The Directorate of the Ulyanovsk – UNESCO City of Literature Program continues to publish the work of 2nd year Master’s students 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 Aliyeva, Maria Parfenova, Terekhina Anastasia) based on the translation into English of the stories of the Ulyanovsk author Valery Eremin.
About the author:
Eremin Valery Alexandrovich was born on December 10, 1946 in the working settlement of Surskoye, Ulyanovsk Region. Graduated from Sursk secondary school, Ulyanovsk Polytechnic Institute. He started his career as a loader. He worked as a radio mechanic, head of a television studio. Electromechanic in the communication center. Head of RIVS (district pharmaceutical and computing station). Chief Power Engineer of the Department of Agriculture. Lecturer in computer science and electrical engineering at the technical school. Watchman. Member of the Union of Journalists of Russia since 2012. Member of the Writers' Union of Russia since 2016. Works, books: “I’ll walk along the streets of Promzinsky” 2012, “Pebbles” 2012, “Sura round dance” 2013, “Rainbow over Sura” 2014, “Sura golden dawns” 2014, “Sura hunting spaces” 2015, “Sura golden sands” 2016, “Pictures of life. Where the Sura flows. 2017, TV. Blue light screens under Nikolskaya Gora" 2018. Since 2007, the chairman of the regional literary association "Promzinsky syllables".
Today you can read the stories, literary translation of which was prepared by Diana Aliyeva.
Diana has been studying at USU since 2016. Since childhood, she was interested in foreign languages and loved to read, so she connected her life with translation. In my free time, I enjoy translating socially significant videos on the Internet, reading literature in the original language, and playing computer games.
We invite everyone to read it, as well as readers from other countries.
They sometimes met in the store square of the village. Not on purpose, of course, but while running errands for their wives. Their spouses could not or simply did not want to go shopping that day for whatever reason.
And then they would say to their husbands:
- You should go and get some bread today.
And then they would add:
- Don't hang around too long, or you'll meet someone and forget all about it.
And the husbands, armed with their money allowance and a list of necessary goods, taking a reliable, at their age, support, a cane, set off on a mission.
Once they met and shook hands, one of them greeted:
- Well, hello, hello, Youd!
That man looked up and looked at his friend a little surprised. At first he opened his mouth silently, then asked:
- What's the matter, you're gone crazy, aren’t you?
- I don't think so, - answered the old friend. - Remember what your wife says when she asks you to do something?
- Well, wat, wat... For example, you’d bring wood to the bath.
- See, your wife calls you " Youd " and mine calls me " Youd " too. You'd do this, you'd do that...
- And you began, don’tcha?
And they both laughed.
- Well, yeah... What’s up?
- What’s up, what’s up? no need to ask.
- What hurts, what bothers you?
- It's easier to say what doesn't hurt. And you probably know and understand that when you get up in the morning and something hurts, it means you're alive...
And they laughed again, but for some reason a little differently and it got a little sad.
- Well, screw these sorenesses. I don't wanna think ‘bout ‘em. Tell me, didn't you used to work in the Agricultural Department, and you had that chief, who later became a priest?
- Yes, I worked with him, with that fellow.
- They say he was no picnic.
- That's hard to say. It's a matter of opinion. You can't please everyone. Everyone has their own quirks and whims. Some people thought he was good. After all, they brought him from somewhere and immediately elected him first secretary of the district committee of the Komsomol. And then he was the head of the organizational department of the district party committee, the chairman of the collective farm. So think about it.
- I mean, yeah, it's true. But who cared ‘bout ‘im? The Party, I guess. And he about da Party. He used to do somethin in da Party, they'd kick ‘im out, but he'd fall on his knees, beat his chest and say he couldn't live without the Party. That's how it is now. And it often helps out... But they said he liked to live by customs and newspapers, to teach and lecture on morals. But you see, it's all for show. It's easier when it's written, innit? And they made the leader of the proletariat an icon... And sometimes they say don't believe what's written. He used to believe in communism, and then that idea disappeared from his head, he began to believe in God. Everything was turned upside down in the country and in his head, too. So he decided to pray for his sins. That's good. But one pundit in this field told me that not all sins can be forgiven, no matter how much you pray. And he himself told someone, when he came to us on the holy mountain in a church form, that he had not atoned for his yet... I wonder he feels now after prosecuting believers from the holy mountain... That’s the question. But all the same, good for him. Or maybe he just had nowhere else to go. Huh? God will forgive ‘im. He was having a hard time. I guess so. Yep.
- Every tree's got its knots and hitches. There are few trees in the woods that are more or less smooth. Once it – this life – will bend and twist you. Uh-oh…
- You worked with him, right? So how is he? You know, with the bosses that were higher than him?
