TABLE OF CONTENTS

Az Thita Izhitsa
Chapter 1. The Dream, which Was Not Left in Memory
Chapter 2. Reiteration
Chapter 3. Art of Humbleness
Chapter 4. Just to Accept
Chapter 5. Another Sphere
Chapter 6. The Rules of a Choice. The Choice of Rules
Chapter 7. The Gold Principle
Chapter 8. U-turn
Chapter 9. Giala
Chapter 10. If You Don’t Know What is to Be Done, Do at least Something
Chapter 11. The Pranks of Petty Circumstances
Chapter 12. The Power over the Self
Chapter 13. Subtleties of Art Criticism, Bureaucracy, Sacrifice, and Psychology
Chapter 14. Furniture of a Tribe Chumba-Umba
Chapter 15. The Great Mystery
Chapter 16. Grandiose Joyfulness
Chapter 17. Realism. The Basis of Practical Usage
Chapter 18. Security Systems
Chapter 19. The Goldish Light

Ekaterina Trubitsina

Az Thita Izhitsa

Book 1

The Stroll over the Suspension Bridge

Az Thita Izhitsa. Book 1. The Stroll over the Suspension Bridge

Part I

The Goldish Light


Chapter 1

The Dream, which Was Not Left in Memory

“Mom! Snow!”

Half-asleep, Natasha almost jumped out of her bed and glimpsed at the clock. ‘Oh dear! It’s already nine…’ Blood began throbbing in her temples, and suddenly a soft, sorely pleasant wave of relief flooded her. ‘Phew… Day off…’

With happy squeals, Dasha scampered around the room.

“Dasha! Why are you squawking? Let me sleep; you torturer…”

“Mom! Mommy! There is snow!”

Just then, the informational part of her daughter’s emotional yelps reached Natasha’s mind. With one leap, she appeared next to the window. “Dear me…” Natasha gasped for breath and muttered in horror as she looked outside the window…

Az Thita Izhitsa. Snowfall in Sochi. Photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

Snowfall in Sochi
photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

Outside the window, huge white snowflakes were slowly descending to the ground covering the surroundings with a thick and fluffy layer of snow. A stubborn driver in a cream-colored car desperately tried to conquer the slope. A dense crowd of people, drowning in snow, walked despondently towards the town. There was no other transportation except the heroic cream-colored car.

Natasha dashed to the switch. ‘Well. The electricity is present so far… I need to store some water…’ While a kettle, three large saucepans, four small saucepans, two buckets and two large basins were being filled with water in the bathroom, Natasha picked up a bundle of candles and a package of fuel tablets.

She was born in a small Siberian town, where spent her entire childhood, finished school and then studied in St. Petersburg. After her marriage, she was forced to move to Sochi. She favored snow during her childhood and all through her student days, and she never ever even dreamed that snow could take place on a list of the most terrible natural disasters. Now her experience told her:
a) keep candles handy, because the electricity can go out;
b) store water, because it can stop too;
c) and prepare fuel tablets, because it is quite possible that something horrible can befall the gas main as well.

In fact, together with the electricity, hot water and heating always said total ‘bye-bye’, but those were mere insignificant trifles of life in such a catastrophic situation. Natasha never understood the necessity of radiators’ presence in a house at all. Sochi is warm most part of a year and when the weather actually gets cold; the radiators are cold too like everything around… ‘So. The cold radiators…’ Natasha took two feather blankets from the upper shelf and placed them on the armchair nearby. She touched the radiator: ‘Well, it is hot… so far…’ Suddenly, a horrific crash rumbled from the side of the box-room. Natasha darted to the box-room as her heart began to pound against her chest. All the content of the box-room spread across the floor like an art bedlam with Dasha amidst the scattered things holding a large piece of polyethylene film in her hands.

“Mommy! I found it!”

“Dasha! What a mess you’ve made! Why didn’t you ask me?”

“I asked!”

“I didn’t hear anything! Anyway, you should wait if you know I am busy!”

“Why waiting, Mom!” exclaimed Dasha, her eyes wide with excitement. “Look outside the window! Mommy! Don’t you understand? There is SNOW!!!”

Az Thita Izhitsa. Snow in Sochi. Photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

“Mommy! Don’t you understand? There is SNOW!!!”
photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

Natasha understood everything perfectly and remembered something too: candlelight in the darkness, the ice radiators, the dead stove and Dasha soaked to the skin and had already changed twenty-five times and there was nothing dry to put on her. The same situation was last year, and before that, and three years ago…

“Do what you want…” said Natasha meekly.

Joyful Dasha instantly dressed, grabbed the precious piece of the film and ran away outdoors.

“Don’t use the elevator!” shouted Natasha and quickly ran to the ringing phone. “Hello!” she grunted into the receiver, seizing it up while running.

