Progress report 2/Отчет о работе 2
Представляем Вам еще один отрывок из переведенной главы. Сроки нашего проекта немного сдвинулись, но мы ожидаем, что перевод будет закончен к началу сентября этого года.
Тем временем, книга уже переведена и издается в Прибалтике: здесь представлена обложка из Литвы, в Эстонии книга уже опубликована, в Латвии сдана в печать.
Как всегда, огромное спасибо за вашу поддержку!
Below is another except from a translated chapter. The project deadlines have been slightly delayed, but we do expect the translation to be finished by September 2016.
Meanwhile, the book has been translated and is being released in the Baltics: below is the cover from Lithuania, the Estonian version has been already published and the Latvian translation is at the printing stage.
As always, many thanks for your support!
Команда BNRW team
EXCERPT FROM AIRPORT NOVEL, translated by Alexander Cigale
It is amazing how sometimes life is hanging by such a thin thread, that many, even the majority of events occur by pure chance. Yes, the chances that something in particular will happen are more often than not so meager that the event itself seems miraculous. In 1987, during a torrid and humid Moscow August, he had returned from the officer training camps smiling, tanned, lean, muscular and happy. Not for a single day was he sober that summer. To be entirely truthful, he hadn’t been sober a single day since he had returned from the army in 1984 and was admitted to the hallowed ICAA or “Institute of the Countries of Asia and Africa at MGU,” which was still generally called by its old name, the Institute of Oriental Languages. By the third class period, and sometimes even by the second, he was practically, and chemically, tanked, and the remainder of the day, and the days then were distinguished by their unboundedness, consisted of port, girls, guitars, port, girls, women, port and once again girls. Or women. When you put it that way, towards evening, that tenuous line was erased. In the morning, as though nothing had happened, he would run five kilometers along the shore of the Khimki reservoir, do his crowning thirty-six upside down pull up – roll overs on the chin up bar, and generally didn’t have the slightest clue what a hangover was. Instead of blood, his veins flowed with port, and his head was filled only with girls and women, or the reverse, and with nothing else. On that August evening, he was drinking with his buddy, Sasha Filimonov, in a tiny hidden closet space. The door to it led through the secret back wall of a wardrobe in the front office of the Sputnik hotel, where Sasha, his classmate, having shirked military duty on a health-related discharge, worked part-time as an on-call night administrator. Sasha took leave to take care of business (made a run to get some port; in those fairy tale Soviet times, port was not just the popular drink of the most progressive Soviet youth, but it was also in the habit of running out at the most important moment.) Siting in this “beyond the looking glass” space, Alexei answered several phone calls for Sasha and, without understanding it himself, became privy to information which, just after another several minutes, turned his life upside down, and the lives of other people as well. Soon, Sasha returned, and the libations resumed. And shortly Alexei was sliding-running his unsteady index finger down the list of Rayas, Natashas, Lenas and Olgas in his grease-stained little phone book… But just then, the room was graced by someone’s presence, following upon a knock on the door, stylishly accentuated heeled footsteps and the rustling of a dress. Sasha came out of the wardrobe and launched into a conversation with some young woman who wanted to know when a group of tourists from the GDR would be arriving. Sasha didn’t have a clue about any of it. His friend, possessing that very piece of information, acquired in the course of his brief telephone conversation with a person unknown, yelled out from beyond the wardrobe: “Their flight to Irkutsk was cancelled. They’re arriving tomorrow at the same time.” “Oh boy, who might be that voice in your wardrobe?” their female guest inquired with a tone of genuine curiosity. “We have a little talking doggie residing in our wardrobe,” Sasha joked, his tongue tied up in knots. “Does your dog’s name by chance happen to be Alyosha Molchanov?” the young woman continued insistently and with a certain note of hope in her voice. Intrigued, Alyosha came out of the closet, swaying from side to side. After some yelps of surprise, amazement, elation, anticipation and promises, tight embraces and friendly, though in the course of events transforming into something more reciprocal, smooches, the young woman-guide-translator, concurrently a ravaging beauty, a distant relative of Leo Tolstoy, and more simply put, a communist youth party-sportswoman, whose name was Tanya, was dragged into the closet. Sasha once again went out on a port run. And the banquet continued.
