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Дом Гончарова Литературный троллейбус Литературный трамай
ЛОготип СЕти креативных городов  и Ульяновска
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
 
 
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The work of the translation center of the program "Ulyanovsk - UNESCO City of Literature"
12.04.2022

A group of 2nd-year trainee students of the magistracy of the Institute of International Relations, Faculty of Linguistics, Intercultural Relations and Professional Communication of Ulyanovsk State University (Ekaterina Krasheninnikova, Mohammad Temple, Xenia Skvortsova, Diana Alieva, Maria Parfenova, Anastasia Terekhina) completed their work on translating stories into English Ulyanovsk author Valery Eremin.

About the author:

 

Eremin Valery Aleksandrovich was born on 12/10/1946 in the village of Surskoe, Ulyanovsk region. Poet, prose writer, member of the Union of Journalists of Russia (2012), member of the Union of Writers of Russia (2016), chairman of the Sursky literary association "Promzinsky syllables".
After graduating from high school, he entered the courses of radio mechanics in Ulyanovsk. Working as the head of a television workshop in the r.p. Surskoye, studied in absentia at the Ulyanovsk State Technical University. All labor activity of Valery Eremin is connected with his native village. He worked in the communication center, was the head of the regional information and computer station, the chief power engineer of the agriculture department. Before retiring, he taught computer science at the Sursk Agrotechnological College, being one of the first teachers of this discipline in the region.
Valery Eremin began writing poetry and prose while still at school. He is a permanent author of the Literary Page of the Surskaya Pravda regional newspaper, has publications in the regional magazines Karamzinsky Sad and Simbirsk, in the Russian literary and artistic almanac Hunting Spaces (2021 No. 93. Book 1). Author of collections of short stories and poems "Pebbles" (2012), "Sura round dance" (2013), novels and short stories "I will walk along the streets of Promzinsky" (2012), "Rainbow over Sura" (2014), a collection of stories and short stories "Sura golden dawns "(2014)," Surah hunting expanses "(2015)," Surah golden sands "(2016)," Pictures of life. Where the Sura flows" (2017).
In 2018, Valery Eremin's book “Television. Blue light screens under Nikolskaya Gora. The best poems and stories of the writer were included in the collection of works by the authors of Ulyanovsk and the Ulyanovsk region "Golden Mirror" (Ulyanovsk, 2007), in the anthology "Ulyanovsk literature: the beginning of the XXI century" (Ulyanovsk, 2015), in the collection "Simbirskaya pier" (Ulyanovsk, 2019 ). In 2020, Valery Eremin's book "On fishing and hunting in the Sursky open spaces" was published.
In 2013, Valery Eremin was awarded the title of the winner of the district contest "Person of the Year" in the "Discovery" nomination for literary activity. Repeatedly performed at the presentations of his books at the Festival of publishing organizations of municipalities of the Ulyanovsk region "Countrymen", in particular, in 2014 he was awarded the Diploma of the festival participant for the book "Sursky round dance". In 2015, he was awarded a Certificate of Participation in the XII regional exhibition-competition "Simbirsk Book-2014", and in 2016 he was awarded a Diploma in the nomination "Countrymen" for the book "Sura hunting spaces". Annually participates in the Pushkin holiday, held in the village. Yazykovo.
Valery Eremin is fond of hunting, fishing, photography, painting. Many hunters of the Sur hunting society, captured in his photographs, became the heroes of the stories.
 
The Ulyanovsk - UNESCO City of Literature program begins publishing stories by Valery Eremin in English. We invite everyone to read it, as well as readers from other countries.

Today you can read the first part of the stories, the literary translation of which was prepared by Ekaterina Krasheninnikova.

Ekaterina is a 2nd year master's student in the direction of "Philology" of the Faculty of Linguistics, Intercultural Relations and Professional Communication of Ulyanovsk State University. In 2020, she graduated from Ural State University with a Bachelor's degree in Translation and Translation Studies. She translated scientific articles of a medical nature in the Ulyanovsk Medical and Biological Journal. She likes to read books by modern authors and watch films in English, as well as travel.

 

 

Introduction

The peculiarity of this new book is that it consists of three parts. The first part includes stories, in which the author discusses many things. The reader will “hear” a very simple, colloquial, sometimes indigenous speech of the characters, as it is in the other author’s books. The life of people, which is rather simple at first sight is revealed in naive and unsophisticated stories. All the characters are men and women from the author’s native village, where he has been living for many years. There are many bright, interesting, vivid, strong and outstanding personalities among these people.

Dear reader, you will see how the author treats his characters: pathetically, sincerely, and cherishingly. You will feel that the author is not indifferent to his character’s fate and deeds, to the excitement of their truly Russian soul. You will notice that the characters are sometimes distinguished by some moral purity, conscientiousness and many diverse talents.

Some of the stories are full of humor, others are slightly sad. But all of them seem to be radiating positive energy, they are full of warmth and kindness, and they heal our souls.

In the book, the reader will get acquainted with the pictures of rural life, which the author once observed. Each picture is different in color and shades, as a rainbow over the Sura River. The whole book seems to be a bouquet of meadow flowers.

My good reader will touch upon all this in the book and feel its originality.