- What can I tell you? I remember two moments. I went into his office one day and brought him some paper. And he loved those papers so much. His whole desk was filled with papers. And they were all different sizes. And he pinned his own papers with marks like hieroglyphics on them. This thing’s gibberish. You bring in a report, he takes a glimpse and then he ticks a column and say, "Make it compared to this year." It can go on and on and on. I get bored sometimes. I tell him, "You! Give me all the years at once, and I compare ‘em to 1913, too. And then one thing lead to another. I remember I was the only one who could do such tricks. Yeah. So I bring him the report and give it to him. I say: “look at it”. He jumps out of his chair like he's got hot coals in his pants. He looks all weird and he goes to the coat rack. And I say to him, "You should look at the report." And I get in his way. And he starts barking, "Go away, go away!" He shoves me aside and tells me to hit the highway. He puts a hat on his head, a scarf around his neck, takes a coat in his hands, and runs out of the office. I tell him to hit the highway, too, but I don't think he could hear me. I come to the engineering department and say: "Guys, something happened to the boss, either with his stomach or his head. And they say to me, "Of course something’s happened, look out the window. I look, and there’s, in front of the district committee building, the car, the First Secretary's "Volga", and he himself, taking his time, goes out onto the porch. And our boss runs towards him, stumbling and trying to get his coat on. We did not condemn him, we all understood perfectly well.
- And you understand, because in all ages it has been like this, and if you do not bend, if you do not show zeal, you will immediately fall into disgrace. What can I say? If you try to ignore your wife, you will regret. It’s nature. It put that shit in a man.
- Now listen to another story. It's been a while. The secretary changed. Remember that one? He was a tough guy. He demanded discipline and justice. The men in charge had to move the booze from the plantations deep into the forest. But then they figured it out and promoted the secretary to the oblast. And the second one, became the first. You must remember all that very well. So somehow I ended up back in the same office with the same boss. Whether I worked for him or not, I do not remember. But never mind. I was sitting there, solving a problem. Suddenly the phone rang. He picked up the phone, said hello, gave, as I understood, the name and patronymic of the first secretary of the district committee. He listened for a moment, then suddenly, to my surprise, he put receiver on the table and continued talking to me. I could hear the secretary's speech on the phone. After talking to me, my interlocutor picked up the receiver from the table and said: "Okay. I understand. Goodbye," and put it back on the machine. I could hardly suppress my embarrassment and continued talking, and then remembered the incident for a long time. I realized that everything around me had changed a lot. Even now you can see how quickly everything changes. The only thing I could not understand was that a man must always remain a man.
- What's that supposed to mean? For example, if someone comes to power now and starts destroying everything, including churches. Would he run away from there? Where would he go?
- I don't know. You asked me to tell you, so I told you... Listen, I think your boss is coming over there.
- My boss?
- Your wife. Probably looking for you. Let's get out of here, or my wife will be here soon.
GRANDDAD'S BREAD OF LIFE...
Granddad was walking from the marketplace. In one hand, he held a cane made from the first element of an old telescopic fishing rod with a wooden headpiece from a door handle. The cane was light and handy. It was a bit short, though, but that was all right. It had become a much needed implement at his age. Bloody leg. Or rather, a busted knee and back started to fail him a lot. It used to be good, Sergei Spirin had a wooden front garden. And his grandfather had figured everything out. He used to make a shopping excursion, and on his way home, he knew that here on the street, on a slight rise, the "back bridge" would start to malfunction. Then he leaned on the front porch and waited for the pain to subside. Here Sergei took away the fence. So he had to adjust the third leg. Granddad sensed beforehand that the men were going to make fun of him. Like, stop pretending, you're still looking at the young ones! You're probably aiming for group, on disability one. Throw it away. Don't embarrass yourself.
That's how it worked out.
He had to make jokes all the time. For example, it was for fighting off and running away from young lady-admirers.
In his other hand, Granddad usually had a shopping bag swinging around. A loaf of “Solnechny”, “Derevensky” bread and his favourite “Hercules” oatmeal.
- They have added more money again," he said aloud.
- What are you talking about, Granddad?
He heard a vigorous man's voice behind and when he looked round he saw a young, strong, round-faced man in uniform catching up with him.
- You have to greet the elders first, and then ask questions, - granddad mumbled, and something familiar flashed in the guise of the guardian of order. - Maybe granddad had taught him in his time.
- Well, Good day! So, why are you upset?
- Upset? I'm cheerful in my own way. Do you want me to tell you some fable? Maybe you'll learn something. So, I don't know which station it was and at what time it was, and what war was going on. On the map, they marked the front line with flags. A man stands and watches. Then he says quietly: "…pinching, …pinching". And a guardian approaches him behind quietly. He listens and asks: "Who's pinching?" The man looked around, got confused and scared, and then he said: "The boot on my right foot." The guard looked at the little man and said, "But you're wearing bast shoes." And he says, "That's why I sold them."