“Natasha! Did you look out of the window?”

“Hi, Lusya! I have already stored some water and prepared candles, tablets and blankets.”

“Wow! As for me, I just unstuck my eyes, peeked out of the window and immediately called you. By the way, do you have any bread?”

Natasha completely forgot that because of snowfall, the bread factory could stop working and even if it’s not, it would be impossible to deliver bread on their hill.

“Wait a minute! I’ll check.”

“Don’t worry! Everyone at home brought a loaf each and of course, I bought one too. Sometimes empty, sometimes full, as always. So, there is enough bread for all of us.”

“Oh! Thank you! What would I do without you?”

“You are always welco…”

“Quiet!” interrupted Natasha.

“What’s the matter?” asked Lusya anxiously.

“Quiet… It seems to be the end… Ira’s UPS is beeping.”

“What?”

The receiver on the other end fell with a clatter, hitting something solid. Natasha hurried to the switch too. Having clicked it a few times without success, she returned to the phone, with Lucya’s voice shouting on the other end, “Natasha! Natasha!”

“I am here,” she replied panting.

“You are right,” sighed Lusya heavily. “This is the end. Anyway, what can we do? C’mon, come down to me,” she offered.

“Oh no! It will be better if you come up to me,” objected Natasha. “You have a whole crowd at your place, and I am absolutely alone. As you know, the day before yesterday Vadik went on an errand. Dasha entertains herself outdoors. So, we have a nice chance to chat in peace.”

“Well. You didn’t have to persuade me more. I’ll be there soon!” agreed Lusya.

In less than three minutes Natasha heard a knock at the door. “Come in! It’s unlocked!” she shouted. “When UPS stops beeping, we’ll invite Ira.”

In response Irina’s UPS, having beeped five or six times, issued long “be-e-e-e” and became silent.

“Keep an eye on coffee, please,” asked Natasha and went to invite her neighbor from the opposite apartment.

“Natasha, you are a goddess,” exhaled Irina, falling on a stool. She looked utterly exhausted as if she hadn’t slept that night. “Hi, Lusya!”

“Hi! You look terrible! Like a crumpled rag, I’d say!” exclaimed Lusya.

“I’ve been working all night…” Irina explained the cause of her appearance.

“…already several weeks in a row,” inserted Lusya reproachfully. “There’s nothing you like better than exhausting yourself without any mercy.”

Irina looked at her, beaming with a fatigued smile.

“Fortunately, I’ve managed to finish everything, but to send all of this is not on the cards… Damn bastards!”

“Ira, calm down. It is a disaster,” Natasha put a crystal bowl with chocolate candies on the table. She successfully worked as a doctor for one of Sochi’s prestigious sanatoria. Patients indulged her frequently.

“What a disaster? How I can remember, winters were always in Sochi! And snow was sometimes. However, there was never power outage!” said Irina irritably.

“Ira, relax! Sometimes it is necessary to have a rest. Especially for you,” advised Lusya.

“Oh! Absolutely! Hurrah, we have a vacation!” maybe out of weariness or maybe out of rage Irina was shaking.

Az Thita Izhitsa. Artist: Turgut Salgar (Turkey). Abstract art

…maybe out of weariness or maybe out of rage
Irina was shaking.

artist: Turgut Salgar (Turkey)

“Ira, relax!” repeated Lusya.

- - -

“Girls, what will we do?” asked Natasha with sadness when their feminine chat ‘about nothing’ gradually began to convert into long pauses.

“Shh…” Lusya pressed a finger to her lips, while her other hand pointed at the window. Yelps, squeals, screams and laughter of children’s voices wafted from outside the glass. “Don’t you hear? In my mind, kids have found the best solution! So: firstly – we change; secondly – we take any stuff that сan be used as a toboggan and then we step out! What else can we do?”

Lusya and Natasha looked at pensive Irina.

“It’s not a bad idea…” she uttered slowly. “Perhaps, I’ll even join you, but later. Now I badly want to sleep.”

Irina got up with determination and headed towards own bed.

Lusya and Natasha lingered awhile, gossiping about Irina’s severe workaholism, which exacerbation raged fiercely for about three weeks according to their observations. Then they dispersed for a short while to prepare for a walk. Lusya had gone home, and Natasha began changing. The spirit rose considerably. ‘After all’ thought Natasha, ‘even if there are no electricity, heating and hot water, and cold water might stop and maybe gas might disappear as well and what is now? Lie down and die? No! Forward! To the hill! To the snow! To remember the childhood!’

