gratitude, that I was never able to express.
accepted as a mere "hello" any kind of the boon that fell to
The time has passed, and I began to accept the boon as a God's gift, but
in both the cases I couldn't bring myself even to say "thanks".
I am thankful to God or to my nature for
that ease of mind with which I meet people, taking no notice of their
negative traits and seeing only the very best things that nature has donated
to a man. I am thankful to people and they do me a kindness.
I am thankful to my mother as she gave me my life, as she is always with
me and continues to be my teacher.
Every day I am thanking our Lord Almighty
for His support and protection.
I am sincerely thankful to my Fate which made me live the way it has chosen
for me; it was precisely my Fate that taught me to love and to protect
every passing day.
Yet, due to the presence of that unspoken
gratitude there always was in my soul some kind of discomfort. I tied
to soothe myself, saying that the time would come and I should be able
to say: "THANK YOU!" to everybody who, without any request entered
our life and rendered us help accepting no gratitude.
That time has come and the opportunity with
it, but my soul aches and suffers because often I am too late: somebody
has left this world forever, and others are lost having gone away by their
own much scattered ways.
My consciousness treacherously makes me
throw up the sieve in the process of sifting my memory. Like a gold-digger
at the gold-fields I sift the sand of my memory hoping to find a gold
nugget. I am sadly becoming aware that time has erased from my memory
the vividness of sensations and perception. And when all the grain of
sand has passed through the sieve I see several wonderful pieces of the
Yackov Mickhailovich Apter was
one of the gifts the fate presented us with.
His life was not a path strewn with roses, it would rather kicked him
than stroked. In the hard times of World War II he lost his parents and
became an orphan. Due to the hardships of those days the orphanage for
the evacuated children was deployed on the premises of a penitentiary
institution for juvenile delinquents. It was there, where the four-year
old boy learnt how to survive, how to fight and to protect himself.
Yackov was a Jew, but unlike many of the
people of his nationality he did not conceal that fact; just the contrary
he was proud of it.
And when he was our manager, everybody in
our team, that consisted of 26 men and women, not just deeply respected
him but loved him as one loves one' father or brother. We implicitly trusted
our Yackov carried out his orders and took care of him. And what's more,
we were proud of our corporate fraternity, as not just the work but our
life in the whole went as easy as a breath under his exacting, wise and
Yackov came to the aid when the Fate with
sudden cruelty turned its back to Pyotr and me, perfidiously putting up
yet more and more ordeals and making us spare no forces when overcoming
A lot of people connect rendering assistance
with granting financial help, but there exists such kind of help that
no money could be comparable with it.
Yackov realized quickly that the time would
come and the main burden would be laid on my shoulders in our family.
Without any warning, not even bothering to ask me about my intentions
Yackov literally treated me as if I were a blind kitten. In order to make
me thoroughly know the production process he pushed me as a dispatcher
now to one shop, then to another. He taught me, he pulled out of me the
capacities I myself was not aware of. On showing to me my abilities Yackov
tried to develop them and after that he gladly presented me with what
had inherently belonged to me.
And when Yackov Mickhailovich became the
general director of our group of enterprises and was elected to the Ukrainian
Parliament; when he had organized and became the leader of the political
party "Economic revival of the Crimea" and was working over
his dissertation, even in this case he managed to find time and opportunity
to take care of all of us and of our families.
On the 18-th of November, 2002 nine years
has passeed since the tragic death of our chief and dear friend, of that
bright energetic and much-talented man with an ardent heart, open soul
and the kindness of a child.
Such was the nugget the Fate presented me
Does he need now my words of thanks? He
doesn't, for sure. But I must say them in order to damp down that harsh
glow of reminiscences of our last meeting and of his last words said by
the true Man and real He-man. I must say them in attempt to free myself
of the incessant feeling of the loss. Lost time is never found again.