The second part is a poetic continuation of the simple “prose of life”. Here the author will also hold a simple conversation on his thoughts and worries.

The third part will suddenly “speak” through the author’s drawings, which he painted at different moments of his life. The reader will feel that the author is not only a writer and a poet deep inside, but also, to some extent, an artist.

 

 

What can be more precious, than

The place where you were born!

Conversation

My dear grandson, I see, you are willing to show me a film about our Nikolskaya mountain, but I have already seen it. Moreover, I have read a newspaper article as well. However, I'd like to say, that everything that is depicted there, to put it mildly, is false. Why? Listen, what my father and grandfather told me about it. How did they know? Well, more than one generation of our family were born and grew up here. They studied at school when Religious Education was the most important subject. So, my father and grandfather told me, that in the little book published by the Russian Orthodox Church, there was such a story.

Long, long ago, when the Sura River was wide and deep, and mighty trees grew in dense forests, not far from the mountain, among the hills there stood a small fortress. It was surrounded by a palisade and a ditch. A druzhina, an army of the Ancient Rus, lived there. It defended the nearby lands from the steppe-dweller’s invasion.

One day a numerous army of steppe-dwellers came to the right bank of the Sura River. They came late in the evening, and decided not to cross the river immediately. Early in the morning, before the dawn the invaders began preparing for crossing the Sura. Suddenly, they saw a warrior, riding a white horse on the mountain. He half stood in the stirrups and, drew his sword from the scabbard and raised it high above his head. At the very moment, the sword began shining brightly and the light blinded the enemy army. The invaders fell on their knees with their hands over their head and begged for mercy. They no longer had any thoughts of crossing the river. Soon the warrior and the magic light disappeared. The enemy retreated, but decided to find out who this glorious defender of the Russian lands and people was. So, they sent the spies. They came to the fortress and asked the Russian soldiers about the miracle on the mountain. To their surprise, none of the men-at-arms saw neither a warrior, nor the light. Then the voivode gathered his squad quickly, mounted the horse and headed up the mountain. When riding up the mountain, the voivode’s horse suddenly stumbled and fell to its knees. The soldiers, who came to help him, saw a stone icon depicting an old man in front of them. The man held an Orthodox church in his left hand, and a sword in the right one. It was St Nicholas the Wonderworker. The icon was brought to the mountain. All the people began praying with it. Everyone understood that it was not the only miracle. The soldiers understood, that it was Georgy the Victorious, the patron of the Russian army, who defended the Russian lands and people. Moreover, the Almighty God presented the icon of St Nicholas to the people. It was a warning. The Orthodox Christians should remember that if they go to the church and pray to St Nicholas, the God will protect them. At that time, holy springs appeared in the forest not far from the mountain, which after the miraculous event was called Nikolskay. One of them is called Georgievsky. From that very spring Georgy the Victorious and his horse were drinking water in order to gain strength. The other spring is called after Mother-of-God of Kazan. Mother of God and holy water is the key to life on the Holy Russian Land. And when they built a beautiful church in the ancient settlement Promzino, there were three parishes in it: Mother-of-God of Kazan, St Georgy the Victorious and St Nicholas the Wonderworker. The magic icon was also placed there, and Yegoriy became the patronal feast in Promzino, now Surskoye.

I paused and then said, “I think that we have so many Heroes on the Promzino-Surskoye land for a good reason. When do we celebrate the Day of Heroes of our Motherland? It is on our patronal holiday, on Yegoriy.”

 

By the Campfire

“You want to know whether I have heard anything about Goose Lake? There is such a lake in our region. Why is it called so? Who knows. Probably, once there were geese there,” said Gerka and threw a few dry branches into the campfire.

Sitting and warming themselves by the campfire, the children were telling each other different stories. Now and then one of them looked away from the flame and silently admired the starry sky. Sometimes, against the background of the crackling campfire, they listened to the night melody of the forest and the river flowing nearby, trying to recognize something familiar. They enjoyed the exhilarating and fresh odor, coming from the fire. The flame was mesmerizing and hypnotizing. It created a special aura. Everyone was thinking about something sacred. Meanwhile, they glanced at the kettle hanging over the campfire. Once and again, a bat flew out of the forest darkness and immediately disappeared into it.

Deep inside, they were grateful for this moment, which gave them the opportunity to communicate with the Russian forest, with its charm, with this unique and incomparable beauty of our life.

From time to time, we feel the same attractive power of the Russian forest, while reading the poems or looking at the picturesque paintings.

Well, the sight of a campfire and everything around it is always unique and never bothers anyone.

The surrounding trees, bushes and grass have changed their green color. Orange lights came to life and began dancing on them. Sometimes Gerka touched the burning branches with a slight movement of the stick-poker, and then bright sparks rushed into the sky, disappearing somewhere very high, so it seemed that they turned into stars. There comes a desire to lie on your back and to enjoy the sight of the flying smoke. At some point, you suddenly notice that it is not the smoke, but you who is flying. You are flying through the cosmic fog, somewhere into the unknown. Slight air movement stops the flight. Suddenly you feel the taste of a fire, or rather, the taste of smoke, which depends on the burning wood. For a while, the fire taste bitter, it becomes difficult to breathe, the eyes become achy, around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.

