Anatoly Aleksin: The Actress

The house my grandma used to live in is no longer there. It was demolished to make the street more spacious. I think Grandma would only be happy about that. She was such an amazing person. For example, she liked that instead of a quiet backyard, her old-style balcony overlooked the sidewalk, with its non-stop, 24-hour bustle. “That makes a good excuse for my senile insomnia!” she would say. She had four daughters. But only my mom lived in the same city. Well, actually, not just in the same city, but around the corner, a stone’s throw from us. Or, to be more precise, a 27-step distance away… I once counted the number of steps from our place to Grandma’s. “It’s good we don’t live together, in the same apartment,” Grandma used to say. “I’ve always loved to go out and visit people. They see you in, see you off… They take care of you, in other words!” Aside from dropping by at her friends, she also liked to travel. She enjoyed reminiscing about how she used to go to the countryside several years in a row to see her brother, the teacher. He was actually a cousin, but judging by Grandma’s stories, they were very close. She stopped visiting him after the war, though…. Because he was killed. “He was the kindest of all our family,” Grandma said. “And I am not saying that because he was killed… I said that all the time.” On the New Year’s Eve Grandma always hoped that her daughters, who lived in two other cities, would invite her over. She was even window shopping for the gifts she planned to bring to her grandkids. Her daughters sent postcards. They told her how much they missed her. They obviously loved her. They just didn’t have a clue… Of course, I could write to them about it. And once I was close to actually doing it … But Grandma stopped me. “I heard you get F’s for prompting at school, right?” “Right,” I said. On the eve of that distant year I am talking about, the 6th graders of our school were to be taken on a field trip. Although the trip was to the children’s theater, we had three chieftains: a mother from the PTA, and two class supervisors. A couple of days before, we found out that the 6th B class, the one I was in, was given tickets to the pit stalls, while the 6th A class got to sit in the dress circle, though they were just as good as us. I thought that class was even better, because Galya Kozlova studied in it. I bought two tickets for the children’s show. “I will walk up to Galya,” I thought," and say casually, ‘By the way, I have an extra ticket. The pit stall is better than the dress circle. You can have it if you want.’ And I will sit next to her the entire show! This is how the year will end… And I will think of it as the happiest year in my life!” At the end of December, all of mom’s sisters sent us postcards. They all wished all the best for Grandma, mom and dad, and even me. They wrote they missed us a lot, and could hardly wait till we could meet! “Waiting has its own advantages -- everything is still ahead,” Grandma said quietly. Mom and dad began to explain sadly that they had to join some company, which they didn’t want to see, but had to, and I said just as sadly, “And I have to go to the theater tomorrow.” On hearing that, Grandma pretended she was looking for something in her purse. Suddenly, the words just came out of my mouth… I said, “Let’s go to the theater together, Grandma! I have an extra ticket!”
Translated by Ekaterina Shubnaya, RT

Comments

Anatoly Alexin was favorite writer of my youth!

Thank you for posting this, Seesaw!

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