Early in the morning of the 18-th of November
1993, Yackov M. Apter went for a ride in his "Mazda". He was
expected to meet his voters in the town of Yalta, but the snowdrifts did
not let him get through the mountain pass and he had to return to our
enterprise. I wasn't reported that the "Mazda" had returned
back. In such a weather there was a lot of problems not just on the roads
but at the production shops also. So we had a very difficult working shift,
a yet the thought if Yackov had managed the pass all the time worried
my mind. Cause even the lorries had to turn back.
And suddenly the door opened and Apter came
rushing into my office. He liked to dumbfound me.
- I am already late, gal, - said he, - so
call the driver, right now I am going to the airport, as I must be in
Yalta by seventeen o'clock.
- One can go mad, - I answered him, - why
should you tease your fate? Well, you tried and were not able to manage
the pass today, why not to put it off until tomorrow?
- By no means, gal. I have promised to come
Well in accordance with our customs I told
Yackov to look at himself in the mirror and to spit over his left shoulder.
Then I let him go, praying for Our Lord's blessing on him.
When waiting for his driver Apter cast a casual glance through the window.
On noticing that there was no my car behind the window he said:
- You are absolutely right, gal. Only an
idiot will get behind the steering-wheel in such a weather.
I admitted unexpectedly even for myself:
- It is not because of the weather simply
I am short of gasoline.
Wonderingly Yackov stared at me and asked:
- Why did you tell me nothing about it?
You know, we support our disabled men and Pyotr is our man. Well, we shall
settle this question on Friday, when I come back.
And with these words he turned and went
to the door. Feeling myself at least a hypocrite I uttered with difficulty:
"Thank you". Yackov did not expect to hear these words. He stopped
and then slowly came to me and stood leaning his elbows onto my stand.
For some seconds he seemed concentrating on some point and after that
- Liudmila, the Nature created human beings
for making good things. This property has any of us, but it isn't that
everyone is always in a position to avail oneself of it. The routine of
everyday life creates too many obstacles. When trying to help you and
Pyotr I merely want to give myself a full swing in my attempts to fulfill
my program of living. And as you and Pyotr are always so close at hand,
it would have been a sin simply to pass by.
Yackov's eyes got moist and he intently
stared at me as if trying to understand if I got the meaning of his words.
Then he waved his hand with ease, came once more to the mirror and throwing
a glance at himself thrice spat over his shoulder. After that Yackov left
my office, flinging as he went: "Liudmila, you are such a slowcoach!"
I don't know what to say about my being
a slowcoach. But such are the facts that when it came to unexpected heartfelt
talks I am simply utterly at a loss. Well may be it happens so because
I have a late ignition, so to say. In the evening I told Pyotr about my
conversation with Yackov. We laughed and rejoiced a little, having no
notion that Yackov had been already dead.
In four hours after he had left my office
Yackov Mickhailovich Apter was killed in a road accident on his way to
Yalta. His death was a tragedy not only for those who were his friends
and relatives, it was a great loss for everybody involved in the sphere
of his vivid and creative activity. A month passed, and it became clear
for us that our group of enterprises was falling into decay. And through
all these nine years I have been tortured with the impossibility to explain
to my friend and mentor that I have understood his wisdom, that I am thankful
to him for everything he has succeeded to present me with.
A human being always has a right to choose.
It's only our parents that we can't choose, but all the rest is at our
disposal. And nevertheless, it would have been on the verge of blasphemy
to sit squatting and to separate the ones to whom you are going to say
"thank you" from those who do not deserve it. I put aside the
sieve of my memory where three more nuggets are left and look at my little
sand hill. On trying to concentrate on my reminiscences I say thanks to
my memory as it allows me to remember everybody who happened to be in
touch with my fate. It makes me glad to see that my sand hill is as large
as the Egypt pyramid. God Almighty! What kind of rapture moves into my
soul, when it dawns on me that the Fate is not only taking away, that
it brings us much more gifts, one has only to take notice and to accept
them with dignity.