How beautiful a summer night is in the forest by the campfire! How quickly the time flies.

“Is there Swan lake? There was Swan lake once. Everything was, but there is little left,” answered Gerka sadly.

 

A Dream

“Well, look and tell me whether I'm doing it right or not,” Stanislav asked Gerka, sitting down on a chair under a white cover. Stanislav was in his late eighties, but he looked much younger. You might say that he was sixty, or a bit more. A youthful face with a few wrinkles, which is not peculiar for his age, a light flush on a carefully shaven face, clever slightly thoughtful eyes and rich brown neatly trimmed hair with a bit of silver. Good heredity, moderation in everything, plus physical exercises and various procedures did a good job.

“Georgievich,” answered Gerka, calling Stanislav by his patronymic.

“What?” replied the latter, hiding a smile.

“Well, did you teach automobile engineering? I get into the car, here I have a steering wheel, at the bottom there are foot pedals, on the right there is a handbrake. And this is the gearshift lever,” he said taking a stick tied with a rope to the leg of a chair. “We start it first,” he gave a turn to an imaginary key. “No, we pull up the handbrake. Right? Speed into neutral,” he took up the stick. “Then we start the car. Squeeze in the clutch,” he moved his left foot. “Turn on the first speed, release the handbrake, and smoothly squeeze out the clutch, mash the “go” pedal,” Stanislav was demonstrating everything on his simulator. “And off we go.”

“Well, look at him! He’s almost ninety, but he’s still dreaming of a car. Night after night, looks like mad. I wake up, and he is driving in his chair,” said Ella, Stanislav’s wife, entering the room. She was a cute brunette with brown eyes, still beautiful despite her age.

“But I will buy a car!” Stanislav said quietly but firmly. “How are we going to go fishing with you? I can’t stand it anymore: take this, take that. I’m not a donkey to carry all the stuff you need. We’re not young anymore, we can’t go everywhere on foot. What’s the use of my driver's-license? How many times has it been renewed?”

It should be noted, they were both avid fishermen and every summer they went to the village, where Ella was born. They had a house there, close to the nature.

Then Stanislav told his story how well he studied at a driving school, how he was driving, how he passed his exams.

“I will buy, I will... Tell everyone, how you bought a car five years ago. You arrived before getting started. How much did it cost you? Why are you keeping silent?” the wife was asking her captious question.

“There are too many cars in the city, and everyone is driving like a Schumacher. And I’ll be driving in our village.”

“You’ll be on your chair,” the wife couldn’t calm down.

Gerka had to listen once again how Stanislav Georgievich visited the driving school in the village. He paid money and took driving lessons on the test track, in the village, and one he even drove to some village. He was very pleased with himself and proud of this fact.

“Tell me what to do,” he asked Gerka. “I have saved the money. I want a good Niva like yours, second-hand. I’m begging my sons: Buy me a car and drive it to the village. But they won’t listen. No, and that’s. If there were a place to buy a car somewhere nearer, I would do it myself.”

Gerka looked at his old, kind, sincere friend and kept silence.

 

Prohibition law

I don't remember, how long ago it happened. But it did happen. I have almost forgotten this story, which my friend Mikhail told me one day. Suddenly it crossed my mind.

Mishka, Genka and Lyoshka worked together in one and the same office. Moreover, Lyoshka was a boss, however not a very important one. The whole office consisted only of three of them, except for a part-time cleaning lady. As they said, they became close friends. Sometimes, they were spending time together over a bottle or even more than one. Well, of course without any compromises. They could simply relax after a hard working day from time to time. Even their wives got used to each other, which is extremely rare in such situations.

Once in a little while they drank cognac, savoring its taste and joking that it could spoil the eyesight: if you drank it too often you wouldn’t be able to see your salary. At the same time, they remembered what drinks and at what periods of time were popular among people. It all started very simply. When their hearts lightened after a good drink, one of them said, “Do you remember, that there was such a stain “Sineglazka” to impregnate wooden goods and to make them of a dark brown color? Whoever drinks it, becomes as black as a negro. Only teeth whiten on the face...”

“We could see such guys here once in a while. If you meet such a dude, you’ll never forget him! It was when alcohol coupons were introduced.”

“And what about “Taburetovka”? Have you forgotten it?”

“It was the worst homebrew ever. Many people were kidding that it was made from sawdust!”

“There was also “Tormozukha”. This drink was popular in mechanical-transport companies, one soldier told me.”

“They also told me about “Canaanite Balsam” or “Chernoburka”. Velvet beer and purified “Polina Ivanovna”, in short polish, were added to denatured alcohol. The liquid was mixed and here they had a black-brown drink. Just imagine its taste. Nuts!”

“What about denatured alcohol or “Denaturchik”, “Sinen’kiy” or “Zelenen’kiy”! No matter how it was called. It consisted of pure alcohol, acetone, kerosene and ink to taste. The next morning, the breath of the person who had drunk such a mixture, could kill bedbugs. Ough! Yuck!”

“They also made “Boris Fedorych”, but it was mainly produced in the workshops, at the factories. They took butvar-phenolic adhesive, poured it into a container, added some salt, inserted a stick that was adjusted to a machine tool or a drill. Everything that got stuck on a stick was thrown away. The remaining liquid was suitable for drinking. By the way, many went blind from such a drink. So, why did they drink it?”

