Arpith Siromoney đź’¬

Boris Pasternak - Doctor Zhivago

At the seventh hour by church time, and by common reckoning at one o’clock in the morning, a wave of soft, dark, and sweet droning separated from the heaviest, barely moving bell of the Vozdvizhenye and floated away, mixing with the dark moisture of the rain. It pushed itself from the bell as a mass of soil washed away by flooding water is torn from the bank and sinks, dissolving in the river.

This was the night of Holy Thursday, the day of the Twelve a Gospels. In the depths behind the netlike veil of rain, barely distinguishable little lights, and the foreheads, noses, and faces lit up by them, set out and went floating along. The faithful were going to matins.

A quarter of an hour later, steps were heard coming from the monastery along the boards of the pavement. This was the shopkeeper Galuzina returning home from the just-begun service. She walked irregularly, now hastening, now stopping, a kerchief thrown over her head, her fur coat unbuttoned. She had felt faint in the stuffy church and had gone outside for a breath of air, and now she was ashamed and regretted that she had not stood through the service and for the second year had not gone to communion. But that was not the cause of her grief. During the day she had been upset by the mobilisation order posted everywhere, which concerned her poor, foolish son Teresha. She had tried to drive this unpleasantness from her head, but the white scrap of the announcement showing up everywhere in the darkness had reminded her of it.

Her house was around the corner, within arm’s reach, but she felt better outside. She wanted to be in the open air, she did not feel like going home to more stuffiness.

She was beset by sad thoughts. If she had undertaken to think them aloud, in order, she would not have had words or time enough before morning. But here in the street these joyless reflections fell upon her in whole lumps, and she could have done with them all in a few moments, in two or three turns from the corner of the monastery to the corner of the square.

The bright feast is at hand, and there’s not a living soul in the house, they’ve all gone off, leaving her alone. What, isn’t she alone? Of course she’s alone. Her ward, Ksiusha doesn’t count. Who is she, anyway? There’s no looking into another’s heart. Maybe she’s a friend, maybe an enemy, maybe a secret rival. She came as an inheritance from her husband’s first marriage, as Vlasushka’s adopted daughter. Or maybe not adopted, but illegitimate? And maybe not a daughter at all, but from a completely different opera! Can you climb into a man’s soul? Though there’s nothing to be said against the girl. Intelligent, beautiful, well-behaved. Way smarter than the little fool Tereshka and her adoptive father.

So here she is alone on the threshold of the Holy Feast, abandoned, they’ve flown off this way and that.

Her husband Vlasushka had gone down the high road to make speeches to new recruits, as a send-off to their feats of arms. The fool would have done better to look after his own son, to protect him from mortal danger.

The son, Teresha, also couldn’t help himself and took to his heels on the eve of the great feast. Buzzed off to Kuteiny Posad to some relatives, to have fun, to comfort himself after what he’d gone through. The boy had been expelled from high school. Repeated half the classes and nobody said anything, but in the eighth year they lost patience and threw him out.

Ah, what anguish! Oh, Lord! Why has it turned out so bad? You just lose heart. Everything drops from your hands, you don’t want to live! Is it the force of the revolution? No, ah, no! It’s all because of the war. All the flower of manhood got killed, and what was left was worthless, good-for-nothing rot.

A far cry from her father’s home – her father the contractor. Her father didn’t drink, he was literate, the family lived in plenty. There were two sisters, Polya and Olya. The names went so nicely together, just as the two of them suited each other, a pair of beauties. And the head carpenters who called on their father were distinguished, stately, fine-looking. Then suddenly they took it into their heads – there was no want in the house – took it into their heads to knit scarves out of six kinds of wool. And what then? They turned out to be such knitters, their scarves became famous throughout the district. And everything used to give joy by its richness and shape lines – church services, dances, people, manners – even though the family was from simple folk, tradesmen, from peasants and workers. And Russia, too, was a young girl, and she had real suitors, real protectors, not like nowadays.