/, Literature, Blesok no. 144/THE INTERRUPTION OF SAMSARA


(excerpt from the collection of stories)



For his sixty-fifth birthday Ivan Petrov was given a grave.
At first he thought it was some kind of stupid joke. True, they considered him a great joker and even if they put him in front of starving cannibals on a desert island, he would still be the life and soul of the party, but that thing with the grave was still a bit excessive.
– What are you… – he muttered, while raising his glasses on his nose, to read more carefully the document for the use of the grave for an indefinite period of time, issued by the municipal service “Grave Parks”.
His wife began saying something, but the son, Ivan Petrov Junior, signalled her to keep silent. The daughter sat at the other end of the festive table, smoking and observing the scene with condescending disgust. She was a theatre critic, she wrote vicious reviews for the newspapers and everyone was very afraid of her, or so it seemed to her.
– I am a professional audience – she wanted to repeat and behaved exactly like that.
– You simply have no sex life. And if you had a healthy man by your side… – Ivan Petrov scolded her, but only to himself, he did not dare to open his mouth. Go and explain afterwards that whatever you said, you didn’t do it to offend, but out of pure parental concern.
Her mother was very worried about her.
Ivan Petrov’s gaze lingered on the huge round stamp from the municipal service, decorated with two crossed oak branches and a black cross in the middle. A little above he had noticed what was written, in bold italics, as if a biblical formula for “eternal times”.
That was quite enough for him.
Ivan Petrov Junior was watching intently to see if his father would pay attention to the sum that guaranteed him the “eternal times” in question, but he, so it seemed, missed it. Pity, really, because it was quite substantial, which implied that the prepared gift was not only expensive but also luxurious.
At that moment a piercing squeal exploded in the suppressed silence and was instantly followed by a heartbreaking cry. The pet of the family, little Nicole with the golden curls, had just taken a shit.
– Why, honey, why didn’t you tell mommy that you needed to poo, when I asked you a while ago? – the daughter-in-law reprimanded her gently and again, just in case, smelled the child’s diapers, during which the facial expression became lascivious and she unconsciously closed her eyes.
– No big deal, grandma, no big deal child – Ivan Petrov’s wife jumped from her seat and like a lioness, she ran towards her granddaughter. – Now grandma will clean it, it’s nothing.
For a fraction of a second, it looked like the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law were going to fight each other in a bloody duel, even Nicole fell silent and opened her eyes curiously. Ivan Petrov’s wife, apparently with a great effort of will, controlled herself, took a deep breath and said in a flat executioner’s tone:
– I’ve told you hundreds of times not to scold her like that. You traumatize her. What do you want? To start holding it in and hurt her stomach, and be crippled for life? Actually, sorry for interfering. You know best, aren’t you her mother?
The daughter-in-law did not answer anything. She just hugged the girl and the three headed to the bathroom.
Ivan Petrov’s daughter phlegmatically got up from her seat, opened the window wide and threw out the cigarette butt. From the back yard of the co-op came the sounds of birds, two cats had a noisy and brief fight, then parted with a furious howl. The spring breeze brought a handful of translucent white petals from the blossoming plum tree and scattered them happily on the table.
– Close it, there is draft – said Ivan Petrov Junior. – We don’t want the celebrant to catch a cold.
Ivan Petrov looked at one, then the other. He folded the document in four and, not knowing where to put it, tucked it under the napkin next to the plate.
– Will someone explain it to me, finally?
The daughter lit a new cigarette and demonstratively released two bluish clouds from her nostrils. She clearly had no intention of explaining anything.
– But, it is a kind of insurance for your future –Ivan Petrov Junior added. – Nowadays, a reasonable person is simply obliged to take care of those things. And the sooner, the better. To be tranquil.
– Mostly for the tranquillity of his loved ones – added the daughter sarcastically.
– So you think I’m un reasonable, right? So if I turn sixty-five I’m so old that I’m going crazy? And you rush to bury me. To take care of those things, to put it better.
– I knew you would react like that! Ivan Petrov Junior got angry. – But just think: how many people live in this city? Two million, maybe more. And do you have any idea what kind of crisis there is with grave sites? Thousands die every day. And there are no burial places. The municipality cannot overcome the situation, places are limited. In private cemeteries, on the other hand, a grave costs as much as an apartment in the center.
– Well, of course they will find them a place somewhere – Ivan Petrov objected, not quite convincingly.
– Where for example?
– Well, somewhere, how do I know where…
– That’s exactly what I’m talking about! – burst out Ivan Petrov Junior, no longer jokingly. – For your lost generation, which has lived all its life with the idea that surely someone should take care of it! Someone should provide for you, educate you, give you a job, pay your pensions, and then… I’m sorry, but that’s no more! It’s over! End! Now people are left to fend for themselves and it is only fair. It’s uncomfortable, it’s hard, but it’s fair. And if you had realized that earlier, we wouldn’t have gotten to this point.
The daughter crushed the butt in the ashtray with cold anger, as if it were a cockroach, and started clapping her hands.
– I don’t understand what that has to do with it…
The old Ivan Petrov really did not understand. He had heard that speech dozens of times, and not only from his son. In fact, the connection between him and the rough, official paper with a wet steal and stamp on the document, which practically made him the legal owner of a brand new place, was completely lost on him.
– Dad – Ivan Petrov Junior began again, but this time more meekly, with kind instruction – do you have any idea what vicissitudes we went through to give you that gift? Did you know that it is practically impossible for a mere mortal citizen in the capital to get a state grave unless he inherited it from his grandmother? At the same time, the concerned citizen should be, conditionally speaking, well-off. Because if you think that the only expense is the circled sum, which appears in the document and which you didn’t even look at, you are very wrong. What can I say about the director of the grave planning department and the bribe he took to make the necessary changes in the regulatory plan to make room for another small grave? And the secretary of the head of the municipal service, who had to quietly push the amended burial plan for signature, so that the change would not be seen, and we would make it in time for your birthday? And the accountant, whom mom convinced with tears in her eyes to put a lower registration number, so that we could take the new place before everyone else? Ah, dad, dad! If only you knew what a struggle it was, what strings, what nerves, what mental torture about something so simple in that cursed, rotten country of ours!

AuthorElena Aleksieva
2022-07-12T11:35:44+00:00 July 11th, 2022|Categories: Prose, Literature, Blesok no. 144|Comments Off on THE INTERRUPTION OF SAMSARA