- What about you?
- I can't quite make out what it is, it's pinching harder and harder on all sides.
THE SEEDING RATE
Once Gerka listened to his speech at some regular meeting. Then the boss was reading from the sheet:
- The seeding rate is the number of seeds cultivated per hectare, which provide a full-fledged harvest.
- And why do I, a power engineer, need this? Gerka asked himself mentally then.
And the chief continued:
- The seeding rate is expressed by the number of germinating seeds in millions of pieces, and the seeds mass in kilograms, - the speaker taught.
But time has passed. Everything began to change rapidly.
The one who headed or, as the people used to say, was the head and taught, decided to become farmers and decided to grow bread with their own hands, which in their whole life had never held a pen harder. And in order to have less expenses, our hero wanted to do everything himself: to plow, and plant, and harvest. And how he plowed, Gerka did not hear and did not see, and did not know, but how he planted, sowed, he happened to learn. Word has come down.
- Look, they say your boss, that one, who became a farmer a week ago, walked around the seeder with a tractor with a book in his hands, he walked and crammed how to adjust the seeding rate. He read aloud, looking first at the book, then at the seeder:
- Before installing the seeders at a given seeding rate, the sowing machines are checked for uniform sowing of seeds... So these are coils, these are adjusting washers, this is a regulator, these are numbers. - He said. - And everything seems to be set in, so he sits in a tractor, starts sowing, stops, starts checking, and sees that the grain turns out crushed or the distance is large. But he himself is like an agronomist. So he couldn't do it. He invited Sashka, you know him. He did everything in a minute. He says: "Sit down and work hard." And he stepped aside and started to watch an agronomist.
The tractor shuddered and slowly pulled the seeder. Sashka began to show with his hands, add speed, you know. He barely waited until the machine gave a circle and stopped near him. He checked. The seeder worked like clockwork. He says to the former boss: “Why are you so slow?” Former boss: "That's the speed the instruction gives." “The instruction gives no shit, man, you won’t sow this field at such a speed before harvesting.”
Gerka inherited this gun from her father. Where and when his father bought it, he did not know. This light, comfortable, fancy old tulka was very dear to him. When he took it in his hands, he immediately felt the warmth of his father's hands in it. His father wasn’t much of a hunter, you can say, since he was disabled, but he loved weapons. In his day, according to his stories, he also had pistols and a revolver. this was necessary in the early years of Soviet power. He wasn’t bad at shooting. Gerka had to work hard on it, too. And when he got into the hunting brigade, no one paid much attention to him and this old hammergun. However, one thing changed everything. But in general, nothing happened.
One day as a hunting brigade, having wandered through the woods in vain, they decided to stop for a bite to eat and make a decision what to do next. Despite the winter, they crowded around the hood of the UAZ car (Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant in Russia) and laid out a snack. Somewhere alcohol showed up. And all unanimously decided to stop hunting.
When the alcohol got into the hunters’ body, and the dishes became empty, someone took a sing to throw away the bottle. He was stopped. What kind of hunting is this when not a single shot was fired. They measured fifty steps and put the bottle down, but while they put it down, they remembered different hunting and life stories.
All hunting stories were retold a long time ago, and when someone presented the police one, it was greeted with long, loud, friendly laughter and comments. Here is that story.
In one locality of the district, someone robbed a shop. A young man was detained. He confessed. It was necessary to conduct an investigative experiment. All people were taken to the scene of the crime. Together with the employees of the prosecutor's office, witnesses, and the criminal, there was also an armed young policeman. A pistol flaunted on his belt, on a new harness. Its owner showed very poor results at shooting, no matter how hard he tried. Sometimes it didn't even get into the target's sheet. Nobody really cared about it. Well, with whom in the countryside to conduct a firefight? What kind of armed criminals are here? Here, nobody remembers even a warning shot into the air from time immemorial.
So the criminal shows where he left his motorcycle. How he made his way to the store through the ravine. Suddenly something went to his head and he ran. He ran at full speed along the ravine overgrown with tall grass, burdock and nettles. The thickets were slightly taller than human height. For a while, everyone was numb. Nobody expected such impudence. And when they came to their senses, the criminal disappeared into the green mass and only the receding crunch of dry stems was heard. All but the witnesses rushed in pursuit. The young policeman pulled out a pistol and shouted: “Stop! I will shoot!" And fired into the air. The pursuers ran and jumped up from the grass to determine the direction in which the criminal was running. It was like people floating down the river and diving. One of them pull his hand with a pistol out of the green thickets. The second shot rang. A high-pitches shriek, followed by terrible obscenities came from the thicket. The chase rushed to the sound and when it ran to the place where it came from, it saw the criminal. He howled and twisted on the fifth point, holding on to the leg, or rather to the heel of the leg, in which the bullet hit him.
