All that day the rain poured endlessly. It calmed down for a short and again began to rain with new force as if finding its second breath. When the downpour ceased, it was replaced by wind. On walls shades of trees shaken behind a window were swept up. Without turning on the light, I went around rooms, examining the familiar things of my childhood familiar as though I wanted to remember them better. I stood at a bookcase, got at random the book, looked through and put into place. Then we with mum sat down in the kitchen. It was our last evening before parting. I waited the car which should bring me to the airport.
Having heard automobile signals behind the window, mum continually rose, sentencing: «Probably, your car has arrived». I calmed her, saying that there is still time that before arriving, I will be called. But she all the same shuddered at each loud hooter.
I understood that mum was nervous, she would not like, that I left her , it was terrible for her to remain alone , after all for all life, from my birth till this evening we were separated the greatest for a month-two when I left as student to go for picking cotton or in holiday with my family. And here it concerned more than a month, and longer separation. And both of us perfectly understood it.
I said to mum that as soon as I had settled in America, at once I would start to strive to take her to my place. She agreed by nodding , but it seemed to me that she did not believe that it would be fast and agreed not to upset me only. The long way was coming for me, and she would not like that I left with heavy heart. She even joked and tried to encourage me, but it made me even sadder. What is cheerful in parting? At some instant I thought: and it is not necessary to set out on this travel and remain? Here my house, my mum, here my native land, here the tomb of my father. But I calmed myself that we say goodbye not forever.
Phone call was distributed, and soon behind the window the car beeped.
– Already it is time? Well, be happy, sonny, God grants you good luck. – Mum in the dressing gown thrown over shoulders looked at me damp eyes, helplessly having lowered hands, palm to palm. Her lips shivered.
– Mum as soon as I get a job and I receive habitation, at once I will arrive. I do not know when, but, probably, not so soon. Be patient and take care of yourself. Also remember: I never will leave you.
– All right go, sonny. Do not worry about me, somehow I will cope. I will wait for you.
I pressed mum to myself, kissed on the wrinkled cheeks and, running down steps, went to the expecting car. I turned back and looked at the window of the apartment. Mum stood in a dark aperture of the window and did movements by her hand: whether waved at parting, whether blessed me with cross.
I went on city streets in which was born and lived all life where my father was buried and where lived my friends and mentally said goodbye to them. I then thought of mum that now she would not lay down any more, would wait sitting at the dawn window, would put on an old coat and, taking her can, would go, as usual, to take turn for buying milk. I understood that I would see her not soon, but knew also that I would necessarily return.
America, America …
At the airport of Seattle I was met by that acquaintance who invited me to the States. I had only two luggages, two bags. I threw them in a pickup body, and rushed off towards to new life. On good roads we quickly reached quickly to the picturesque, poured, as if a lake in wood, settlement in the county Kent.
The site surrounded with very tall and direct, as the rocket with fur-trees, stood on the brink of settlement, or as there speak the community. Behind it at once began woods in which deer fearlessly wandered. On trees upwards-downwards fibres is bright scurried about. Over colours humming-birds flitted. Idyll. However all appeared not as simply as it seemed.
Not to idle and not to abuse master’s hospitality , I was engaged in washing cars of my friends, cut a green hedge, corrected garden furniture, impregnated with its special solution so that bark beetles did not eat it, mowed with lawn-mower the grass. Sometimes my new friends took out me to Seattle to drive by on the monorail train; to take a walk on the city park where on the days off different festivals were arranged.
Already next day on my arrival there arose the question on legalisation of my stay in the States. For this purpose it was necessary to employ a lawyer that is the lawyer, expert in migration issues. But how to find him? My friend dragged the thick Yellow Pages (a telephone directory), opened on the first page, pointed with finger at any heavy-faced uncle with forced, affected smile and told: «Yes here, at least this».
The lawyer at all did not correspond to an advertising picture. Where the white teeth smile and bewitching sight disappeared! Before me was a flabby man with ice eyes, without any hint on openness and goodwill. He indifferently listened to me and told that he would be engaged in my business, but warned that payment was hourly. And, readout of services began already with that moment as I stepped over the threshold of his office and said the first phrase. When he sounded the sum of services, I was saddened. One hour approximately corresponded to my monthly salary in the editorial office.