- - -

Irina woke up. It was pitch dark all around. Joyful voices of children and adults floated through the window. Irina felt a burning sense that she saw something very bright and significant in her dream, but she couldn’t remember what exactly it was despite all her attempts. Irina tossed side to side in her bed for about twenty minutes trying in vain to recall the dream that seemed tremendously important. At last she gave up and tried to creep out of the blanket, but the air outside was extremely cold. Having gathered all her courage, she forced herself to stand up and swiftly put on the clothes, which turned out to be within reach of her hand. Irina did some exercises to warm herself up. ‘It seems possible to live.’ Her cellphone (luckily it stood on charging until electricity-off) provided enough light to show the way to the kitchen. Despite the struggle to switch her attention to something else, Irina was unable to stop the excruciating attempts to remember at least a vague fragment of the dream.

Az Thita Izhitsa. Artist: Muriel Massin (France). Abstract art

The Dream, which Was Not Left in Memory
artist: Muriel Massin (France)

“What to do now?” she asked herself out loud, simultaneously forcing herself to banish unconquerable desire to recollect the dream. “There is no electricity, it’s cold, and a whole night is ahead, while I – a complete fool – have been sleeping all day long and now don’t want to sleep at all. So, what do I do now?”

As she expected, nobody was going to answer the question. Irina headed to Natasha, but the knock at the door didn’t get any response.

“She is probably at Lusya’s,” Irina said to herself and went towards that direction.

Az Thita Izhitsa. Evening after Snowfall. Photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

Evening after Snowfall
photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

- - -

Two floors below, in the kitchen lit by two candles, friendly neighbors were having a joyful time: Lusya with her husband, Nickolay and their two almost adult sons: eldest Sanya and youngest Andrey. Also, there were Natasha and her daughter Dasha, who went at Lusya’s after snowy entertainments.

“Silence!” interrupted Lusya someone’s joke when she heard a knock at the door. “*Kolya*, please, open the door.”

“Just a moment!” Nickolay kissed his wife and headed towards the entrance hall. “Who’s there?”

“And who do you need?” Irina’s sarcastic voice answered.

“Oh! Ira! Honey!” exclaimed Nickolay, opening the door, and hugged Irina very tight.

“Kolya! Stop it! Or Lusya will murder me!”

“Oh yes! Surely, when I find the biggest and heaviest frying pan! Ira, sit down. Kolya! Leave her alone! It will be better if you bring one more plate and one more wine glass.”

“Lusya, I don’t want to drink.”

“What? At all?”

“No. I don’t want to drink just vodka, but I wouldn’t mind a cup of tea.”

“Kolya, don’t bring a wine glass, bring a cup. Natasha, be kind, put a kettle to boil.”

The merriment continued with double force, as if there couldn’t be anything happier than the disaster that deprived them of the electricity, hot water and heating. The kettle just began to hiss and… at the same second became quiet. Two minutes or so there was dead silence.

“This – is – really – the – end…” muttered Lusya.

In dead silence, Natasha turned off the knob of untimely deceased stove and checked the presence of cold water. It was barely oozing and soon disappeared completely.

Az Thita Izhitsa. Evening by Candlelight. Photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

Evening by Candlelight
photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

“At least now there is nothing to worry about,” concluded Irina philosophically.

At this very moment, as if on command, everybody burst out laughing. It was incredible, inconceivable laughter and it continued as it would never end. As the laughter continued, all of sudden there was a loud and persistent knock – so loud that the door appeared to come off its hinges. Continuing to giggle, Nickolay got up to open the door.

“Wow! What kind of people! *Igor Alexandrovich*!”

“Good evening, *Nickolay Sergeevich*!” the new guest pompously proclaimed. “As I can see, you have a night of laughter now?”

“This is the end!” solemnly proclaimed Nickolay.

“What is the end? What do you mean?”

“This is the real end, Igor Alexandrovich. We have no water, no electricity and no gas! This is the end!”

“And all this means that I am here exactly on time,” declared Igor Alexandrovich with the absolute assurance.

“Aha!” somebody squealed hysterically, and everybody, except Igor Alexandrovich, drowned in a fresh outburst of laughter.

“My dear friends!” Igor Alexandrovich managed to make himself heard with great effort. “I am here to save you!”

“Do you have valerian drops along?” mocked Irina as she continued to giggle.

“Especially for you, dear *Irina Borisovna*,” Igor Alexandrovich replied, trying to mimic her mocking tone, but in his case, it sounded with a good portion of venom. Then he returned to the pompous manner, “I think you wouldn’t mind a trip to the paradise with the overnight stay. My jeep is waiting for all of you next to the entrance.”

“Are you kidding us?” asked Natasha, having calmed down in an instant. Gradually, the others stopped laughing, too.

“Not at all! My good friend owns a house with personal heat supply, water supply and power supply.”

“It seems impolite to disturb someone like this…” mumbled Lusya trying to look embarrassed, but unable to hide the hope.

