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Today I am continuing with my tale about my day at the dacha.
So, I am standing there with this incredibly old babushka looking at Yevgeny lying drunk in the street. Well, sleeping actually with his feet up against the old lady’s neighbor’s house.
“Wake up! Wake up!” Said the babushka (grandma), a very old lady who speaks in this incredibly tiny and feeble voice. “How can you lie there in the street. Have you no shame? What can I do with you lying there?”
“Meeeshebashabommmmm…” Was his answer. No, this was not Russian.
“Kak te nye stidna?” (How are you not an embarrassment?) This was me chiming in. This he heard.
“Who is that speaking?”
“Get up Evgeny and go home.”
“Oh, Adamchik. Why don’t you go back to town”
“Why don’t you go to hell.”
“You go.” Which is the Russian equivalent of an American “fuck you.”
“You’re an alkash (alcoholic) and an embarrassment and you always have been.”
“Get up. You can’t lie in the street.” This was the baba again. “I have to go and see my neighbor. I am old. Please get out of my way. I have been waiting for you to move for an hour. Why don’t yu move away so I can go past?”
“There, there Baba, don’t worry about anything.” Yevgeny smiled at her what I am sure he thought was a winning smile “Everything will be ok. All is in order. I just wanted a little sleep.”
“Genna, please get up. How can I go to see my friend if you are lying in front of the house. Get up, for God’s sake, get up will you. It is the middle of the day…”
“Embarrassment.” I added. He made some motion like he wanted to get up but his body did not seem to be willing to heed his brain’s command.
“No, no… Can’t do it.” he said “Better to sleep.” And with that closed his eyes and laid his head back on the road.
“Genna, what can we do with you?”
“Have calm, Baba…”
“You are without value.” I said. He growled and started to move again.
“Ok, I agree. Help me up…” He said to me.
“Help yourself, idiot. I wouldn’t touch you.”
“And who are you, American?”
“Up your mother’s asshole.” I said. As you can see, I harbor some resentment towards Yevgeny.
“You! I know you. You are a bad person!” He cried from his comfortable position in the road, next to the old woman’s neighbor’s gate. I had had enough of this spectacle. I turned and walked away from him.
“You are a bad person. Why don’t you go back to America?” He yelled after me.
“Up your mother’s asshole.” I repeated and showed him my middle finger from behind my back as I walked away.
Now, the question as to whether or not I should have shown Yevgeny a little more patience and sympathy was on my mind several times over the course of the next few hours. I mean, I was only up there for a few hours to try and get some fertilizer on my land. Did I need to spend (waste) my day nursing Evgeny? But also, I did like that old woman and she was probably waiting for an hour for someone to come by and help her get Yevgeny away from the door. I mean, is this about getting shit on the land or about helping my fellow man? But then, this whole business between us was from when the big bum?
I don’t know if I have ever described Yevgeny. He is a really big guy, maybe 6’2” and 220 lbs. And he is really strong and is what I think used to be describes as “ham fisted". I mean this seriously, his fingers are like sausages and hard as a rock. I have got into some Indian wrestling with him and he is a seriously strong fellow. And he knows it and most of his personality has to do with how big a guy he is. Or at least this is how it was.
But to this moment I still don’t know if I should have helped him or not. I mean, there are customs and there are manors; there is a question of how to be with friends. Maybe I still have a little too much New York in me, or maybe I just didn’t want to play with him any more. Or maybe I had learned all about this guy, remember how he did me and simply didn’t want to get involved with him. Difficult deal. And again, it is better not to make scandals in one’s home.
But about this whole thing: My supposition is that in the old days he would have been helped back to his feet endless times. And for that matter, helped back to the gutter when the friend who decided to take him in decided that he wanted to get drunk the next day. Maybe in the end, they would leave the job of removing the drunks to the police, whom everyone was afraid of. But there are no police in my village. I guess there could be if someone called them. But doing things illegally is also a cultural norm and no one would want to get involved with that- or to wish such an ordeal on their friends.