Coming by his call to appointments, I tried to reduce the dialogue time as much as possible. The lawyer tried to tighten as much as possible it, causing in office for specification of any insignificant details. As a result I each time received the account from which the head was turned. About one month so proceeded. Eventually, I dared to refuse services of expensive lawyer, but he, probably, understood that the client was dissatisfied, and took pity over me. That day when I came to inform him on cancellation of our union, he solemnly declared that he collected all necessary documents for naturalisation, and would send now them to the migration service.
Next day I received the account for last visit and the notice that documents were sent to the head office of migration service which was in California. It was necessary to wait only. Answer expectation how many can last, anybody could not tell. They named different terms – from three months about one year. Only then I learnt that a way passed by me, it was possible to make much more shortly, easier and absolutely free of charge.
So, for example, the lawyer did not inform that if within three months the person who submitted inquiry about granting of a refuge or reunion with a family, or on other bases did not receive the answer in the States legally, he has the right to find work in the expiration of three months – it is necessary to live on something.
Month two I stayed with the friend in small, cosy settlement in the county Kent. Then I was sheltered by the friend of my friend at whom I spent still some time. Then there came turn of the following benefactor.
To live with friends was, of course, tempting, but it was necessary to have conscience also. My means came to an end, but nevertheless I found a haven. The case helped. In shop “Test of Russia” I saw the newspaper «Russian World» on the counter. I looked through pages, and the thought here came: should I write an article? But about what? How about what? That I know – about Turkmenistan. Hardly the American readers can find my country on the map. And here I remembered that the 9th of May approaches and they should know this holiday.
I wrote how in days of the Great Patriotic War soldiers-Turkmen nationals valorously battled, that Victory Day is one of the most esteemed holidays in the country, about with what respect and trembling inhabitants of Turkmenistan concern veterans as protect memory of them. I sent the article by mail, having put the contact details and the call next day was distributed. The woman called, it was presented by the editor of the newspaper, told that the article was pleasant that they would publish it in the coming issue, and suggested to meet. Apartments, in which she lived, were far enough from the place of residence of my friends – in beautiful small town Bellevue.
I approached in due time apartments of “Cascadian”. At the gate there appeared a small woman with big Armenian eyes. «Inna, – she introduced herself and added, -it seems we are neighbours: you from Ashkhabad, I – from Baku». We got to talking, and it appeared that we had even general acquaintances. Inna arrived to the States, escaping together with mum and the sister during the bloody Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict in Baku.
Inna suggested to me to work for the newspaper. I agreed with pleasure. Having learnt that I lived with acquaintances, and they live far enough from Bellevue, Inna suggested me to move in apartments. I explained that I recently arrived that I while did not have any documents, and without them in apartments I can hardly take. Besides I suffered financial difficulties and when I would get means – it is not known. «Well, something we would think up, – Inna encouraged, – stalemates do not happen. America, of course, the country of strict rules, but for each rule always would be an exception».
We passed into the office. The pretty woman sat at a table. Inna presented me, and in pure Russian began to explain that I need a shelter. The woman nodded with her head, then, in the same plain familiar language, told: «Well, if it is necessary, we would help». She showed me my new habitation – a tiny one-room flat with a balcony, handed over keys and told: “Make a home”.
– How well this woman speaks Russian, – I told to Inna when that left.
– She is Russian. From Moldova, – Inna smiled and added: «I paid for this month from your fee. I hope, you are not against it? ». I was not against. «And here to help you with the finance I hardly can – we do not have correspondents and there are no such tariffs of expenses. Here you should himself you’re your earning. I hope, you would cope with it. America – the country of big possibilities. It is necessary to put sharpness only.
This very day I informed the friends that I found apartments, and now I have a shelter and even the address. In the evening they visited me and brought piles of dishes, a sofa, a table, bedding, kitchen utensils, a microwave and even a guitar which was brought by my friend Bill. He also suggested an idea to me to earn additionally.
A street musician
For performance I had chosen the nearest supermarket the Bon Marche. Having taken a position at the entrance to this expensive, elite department store, I put before myself a case, got a guitar, and began to touch strings, quietly echoing. Thus I tried not to look at passers-by as it was done by street musicians. Usually they played with distracted faces, looking at himself under feet, or in a case of the instrument as though speaking: here there was I, was tired, decided to have a rest, play and sing; I ask nothing, simply I played with pleasure and if it was pleasant for you, and you wanted to give to me a few money, well, I not against. The self-respect did not suffer from it at all.