“Everything is quite polite! My friend is already waiting for us. So, let’s go!”

“Hurrah!” screamed the sons of Lusya and Nickolay together with little Dasha.

“You have just five minutes for preparing,” commanded Igor Alexandrovich with a false strictness in his voice.

“I won’t go,” Irina said silently but very firmly only for him, when she slipped through the entrance door.

He slipped after her and, already having closed the entrance door of her apartment, pressed Irina against the wall.

“Ira. I’ve come for you.”

Without uttering a word, Irina packed up… without uttering a word followed him… without uttering a word they went downstairs to the car…

Az Thita Izhitsa. Snow in Sochi. Photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

Snow in Sochi
photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

- - -

Their relationship was rather odd.

*Igor Alexandrovich Nickolaev* was born fifteen or twenty or maybe even twenty-five years earlier than Irina. Only officially he divorced (naturally, being married before this) seven times. He didn’t legalize all his subsequent relations with women as he realized that it was useless.

Exclusively young ladies in the age of puppy plumpness with innocent eyes and long curly hair made Igor Alexandrovich lose his head. Naïve, angel-like, charming creatures drove him mad.

Unfortunately, that seduction that he felt lasted for a year or two. And then… And then the affectionate outbursts of love completely disappeared from Nickolaev’s soul. Of course, every time when a relationship ended, there were tears and hysterics, but Igor Alexandrovich always managed to get out of trouble with an honor.

He met Irina long ago, approximately in the early nineties. At that time, she worked at a tailor’s atelier and when she had a day off she made some money on the side, painting portraits for comers in *Riviera Park*. She was a bit over twenty when they met, however, at that time and even in the earlier years; she didn’t look angel-like and had nothing what could resemble naivety, being the direct opposite to Igor Alexandrovich’s ideals.

Az Thita Izhitsa. Artists in Riviera Park. Photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

Artists in Riviera Park
photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

Riviera Park became the place of their acquaintance. During a certain period, from time to time, Irina depicted the delightful images of Nickolaev’s changing passions on the cardboards.

Az Thita Izhitsa. The Main Entrance to Riviera Park. Photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

The Main Entrance to Riviera Park
photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

Once, he was wandering without purpose through the park, inconsolably suffering from the recent rupture of relationship with his last angel that matured and became charmless. It began to rain. Irina was packing her equipments, and Igor Alexandrovich invited her to a cafe.

Az Thita Izhitsa. One of the Cafes of Riviera Park. Photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

One of the Cafes in Riviera Park
photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

At first, it seemed impossible to find any topic for conversation, except the weather, but after a little while, two foreigners dropped in at the same cafe. Thanks to them, Irina accidentally demonstrated her skills in French. In fact, she never considered herself an expert in this sphere – and she was completely right in this – but her scanty vocabulary turned out to be quite sufficient to help the foreign guests to communicate with a waiter. Nickolaev brightened in an instant.

It so happened, that Igor Alexandrovich turned out to be one of the few owners of a computer – an extremely rare thing in Sochi in the early nineties. He got it as a payment for something instead of money. Initially, he was far from happy about it, since he knew nothing about the computers and was unable to invent the way how to use it. However, not long ago, someone suggested him to arrange a printing-office and make something like business cards and booklets. Since then, Nickolaev dreamed about it, but couldn’t find a decent specialist in that field – at that time nobody in Sochi knew anything about digital graphics; moreover, there was no software in Russian. Irina’s art talent and her skills in one of the languages, which was on the list, seemed to Igor Alexandrovich as a quite sufficient set of qualities for making his dream about business cards and booklets come true. He immediately informed Irina about his idea and offered her a job. She didn’t share his optimism, but agreed to try and master the miracle of technology.

During the first two weeks Irina came to his office after the work, but then she bade ‘goodbye’ to the tailor’s atelier, because Nickolaev offered her such a big salary that it became unnecessary to spend her days off for painting portraits. At Igor’s office, Irina worked for three years, later she had acquired her own computer and moved to work at home. Moreover, gradually she obtained her own customers in addition to the ones of Igor Alexandrovich and started working in many other spheres of design, besides the printed products.

They found themselves in one bed during Irina’s office period. Igor Alexandrovich always wondered what a miraculous reason could bring him there. She didn’t resemble even slightly his favorite type of women! Irina, on the other hand, did not bother about such matters. She was completely contented that he did not burden her with his great feelings and was quite suitable for using. And she did precisely this, that is, she used him occasionally according to his purpose as a male. However, she did this exclusively when he himself initiated it, in order to free herself of the remorse, when their personal relations drove poor Igor Alexandrovich to the real tears and hysterics – not in front of Irina, of course. Not one time, he swore to himself, that under any circumstances, he wouldn’t allow himself to go in relations with her farther than their work. Yet, time went by and… No, he didn’t calm down and didn’t reassess anything. Irina was something like a drug for him. He suffered unbearably because of her. Yet somehow he couldn’t exist without her either.