“You know, there was also the “Spirit of Geneva”. It appeared during a “thaw” in international relations, during the Cold War. Some drunkards were making such a hootch. It was made of the perfume “White Lilac”, foot antiperspirant, “Zhigulevskoye” beer and alcohol varnish.”

“Well, people were drinking everything. For example, “Chikolon”, it was also called “Carved Cognac”, “or “Three Pit Cognac”. It was popular among some guys, due to its low price and the noble booze breath of “Cologne water”.”

“What about “Komsomol member’s tear?” They say, it was possible to lose consciousness for a minute after such a cocktail because of its special odor. That’s probably why they were drinking it.”

“Do you remember an abstract from the book by Venedikt Erofeev, Moscow – Petushki? He who drinks just vodka retains both a sound mind and a solid memory, or, vice versa, loses both at once. And in the case of “Komsomol member’s tear” it’s simply ridiculous: you drink one hundred grams of it – your memory is solid, but your sound mind is gone. You drink another hundred grams and wonder: where has so much common sense come from? And where has all the solid memory gone? You see, this shit leaked into our literature as well.”

“Do you remember “Three axes” or “Portyusha”? Once, this drink was made from the wastes of wine production, such as rotten grapes and grape pomace with alcohol and sugar. Well, if compared to nothing, it’s OK!”

“There was also “Hydrashka”. Hydrolyzed alcohol. It was a liquid with a taste of paints and varnishes and a pine scent. The booze breath after it was pure acetone.”

“Does it mean that you shouldn’t smoke, if you have a hangover, otherwise you will burn?”

“What about “Yorsh”. The classics of the drinking genre: 50% vodka and 50% beer. Magic bubbles generate amazing effects. This is what we have tried.”

“There was such a saying: “Vodka without beer is money down the drain!”

“Here we are friends-drinkers!”

All of us are experts in folk chemistry...

“By the way... Some homegrown alchemists even separated iodine from alcohol. They used starch or something like this for that purpose.”

“They also took ordinary vodka and poured it into a siphon for aeration. You were flacked out after drinking aerated vodka.”

“There was such a joke. Armenian radio is asked the question: “What is the difference between vodka and an atomic bomb?” It doesn’t have any answer. It transmits the question to Kazan radio. It immediately answers: “We Tatars don’t care, as long as it flacks out!”

“Yes ... it's really cool!”

“At that time, there was also a kind of optimization, a so called film-drinking method. Vodka was poured onto a plate in a thin layer, like a “film” and then it was licked off. You could get drunk from a small amount of it. Economy must be economical, as they said at that time.”

“From “Three Axes” and Pepsi you can get “Gummi Bear”– the best cocktail in the world. But this already seems to be a modern project-recipe.”

“In the North of the country, drinking alcohol with champagne was called the “Polar Lights” cocktail...”

“And we called the mixture of drinking alcohol with cognac “Brown Bear”.”

“These are the prosaic details of everyday life of that time...”

“And here is the “Bitch Offal cocktail. This drink takes the cake. This is no longer a drink – it’s poetry, it’s music. What is the most beautiful thing in the world? It is a struggle for the liberation of mankind, said the “expert”, one of those who had tasted it. Well, Erofeev in his Roosters described or pissed this wild cocktail. They say it’s a real swill!”

“There was one more cocktail “Alexander III”, a mixture of cologne “Sasha” and cologne “Triple” ...

“Guys, could you tell me, what kind of a drink is blazer?”

“Maybe it’s enough to speak about all this stuff,” suddenly declared Alexei authoritatively.

“We are remembering all this stuff in order to understand that cognac tastes better,” someone said in defense.

And all of them switched to another topic. They finished drinking cognac, praising its taste, and then went home.

But the most interesting moment came unexpectedly.

It happened on the eve of some holiday. We have so many of them that there are not enough days in the year for different festivities. One day our friends chewed the rug for a while, and then decided to go home. But they could not understand for a long time how it all happened.

Genka was the first to leave. He went in, washed his hands in the washstand, and when he went out into the hall, he could no longer hear Alexei and Mikhail. Genka looked into the office where they were sitting and chatting. There was no one there. Only the keys were sticking out of the lock. He pulled the handle of another room. The door was closed. Genka was walking along the hall and thinking. He locked the door, looked at the keys and said aloud, putting the keys into his pocket, “Alexei must be in a hurry, as he didn’t close the office and even left the keys in the lock.”

Genka turned off the light in the hall and soon found himself in the street, where he took a deep breath of fresh air. After a while, he closed the iron-studded front door, first, the inner lock, and then to the control one, and walked down the street, pondering on his lot.

An old motorcycle was already waiting for him near his house. Genka’s old friend, sitting on the motorcycle, asked, “Where have you been? You’ve promised to come earlier. Come on, get dressed and off we go. Let’s cast out a couple of nets, maybe tomorrow there will be some fish for the holiday, that was what his friend Sashka was saying. He was a very avid fisherman.”

So, in a few minutes Genka was already riding somewhere on a motorcycle.