Having calmed down after the story, the hunters turned their attention to the bottle target. The trunks of some weapons shone with cold. Bright flashes pierced the gloomy space of the winter day, surrounding the trees, trying to muffle the shots tearing the silence. With modest silence, everyone took a shot, except Gerka. The target bottle stood unharmed by the trunk of the tree. It was densely surrounded by bullet holes. Everyone was looking at Gerka. Of course, they had little faith that he would hit the “target” from his “karamultuk”. And he, to the surprise of everyone, took aim and fired. And everyone heard the sound of broken glass. That’s how the old mate trigger tulka became a sign of attention and admiration. And someone jokingly noticed that from it you can not only get into the heel, but also into the squirrel’s eye.
THE FIRST SNOW
In the evening, light fresh snow powdered the earth bound by the November frost. For two days the snow had been gradually sowing the intricate silver snowflakes from the magic sieve of clouds. In the forest, the red fire of autumn golden foliage was slowly fading away, hiding and wrapping itself in a snow-white shawl. The coming new day frowned and prepared to release into the light a new swarm of white flies from low floating clouds.
Nikolai was happy for more than a day. He often went out into the yard. He looked at the sky and at the snow lying under his feet. How he was looking forward to it! But he knew well that in the first two or three days the beast did not leave a trace on the first snow. Nikolai, you could say, was a noble hunter, and his father was quite the hunter, too.
His hunting fervor was transmitted to Elba, a piebald hound, that seeing the owner, began to bark and dance joyfully, and spin around like a top. It missed hunting for a long summer no less than Nikolai. The growing puppy involuntarily began to imitate its behavior. The hunting blood!
On the third day, to the common joy, they were in the forest. Elba, squealing, deeply inhaled such a close and native air of Zasurye. It stuck its nose into the snow and snorted merrily. From the outside, it seemed that the dog was tasting it and then quickly disappeared in the bushes behind the trees, disappeared for a long time, and suddenly appeared, looking guiltily at the owner. It seemed to want to apologize for not being able to find anyone. Nikolai went deeper and deeper into the forest. He walked around all the places that were familiar from childhood, but did not see a single hare and fox footprint and did not hear the hound barking of his favorite.
Grandfather was sitting near to home on his favorite. He looked at the alley, in which he lived and which became a part his life. A little block of wood was a salvation from the sometimes annoying home environment, especially when his wife, as he said, began to buzz. He thought that the buzzing would subside with age, but it wouldn’t, sometimes it even intensified. No, of course she was a good wife. Soon it will be like five dozen together. Life together flew in a blink. Anything has happened, of course. But now he didn't want to think about it. He sat and drank in the fresh, resilient air. Enjoying moments of peace. Sometimes he looked up and stared right at the sky. There, in its pale blue serenity, clouds rested like rare islands. Sometimes pigeons flew by in small flocks. From time to time his gaze glided over the buildings so familiar to him, over the green plantings of lilac bushes, over the white-trunked birch trees, which threw green handkerchiefs over themselves. But most of the time he looked at the road, waited and thought. Right now, someone familiar would go along it and talk to him, and tell him the news. Otherwise, you sit at home and do not know what is happening in your mother village. But there were very few pedestrians. But the cars, as he said, are like pouring out of ears - back and forth, and everyone is going somewhere, in a hurry. And why so many of them? They complain that there are no jobs. And with what money? How did they buy it? And young people are driving them. How many women in them! Look, how they drive! They drive into the alley, floor the gas, or, as the “smoke” they used to say, they push up a hundred meters downhill, accelerate, and then slow down for the same amount to turn or let someone through.
My grandfather had his own car. And he was, as he said about himself, “an old driver” and understood a lot about driving. “And at night these youths… What they do?” He thought. “You think, they take the music center from the house of culture and forgot to turn it off. Moreover, it yells at the whole Ivanovsky. And then suddenly you wake up from the roar of the engine and you don’t understand whether the plane is landing in the alley, or taking off”.
- Ah, go to hell. Some dregs climbs into my mind. It is necessary to think about the good, about the pleasant, as one doctor told me, but not to pull this nervous web out of myself, - grandfather said quietly aloud.
Suddenly, a familiar male figure loomed up the alley. Grandfather was happy. He began to peer, straining his eyes.
- Well, I can’t see anything, at least take binoculars. Is it Nikolay? Exactly. It’s him. Fancy outfit on him. Could barely recognize him. Once we worked together. But the walk is not the same. He is also off his game.