- - -

The entire day when the disaster befell the city, Igor Alexandrovich spent with his friend and very distant relative, *Aristarkh Polikarpovich*. This nice old man was born in early twentieth century in Canada, where, without waiting for revolution and even World War I, his farseeing father had moved all his family together along with their property.

Though Aristarkh Polikarpovich wasn’t on the list of multimillionaires, on the other hand, he wasn’t a penniless man either. In the evening of life, he transferred his business to his son and two grandchildren, and left to live rest of his days in Russia, which he knew from the stories of his parents and loved it since the childhood, but had never been there. He bought back the house in the Volga Region, which in former time belonged to his family, and made his home there. Despite the age, he couldn’t be idle, and soon he launched a small business. Not for money’s sake – for the hell of it. Through this business he became acquainted with Igor Alexandrovich, and one day, talking about the past, they discovered that they were distant relatives.

Igor Alexandrovich frequently visited Aristarkh Polikarpovich. During one of those visits, the energetic and cheerful old man asked ‘*Igoryosha*’ to find a small ground area for building in Sochi’s outskirts: ‘…far away from the sea, from the bustle, somewhere on a hill with a nice view’. Igor Alexandrovich gave the task to all Sochi’s realtors. A month later, the choice consisted of twenty-three variants, but Aristarkh Polikarpovich liked the very first one, and he refused to see the rest. Several months had passed, and on the place where entangled bushes of bramble covered all around, a magnificent house had grown up. Moreover, it was the house built and equipped according to state-of-the-art technology. Aristarkh Polikarpovich didn’t want to stay in Sochi all time, but quite often he came and spent there about a week to ‘enjoy the warm weather’.

Az Thita Izhitsa. Mountains. Photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

‘…far away from the sea, from the bustle,
somewhere on a hill with a nice view…’

photographer: Eleonora Ternovsky (Russia)

During his absence, the house was under the care of an elderly woman who lived in the neighborhood. In fact, the whole care consisted of feeding an enormous dog of unknown breed, named Ziv, and a huge cat named Lawrence. They had been given by somebody to Aristarkh Polikarpovich as a house-warming present.

Contrary to his custom, this time, Aristarkh Polikarpovich was staying in his southern residence already for the third month. However, at this time, he was not here for just resting. According to his own words to Igor Alexandrovich, here in Sochi, he was waiting for some extremely important meeting. Igor Alexandrovich visited him from time to time just as he had come here to see him previous afternoon. For some reason, he lingered and had been compelled to stay overnight. And in the morning…

“Aristarkh Polikarpovich, look out of the window! Nobody is able to get here today.”

“Who knows… Who knows…” replied thoughtfully Aristarkh Polikarpovich.

“What’s here to know? This is Sochi. Snow is a sort of rare event here. A natural disaster. Everybody is sitting at home and waiting for it to be over.”

“Who knows… Who knows…” Aristarkh Polikarpovich repeated as thoughtfully as did the first time.

Igor Alexandrovich didn’t argue further. Except for a couple of hours when Aristarkh Polikarpovich had some sleep, they spent all day long, talking about all kinds of things, but mostly about the charming, marvelous, young, naïve heavenly creature named Alina. Igor Alexandrovich was in love with her already for half a year and couldn’t stop to enjoy her beauty and touching. The evening had descended gradually, and the city, a piece of which could be seen out of the window, plunged into complete darkness.

“My goodness! How is she going to survive there? Polikarpovich, there is no electricity, no heating and maybe no water and gas either. May I bring her here?”

“Of course, Igor. Of course, you may bring her here. Of course.”

Igor Alexandrovich didn’t hear the last ‘of course’. About twenty minutes later Aristarkh Polikarpovich’s cellphone began ringing.

“Aristarkh Polikarpovich, there is a difficulty…”

“What kind of difficulty, Igoryosha?”

“It so happened that there is a whole crowd here.”

“Bring them all!” Aristarkh Polikarpovich was in the seventh heaven out of happiness.

Such a joyful reaction surprised Igor Alexandrovich, but he found an explanation, ‘It’s boring here, and the old man is eager for any entertainment’.

Half an hour later, having heard a sound of a car, Aristarkh Polikarpovich descended to the yard. Two young men sprang from the jeep with cheerful squeal like a jack-in-the-box and right after them Dasha rushed out. Then Lusya and Natasha scrambled out at large following by Nickolay. Without switching off the ignition, Igor Alexandrovich got out and opened the front passenger door. From the viewpoint of an outsider it looked like a very gallant gesture, but in fact, the door lock was broken; and it could be opened only from outside. Irina appeared out of the car. Having seen nobody among the guests who could resemble an angel, at least slightly, Aristarkh Polikarpovich cast a glance at Igor Alexandrovich with emphasized wonder and mysterious smile, but Igor Alexandrovich didn’t notice this. Irina noticed, but didn’t pay particular attention to a bit odd reaction of the old man, who, in addition, seemed to be familiar somehow.