Meanwhile, the following events took place in their office “Horns and Hooves”, as Alexei jokingly called it.

Having found the thing, they needed, in the pantry, Alexey and Mikhail got out into the hall.

“What is our hall as black as a cow’s guts? Turn on the light.” Michael turned the lights on.

“Where are the keys to the office? What did Gennady come up with? And where he? Let's go, he’s probably waiting for us in the street,” said Alexei in a slightly annoyed voice.

“Look, the front door is closed!” Michael choked out in surprise.

“Closed!?” Alexei couldn’t understand what was happening.

An extremely long, hard night was in store for them. There was a phone in the office, but they could only listen how it was ringing now and then. And the worst thing was that the toilet was outside. Luckily, there were several buckets in the hall. Sitting and lying on the bare floor was also not very pleasant.

At the same time, at home their wives could not sleep a wink and could not imagine where their husbands had disappeared and what one could think of all that.

In the morning, Genka was woken up by his wife.

“Look, Alexei and Mikhail disappeared. Their wives have just come. Do you know anything? They have already been to your office several times, but all the doors are closed there.”

“They can’t be missing,” said Gennady, but he himself was really shocked. “Could I have closed them?” he thought to himself.

“Well, I'll be right back,” he said to his wife and ran away very quickly.

One can only imagine what happened next.

After the holiday, Alexei said firmly, “That’s all. From this day forth, we are not drinking anymore. Prohibition law.”

I don’t know how or why? But now and then in different countries, they introduced a prohibition law.

 

To the South

As Georgy was getting older, there were more and more problems with his leg. The crushed left knee was aching now and then, for no good reason. And when the weather was changing, the pain was awful. The pain in the leg, as he said to himself, and sometimes out loud, was unbearable. It seemed to be turning the heel forward. It was difficult simply to walk. If he went down the street, it was more or less OK, but if he went up… He had to stop and take a short break. It was necessary to find some support and to relax, restoring impaired blood circulation in the left leg. Georgy tried to walk with a stick. But his neighbors started laughing at him. Come on, they said, Stop simulating. He had done numerous manipulations with the leg: different massages, unction, stretching, various exercises, contrast shower, and even training. He lay down on the sofa and closed his eyes. He imagined himself lying at the Black Sea coast, the gentle warm southern sun warming his body and especially his leg. It helped a little, but not for a long time. Of course, it would be necessary to visit mud therapy, but dream on! As they say, He was short of funds. He once traveled to the South. It was a last minute tour. At that time, he didn’t have any troubles with his legs. Then, he worked in a signal center as an electrician. One of his relatives loved to joke at him, saying: “If you do not like dust of dirt, come and work at a signal office!” One day in early November, he was summoned to the local committee and offered a trip voucher to the South, to Yalta. The whole trip was, well, just for a song. He thought that was because no boss wanted to go to the sea in November. As the same relative told him: “Georgy, you are really lucky!”

“All right,” Georgy thought to himself. “I will suffer for the common goal, so be it.”

Somehow he got it all done very quickly. He packed his suitcase and rushed to the airport. There he got a ticket to Simferopol via Kharkov. Please, no problem. At the airport, he accidentally noticed two young men, who were constantly dangled between the ticket office and flight timetable. They tried to figure out which flights they should take to get to the desired city through other ones.

Georgy, looked at his ticket, and figured that he could buy four tickets for his modest salary with a bonus.

The plane, on which Georgy was flying, was from Tyumen. “Flying by”, as he thought to himself. Across the whole large country, the plane was carrying on its wings frozen Tyumen residents to the warm regions of the Crimean Peninsula. The passengers were already exhausted from a long flight and were mostly drowsing. Suddenly, the plane came alive. Pretty stewardesses appeared, they were carrying trays. Of course, Georgy even did not imagine that they would also feed him during the flight. Moreover, the food was very tasty and free of charge. He said to himself: “Yes, It’s very comfortable to travel by plane.” He involuntarily remembered a rural canteen with red cabbage soup, a cutlet with potato and the same red gravy. The food in the canteen was tasty as well, if you work hard before eating, and take a mug of fresh beer.

“If only there were some beer,” said Georgy not out loud, covering his eyes. “It would be great.”

Under the steady roar of engines, he dozed off. He was dreaming how he had studied Kievan Rus at school. He was coloring contour maps. And now he sees how the Varangians are sailing in their boats. They called their journey from the Varangians to the Greeks. Now he sees a prince in Russian armor, who says loudly: “I am Prophetic Oleg!” And now Georgy is learning a poem: “Prophetic Oleg is preparing to smite the foolish Khazars for invading...” Rus. Russian people. Slavs. Prince Igor. Princess Olga. Yaroslav the Wise. Prince Vladimir. Christianization of Rus. Monomakh’s Cap as a symbol of Russian tsars. Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Annexation of Ukraine to Russia. Peter the First. Mazepa, he did not like this historical character. Nikolay Gogol. Taras Shevchenko. All this was spinning in Georgy’s head, apparently because he was flying to Ukraine, to the Crimea. Georgy even dreamed how his father was scolding Nikita Khrushchev, who suddenly, for no apparent reason, in an instant annexed the Russian Crimea, watered with sweat and blood, to Ukraine.