I feel myself like embracing what as a matter
of fact is immense and unbounded. I would like to look into the eyes of
everybody whom I love and remember and to say to them: "Thank you
for your coming into our life, thank you for your strength and noble attitude
to us. I am thankful to you, because it was not that you just helped Pyotr
to pull through, you made him feel needed".
And these words "to pull through",
they have not been written for the sake of pure witticism. When due to
a serious illness a man gets in a state of physical immobility, he had
better to die at once in our Ukrainian republic. The unhappy man almost
immediately finds himself not just a member of the most unprotected social
stratum but the very pariah of the society.
And whatever you would try to pull through
you would achieve nothing when being alone. Neither bread nor medicine
or money itself, nothing will help you in such a situation. The only thing
that can help, it is to know that you are needed, feel that you are participating
in processes of life. The family alone is not sufficient in this case,
one must have friends and the group of people that will help to proceed
Maybe someone will find my inference too
cruel, but I know that there are people who know that I was too delicate
when depicting the state of disabled and physically immobile persons in
had already had the testimonial of the first grade of his disablement
and in accordance with our laws he was not to work any longer. However
he proceeded with his work at our group of enterprises, as the workers
and the management had decided that it was up to Pyotr himself to make
the conclusion if he should retire or not. This conclusion was not slow
in coming. Very soon Pyotr could not even to get to his car of "Zaporojets"
not to mention walking to his office.
He announced to his fellow-workers that
he would leave the work beginning with the next day and invited them to
a farewell party in the evening of this day. But nobody came to us in
the evening. Both Pyotr and I did not practically say a word to each other
at that time. Each of us thought about the life, which was to begin with
the next morning, and we both knew that it had nothing good in store for
us. Probably the same sad thoughts visit the elderly people when they
are retiring on a pension. But in the case of the young man who was only
37 years old, of the young man, who knew perfectly well that within less
than a year all his life would be confined by very small space, it was
But on the next morning somebody rang our
doorbell and Vladimir Koshin appeared at the threshold.
He merrily winked at me and not taking off
his coat looked into Pyotr's room and growled with the sham crudeness:
- Are you going to lie in this bed for good?
Get up it's time to go to work!
The insomnia tortured Pyotr all night long and he fell asleep just at
- Volodya, what are you speaking of? My
dear friend, I have no force any longer, I am over and done with.
- I know nothing about it. You have ten
minutes to get up and make yourself ready.
And with these words he took the keys of our garage and went away.
I do not know why, but I was sure that it
was not the night yet and that the time of our terrible "tomorrow"
was still only to come. I quickly got Pyotr ready and sat close to him
not saying a word.
So we sat in silence anxiously listening
to all the sounds and hoping to hear as soon as possible the sound of
our dear "Zaporojets". At last we heard it: the roar of its
engine tore the morning peace and it was the impression as if a herd of
bulls were sent to the shambles. I did not believe my ears and rushed
to the balcony.
It would have been a pity if I did not tell
you what I saw. My beloved "Zaporojets" balked with all its
might and main; it jumped and jerked along the road belching and roaring
all through neighbourhood. Like a wild mustang it tried to get free of
Vladimir. I stood on the balcony looking at that picture with secret pleasure
and satisfaction, as it was me alone whom my beloved machine obeyed to
Vladimir did not know that one had to step
three times on the treadle before the brakes of our car began working.
So when he professionally made the car stop by pressing its right wheels
to the border stone beside the entrance of our house his face was both
frightened and bewildered.
On leaving the car Vladimir unsuccessfully
tried to calm down. Leaning back on the car and laughing through tears
he struck himself in the chest and said that he had never experienced
anything of such a kind. On that I maliciously explained to him that he
himself had got it coming.