Az Thita Izhitsa. Artist: Al Johnson (USA). Abstract art

…a bit odd reaction…
artist: Al Johnson (USA)
Chaka

“Welcome! Come in!” Aristarkh Polikarpovich opened the door wide for the guests.

The enormous dog Ziv and the huge cat Lawrence flanked the entrance door, meeting the noisy company. They were immobile like two sphinxes and fixed their eyes on a spot that was visible to them only somewhere far behind the gate. For them, it was their usual place, their usual pose and their usual kind of activity.

For a long time, the woman, who fed them during the master’s absence, couldn’t understand: what was a necessity of such weird pets? Perhaps, an immobile cat is not so bad. But what was the point to keep an immobile enormous dog that never even barks?

Her entire incomprehension disappeared when a homeless thief decided to rob the empty house. However, when this picture arose in front of her eyes, the cat and the dog were as still as usual, but in the other place and in the other poses. Ziv’s front paws were on the shoulders of the culprit, who was writhing in a very uncomfortable pose, while his neck had been located right between the jaws of the nice dog. Lawrence settled itself on the head of the miserable victim and so that its luxuriant tail ‘was affectionately caressing’ the contorted face. Aristarkh Polikarpovich’s neighbor didn’t know, how much time the poor devil had spent in such position, but he had been taken away by an ambulance.

“Oh!” Natasha took a step backward with a startle. “Are they man-made?”

“No, they are alive,” Aristarkh Polikarpovich affectionately stroked Ziv’s head. With the same success he could rub a wall. However, when he finished with caresses, Ziv blinked, demonstrating a sort of something like sign of life.

“Terrific!” Natasha entered the house in amazement.

Irina reached the door last of all. With undisguised admiration she was staring at the gigantic animals that were motionless like statues. Suddenly Ziv stood up, wagging its tail, put the paws onto her shoulders and began to lick her face with a cheerful grumble. Laurence got up too, purring as it began to rub its body against Irina’s legs. Irina caught a glimpse of Aristarkh Polikarpovich’s eyes that sparkled by a strange wonder with incomprehensible tinge.

Az Thita Izhitsa. Artist: Kushlani Jayasinha (USA). Abstract art

…a strange wonder with incomprehensible tinge.
artist: Kushlani Jayasinha (USA)
For Sri Lanka

“Oh… sorry… they never did such things…” he tried to apologize about his pets.

“Don’t worry! It is a miracle!” exclaimed Irina, kissing and hugging the beasts with a great pleasure.

“Yes… It’s a miracle…” Aristarkh Polikarpovich said thoughtfully. “However, you can freeze! Come into the house.”

As if on command, but unwillingly, Ziv and Laurence left Irina alone and took up their usual positions.

By the sounds, the roomy lounge resembled something between a beehive and an overcrowded stadium during soccer matches.

“Calm down!” Lusya and Natasha shouted at the children in unison.

“Like babies!” added Lusya, while Natasha wrathfully whispered something to Dasha.

“Please, excuse us,” Lusya felt uneasy.

“Everything is perfectly well!” smiled Aristarkh Polikarpovich.

“Sorry… It is not proper… We came here unexpectedly...” Natasha shared Lusya’s uneasiness.

“Don’t worry! Everything is perfectly well! Everything is fine. I am very glad to see all of you here. By the way, let us get acquainted. I am Aristarkh Polikarpovich.”

All seven members of unexpected company introduced themselves by turn.

“Please, don’t be offended if I make a mess of your names. My memory is not perfect now. Please, make yourselves at home. Igoryosha, entertain our guests until I make some tea.”

“Let me help you,” Lusya, Natasha and Irina got up together.

“No-no-no! You are guests,” Aristarkh Polikarpovich insisted and they had to sit down again.

While the tea was boiling, the conversation didn’t develop in any worthwhile direction. The enthusiasm, caused by an emotional overstrain, had vanished into thin air, and now everybody, including little Dasha, was feeling discomfort.

In a few minutes, Aristarkh Polikarpovich appeared and kindly allowed to help him. In a common bustle, he snatched a moment and took Igor Alexandrovich aside.

“So, where is your ‘heavens creature’?”

“Alina…” Igor Alexandrovich cooed out in a dreaming way, and like out of the horn of plenty, ‘a naïve look’, ‘waves of thick hair’, ‘plump forms’ and so on flowed from his lips.