Georgy completely woke up only when they landed in Kharkov. The plane was refueled. Then it took off again. Georgy was looking forward to his meeting with the Crimea. He had never been to the South before. And now from the Volga region, from deep autumn, he felt that he was falling into summer again. He could see it even from the height of the flight, because the colors were changing. It even seemed to him that the Sun was different here, it was brighter, and the colors were a little richer. Or maybe it just seemed to him.

 

Pilots

That day, Georgy decided to take all his family to the country to gather strawberries. His family consisted of him, his wife and his son Sashka, a third-grader. The families now are small, not as they were before. Georgy's mother told, there were seven children in their family. Now there is one child or two children in a family. Times are different these days. To make a long story short, they took the containers for the berries, got into their automobile Zhiguli and drove off. When we left the village, they saw a plane flying very low, over the road. People called this biplane a “crop duster” as it was widely used for agricultural activities. Sasha, though fastened with safety belts, was jumping with joy in the back seat, trying to get a better view of the plane, because such things doesn’t happen every day.

“Where did it come from?” asked Georg’s wife.

“There is an airfield belonging to the collective farm not far from here. The pilots will help the farmers to fertilize the land… Well, Sanyok, do you want to become a pilot?”

“He won’t be a good pilot,” the mother said. “He is a small eater.”

“Let’s give him sour cream with chocolate, as if he were a pilot... Why are you keeping silent? Would you like to be a pilot?”

Sashka didn’t say a word, but his happy face showed that he really liked the idea about the chocolate.

“Is there an airfield at every collective farm?” asked the wife.

“No, there isn’t. They’ve got one airfield for several households. Still, there was an airport near Chernenovo one day.”

“What airport?” Sasha didn’t get it.

“Well, there was a runway there. In other word, a flat meadow with a solid wooden house for passengers nearby, a barn and a high pole with sausage tied to it.”

“What sausage, daddy!? It’s a scream! Ha-ha-ha! Sausage!”

“Your dad is joking,” said the wife, smiling. “You know, he likes jokes.”

“Nothing of the sort,” Georgy said seriously.

“What was the sausage for? To feed the ravens?”

“This is another name for a windsock, used to tell wind speed and direction. It is a conical textile tube that resembles a giant sock,” Georgy explained, without looking at the road attentively.

“Could not you explain it right away like this,” said the wife in an injured voice. “Sausage, sausage, and a murder of crows.”

“Dad, do we have some sausage here?”

“I don't know, ask your mom.”

“Yes, we do. Yesterday I got it using my connections. But we won’t give dad any sausage, because his explanations are awful.”

“Well, I’m asking about this very airfield. Is there sausage there?”

“I don’t know. Now, everything is probably reported on the radio. All weather data, well, wind direction and strength, the cloud height, visibility. Do you know how to find out the wind direction without any gadgets?”

“We know. The trees and the grass will show the wind,” the wife decided to show off.”

“Well, what if there are no trees or grass?” Georgy asked.

There was silence. One could hear how the motor was singing.

“Daddy, we give up! Please, tell us!”

“It’s all very simple. You should slobber on your finger, raise it up above your head. The side of the finger that feels “cool” is approximately the direction from which the wind is blowing.”

“Dad, stop the car, let’s try it.”

“We’re on our way. You’ll try it while picking up the strawberries. And if we are not short of time on the way back, we will visit the pilots. I think, you won’t mind it.”

It was absolutely clear, that Sasha was looking forward to visiting the pilots while picking up strawberries. To his parents’ surprise, he was doing it rather quickly. At last, having picked the berries, after a snack and a little rest, they set off on their way back. A few minutes later, the father stopped his car on the side of the road and said, “Here we are!”

“What?” Sashka didn’t believe him. “Where is the airfield?”

“We should go a little bit across the field, and there you’ll see the airfield. Will you join us, Mom? No. Then sit here, in the car and clean the berries. It won’t take us long.”

So, Georgy and his son made their way along the edge of the field to the would-be airfield. After a while, Sashka was lagging behind. The boy began complaining and at last he said, “Well, daddy! I thought we would drive straight to the airfield. Don’t go so fast, I'm tired.”

“Son, there must be a road somewhere there, but I can’t see it right now... Well, look, there is a plane and some tanks.”

“Why can't I see it?”

“Let me lift you up a little bit. Well?”

“Now I see, I see! Let’s go faster, daddy.”

The airfield appeared in front of them all out of a sudden. A plane, a trailer behind it, two tanks, one larger, the other smaller, and in the foreground, on a spread tent-cloth, people side by side, forming a circle. In the center of the circle they could see some food. Georgy’s experienced eye immediately noticed strong drinks. He was really surprised. People were speaking loudly, but they immediately stopped talking when the man with a boy approached them. Their eyes were fixed on the unexpected, uninvited guests. In the eyes one could read surprise, embarrassment, and anxiety. Georgy himself was at a loss and did not know what to do. Luckily, Sasha came to his help.

“Dad, please ask them to show me the plane.”

“Sasha, wait, please... Hello... We’ve come amiss, as far as I see. The people are tired and they are going to have dinner. And you are so impatient to watch the plane.”