Grandfather concluded, looking at an old friend.
- Hello, veterans! - Nikolay welcomed grandfather - Why are you sitting here?
- Just decided to come out. I’m tired of sitting at home over and over. Just tired. There is nothing to watch on TV, only foreign films, and ours have become no better and tortured with advertising. On the radio – all the same – they tell about illnesses, medicines, and how to treat sores with them. Moreover, grandmother begin to buzz and “chew”. But where are you going? - asked grandfather, transferring the conversation to another topic.
- Where, where… To health institution. Need to poke. To the hospital in general. What’s new about the children's hospital, I see, they closed it or what? - Pointing at the building, Nikolay asked in turn.
- They transferred me to the district hospital, they closed the maternity hospital there, and they transferred me to it. The main thing is that the nursery was repaired, the money swelled and closed. And now someone is pounding on the windows at night.
- You say that the maternity hospital is closed now, - Nikolay asked in surprise. - Where to give birth then?
- What are you going to give birth to? grandfather laughed. - Come on, come on. Try it. I heard that in Switzerland some weirdo put a lot of money in a bank and bequeathed it to a peasant who will give birth.
- Stop lying, mate!
- I’m not at all, but if you want to give birth, please go to the region a hundred miles away.
- In the region? Then in the region. It’s not in Moscow, is it? I remember taking mine to town. Maybe it's better and more reliable. How about you? Your health? - Nikolay asked.
- So-so, - grandfather answered not very cheerfully.
- How is it? – said Nikolay.
- It’s between bad and bloody bad. It’s easier to say what doesn’t hurt, but when you get up in the morning and something hurts, it means you’re alive, - grandfather answered a little sadly but with a smile. - In general, I'm getting younger slowly.
- You know what, stop telling sad tales and petting a block of wood with your ass, it would be better to go fishing.
- Better to go fishing ... Grandma dragged two grandchildren from the city for the whole summer. How can I do it? And where? Behind the Sura, they say, the lakes dry up. There hasn't been a spill for how many years? Even carps die in the lakes.
- Quit moaning. We have enough for our lifetime, and then ... You just don’t want it, you’re lazy. That’s why you get sick, you catch up with melancholy, but you need to think about good things. Life is a fairy tale. How is it in a Russian fairy tale? The end is always happy. OK. Bye. Don’t wanna be late. And go fishing, - Nikolay advised leaving the place.
- Look at him, a homegrown “neuripitologist”... Think about the good. Everything will be fine... Three, in general... Not my cup of tea, but I laugh ... A stitch in time saves nine, no one will marry me... Everything is fine, beautiful marquise. Hands and feet are warm, stomach is soft, forehead is cold. I feel good. A light breeze pleasantly caresses my skin. The air is fresh and pleasant. The sea breathes quietly nearby. I'm in the Canaries ... But now grandma will come out and show me hot place in the Canaries! - grandfather quietly muttered, looking after Nikolay.
Nevertheless, Nikolay pumped grandfather up about fishing. In old times they, as he liked to say, “bagred” the fish out of the water together. And how much it was there ... And the memory threw grandfather back to distant childhood. He remembered the first fishing trip with his father. And after that he fell in love with fishing with float tackle for the rest of his life. In those days they fished with the wiring from the shore. A walnut rod was in the hand. A thread is tied to it. Horse hair at best. Goose feather float. The water in Sura was clean, clear, and the fish could see the bait well. But when it rained, the water in the river became dim. Back then it was no longer possible to fish with rod. But the elder brother loved such water in Sura. But not only him, everyone who was crazy about fishing. Grandfather remembered how they said that it was better to fish in troubled waters. And sometimes his brother joked about him:
- Why are you catching different trifles with your fishing rod? When it rains in the upper Sura, the water will be dim; I will show you what kind of fish you need to catch.
After such conversations, grandfather remembers, he asked his father why it is better to catch fish in troubled waters with a dragnet. And he explained to him:
- Well, when is it thick fog or dark night, can you see clearly? Right, bad. So the fish also does not see dragnet in dull water and does not know where it is swimming. It often happens in life too. They will stir up, shake up ... But this is a very, very difficult question. When you grow up, try to understand how you can move in the right direction.
Now grandfather fully agreed that in dull waters and in dull life, whoever wants to make money, it is better to catch in the dull. Besides, if you got brains, character and upbringing in this regard… And if you are unscrupulous, then... And where is the dregs, where is the dregs in Sura? She goes from above. The current drives her. It is the same in life. Even dregs in the person begins from the head. In general, from above, too ... Then, he recalled another fisherman, Vovka. He loved to shake it from below, to raise it from the bottom. He would stir up a lake or a swamp with a bucket and then sip the fish, and sometimes it would ready to jump ashore from such a poor life. Again, just like in life. But how will you jump out of this swamp in real life? It is even in nature, and in the family, everywhere. No difference. At that moment, grandfather's memories and thoughts were over. The door opened. The wife looked out and grandfather heard:
- I’m, with our grandchildren, spinning on one leg in the kitchen, sweating like in a bathhouse, and here he is, sitting on his own and daydreaming.