And still from time to time I lifted eyes that though for a moment to see reaction of public. It was different. One passed by, hardly having looked at me, others puzzled shrugged shoulders, the third stopped and smiled. And then coins flied into the case. I grateful nodded. I went on tour minutes forty, having considered that for the first time enough. I estimated a gain – there were about seven dollars – for two packs of cigarettes will suffice.
In the evening on a visit Bill came. He brought napkins, towels, vases.
– Well, how about the guitar? – He asked.
– A fine guitar, – I praised and told Bill about a concert. He listened, and his face expression became similar to those persons who bewildered and looked at me during performance. Only here to bewilderment it was added also horror.
– About, May God! – He began to yell, – you played near the Bon Marche?! You became crazy!
– And what is it? Blacks play at Market Place …
– Vlad, never use this disgusting word. Not Blacks, and Afro-Americans, otherwise you can have troubles. Yes, they play, but only in certain days, and in special places. All is co-ordinated in advance with the municipality. It is the law. And you broke the law. You were lucky that nobody called police. You might be put into the list of offenders, and the migration service could refuse status granting.
No more I gave concerts but in exchange I got other work.
Inna acquainted me with a young man whom they called Christian – a hybrid of Russian with the Baltic. Christian married recently a daughter of the diver. He celebrated a wedding, and the father-in-law gave money for acquisition of his business. Christian who was the fellow enterprising, hard-working, himself constructed the pizzeria, printed fair brochures and now he needed messengers of advertising. Inna also offered me in this quality.
Every day since morning we – several messengers – came to small town Renton, received a weighty bale of fair brochures, Christian marked area where we should work on the map. It was difficult to get to expensive apartments – behind the entrance video observation was conducted, and sometimes security guards wrapped us back. Sometimes it was in not so kind form.
In cheap all was easier. I travelled from floor to floor, and enclosed advertising leaves under doors. Some doors were driven before densely that leaves were not pushed inside. Christian taught me as it is necessary to arrive in this case. Having put before himself a pack of prospectuses, he made a sharp knife a deep crosswise cut in the middle, took the top leaf, and in a second its plot on the round handle of a door. Here it is! Work went faster. However, I lost gymnastics for back.
In one of days, putting on the handle a leaf, I felt that from door crack the smell of whether perfume or cologne reaches. It was not sharp, not persuasive as smells of cheap perfumery, it was found, bewitching, and so familiar that I stood. The brain strenuously worked, finding in labyrinths of the grey substance the necessary picture.
And it appeared before me, having come up from the far childhood. As if in reality, I suddenly saw my mum and remembered this smell – same «Red Moscow», favourite mum’s perfume. I presented, as mum sits on a small stool near a pier glass, powder her face and near to a powder box costs graceful glass bottle in the form of the Kremlin tower. Mum unscrews a lid, overturns a bottle, puts a forefinger small pillow to a neck, touches her ears, and in the room unearthly aroma travels.
I stand nearby, observing of her movements – mum with the father are going to go on a visit, and mum, laughing, touches with her scented finger on my cheek. Then cotton wool from powder box touches on other cheek. Also I now laugh. I erased powder, and the smell of perfume still any time soared near my nose, casting light, joyful thoughts.
But it was many years ago, perfume «Red Moscow» ceased to let out for a long time. Whence they here? Can behind this door there lives a woman who has preserved it? And what if to take courage and knock? Also what I will tell? And it cannot be at all «Red Moscow», and similar aroma? So I stood, inhaling the yet not forgotten smell. And suddenly desperately I wanted to throw everything, to rush off to the airport, to buy the ticket for the plane and to return to Ashkhabad. Steps on the staircase were heard. I quickly jumped and, having handed over to the man rising on the platform an advertising leaf, run to the car.
Work on advertising delivery soon, alas, ended. Christian had any disagreements with the father of his wife. They did not divide something. He sold a pizzeria, divorced from the spouse and left to Germany. I remained without business.
A toilet worker
To work officially I, still, had no right, but, as it is known, stalemates do not happen. To ask familiar Americans to help to find work – it is useless, they under no circumstances will not break the law even if it concerns their own father. But our compatriots, let they even with you are unfamiliar, will not refuse to help. Not all, of course, but will help.
There was a work and for me. Neighbours in apartments – two brothers, Samarkand Jews Efim and Efrem offered it to me. Brothers owned small business for cleaning of auto-shops. At shops there were trucks were repaired. There I should do cleaning.
