Svetlana Žuchová

    is a psychiatrist, writer and translator. She has a degree in medicine from Comenius University in Bratislava, another in psychology from the University of Vienna, and is currently practising as a psychiatrist in Prague. She lives in Zdiby, a village near Prague. She has published several works of fiction, one of which, Obrazy zo života M (Scenes from the Life of M, 2013) received the European Union Prize for Literature. She also translates from English and German into Slovak. “I consider myself very fortunate that the Velvet Revolution coincided with my growing up. In November 1989 I was almost thirteen. I still remember that huge flakes of snow were falling and something major was happening. Big things were in the air. And my life lay ahead of me. As my eyes opened, so did the borders. I travelled to Linz with my parents and thought it was like New York. The Artfórum bookshop that opened in Grösslingova Street had a parrot as well as lots of books I had never even dreamed of. The world was changing before my very eyes the way it only does before the eyes of teenage girls.
    Not since then have I ever felt that I was a direct participant of a socially decisive event. Until now. I recognize the feeling that has been awakening inside me for the past few months. The feeling that something fundamental is in the air. This time, too, it coincides with a key period in my life. Like many others who find themselves on the wrong side of forty, I’ve become very much aware of my finiteness, reassessing my past and daring to hope for the future. At the same time, however, the world around me has been splintering into tiny fragments. The cities I’ve lived in haven’t seen proper snow for several years now. I catch myself wondering if it’s worth teaching my son to ski. One pandemic wave after another rolls past my windows and hour-long queues form outside reopened clothes shops in the breaks between the waves. Equally long queues form outside the food bank in the village where I live. A village full of houses that may not be properly heated this winter. Despite global warming, I feel a chill running down my spine.
    But at the same time, I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that it’s just my inclination to moan, a sign of ageing. I hope that a few years from now my son, too, will have a chance to experience that joyful surge of hope that comes with growing up.”