- Yes, I’m daydreaming, - grandfather answered calmly, and felt that the thorns began to straighten out in his soul, like a ruff.
- I just don't know what you are dreaming about.
Grandfather felt the presence of soft metal in his wife's voice.
- About what, about what. What can a person dream about? Of course, about the good things. OK. I'm coming, coming…
- Dreams, dreams, where are your sweetness?
And suddenly he sang:
- Everything is fine, beautiful grandmother, everything is fine, everything is fine...
Stepan came to Gerka for the New Year with his wife and in a new suit. In those days, it was not easy to buy good clothes, and, as they said, even imported, even if you were a doctor or a teacher. In addition to money, nepotism was needed, or as they said with a significant look: it was necessary to “get it” or “buy it from under the counter.”
Gerka knew this well. A funny and slightly curious incident even happened to him. There was a Komsomol conference in the district house of culture. The beginning was announced and the presidium was read out. Gerka, as an active member of the Komsomol and a member of the bureau, was honored, so to speak, to be present. He modestly entered the stage and sat down, sitting in the last, third row. In the first one, the leadership of the district, headed by the first secretary of the district party committee and a representative from the region, solemnly and businesslike settled down. Everything went as it should. Speeches, debates, congratulations to the pioneers. Then a break. After the break, Gerka sat down again in his place. And then an unfamiliar man sitting in front of him, turned around and said:
- What are you doing in the back row?
- Where should I sit else? If it had not been announced, of course, I would have settled in the hall.
- No, comrade, you need to be in the presidium in the first row, next to the first secretary of the district party committee.
- Why is that? I am not the first secretary of the district committee of the Komsomol. I'm fine, thanks.
- Oh, come on. Look at you. You have a suit like the first secretary of the district committee of the party, a shirt and boots, too.
Gerka involuntarily blushed.
- Well ... I... I bought it in a store...
- Gotcha, connections.
- I went to the store several times and asked. They promised me. They said come back later.
- I see. He is a bigger man than you are. You got the remnants of the special order.
- He is smarter, bigger and taller, - Gerka said calmly, narrowing his eyes cunningly.
And suddenly he felt a decent push in the side and heard:
- Stop talking. Listen to smart people!
- Actually, we also do not seem to be fools, - said the man, kept the pause and turned away.
Gerka's memories were interrupted by Lyudmila, Stepan's wife:
- You, take a walk, show them what suit I snatched off for you! I heard that they got import and ran in, and there were so many people. I ask the saleswoman: “Ae there any imported men's suits?” But she is silent and does not look. Well, I think, wait till you come to my appointment. So she ran at my work, apologizes and says that with the people it was impossible to do otherwise.
- Oh oh! Well, so lovely! And how it sits, like a glove, - Gerka's wife chirped. - You should have one like this, dark one, too.
- This is the first time I wore it for the New Year. No need to keep it in a closet. Let's go to the New Year in new clothes, - Lyudmila said with pride and a feeling of some joy.
- I, perhaps, will take off my jacket, since it’s hot in here, - Stepan said carefully removing and hanging it on a hanger, straightening his shirt.
Soon other guests began to arrive. Sat down at the table. Everything is so fun, friendly, there were jokes and laughter. They began to see off the old outgoing year, occasionally looking at the lights and the burning star on the Christmas tree, which stood in the corner of a small room on the turned on TV. They sang to the guitar, danced, looking at the clock. And suddenly they involuntarily sat down at the table and fell silent, as if listening to the inaudible steps of the passing time. The men's hands reached for bottles of champagne. Congratulations sounded from the TV screen five minutes before the New Year. Then the clear course of the Kremlin clock, and then a loud sound, announcing the beginning of the New Year. A salute of opened bottles sounded around the table, and everyone shouted Cheer! Everyone got up and drank for the New Year. Then they listened to congratulations on TV. Then they all clamored, made a noise, congratulating each other. In this noise, no one noticed how the door opened and a man of average height entered. He said hello, but no one heard him. Then he said aloud:
- Hello, everyone! Happy New Year!
Immediately everyone turned and fell silent, but then they recognized in him Yevgeny, a colleague of Stepan and Lyudmila, they unintelligibly began to invite him with the hosts to the table.
