive. I remember this moment very well: the cold water that poured over my limbs, the wounds, the bruises and scratches.
That’s why I promised myself.
And here it is: my voice.
It controls me now and I belong to it.
So weather it speaks or I do, it doesn’t matter. We speak. By the way it’s not about me speaking; it’s not about me speaking about myself. It’s about what my voice says to be heard. Who speaks, you ask? My voice or me: forget it. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is for you to listen. You will be smote by that, which you will never see.
Yes, you evaporated me and turned me into a pile of dust.
Translated by Angelina Alexandrova