Though nervy this merriment was just what
was necessary at that time. All of us realized that Vladimir had made
the choice which was to be made by us, and had proposed his solution of
the critical situation and that was a serious thing but not a job for
As soon as he got acquainted with my means
of transportation, all the assumed gayety of Vladimir disappeared and
further development of the complex psychological situation went more or
The too thickset men looked at each other,
trying to find out by what means they would be able to deliver Pyotr to
- Fellows, did you ever go to the kindergarten?
- I asked them. - There is one way to do it, it is like in a game when
you go for a ride on the back of your friend. Vladimir was quick to catch,
he squatted before Pyotr letting at his disposal his own strong shoulders
and neck. A long pause that followed this action erased the last vestige
of jocosity. One could see the conflict taking place within Pyotr's soul:
he couldn't let himself be carried in somebody's arms; and because of
his emotional state he couldn't even raise his hands to say nothing of
getting firm hold by the friend's shoulders.
Were it not for Vladimir's insistent nature
Pyotr would sure have given up this idea and stayed in. In this case our
life would have gone along the very worst scenario.
But Vladimir wasn't going to spend time on blah of any kind. Taking Pyotr's
arms he wound them around his own neck and said rather roughly:
- You see, I am in a hurry, at seven o'clock
the distaff will be waiting for my instructions and you are lingering
here! - Then he added some more words, speaking more calmly and seriously.
- Pete, to decide what you can and what you cannot it's not up to you
any longer. You had better hold yourself and make it fast.
And with these words he carefully heaved
Pyotr on his shoulders and cautiously carried him to the car. In my emotional
state I could only mumble some rambling threats:
- God save you from dropping him down or
I shall kill you! Just you get his arms or legs broken and I'II kill you!
In the evening you are to hand him over to me safe and sound or I really
shall turn you into shambles!
Vladimir's question gagged the waterfall
of my threats.
- You had better tell me what have you done
to the fulcrum of the steering gear?
- And what can happen to it? - such was
my answer. - It's okay now. I have inserted a wooden chip into the clamp,
it holds fast.
Suddenly Vladimir stopped as if he were
stumbling and turned to me. Four eyes of the two engineers were scrutinizing
When it dawned on them that I was not joking
at all, they unanimously whispered with fear, asking if I really was so
silly as to have inserted a wooden chip into the fulcrum clamp?
- Boys, there is nothing to be worried of,
- I tried to calm down them, - the chip is of teak wood, it will not crush.
Vladimir seemed to have already no force
to laugh till he cries and yet he managed it once more.
- Pete, - he asked through tears, - how
are you? Are you alive?
- Yes, my dear friend, I am for the time
And with this the two friends left the house
and I ran after them in order to show them the place I had inserted the
chip in and to prove that it was quite safe in handling.
Vladimir with care lowered Pyotr onto the seat beside the driver's and
told me to open the hood of the luggage compartment. One can hardly describe
the picture that appeared before Vladimir's eyes. An accumulator with
the discharge capacity 132 ampere-hour occupied the most part of the boot.
And among the sundries always filling such boots there was my wooden chip
that proudly stuck up from the clearance in the clamp.
Vladimir sensibly decided not to scare Pyotr
and at the same time he couldn't help laughing. At last he waved his hand,
closed the hood and sat beside his friend, capable to ask him only one
- Did you take this accumulator out of the
- Volodia, but what place did she put this
chip in? - For God's sake, spare my soul, Pete, or we shall never be able
to get to the place. She put it to where it is needed. When we come to
the plant I shall show you and you'll say: "I'll be damned!"
In such a merry mood the two friends and
hefty fellows, with whose presence my baby-car looked even smaller, started
the engine and in no haste went to our plant.
And having sent our children off to the
school I went to my bed and quietly fell asleep knowing perfectly well
that both my Pyotr and my "Zaporojets" are in attentive and
reliable hands. I felt as if I were unloading the bricks during the whole
At that time I wasn't aware that Pyotr's
fellow-workers had had a mechanical loader prepared for him at the entrance
of the shop. I wasn't aware that his office had been decorated anew and
was within a week connected to all the systems of communication, so that
Pyotr's life would be more interesting and full.
