There he is.
There he sits, this elderly and, let’s be blunt, this old man; he’s not sick and he’s still quite awake, but he’s no longer asked, that is, by his children, his own children, he is no longer asked what to do, how to live, but he has accumulated, yes, he has accumulated a lot of experience, a lot of understanding, I know how, I know, he thinks. He sits and waits to be called, so he can say, I-I-I-I-I know how. He’ll show them (I know), he’ll explain to them (I know), I know better, better, more, he knows (I know) how, what, where to put this, where to get that. But no, they don’t call, they don’t ask. He sits and waits. He holds back. He stiffens. He observes. How (they) do it all without him. He observes. They are not interested in his opinion. They are doing things the wrong way. He knows how. He’s biding his time. After all, they can’t help stumbling. Now he is no longer an old, gray-haired man with beautiful wrinkles; he is a hunter. The season has opened. He is an Indian, stalking his enemy. His soul shudders. He is now an expert in their mistakes. He is a scientist-technologist, a plumber of their follies. He can’t wait to see what happens. He wants them to stumble, to fall, yes, he wants them to be ridiculously, ridiculously, humiliatingly hurt, yes, he wants them hurt. Let them get back on their feet later, let them ask for it. That’s when the stage will be his. At first he’ll be quiet, smiling casually. Then he’ll say, “Why are you so stooped over, you’ve made a mistake. What’s this, your nose is leaking. Yeah. Then he’ll explain to these independent ones, these separate ones, who forgot all about him, how things are and what they are, and why, and how to deal with problems, and where to fasten things, and how to fill them, and what to write, and how to weld and to manage, how to send things and where, and what to expect in response, and what to say (to them), how to solder, because he knows, right? I-I-I-I-I know, he thinks. They come, they say hello, they leave, they must run, they have things to do, don’t fall down, don’t fall down. Bye.
Translated from Russian by Nina Kossman
Olga Medvedkova is an art and architecture historian as well as an author. She was born in Moscow, where she graduated from MGU (Moscow State University). In 1991 she moved to Paris. She works for CNRS and writes prose in French and Russian. She has authored two novels in French, Soviet Education and Angel Interns; and Three Characters in Search of Love and Immortality, F.I.O (in Russian), and other literary texts.
A book of poems in Russian by Victor Enyutin (San Francisco, 1983). Victor Enyutin is a Russian writer, poet, and sociologist who emigrated to the US from the Soviet Union in 1975.
This collection of personal essays by a bi-national Russian/U.S. author offers glimpses into many things Soviet and post-Soviet: the sacred, the profane, the mundane, the little-discussed and the often-overlooked. What was a Soviet school dance like? Did communists go to church? Did communists listen to Donna Summer? If you want to find out, read on!
“Cold War Casual” is a collection of transcribed oral testimony and interviews translated from Russian into English and from English into Russian that delve into the effect of the events and the government propaganda of the Cold War era on regular citizens of countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Julia Wiener was born in the USSR a few years before the Second World War; her youth was spent during the “Thaw” period, and her maturity coincided with the years of “Soviet stagnation”, which, in her case, ended with her emigration to Israel in the early 1970s. Her wartime childhood, her Komsomol-student youth, her subsequent disillusionment, her meetings with well-known writers (Andrei Platonov, Victor Nekrasov, etc.) are described in a humorous style and colorful detail. Julia brings to life colorful characters – from her Moscow communal apartment neighbors to a hippie London lord, or an Arab family, headed by a devotee of classical Russian literature. No less diverse are the landscapes against which the events unfold: the steppes of Kazakhstan, the Garden of Gethsemane, New York, Amsterdam, London.
Julia Wiener’s novels focus on those moments when illusory human existence collapses in the face of true life, be it spiritual purity, love, old age, or death.