Having held an interview, brothers agreed to take me for a job, but thus long begged me to not to tell nobody that I work for them, otherwise, they would lose the licence, and they have small children in their families. They said that they never would take for work of the person unfamiliar, without the status, without the work permit, but met me exclusively for the sake of respect for Inna who asked them to help.
I gave oath that promised that even if they will tear me to scraps tweezers, all the same I will remain it is true, and I will not give out our secret. However, I was ashamed to ask, in what the sum of sufferings will be expressed under the price-list not to sow ahead of time in the Samarkand souls of employers of suspicions in my mercenary intentions. But they sounded the sum: hundred dollars.
– A day? – I was delighted.
– A month, – they calmed.
All right if hundred, let be hundred. Money, of course, is not big, but in my position it was not necessary to choose and be capricious. They warned that the work basically should be done at night, and would be dirty and heavy.
Every day in eight evenings Fima and Efrem brought me to the service place, and went to other objects. Work was intellectually simple, but physically hard. The auto-repair shop was consisted of twelve compartments. My job also included to strew a floor in each compartment the granulated mix that in it lubricating oil which mechanics merged directly on the floor was absorbed. While the mix incorporated oil, it was necessary to clean a dining room and a toilet to shine, to supply toilets with a toilet paper and napkins.
With the square-faced shovel I shifted inflated from lubricating oil, heavy as cement mortal a mix in a thick polyethylene bag. Then, in the manner of Father Frost, carried a bag on my shoulders and with the gait of the same Grandfather, who is coming back after plentiful New Year’s libation, dragged a bag to the platform for garbage behind an auto-repair shop. First I loaded one third of bag as the first attempt to fill it to the full and to charge himself, had not broken my back.
Tried to drag a full bag on the floor, but it too was hard. On the cement smooth surface of the workshop it still somehow crept, but having met asphalt, went obstinate as a donkey, and after my urgings on and force, it was simply torn. Compartments, I will remind, there were twelve, and time for all about all – four hours.
I already wanted to refuse this honourable mission, but remembered wise saying of Grandfather Lenin «better less, yes it is better». Then o began to load a bag on force. Gradually force grew, there was a working skill, and a month through three I could charge myself with half of bag easy. Exactly at midnight for me there came the Samarkand brothers and brought home. Calculation was made two times a month.
I spent the most part of life in the edition office, on business trips, behind the typewriter, but thus never avoided the work connected with physical work. Cotton gathering, work in construction sites, unloading of cars, work in wood processing industrial complex during summer vacations gave pleasure. The experience received in the auto shop helped me also. For almost half a year of cleaning of auto shops I developed my back and hands that is a little more, and could without bending down to fasten laces on boots.
So here passed a year. Some days before New Year, 1997, removing from the mail box a heap of fair brochures, I found a wide envelope among paper garbage. The letter had my name and came from California. I opened an envelope, turned the list folded double and understood that this was an official paper, and was the decision of the migratory commission. I tried to read, but did not understand sense of the written. I looked through the English-Russian dictionary brought with myself, and found a proper word – Approval that means “approved”.
So, the work permit was received, it was necessary to find only where I should apply my forces and knowledge. Well, knowledge, in particular mine, here is necessary for nobody, and here the force which remained in a stock can be sold. I decided to continue to be engaged in already familiar business – cleaning, in other words, garbage cleaning. According to the advice of familiar ashmen (and they made almost third of population of apartments), I got a job with company American Building Maintenance, received the working form with a beautiful emblem on a pocket in the form of a figure having control over a mop and a garbage can, and started to do my favourite as it then appeared, business.
My new trade was called beautifully – janitor that the cleaner in Russian means. The work, like the cleaning in auto shops, appeared simple, and even more various. In six evenings when at many-storeyed offices the working day came to an end and employees went to their houses, we, having armed with buckets, vacuum cleaners, mops, brushes, garbage bags, carts, took up service.
We are an international concourse of emigrants, children of different people, different skin colours and cuts of eyes for whom America became only a haven, but yet the native land. Someone considered this work as time necessity before finding more prestigious trade, students – as means of payment for study in educational institutions, visitors from poor countries were glad also to such earnings.
Intellectuals came across also. Together with me the former teacher of philosophy of the Siberian University, senior lecturer, candidate of philosophical and historical sciences worked. He was already over fifty, he had no family, language did not know, therefore work in the speciality in the States he could not, and his dream was to hold to the garbage service to pension and easy to meet the provided old age.