Where can I find any proper words of gratitude
since within four years Vladimir Koshin day after day was regularly taking
Pyotr to work in the morning and delivering him home in the evening? And
rather often they passed by our home, going sometimes on busyness trip,
sometimes to their men's entertainments.
Vladimir and his family were not just our
friends; they have become a part of our family. And whatever the fate
has in store for us we do not lose each other, we are together
of a feather flock together and when it comes to the hunting, it is such
a strong passion that even the threat of divorce won't be of any help
in this case.
One can see a hunter from a long distance. When a man has nearly lost
his footings and when a rucksack and a double barreled gun with the barrels
down are dangling on his shoulders, there is no doubt: it is a hunter.
And besides if he has a hunting-dog that, deadly tired though it is, is
pulling with its end of the lead its master home, no woman in the world
should marry such a man.
Cause this man is not merely a hunter he
is the confirmed one. The passion of these fellows is bordering upon madness
and whatever obstacles you would try to invent, all the same you will
have to surrender and to put up with the life of the hunter's wife. No
kind of reformation will improve those fellows and even the most candid
of them will think up a lot of loop-holes and will run away to their hunting.
And having got into the reanimation ward,
being within a hairbreadth of death the confirmed hunter even there will
count on his fingers how many days or months are left till the hunting
season and if he has enough time to get out of the ward.
Such is the treasure the fate has endowed
me with. I meekly accepted Pyotr's way of life, realizing quite well that
any argumentation would yield nothing, that it would be better to give
On one Sunday evening in winter Pyotr happened
to be five hours late from hunting. The
day was declining and the weather was wonderfully fine. The fluffy flakes
of snow were dancing in the air, they lingered on the branches of trees
and fell on the ground.
The Gods seldom treat citizens of Kerch
to such fairytale. The fact is that the two seas govern the weather in
our region, and the snow here is either quickly washed away by the rain
or swept away by the wind.
My two-year-old son Vassilyok was not sleeping,
he sat by the window and watched with joy the flight of the snow-flakes.
- Sonny, there are no things worse than
to wait for somebody and to catch up with somebody. So let us go and meet
So I put my son into the toboggan and we
leisurely went to the small square, which would serve as a meeting place
for our hunters.
The sane and sensible people were leaving
cinemas after the last house of the day, groups of youngsters went for
a stroll after dancing and solely Vassilyok and I were waiting for our
hunter. Suddenly there appeared a lorry with a tarpaulin cover, it stopped
on the square and it became clear for us that it was the automobile with
the hunters we have been waiting for.
Joking and laughing the hunters speedily
got out of the lorry. They helped each other to get down and they bade
farewell with such passion as if they were departing forever. I saw my
husband in this mob. As I demanded the strict maintenance of our home
discipline I proudly thought that Pyotr would be afraid to come to us
in fear to get it hot. But though he had got drunk up to his ears he approached
us with a wide and bold smile. It appeared that the lorry had got stuck
in the snow and all the way home the fellows had to warm up themselves
with booze. Was there any sense to scold him?
I made Pyotr sit down into the toboggan
and hung on him up his rucksack. After that I crammed in my son between
Pyotr's knees and told him to hold the bandolier. All I had to do now,
it was to sling Pyotr's shot-gun over my shoulder and to get my men home
not letting my peaceful state of mind leave me.
The snow went on falling and that was pacifying
too. In spite of the late hour the people were not in a hurry to get home.
I with pleasure carried home all my belongings and my treasure was trying
to sing an old romance: "Don't go away, stay with me".
When passing a bus stop I felt myself the object of public attention.
Turning back I saw a large cluster of men who watched in bewilderment
And suddenly somebody cried out:
- Liudmila, what place are you going from?
- Oh but I am carrying my Pete after his
hunting! - I said it quite matter-of-factly.