So I didn’t help him because I had a problem with Yevgeny last year. And with Yasha. And looking back, I can see how both of them played me pretty much the same way and that all of this went back to Yasha. That’s where all of this got started.
But I will get to that soon. At the moment, I had to see what was taking Andre so long with my shit.
I found Andre, Vassa and Luda, Andre’s mom piling my fertilizer, a mixture of horse shit and straw onto a horse cart.
“Good health.” I said.
“Privyet.” From all.
“Where were you? I was worried..” They all smiled. I guess they had had that bottle of after-work wine. There was another guy there who I didn’t know, so I shook hands with him. Vassa started talking about how difficult the last hour was because of all of the things they had to do. Everyone laughed. Luda then misjudged a forkful of shit and got some on my pants.
“Oh, forgive me.”
“It’s nothing, nothing.”
“This is good fertilizer” Said Vassa.
“Yes,” I said, smelling my hand from where I wiped my pants “It is good shit. But shit would be shit. Sala will be sala and shit would be shit.” They all laughed. This is a local joke. Sala is salted pig fat and is a staple of the local diet. What I had said had been a reference to an old joke about how when you are hungry, there is no difference in the quality of the pig fat you eat. And yes, I have eaten it, and no, I don’t like it.
“You were stupid not to fertilize last year”
“Yes I was. But this year I am ready. I have read. I hae studied. This year will be great.” They all laughed again.
“All professors think they know potatoes.” Again they laughed. Another old joke. Andre took away a pair of softball sized beets that their horse had been eating and we started off toward my place. Vassa had his own horse, and we would be spreading its shit on my field.
Up ahead of us we could see Yevgeny. He had apparently made it to his feet and was weaving his way toward his house.
“Look at him.” I was with Luda and Andre, Vassa hadn’t come. This was Andre’s deal. “He had been sleeping there, next to that gate. The baba wanted to beat him with her stick.”
“Well, of she didn’t I did. I don’t need Yevgeny. I had enough of him last year.” I said.
“Yes, he really likes to drink.”
“Doesn’t he ever have anything better to do?”
“Not now. He doesn’t work.”
“What are you saying? He works for KolHos, like you. You are working.”
“They tossed him.”
“He lost his job?”
“He was drinking too much so they tossed him.”
“They tossed Yevgeny? I thought he was a big shot?”
“They got tired.”
“How will he live? No, he lives with his mother. What, he’s going to live on his mother’s pension?”
“His mother is in the hospital. She is paralyzed. It was her heart.”
“She had a stroke?”
“Yes, she is in the hospital.”
“Nobody told me. All they said was that no one had died.” Up ahead, Yevgeny seemed to have stopped and was either contemplating urinating, or was arguing with a tree.
“So he is living alone?”
“No, he is with his papa.”
“But what is he going to do about money? He won’t have even pennies (kopeks) doing private work here. No one had anything to pay him.”
“You must live.” Luda said.
We had now caught up with Yevgeny who was talking to someone in the road. He saw me and started in again.
“And who are you, American?”
“Don’t touch me, alkash.”
“Why are you working with him?” He said to Andre and Luda. “He is a bad person.”
“And look what a fine example you are.” I said. All laughed.
“Don’t work for him. He is rotten.”
“We all can see what a great man you are. A fine politician. Let’s just listen to your golden words, Yevgeny. Go ahead, try to be the next president. Our papa (Nasha badke- president Lukeshenka) will be afraid for his job.” More laughs. Yevgeny made a move to continue but his friend pulled him back.
That “Don’t work for him, he is a bad person.” was Yevgeny parroting from Yasha. I’ll try finish this dacha story tomorrow and I’ll see if I can’t get this Yasha business straightened out as well. I am going up again today. I have a few things left to do. And I am debating as to whether or not I should have a sit down with Yevgeny while I am there. Or with Yasha. But I am not sure if I will. I am not sure I want to get involved. I have two sides to consider. One side has to do with sympathy and the other with mistrust. I guess I have a lot of both. This to go along with my sense of self-preservation. And it is about whether I live here, or if am nothing more than a glorified “dachnik”.
And from a man who knows that he is one himself,
Happy April Fools Day