Yevgeny passed by, soneone put a chair for him and the fun continued. Soon Yevgeny felt a little hot, having taken off his jacket, he remained in a shirt with an unbuttoned collar. The level of fun kept rising. Then Yevgeny, remembering something, rushed to the hanger, quickly dressed and began to say goodbye, no matter how everyone persuaded him.
The ringing in of the New Year continued. Only in the morning, when the strength remained only to get dressed and say goodbye, the guests decided to go home.
Stepan put on a suit jacket and looked in the mirror. His cheerful mood, and with it the light hops, immediately dissolved in the coming New Year's morning.
-Listen,- he said. - This is not my jacket.
- What do you mean? - Gerka was surprised. - And the color, and everything else, and sits just well.
- Come on, look better, mine is completely new, and this one is worn.
When everyone took a closer look, it was as if the jacket was of the same suit, but it was not new.
Stepan's wife Lyudmila figured it out the fastest.
- This is Zhenya's jacket. I saw him in such a suit at work, - she said in a slightly unhappy voice and added, reassuring herself and her husband. -We’ll go to him now and exchange.
Gerka and his wife were upset. Of course, they had nothing to do with it, but they felt that they had not been attentive enough. And how can you be so cautious? ... What wonderful the New Year!
For two whole weeks, Stepan and Gerka had been trying to catch Yevgeny, but he vanished into the thin air, as they say. Everyone knew that his holiday could drag on, but in his business, he was a specialist from God and often used to say:
- Yevgeny! - referring to himself. - If you weren’t a wino, - he pointed to his throat with his fingers - you could be a professor.
But the New Old Year, Stepan met all the same in his new jacket, however, also a little worn.
Grandfather was sitting in an old armchair. He was attentively reading the local newspaper through his glasses and occasionally nodding or shaking his rather large head with a solid bald head. The remaining hair on his head was different colors and shades, like the life he had lived. His temples were covered with snowlike hair, this difficult life did its job. But this amazing artist-hectic-life did not spare his white color on his beard. Grandfather sometimes wrinkled his high, steep forehead, and then the grooves of wrinkles deepened over a straight, small, regular nose. At this time, his thick bushy and still dark eyebrows began to move. Grandfather diligently read the lines and, according to his old habit, diligently looked for something else between them. He involuntarily looked for some other angle and a different meaning looking at the photos.
His wife was cleaning up the bookcase, sometimes delving into some papers, next to him in the room. It was possible to understand from her face, she was deciding what to do with them: to throw out or to leave. Suddenly her face brightened up and she said:
- Listen, and here is the characteristic!
- What is the characteristic? - Looking up from the newspaper, grandfather asked and looked over his glasses at his wife.
She clearly read aloud: “Characteristics of a CPSU member...”
- Mine, I guess, - the grandfather told. – Let me take a look.
He put the newspaper down on the coffee table and took from his wife's hands a yellowed sheet of paper, slightly torn in places, with crumpled and bent edges. There were two clear curves on it: one horizontal, the other vertical. One could immediately understand that the document had once been folded in four, and it was carried in another document and perhaps even in a pocket. The text was typed on a typewriter. Everything was as it should be. Surname, name, patronymic, year of birth, nationality, education, place of work. Then:
- During his stay in the Komsomol organization, he proved himself on the positive side. Since 1964 he has been a member of the district committee of the Komsomol, since 1973 he has been a member of the bureau of the district committee of the Komsomol. During all this time, he proved himself as an active social activist, an excellent worker. He was repeatedly awarded with diplomas of the directorate, the badge "Excellent worker in the life service" for good work. He was also repeatedly awarded diplomas of the district committee, regional committee and the Central Committee of the Komsomol for his great work in the communist education of youth. He holds authority in the team, that’s why he was twice elected as a deputy of the village Council of People's Deputies. He constantly improves his political and general educational level, studying in the fifth year of the Polytechnic Institute. Politically literate, morally stable. Secretary of the district committee of the Komsomol, seal, signature.
This nondescript piece of paper suddenly trembled in grandfather's hands. For some reason, he involuntarily looked at the old wall clock and it seemed to him that the arrows began to rotate faster and faster in the opposite direction, and something suddenly happened to him. It seemed to him that he was young again, and very young, in general. The words he had once written echoed in his ears:
Here we are, in “Komsomol”.
We’ve got a badge on our chest.
And we are proud to have it all,
And all life roads are right ahead.
-Yes. How long ago was that, - he thought ruefully.