A second had not yet passed and everybody
at the bus stop burst out laughing. Having not seen the reason for that
laughter I turned to look at my men. Nobody was lost both my husband and
my son were sitting in the toboggan and smiling happily. What was there
to laugh at?
But then it dawned on me that I had had
on an elegant white fur-coat made of llama fur, and a refined hat that
lacked only a veil; that a little muff had nestled to my breast and a
shot-gun slung over my shoulder. And after I fancied myself having been
dressed in all this and pulling the toboggan with my people, I burst out
laughing and could not stop until I began to hiccough. With this laughter
went away the last traces of my anger.
On the next day having returned home from
his work my treasure asked me, if it was really so that I had carried
him home in the toboggan.
- No, it wasn't, - I answered him, - I had
carried you in my arms.
- And was it true that I had sung some romance?
- No, my dear, you yelled on the top of
your voice as if you had gone crazy.
It seemed that when at work Pyotr had been given a more picturesque version
of our night trip.
- Forgive me, Mother, I do not remember
anything. And I know no romances, - Ryotr confessed.
- Pete, dear, after the fifth little wine-glass
I myself begin speaking English. So calm down, everything was all right.
I loved Pyotr and that was why I accepted
his way of life without any objection and was not sorry for that afterwards.
I have understood that a true hunter is the man, who both earns the living
and protects home, the man whose soul will never grow old; it is such
a man who will always be a romantic. There exists an opinion that in our
practical world there is no place left for romantics but that is not true.
Einstein would have never been the great Einstein had not he been a romantic
in his heart.
The confirmed hunters form that strong
and amicable fraternity of romantics which is reliable and always ready
to offer a helping hand. The members of this fraternity have sensing souls,
and they at a glance understand each other
Pyotr's case serves as a convincing confirmation
of this statement. The time came when he could not even dream of hunting.
The illness deprived of strength his legs but Pyotr's arms were still
August was drawing near and a hunting season
with it. I daresay the opening day for a hunter is perhaps more important
than the wedding day of his own son. And really only those poor fellows
who were lying in a reanimation ward could miss this jubilant day.
Pyotr realized quite well that for him the hunting was over. But the nearer
was the opening day, the more anxious became Pyotr. Our children and I
were trying not to take notice of his strain and not to touch the topic
Several days before the opening day individual
hunters as well as the whole groups of them began to ring up to Pyotr
and to invite him to open the hunting season together with them. Pyotr
had no forces to explain to them the real state of things, he tried to
come back with a joke saying that it was me to blame for everything as
if it were me alone who did not let him to go to the hunt.
In order to persuade me Pyotr's buddies
began to persecute me by day and night until I couldn't stand it any more.
- Fellows, - I said, - what are you speaking
of? He can not even walk to say nothing of hunting. Do not torment Pyotr,
leave him at peace and give him time to get accustomed to his state!
Naturally Pyotr's buddies had no notion
that for Pyotr even a month was a large and taking away forces stretch
of time; that within the eight months that had passed since his last hunting
season there was a lot of alterations in his health and all of them were
not to the best. We never made it known that Pyotr was seriously ill we
were only saying that something wrong was with his legs.
The fellows were dumbfounded with this news.
Vladimir Shoomack looked intently at me and by expression of his eyes
I could see that some ideas were generating in his head.
I told him:
-Volodia, take it easy, there is no any
other alternative, I myself am racking my brains with it,
- I know nothing about getting accustomed,
- Vladimir answered me, - but by the evening Kyrreyev ought to be in full
readiness. We shall hunt at sunset and at dawn with passing the night
- With great pleasure!
That was my reply to this unexpected friendly
proposal. The life, the interesting and full-fledged life was still going
on in spite of all the circumstances.
When my work was over and I came home I found Pyotr out. The shot-gun
the rucksack and all the other his hunting utensils were absent too. The
children and I were happy that Pyotr went to hunt; so we make up a kind
of convivial supper before our TV-set. And later our happiness received
an unexpected additional development.