Tanya and Alexei had attended the same kindergarten (she even remembered how he had instigated their training potty races, a historic episode, that had completed escaped his memory,) and then they had studied in parallel classes, until his family moved to a different neighborhood. One time, when they were about thirteen, their two classes went on a hiking trip. There, by the campfire, Alyosha sang all of Vysotsky’s songs, one after another, until his voice faltered on “The Sail” (the sail had been torn). “I repent, I repent, I repent...” Alyosha croaked, and all the girls, including Tanya, looked at him with eyes full of longing, if not love. At that moment, each of them wanted to dive with their hands into his thick, curly head of hair.... As a matter of pure chance, Tanya was destined to recognize in those few words, emerging out of the closet, the familiar hoarse notes of Alyosha’s voice. After another three hours, two bottles of port, twenty kisses, a thousand stories and a sea of reminiscences, Tanya and Alyosha were speeding away from a dark street in the South East area t, alone in the dimly lit interior of an Intourist bus, which Sasha had requisitioned for said purpose not long before his complete loss of consciousness. They sped through the dark and rainy streets of Moscow, toward Pravda Street, to the house with the idiotic but unbearably symbolic address, “1/2,” where for Alexei, irretrievably and forever, his first, drunken half of life came to an end and the second half began, no less sober of course, but entirely different, filled with love, happiness slightly spiced if not tarnished with all sorts of concomitant problems. Tanya’s strict mother, a widow, an instructor at the Mining Institute, was on vacation in Crimea. Tanya’s sister, Ksyusha, two years’ younger than her, was also away on vacation, in Abhazia. And Tanya’s three-year-old son from her first, short-lived marriage, Egorka, was taking the resting cure for his weak lungs in a sanatorium, in the Moscow region provincila town of Zvenigorod. The childhood friends, whose relationship status was torridly changing, had at their disposal a three-room ... bed, hot water, three bottles of port and two of Cassis, and the remainder of the night, which had another two or three days to run. In a rare moment of clarity amidst the alcohol- and testosterone-fueled inebriation, when Alexei made his way out into the long corridor, he met the grandly demure shade of a raven-haired young woman, who was leaning so forcefully with her back against the wall that it seemed she was attempting to go through it, and forever disappear from his life, like a «like a vision fleeting, a beauty's angel pure and clear». This was how Alyosha and Ksyusha, Tanya’s younger sister, met. Ksyusha had unexpectedly returned from Gudauty. A couple of days after the final regaining of their senses, Tanya informed Alyosha that she was leaving town on a few-day work trip , and asked that in her absence, if he could kindly visit Egorka, languishing alone in the sanatorium. For the record, by that moment, passionate Alyosha had already found time to make a proposal of his hand and heart, and Tanya would have to choose between him and a dozen other suitors, tramping on the threshold of Moscow’s greatest beauty. Of course, she had already made her choice, an unsurprising one, but she declared that she would announce her decision after a week, when she returns from her trip. Truth be told, the “competition” was lacking the principle of fair play, inasmuch as Alyosha had for some time already, so to speak, had both feet firmly planted inside the household and so practically had an unassailable home field advantage over his fellow seekers for Tanya’s hand in marriage, who were cooling their feet in uncertainty on the periphery. At that moment in their conversation and exchange of fate-bearing instructions, a somewhat sleepy, Botticellian Ksyusha, consisting predominantly of freckles, fiery orange hair, and near-sighted eyes behind the thick lenses of her glasses, silently walked into the kitchen, or more precisely, floated in upon the air, as though in slow motion. And that is when Tanya commited the fateful mistake: she underestimated the extent of Alyosha’s treachery, that of her own sister’s, and that of Fate. She asked Ksyusha, who adored Egorka and during Tanya’s frequent absences took care of him as though he were her own son, if she would like to accompany Alyosha on his trip to Zvenigorod. Ksyusha, whose sleepiness vanished in a split second, replaced with a certain degree of trepidation, agreed without a moment’s thought. Tanya, not expecting deceit, graciously kissed both of them repeatedly and disappeared behind the door, exhaling perfumes and fogs. Alyosha went home to Tushino, and told his mother he was getting married. His mother crossed herself and boiled some Siberian dumplings for him. On the morning of the next day, the hot, inebriated August had turned into a cool and sober September. Ksyusha and Alexei, as they had agreed to do, met near the Belorussky Train Station (they both got there at exactly the same minute,) from where they set out toward Zvenigorod on an empty commuter train, having in advance stocked up on newspapers and magazines with crosswords, at the station’s “SoyuzPress” kiosk. On the way, Alexei showed off his education, and Ksyusha, without raising her eyes, inscribed the crooked letters inside the precisely even boxes. Meanwhile, beyond the “dusty, scratched glass,” stations flashed by with such idiotic names as “Worker’s Village, Testovskaya,” etc. A quarantine had been declared in the Zvenigorod children’s sanatorium, and they could only see Egorka through the high window of the first floor of the ancient, shabby delapidated building painted a poisonous salad green color. Ksyusha stood on her tippy toes and, having climbed onto Alyosha’s knee, communicated with her nephew through the glass. Alyosha, in his turn, was carefully supporting Ksyusha by her waist, and the other parts of her body, to improve the stability of construction. They had both already begun to sense the rising voltage and amperage of the electrical charges uniting their bodies, lives, and fates. In another half hour, they were sitting in some Zvenigorod glass-zoo pub. They laughed, drank warm Sovetskoe champagne they had bought with the last of Alyosha’s stipend (he never did have any other kind of money) and were happy together. Just as they would be in the twenty-seven years remaining to them. Tanya returned after a week, which flew by instantaneously. And Ksyusha honestly confessed what had happened between them. Tanya looked severely into her younger sister’s eyes and pronounced in the tone of a beautiful-agitated translator-guide: “Ksyusha, you’ve gone mad! Look at him! He’s only got drinking and women on his mind! He’ll dump you after a week!” “Tanya dearest, even if he does leave me in a week, I’ll be happy for the rest of my life,” Ksyusha whispered in a quaking voice, and her freckles were off to the races on her pale but decisive face.
* * *
Twenty-seven years later, dying in the best oncological hospital in Texas, Ksyusha, impossibly worn out over the short duration of her illness but still young and beautiful, pecked out a message to Alyosha with her uncooperative fingers. He had left the hospital to get something to eat at the local B.B.Q. takeout. Finishing his unsweetened espresso, Alexei read Ksyusha’s message. It consisted of a single word: “Zvenigorod.” Ksyusha died at the end of June in his arms. She was burried in a verdant, spacious cemetery not far from their house. All around, there were neither crosses nor memorial monuments. Only the bleak gravestones. Etched on her gray marble gravestone are two names: Ksenia Verhovskaya, her dates of birth and death, and Alexei Molchanov, with his date of birth...