And he joined the Komsomol in the seventh grade at an eight-year school, which found shelter in the most beautiful building of the village in a merchant's house. At the time, he didn't even think about it. Where, when, why. New times, new worries, new things. Or maybe he hasn't grown up yet. It's always like this in life. At home, his father approved of his act, and his mother reacted calmly to this. He understood his father, who in the first years of Soviet power was one of the first Komsomol members in the village. He was elected secretary of the Komsomol cell. This brought discord into the father's family. His mother was strongly opposed. She deeply believed in God. Grandfather remembered how his father told that he had to leave home and live with his grandmother. Grandfather looked at the sheet of paper again. He remembered how he had once been elected secretary of the Komsomol organization of the school. But why? Probably because he was sociable and loved his school friends. In addition, he studied well, went in for sports, went to a circle in the House of Pioneers, drew, played chess, tried to write poetry. In general, he was not a bad guy or, as they said at school, an exemplary student. The teachers loved him for this, and in the village, it seemed to him that those who knew him also respected him. Being the secretary of the Komsomol organization at school is not an easy task. They stand out in some way, and even command among their peers, this was not welcomed. It was difficult to hold an event, a meeting, write a protocol, collect donations. Sometimes he had to knock out these three kopecks contributions of some guys with a fist. They just sometimes showed off, letting him know that he was not the boss here, but the same as all of them. Of course, teachers helped him with his work. And one young biology teacher, a Komsomol member, was even registered with a school organization along with her students. He remembered all this, still holding the paper in his hands. He could not, of course, forget that, as then, the enlargement of the districts was going on. Their district was merged with the neighboring one and the entire leadership, and some services moved there. So he had to travel more than fifty kilometers off-road to the Komsomol plenums and conferences. He remembered a snowy winter, when he had to ride in a wooden booth. But it was fun to sit in it on the straw in the company of Komsomol members. Then suddenly a funny picture appeared in his mind. He is in the office of the first secretary of the district committee. He was invited and assigned the task of speaking at the plenum. But he dag his heels in and refused to obey. Like, he was not ready, it was necessary to warn him earlier. They began to tell him that they would help, they would write, and he would only have to read. But he was adamant. “I'll speak next time, and I'll write it myself”. In the end, the secretary, as they said, gave up on him and let him go. Remembering this, grandfather involuntarily smiled. The wife, noticing that, asked:
- Apparently you like it! They wrote that everybody liked it.
- Everybody, but not everyone, - grandfather answered and put the sheet on the coffee table on the newspaper, as if closing the present time with those irrevocably gone. Then he leaned his head back on the chair, closed his eyes and plunged into new memories. Into memories of such distant, irretrievable years of his youth. The faces of classmates and shots of school life flashed by like in a movie: athletics competitions, skiing for the prize of the Pionerskaya Pravda newspaper, construction of a sports ground, making a tennis table, chess, shooting competitions, planting apple trees in the garden under mountain, school rabbit farm, girls growing vegetables.
- Didn't you fall asleep? - His wife asked.
- Well no. I just remember Komsomol affairs.
- Huh, what business did you have back then? - The wife asked slyly squinting her eyes, looking at her husband. – I remember how you disappeared after your conferences.
- Well, different kinds. Maybe you didn’t have them, that’s why you don’t have diplomas and badges from the Central Committee, - grandfather repulsed her attack. - I was a secretary in an eight-year school, there were fifty Komsomol members. Then moved to secondary school and became the O. C.
- What is the O.C.?
- The Office-in-Charge of Komsomol secretary. At that time, the district was returned to us again, then people chose that man, who later became a priest; they brought him from somewhere like a pig in a poke. It was him, who made me to be the O.C.
- Why though?
- I failed. After eight-year school, I was called to high school. They told me to take this graduate’s Komsomol affairs. I ask her: “Can you work with the documents?” She says yes. You know, that time it was summer, holidays, it was warm and I wanted to go to the river. I took a quick look at the papers. I’ll come back from the holidays - I thought - Who needs me in the summer? - But it turned they needed me a lot. They found me on the river. The Komsomol also had a plan. As it was said: the plans of the party - the plans of the people.
- What was the plan?
- What plan… Of accepting to the Komsomol. And there, who will be accepted will need to be prepared. You must remember, at the bureau they asked questions. And plenty of writing! In general, they got my back against the wall, and started to scold me. I couldn’t say a word. They blamed for everything. They put the question point-blank. If tomorrow by eleven o’clock in the morning I don’t prepare the guys for the commission, I’ll be no longer in the Komsomol.
- What did you do? - asked grandfather's wife.
- I had to run around the village to get the children, and at night fill out applications on their behalf for accepting to the Komsomol. It's good that I could copy the same pattern. I found an old pattern, and there: “I ask you to accept me as a member of the Komsomol, I want to be in the front ranks of the prosperity of communism.” In the morning, they came, signed and memorized the answers.
- And you could not do something else?
- It turns out, no. The plan was under a deadline. Then, after this story, they snubbed me for a long time.
- Why if you did everything?
- To discipline. It was impossible for them to lose their “image”, although they themselves were no less guilty.