After these words, the people on the tent-cloth relaxed. They understood that they were equal to the situation. One of them, as Georgy could guess, was the boss. So, he ordered, “Well. Mechanic, take the guy and show him our falcon.” Then he turned to Georgy. “And what are you?”

“I work as an electrician in the signal office,” he answered.

With these words the pilots finally calmed down. The conquerors of the air space and fields resumed their conversation.

Georgy was sitting aside and looking at the plane, where his son and the mechanic were having a tour. At the moment his absolutely satisfied son was looking at him from the flight cabin, smiling widely.

Sashka climbed all over the plane. Then, when he was standing on the ground at last, he began chattering.

“Do you know, daddy…”

“Sasha, you’ll tell everything to me and your mother a bit later. The man must be tired. Say thank you and let’s go back to the car, your mom is waiting for us. They said thank you almost in unison. Georgy apologized again, but no one paid any attention to him anymore. The pilots continued their conversation not taking notice of anyone.”

“You know, dad, there, in the cockpit, there are two wheels, well, not wheels, but two controles,” said Sasha, keeping in step with his father.

When he got into the car, he began telling his mother, “Mom, you know, steering wheels look like horns, and there are many buttons on them. But you shouldn’t turn them, you should tilt them forward or backward, right or left. And there are two pedals at the bottom like in the car, and there are brakes there as well.”

“How can you slow down the plane in the air, I can’t understand it?”

“Not in the air, Mom, on the land. To turn right, you should hit the right brake pedal. Mommy there is a gas pedal there as well. You step down the gas pedal, the engine runs up, the propeller rotates faster, and the plane is travelling at a higher speed.”

“Listen, Mom! He is ready to fly the plane.”

“Oh, daddy, they don’t steer, they fly the plane. Two pilots do it. Can you tell me what the main device in the cockpit is? Do you happen to know? It’s a velometer, daddy! If the speed is too low, the plane will fall down. There are so many devices in the cockpit! All of them are painted in different colors. When we get home, I'll paint your gas gauge yellow.”

“I'll paint your ass, then, I'll give you a whipping, Sasha.”

“You know, mom, the pilots were drinking wine there.”

“So they won’t probably fly anymore today. They broke away from house, felt some freedom, relaxed,” said the mother and looked at her husband.

At this very time, over the road, overtaking the car, there flew a plane, greeting them and waving its wings.

“What are they doing? If they are drunk, they can get smashed. No one has stopped them.”

“When we come home, I’ll immediately go to the traffic police.”

“What for?” the wife did not understand her husband.

“I’ll tell our “general”, Nikolai Svetkin about it. He is the strictest among us all. He has fined his own father, and revoked a driving license from his brother.”

“Stop kidding! What can he do?” inquired the wife.

“I heard the pilots were joking that they could drink and no one would be able to stop them. They said there was no traffic police in the sky.”

“If they crash, they will be on the land. So, the will be under traffic police control!”

“They cannot go further than the land. There was a biplane from their department in our forestry not long ago. Something was wrong with it and it had to make an emergency landing. The pilots decided to land somewhere near the lining-out nursery, but something went wrong. There was a big puddle in the field, so they landed just into it. All the frogs are said to jump away from the field in fear.”

“Frogs don’t matter. What about people?” exclaimed the wife anxiously.

“To tell the truth, they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths. They got off with bruises and abrasions. Luckily, everyone was fastened with seatbelts.”

“And what about the plane?” asked the wife.

“They tried to pull the plane out of the swamp, but it wouldn’t go out of it. It got really stuck! They were trying hard, but they didn’t manage to do anything. Finally, they let the tractor driver go home and went to the lining-out nursery to celebrate their second birthday.”

“Dad, what about the plane that dragged into the swamp?”

“Well. At night, people began draining the gasoline and taking off the devices. That’s our reality. They were stealing the parts from the plane for a long time. No one even thought of setting a guard on the plane. Then its remains were pulled out of the swamp and taken away.”

“If I become a pilot, I won’t drink wine,” Sashka said firmly, and everyone became silent.

 

Moonwalker

The small off-road vehicle LuAZ, produced at Lutsk Automobile Plant, was popularly called “Lunokhod” (i.e. Moonwalker). Although it had nothing to do with the “Moonwalker” that proudly explored the landscapes of our cold neighboring planet, almost every villager, and especially the ones who loved fishing or hunting, dreamed of having such a vehicle. They said that having removed the canvas top from it, the soldiers were trying to take the wounded out of the battlefield on it. They believed that it would be difficult for the enemy to shoot down such a small car.

Gerka was lucky enough to get “Moonwalker”, working as a chief power engineer in the local department of agriculture. As he didn’t have any means of transport before, he had to hitch-hike in order to go to the regional farms. In general, he had to autostop, but you wouldn’t go far in such a way. They might ask you to get out of the car or a wagon any time. As they said, if you are on a strange horse, get off in the middle of the road. Gerka, of course, tried to be calm, but he often asked himself, “How could it be? I’m working hard and I’m responsible for all the fuel, but I haven’t got a vehicle of my own. Should I use magic to drive?”

Of course, he was pleased, when he got a car. Although this was not a UAZ, but it was a car anyway. As they say: “Haste makes waste” and “Something is better than nothing”.