I did not ask what prevented him to meet in native Siberia as he could ask me the same question. What could I answer it? Once, when we came out to smoke, I saw how he, having turned away, wipes an eye scarf. I asked what happens, and in the answer I heard: «Tell, well what for we are here? To whom we here are necessary? Show, where the happiness is buried here …». It gave up as a bad job and started wandering to clean toilet bowls.
By three o’clock in the morning, having scrubbed to shine toilets on several floors, having charged a toilet paper in booths, having vacuumed all carpets, having removed a whisk a dust from all visible surfaces, having collected all garbage, I went home. Night work suited me also because I could call to mum more often. The difference in time between Seattle and Ashkhabad – twelve hours. I called by card directly from work.
In agreed time mum already sat at phone. A vigorous voice she informed that she is live-healthy that everything is all right, and that she misses me. Sniffing, I listened to native and such far mum’s voice. Trying to seem too cheerful, told that I work in the newspaper (I preferred not to mention the garbage service) that received the official status «refugee », that is refugees, and now I can be engaged in her invitation to myself. I asked mum to open the bank account, and monthly sent money.
When euphoria from arrival in the States gradually began to descend, I even more often thought of, whether have correctly arrived, having left the country where to me was not too badly. Yes, there were problems, were disturbing, even the dangerous moments but so happens during any cardinal reorganisations – together with decayed buildings which should be pulled down and still quite suitable for existence.
It is necessary to wait only when passions will settle and life again will enter into the channel. Certainly, it will be already other river, but after all always there is a choice – to remain on this coast or to sit down in a boat and to get over on the opposite. If it is absolutely hot, then why not to choose the residence in Russia – the historical Native land in which I, truth, never lived, as I was born and spent all life in Turkmenistan. There I was born and the father was buried, there was mum, friends, streets which I walked up and down, cinemas in which my childhood and youth, avenues in parks …
There ran years. Garbage work for a long time I left, preferring more intellectual work of the loader in warehouses in Seattle. Usually, changing a work place, I and habitation looked for more close to new service. And here there was a work in finished goods warehouse in small town Renton. It was necessary to search, accordingly, and habitation.
Practically in each American food shop there is a tray with printed matter – newspapers, magazines, and it was possible to find advertising in them the announcement. I rummaged and found a fresh issue “Russian world». Having looked through pages, came across the announcement: «I rent a room. Cheaply». The address was no specified, only phone number and name – Margarita.
– Hallo! – Pleasant, a little playful female voice was heard in the phone.
– I call by the announcement. You rent a room? – I told in English.
– Yes, I rent, – the woman in Russian answered.
– Oh, you understand Russian? – I was surprised with cleanliness of pronunciation.
– Not only I understand, but also I speak. I – Russian. If the room is necessary for you – come.
The house was one-storeyed, but spacious, with a small site and a platform for the car. The door was opened by the woman of forty.
– Vladimir, – I presented myself.
– Margarita, – she answered. – It is possible simply Rita. Come, look at the room.
The room appeared small, but I did not need more. The main thing is that there is a wall case, a big window, a bed and a bedside table. So I lodged in this house which became for me last haven.
Rita was born in Leningrad. Her father was Estonian, mum Russian. She remembers the father badly, to it was three years when they left. In her childhood Rita had abilities to drawing. She studied at high school and in parallel in the art. She lived rather poor. For the mum’s salary of the engineer at project institute not very much she could hardly live lavishly. But her mum was purposeful and strong-willed: if she set for herself a goal, means, it is necessary to reach it.
And the purpose consisted in ceasing to save, at last, on everything, to consider kopecks from salary to salary, to borrow money from friends and neighbours. She dreamt, that her daughter was dressed and put, let it is not better than contemporaries, but decently that she had same pencils, paints and drawing paper, as her girlfriends from art school had.
And most she would also desire to dress well; after all she was still a young and attractive woman then. Boyfriends, of course, happened, but or institute, or with whom she tried to acquaint. All it was not that. Same lonely and needy. The man who could make her life and daughters provided was necessary to it, in her opinion, the foreigner could become such only.
Leningrad always was considered as Mecca for tourists. Visiting museums, exhibitions, being surprised with majestic architectural sights, wandering on streets of a fine city on the Neva, they with admiration glanced at beautiful Russian girls. Happened, these sights favourably were accepted, and the next beauty changed the place of residence in one country for another. Though marriages with foreigners in the Soviet Union were not welcomed, officially they could not forbid.