Putting the hand on his shoulder, Aristarkh Polikarpovich interrupted him softly but rather firmly. “Where is Alina?” The question sounded as a rhetorical one.

Igor Alexandrovich was confused and stood stock-still with a stupid look on his face for a minute. Really, as soon as he found out that the city plunged into darkness, the charming image of Alina instantly disappeared from his mind. At this very moment, she was somewhere in the darkness, in the cold, but this didn’t touch him at all; even now, when Aristarkh Polikarpovich forced him to remember her. With a great effort Igor Alexandrovich tried to feel remorse, but failed, and when someone handed him a vast dish with something awfully delicious, the alluring image forsook his mind again.

The improvised party lasted less than an hour. Gradually everybody began to feel themselves at home and, interrupting each other, recollected adventures of the past day. Soon the tiredness took over and Aristarkh Polikarpovich showed the guests to their rooms, and the house plunged into silence. Only Igor Alexandrovich and Irina remained in the lounge.

“I have been sleeping all day long. So, have a rest, please, while I tidy up here,” offered Irina.

“No-no! I permit you only to help me a little bit,” objected Aristarkh Polikarpovich.

All together, they put the lounge in order rather quickly. Irina made coffee for all. Aristarkh Polikarpovich brought cigars for himself and Igor Alexandrovich; long thin cigarettes for Irina and they settled themselves on the sofa.

“Irina, may I ask what your occupation is?”

“Yes. Sure. I am a designer.”

“For what company do you work?”

“I don’t work for any company. I am a self-employed artist.”

“That’s very interesting! And where did you study?”

“As a designer nowhere. I have an education of a painter. At first it was an Art College and then an Academia…”

“Oh!”

“However, I didn’t graduate from it.”

Ziv and Laurence appeared as if out of thin air. Ziv took place beside Irina on the floor and put the muzzle on her lap. Laurence jumped onto the sofa and tried to squeeze in the place remained from Ziv’s shaggy head.

“What a miracle!” exclaimed Irina and began to stroke them. Ziv was grumbling. Laurence was purring.

“Do you like her?” Aristarkh Polikarpovich asked the dog and the cat. They both nodded together as if on a command. Irina burst out laughing and proceeded to caress them. “They don’t accept my caresses so willingly,” Aristarkh Polikarpovich observed meaningfully. “By the way, Irina, could you take a look at one painting?”

“Yes, of course, but if you expect an art analysis from me, I am afraid I won’t meet your expectations. I am not good at this.”

“Oh! This is excellent!” smiled Aristarkh Polikarpovich. He left the lounge for a minute and came back with a canvas in the hands.

Irina’s heart began pounding violently. A gulp of air, caught by open mouth, was lost somewhere in the lungs. Taking a breath with great effort, she asked, “Where did you get it from?”

“It is a gift. But why are you so anxious about it?” asked Aristarkh Polikarpovich, casting a penetrating look at Irina.

“This is my work,” muttered Irina as if half-asleep.

“In my opinion, Irina, you are a brilliant artist.”

“Because of some circumstances in my personal life, I swore to myself that I would never return to the painting, at least seriously. Now, I am a designer.”

“Irina, surely, I am not an expert, but in my mind, you should definitely return to art.”

“Thank you. It’s so pleasant for me to hear this,” said Irina with a light smile and handed the canvas back to Aristarkh Polikarpovich.

“Tell me please, does this painting have a special meaning for you?”

“Yes. This is the very last one. I had painted it during one night. I wanted to take it away from the art-gallery, but when I returned, they handed me a huge amount of money and declared cheerfully that all my works were already sold. To tell the truth, at that time I was very upset because of it,” Irina chuckled. “I didn’t expect to see it again.”

“If it means so important for you, take it,” Aristarkh Polikarpovich held out the canvas to Irina.

“No, thank you! It is already the past.”

“Well! Then it stays with me,” Aristarkh Polikarpovich carried the painting away. “You know, it means quite a lot for me too,” he said on his way back.

Irina continued stroking Ziv and Laurence. Igor Alexandrovich was watching her with amazement. He never saw her in such state. It seemed to him that she glowed from within.

Az Thita Izhitsa. Artist: Evgeniy Zaremba (Russia). Abstract art

It seemed to him that she glowed from within.
artist: Evgeniy Zaremba (Russia)

“Irina,” Aristarkh Polikarpovich’s voice brought her back from the stupor. “By means of the power of my old age, I take off the vow from you. Please, promise to me that you will take your paints, brushes, and canvas again.”

“I promise.”

- - -

Irina didn’t remember when she started painting. Teachers of the primary art school were enraptured with her. When she was fourteen and left the eight-year school, her mother took her to enter the Art College.