At three o'clock in the morning somebody
rang at our door. I opened the door. The hunters that worked at the road
transport firm were standing on the threshold.
Trying to speak in as low voice as possible
the fellows intended to squeeze into Pyotr's room. I myself still not
quite awake looked at this picture with inner complacency.
- Boys, -I said at last, - don't waste your
time or you will be late for the hunt at dawn. Your
friend has already had the sunset hunt and soon he will begin his morning
In the whole the boys seemed not especially
surprised. They unanimously said good bye to me and hurried one after
another to meet coming morning and to open their hunting season. And the
age of this boys was close to fifty years and even more
One can hardly describe that miraculous metamorphosis that takes place
in their souls with beginning of every hunting season. Children's pranks
and raptures of the youth were awakening in the souls of these "boys"
and on rushing recklessly to that hunt of theirs they forgot about the
lumbago, the hypertension and all the rest illnesses that plague them
the whole year round. The "boys" are eager to feel their unity
with the nature, to meet their friends to experience new adventures. Having
returned home they bring with themselves their rapture and all the kinds
of cock and bull stories about their adventures and victories.
Even if a hunter returns home "empty",
i.e. with no game at all, all the same, he brings home his rapture and
joy. Those were the blessed experiences, still donated to my Pyotr for
several following hunting seasons.
I never argued with his friends, their merry
state of mind infected me and I only threatened repeating incoherently:
- God save you from dropping him down or
I shall kill you! If he gets wet and catches chill, I shall kill you once
again. And if, God save us, you somehow lose my Kyrreyev, then I shall
kill you for sure.
My threats seemed more pleasant for them
than my words of thanks. What could I do if in this case the expression
"Thank you" would have looked miserable and irrelevant.
There exist no words to express my gratitude to the fellows that did not
leave Pyotr alone face to face with his misfortune. The game did not matter
in this case, each of us knew that when being with his friends Pyotr might
not feel a disabled man.
Whatever was the weather I gladly let Pyotr
go to hunting. I knew that time would come and the hunt forever would
not be his lot any longer.
I happened to see and to experience much
during these hunting seasons, every of which was an epic, and I hardly
could be surprised with anything. Yet one case had astounded me.
When Pyotr's friends were about to hunt
in the swamps they decided to take him with them. Everything was more
or less settled and clear, when they took Pyotr to hunt from a boat or
a motorboat in the lagoon and when they were hunting in the field or in
the forest. But I failed to fancy how they would hunt in swamps when Pyotr
was with them.
- My dear friends, - I asked them, - would
you mind explaining to silly me in what way Pyotr will be moving, sitting
and hunting in the rush? He can easily bog in the mire or get lost in
the rush. Or, and that is worse, some trigger-happy shooter will get him
by evil chance.
Vladimir Shoomack looked at me with his
smiling and sly eyes and said.
- Do not worry, Mom, everything is taken
I took in at a glance Vladimir, whose height
was close to two meters, and my Pyotr, who was just a bit lower, and waved
my hand, saying:
- Do whatever you find necessary. You are
clever fellows, so it's up to you to decide.
And just in several years I happened to find out in what way this heroes
had managed that hunt in the swamps.
The driver of our messenger car, a silent
sexagenarian Vassily, who never speaks more than two words running, but
who gets utterly talkative as soon as he begins his narration about his
army service or about his hunt, told me this story.
So, one day when he was hunting in the rush
Vassily had set afloat his wooden snide ducks that were to attract the
live ones and dosed a bit awaiting the dawn. He woke up with a start because
some hefty fellow was moving right in his direction. Moving aside the
reeds that fellow pulled after him an inflatable boat and there was another
hefty fellow who sat in the boat and held two shot-guns. Vassily decided
at first that he had dreamt the picture. Than he realized that he wasn't
sleeping that all that was simply a kind of senile hallucination and that
meant only one thing, that he was getting too old.
