The Generation under the Southern Cross

written by Marko Pogačar

Janis got her name after Janis Joplin. Her father still plays blues every weekend in the district of Las Mercedes and La Castellana bars, where a couple of strangers can still be found at night. During the week, he works in a cable factory, and when he returns, after two hours of negotiating the dangerous suburban roads, he is exhausted; his fingers convulse so much that he does not even think about the guitar any more. As a teenager, Janis
sometimes sang back vocals, until the boat leaned so much that everything started to slide from the deck, young girls included. She was forbidden to go out at night, and that was the end of her career with Los Caimanes Voladores. The house, though, was not a much safer place. The family lives in Petare, one of the world’s largest slums, with a population which approximately equals that of Montenegro. They, in some respects, belong to the elite tenants of one of the riskiest quarters at all; the solid scab of brick, sheet metal, and nylon, which shackles the flanks of the city. This implies that at least one member of the family is permanently employed, that they have electricity in the house (when there is any) and running water (when it decides
to flow), and Janis has managed to study at the state university. She is student of English, we met in the blind spot of the language; from a translator, she became a friend.