The old man-teacher, looking through Irina’s works, rapidly made her come down to the earth. In his opinion, she was a talented girl without doubts, but the works were rather feeble, because of problems with the technique. The master was very strict, but when he saw her half-sad half-surprised eyes full of tears, he became softer.

“My dear girl, don’t be too upset! Nothing is over! You may try to pass the preliminary examinations. You almost have no chance to be accepted this year, but in any case, you will learn the process and know what demands your particular efforts.”

Fortunately for Irina, the gloomy predictions of the venerable teacher didn’t come true. At the very first exam, she had been noticed by the young teacher *Victor Vazhin*, who was a postgraduate of Academia and was acknowledged by art luminaries as an outstanding original. Though he didn’t manage to convince the other members of the admissions committee fully and completely, Irina was accepted as an applicant in Vazhin’s class and after the first term she became an official student.

*Victor Valentinovich* was not mistaken. Already by the end of the first year, the entire college spoke about Irina, and in the next year, she had taken her diploma ahead of schedule, having turned into a legend, and became a student of the Academia.

And further…

Az Thita Izhitsa. Artist: Setsuko Nomoto (Japan). Abstract art

And further…
artist: Setsuko Nomoto (Japan)
Love in Paris

Nobody knew when their passionate love affair kindled. During the first term, nothing intriguing was observed. On the official ceremony of appointing Irina the rightful student, while congratulating, Vazhin kissed her on the cheek. Both of them blushed. During the next term, there were rumors about them, but for an outsider’s view, everything looked as if a talented teacher tried to get the maximum from his talented student. The next year, Irina’s success was so triumphal that everybody ceased to perceive her as an ordinary person. But when Irina emerged inside the Academia, wearing clothes that she never used before and with sufficiently transformed outline of her body, everybody found out that according to the consent of her mother, Irina and Vazhin had been married for almost a year.

Their son *Lyosha* was born in the winter during midyear after the exam in Arts History and before the one in Perspective. In addition, Irina had to come to the Perspective examination by an ambulance, after getting special permission of the chief physician with a lot of struggle. Fortunately, for the other exams, she was already discharged from the maternity hospital.

Irina decided not to take maternity leave. Lyosha appeared to be a baby not less admirable than his parents were. Moreover, Victor became an unsurpassed father. Therefore, they managed with all their duties.

Everything was going on like in an enchanted fairy tale for a couple of years, and then something happened to Victor. He began drinking. Before this ‘something’ he also was not an abstainer. Cheerful companies assembled at Irina and Victor’s home very often. They drank from time to time, but those events couldn’t be called a hard drinking. However, after that ‘something’ Vazhin began to drink heavily. Irina couldn’t do anything though she tried with all her might. Despite all her efforts, Victor kept on drinking drowning himself in addiction.

- - -

Her fourth academic year almost came to an end. There was a big exhibition of works by students and teachers in the Academia. As always affectionately embracing each other, Irina and Victor slowly walked along the stands. Two respectable-looking middle-aged men approached them.

“Let me introduce you to the unimaginable, astounding artist *Irina Palladina*. By the way, this is her husband and, in addition, her teacher Victor Vazhin.”

“My respect to the teacher! You have created a genius!”

“Irina, I congratulate you! You are already a mature artist with your own style, with your own manner. And what is more important! What you do now is not the limit for you. Probably, you don’t have any limits at all! I wish you a brilliant success.”

Az Thita Izhitsa. Artist: Wolfgang Kahle (Germany). Abstract art

“…you don’t have any limits at all…”
artist: Wolfgang Kahle (Germany)

Gentlemen bowed and went aside. Victor hugged Irina, kissed her on the forehead and smiled warmly.

“My congratulations!”

“Thank you!” Irina glowed with happiness.

“Wait a minute…” Victor vanished.

At the moment, Irina didn’t give much importance to this, but he didn’t appear anymore.

- - -

Irina entered the apartment drowned in blackness. She turned on the light. Victor was sitting on the floor rocking from side to side and howling.

*Vitya*…” she called him.

He ceased to rock and howl, lifting his eyes at Irina.

“You’ve ruined my life,” he growled. Clumsily trying to hold everything around him, he rose slightly, climbed the bed and fell asleep.

Irina packed up her things. The night she spent in the studio at the easel. Next morning, Irina gave all her works in the art-gallery for sale and picked up Lyosha from her mother-in-law (fortunately, the mother-in-law suspected nothing). Because of some legal matters, Irina could leave for Sochi only in two weeks, which she had to spend at friends’ (fortunately, they didn’t ask anything either). She never contacted Vazhin anymore (a friend of a friend, who worked at the register office, helped her to complete all divorce formalities). According to the rumors, Vazhin lost the job at the Academia and ever since continued to teach only in the college and only common disciplines.

Chapter 2. Reiteration