But the fellow, who was pulling the boat,
calmed down Vassily.
- Don't be scared, old boy, - said he. -
It is just a new style of hunting.
- And why the second feller has the two
guns and is sitting in the boat? - Vassily asked.
- But he shoots best and as to the boat,
to move in this way is more convenient and we can have bigger game.
As almost all the hunters Vassily was an
excellent story-teller, and being warmed up by the sincere attention of
the listeners and by the wish to make his own deeds more vivid, that time
he was at his best. The group of drivers that had gathered around him
was laughing most heartily. By God this narration was worth publishing.
The drivers were laughing, but I was not
at ease at all. Now I knew, who were the heroes of this story, I was clear
for me, that Vladimir Shoomack had thought up this trick with the boat
so that my Pyotr could have one more opportunity to hunt. It is difficult
to imagine how much forces one must spend pulling rubber boat through
the rush. And just a confirmed hunter is given the capacity to appreciate
the kind of stamina one must have in order to give up the sure shoot to
his friend when the game is flying up right over one's head. Vladimir
knew that Pyotr had no time left for hunting, but he himself was strong
and healthy and all his hunts still are waiting for him.
And what impressed me most of all was the
fact that Vladimir was simply a worker without any high brow aspirations
and pretensions to have them. He looked a silent man lacking amiability
and not quick to make friends. And all the more it is wonderful, how much
kindness, moral strength and generosity were given to this fellow.
It may be that only his wife, his modest
and always amicable Tanya knows best of all what she loves her husband
Ten years have already passed since the
days of that wonderful hunting season. And every time I come across this
man I would like to tell him not mere words of gratitude but to express
my deep respect for his moral force for his kindness and genuine nobility
that is always in great demand. But during our chance and short meetings
all that I manage to tell him are the next words:
- You have only one week to visit Pyotr.
If you do not come, I shall kill you!
And as it was ten years the looks of Vladimir's eyes once again became
softer and they begin to radiate joy.
But sure thing, Mom, - our friend is promising,
- I am sure to come.
But he seldom visits our home. Every of us is over head and ears in his
own troubles and misfortunes... .
So, dear girls, if you see before you a
fellow which has nearly lost his footings and has a rucksack and a shotgun
dangling on his shoulders be sure: it is a hunter. And what's more, if
this fellow has a hunting dog that, tired though it is, is pulling with
it's end of the lead it's master home, marry this fellow and you will
make no mistakes.
Of course your future life will not seem
to you a paradise, but may be it is even for the best. Because the life
in the paradise is too boring and dangerous thing.
was not difficult for me to tell a story about two first Vladimirs, but
when it comes to Vladimir Gubarev, no short story comes out well, one
must write a novel. I do not remember when and how he came into our life,
it seems to me that was always with us. The Nature lavishly endowed this
handsome man with brains, with an intrepid and generous soul and with
deep understanding of people. All this noble traits of character were
in full present in our friend. If there still exists some notion about
the image of the Russian warrior - that is how our Vladimir looks like.
If the famous Russian Levsha, the man who shod the flea, is really living,
once again it is our Vladimir. I daresay that it was he, who has given
me the opportunity to realize that everything one has to be in contact
with must belong to Art, even when it comes to one's own destiny.
The fate is ruthless practically to any
of us today. Vladimir went to Siberia neither in a search of silver mists
nor for the sake of romanticism; no he went there in his search of work.
Soon the time came and his family joined him there. When I come to think
that now they are far away in Siberia, that I can't any longer drop in
at their place and share with them my joy and my sorrow, bitter sadness
envelopes my soul. When their summer vacation is over, every time I see
my friends to the railway station an involuntary alarm squeezes my heart:
may it be so that it is our last meeting? We are too far from each other,
the fate has scattered us too far away, on such a distance one can't hold
out one's hand or offer a shoulder. We love and remember them and it is
the only thing that brings us some consolation… .