Gerka always liked cars, especially the new models, and therefore he began to take care of his “Moonwalker”. In a nutshell, he even blew the dust away. Specialists who had already driven the car said, “Although its engine is rather weak, if you break it in, don’t misuse it, it runs.”

And Gerka tried not to overload his “Moonwalker” and did not take extra passengers or cargo. But sometimes everything goes upside down.

Gerka didn’t even expect that his boss, a prominent man of decent height and weight, would suddenly desire to drive in his plain car. He, perhaps, would not have driven, but he had to. Some lady came with a construction inspection. In those days, much was built in our region. Then there was a fashion to build different complexes. Once again they decided to compete and to win. The chef’s personal car was being repaired then. The workers from different departments who had vehicles drove away in order to be far from the office of the picky boss. Gerka hesitated for some reason and immediately was noticed by the boss.

“The boss is waiting for you,” the secretary said, when she saw Gerka in the engineering office.

“What for?” he asked in response.

“The boss said if I see someone from the engineering office, I should invite them in.”

“Maybe you haven’t seen me?”

“I don't think so. Just go.”

“It’s too late to go away,” scolded Gerka himself. “Now he’ll come up with something, he has a big fantasy.”

Having opened the door and stepped into the office, he immediately saw three people and the boss. Among them there was an unfamiliar woman.

“Take us to the complex in Polyanki,” said the chief firmly.

“How can I do that?” asked Gerka as if he did not know what to do.

“I know, that you’ve got a car. By the way, I'll see what it looks like. How do people call it? Is it “Moonwalker” or something like that?”

Meanwhile, Gerka was counting the number and weight of the passengers who were going to drive his car. Sadly, he thought to himself, “You are a buffalo, but two more cows with fat asses... “Moonwalker” may break down.”

So, he decided to argue with the boss.

“There isn’t enough space in the car!” he said.

“Don’t worry, we’ll manage somehow.”

“The car is too small to carry five people.”

“Nonsense! A new car won’t take five people!?”

“That’s just the point. The engine is too weak and not run in.”

“So, this is a nice chance to run it in. Come on, ladies and gentlemen.”

Gerka understood that all his arguments would be useless. You can’t spit against the wind. He left the office quite depressed.

Everyone crowded around “Moonwaker”. Gerka opened one of its two doors and said, “You are welcome!”

“How can we get in there?”

Then Gerka threw back the front seat.

The passengers were disappearing in the car.

“Whoops!” screamed the lady. “Damn it! I might have torn my stockings.”

Gerka was keeping silence. The chief was keeping silence too. He flopped into the front seat, and the car lifted down. Something even squeaked pitifully inside it.

Gerka got into the car, closed the door and thought: “Well, I'll give you a ride! I will.” And he started the engine.

“Its engine is working like an airplane turbine,” said the boss. He was smiling, but it was clear that there wasn’t; enough space for him on the front seat of Gerka’s liner.

Gerka switched on a lower gear and stepped on the gas. “Moonwalker” sat down on the front driven wheels and made an unexpected jump forward. The boss mechanically grabbed a handle on the instrument panel.

“Excuse me,” said Gerka. “It is peculiar to the car to start moving like that. The engine is weak. If you don't step on the gas, it will die.”

The chief silently looked at Gerka with displeasure.

The passengers behind were also silent.

On a flat road, “Moonwalker’s engine was singing diligently and the car was running rather quickly. However, soon the road went uphill. Gerka had to change gear. The sound changed. The engine groaned, but the car did not put on speed.

“What a…!” thought Gerka. “I’ll punish the engine.”

“Can’t you go faster?” the boss asked Gerka.

“I’m telling you, the engine is too weak.”

Soon the forest road went downhill. “Moonwalker’s engine calmed down. Gerka also breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed to him that he was carrying his passengers uphill on himself. Perspiration sprang to his forehead. The boss broke the silence and began talking about the construction project. Gerka was thinking with some horror how he would go back.

Suddenly, he heard a command voice that broke through his gloomy thoughts.

“Stop here.”

While waiting for everyone to get out of “Moonwalker”, the boss was scolding Gerka.

“It seems to me you do not keep a car well in hand. Come on, while we are inspecting the construction, have a look at your car.”

“Have a look at yourself!” Gerka thought to himself and replied, “If it had a tail, I would twist it or put a fire-brand under it, then it would run fast.”

On the way back, the engine died when they were driving up the hill. The car even drove back a little. Someone quietly whispered: “Oh, my God!”

Gerka stopped the car. He had to look what was wrong with the engine, he took out and cleaned the sparkplugs.

At this time, someone felt pity for Gerka. However, the boss started talking about the construction project again.

When they finally arrived at the department office, Gerka thought, “I would rather fly to the Moon.”

The passengers got out the “Moonwalker” and crowded around the car, stretching their legs.

Suddenly Gerka shuddered from a loud slam of the closing door of his “spacecraft” and heard his boss exclaiming in a displeased voice, “I will never drive this primus again!”

“Well, thank God,” thought Gerka.

Some time passed, and he got…, no, not another car, but a slap on the wrist. For what? He really did not understand the reason, but he knew that if the food was good the reprimand didn’t matter too much.