Footprints on the Seashore 15 Lots Of Things At Once Перевод Е.П.Валентиновой ................... Mom used to read to me every day about Robinson, for half an hour, sometimes longer, Dad says, wasn’t that guy lucky, he escaped being eaten by the savages, and me, they gnaw at me daily. How do you mean – gnaw? Like this, he laughed, they bite me like savages. Wish I could give up the head doctor position, it would be less money, but it would also mean treating diseases quietly, not commanding about. Don’t even think about it, my dear doctor, says Gran, they’ll jump at the opportunity to kick you all the way down. And Mom says nothing, she is not with us. I have difficulties meeting my Robinson, it is three of us living together now – me, Dad, and Gran Fanni Lvovna. One day Mom came and said, we are to part for some time, Alik, I am going away to have my treatment in the sanatorium in a pine forest, that kind of air is good for me. You will be coming to visit me. And read the book to the end on your own, otherwise you will never know what happens to Robinson next. I have known how to read perfectly well for some time now, but I dislike doing it. How am I going to do without her… Are you to stay away for a long time? Maybe for the summer, and will come back in autumn. You think I want to go? But it looks like it is about time. Oh yes, says Gran, it was high time the day before yesterday. What a long aftermath of the War we are having, wish I died then. Mom, don’t, says Mom, I will soon come back, and you – you listen to what your grandmother tells you. He listens to what he is told, and doesn’t obey. Fanni Lvovna, we have to go, Dad is at the door already, kiss your daughter goodbye. On the cheek, says Mom, lest the bacillus hops onto you. That is how this microbe is called – the Koch bacillus, it was discovered by a German under the microscope. The bacillus is German? No, says Dad, it is common to everybody, it has no nation. Only humans could invent nations. We will win over this microbe, don’t you worry. Mom left, three months have passed, it is the rainy August now, the wind is cold, but she is not coming back. They won’t let you in to see her, says Dad, have patience. Yeah, when he himself goes to visit her all the time… Winter set in swiftly, I woke up in the morning, and there was nasty snow falling in through the upper section of the casement, Gran had left it open. After lunchtime it is dark in the street, and will stay dark till the next morning. Winter is slow death, says Gran, the cold and the darkness, life is against us. Mom would have said, come, Mom, don’t… but there is nobody to say it, and Dad is at work. The radiators of the central heating hardly give any warmth at all, the floor is icy-cold, it is not cozy under the desk any more, and in the morning one has to put the clothes on very quickly. In the evening Dad comes late, I am already asleep. Not long ago I went to buy bread, it wasn’t dark yet, Gran says, buy some rye bread, we have fatback, we will take some of it to Mom, and eat some ourselves, it is salty, you have never tasted that kind. You are all bones, some fatback will do you good. She gave me a slice of rind to chow, I made away with it in a moment. These teeth of yours sure know how to do a job, take good care of them, I have lost mine. But she has another set of teeth. Waking up in the morning I find Gran snoring, next to her is the bedside table, and on it, in a glass, two jaws shine their white teeth through the water tinted pink with a grain of potassium permanganate. You absolutely must not loose your teeth, says she. Fatback helps, you are thin, could be worms or something… Buy rye bread, salted fatback doesn’t go with wheat bread well. I bought a whole two pound loaf, received several kopeks as the change, and set on my way back, it is just going past five houses and the saw-mill. At the corner of the saw-mill a boy accosted me, he is a bit taller than I am, his head is big, he himself is very thin. I have already spotted him once, he was standing at the house across the road from ours, looking at Dad and me going to the sea, we were passing him by. And now he is blocking my way, and just when all that is left for me to make is to go past the saw-mill, our house comes next. Let me pass, say I to him, he keeps silent, and then, without saying a word, strikes me. Guess he meant to hit me in the face, but the blow landed on my shoulder. It didn’t hurt actually, but I dropped the bread, luckily in the snow, snow is clean. I wasn’t frightened, it was not a heavy blow, guess he was no stronger than I was. What do you think you are doing? And why you walk about here? He speaks Russian, but it is obvious that he is an Estonian. I live here. No, me live here, me street. We have come back. Who the guy who takes you for walks? My Dad. You must say Father. You are the Doctor’s son? Yes. We live here now. Pick up the bread, it is bread, it is. I bent to pick it up and did, though I was afraid he was going to strike me again. But he didn’t, he said gimme a piece of it. I was surprised, he could have taken the bread from me, if he had already struck me, but no, he says gimme. He is not looking at me, he is looking at the bread. I broke off a piece, the bread was fresh, he took it without saying thank-you, crossed the road to where his house must be. Turned back, said, OK, you may walk about here, you will give bread for the pass. I brought the bread home, Gran was surprised, you couldn’t wait till home, you were that hungry? only penniless beggars eat in the street. I didn’t tell her anything, things sorted themselves out. That’s what Dad says, he is in trouble – things will sort themselves out, don’t you worry, Fanni Lvovna. The important thing is that Mom is better, this medicine is a true wonder, it is an antibiotic, the Americans invented it. And Gran, in loud whisper, haven’t I warned you! Not to say a word to a soul! The very thought about wherefrom the medicine came is terrifying, and he is announcing the news at every corner, do try to use your head for a change, my dear doctor Semion Grigorievich. She calls him that when she is displeased with him. The medicine was for a patient, there was nothing wrong about it, in the War I treated the Germans too. Wish you haven’t, wish they were all dead. It’s wrong to think this way, Fanni Lvovna, though I understand your feelings. They started to inject Zinochka with it, and the results were immediate, soon she will be at home. An old friend from Germany mailed it to me, he is a doctor too. So he was treating the fascists, and is a fascist himself. He was drafted to the army, just like I was, what could he do, he was treating people, not shooting them. He was treating those who did the shooting, don’t forget about it, Sioma. On behalf of my daughter I am grateful, but I do wish you had kept silent, maybe nobody would have become the wiser. What was so noteworthy about my words?… And who could have bothered to report, who… He is asking - who… those who are ever ready to. Well, no point in talking about it now, you have already blurted everything out. She left for the kitchen, and Dad said, now Mom is sure to come back soon, the medicine is just the thing. Why don’t we have this medicine ourselves? One day we will.