Rita’s mum enrolled in English language courses. She worked in the afternoon, studied in the evening, at night carried out control tasks. Soon she enough smartly expressed in English, left the institute and was employed as guide in the tourist bureau. Attractive and sociable, she did not refuse offers of other male tourists to spend evening at restaurant, but resolutely rejected hints to finish it in the room of the hotel.
Time went, and the long-awaited benefactor all did not appear. She already began to regret that she left the institute, but it was necessary for her to think of it as on their horizon there appeared John. The gentleman from America liked the pretty guide. He traditionally took her to a restaurant, but at banquet continuation in a hotel room he did not give a hint at all.
The American visited excursions every day. By the end of the stay in a city on the Neva, he admitted that for he was “very happy” to get acquainted with such charming woman and he would like to spend the rest of the days with him together. Certainly in America. The boyfriend was almost twice more senior, but it did not confuse her. And the decision when the darling admitted that she had a fifteen-year daughter, did not forced to change it.
They left with light baggage, taking only the most necessary. Rita said goodbye to girlfriends of school and art school, put in a suitcase Alla Pugacheva’s favourite record, albums with drawings (brushes, paints, pencils mum asked not to take, having told that all can be bought it in the place), and soon the plane took them from native Peter to unknown America.
In two years Rita arrived in Seattle, entered the university for the faculty of English philology. In the State of Montana where there lived he mum and stepfather, she had not returned any more. Rita with pleasure wandered on hilly streets of Seattle, a city where there lived once one of her favourite writers Jack London, went down to coast about which waves of the Pacific ocean fought, drew sea landscapes and looked afar as Grin’s Assol , expecting to see in the distance a ship with scarlet sails and the captain Grey on the deck.
Like any girl, she desired love and happiness. But Rita with grief understood that she was ugly, and guys do not throw sights on her. She soon married, but marriage lasted not for long: as soon as there came her daughter into light, her daddy then disappeared from horizon. She did not begin to search for her, having allowed to herself pledging not to marry any more.
Once, the call from Montana in the afternoon came and the man’s voice informed that Rita’s mum died. She closed herself in the room. Soon behind the thin wall separating our rooms, a sobbing, and then crying was heard. So, in a voice, Russian women sob. I quietly knocked at a door. Nobody answered. I opened the door and glanced into the room in which I never before was. Rita stood, looking at the wall, and drove on it with her finger. Other palm brushed away from tear cheeks. She gave me a sign to enter. On the wall the large-scale map of Leningrad hung. Later I learnt that the map as well as the record of Pugacheva was taken out from Peter for memory of the native city.
– Here on these streets I went to school, and here on this is in art school. In this park we with the girl-friend drew etudes, and here, on the Neglinka, there was a dining room, and there prepared very tasty pies. I remember till now their smell …
The sleepy daughter entered into a room, nestled on the mum, and too began to cry.
– What for, well what for we have left?! If in Peter to us it was bad? – In the voice Rita began to sob, patting the daughter’s head. – Never I felt such lonely, as here. Neither friends, nor relatives. Now mum has left. I could not bury her at all – mum was buried in a tomb by other’s people. I still had one Eve who does not know any word in Russian. She also does not know what Leningrad is and how is it. There will pass some years, and I will be not necessary for her. What to do, what to do?
… I have lived In America seven years. And all this time grieved about mum, about friends, about colleagues for edition, about Ashkhabad. America, undoubtedly, – the country of big possibilities rich, safe, beautiful country, but all the same is a foreign land.
In Ashkhabad I arrived at the warm May night of 2003. Into our house I entered at daybreak. Mum was dressed, and lying on the bed, having curled up. She slept and did not hear how I opened the entrance door with keys, which have travelled together with me for so many years.
I was amazed with that how mum for these years changed greatly, she has become small, thin and absolutely grey-haired. I sat down on hunkers, stroked her hand with bulked up veins, and then touched her hair and cheek. Mum shuddered, woken up, and the first that she told, having seen me: «My sonny has arrived». I pressed her to myself, having felt at hand thin, almost aery form body, have then fallen on the floor and as in my childhood, buried my head in her knees, searching for protection and rescue. Mum ironed me on the grown bald top, and I cried and could not stop. She then told: «You, probably, have got hungry. Allow to drink tea». We drank tea in the kitchen, as that evening seven years ago.
Sitting on a bed edge, embracing mum over shoulders, I told her about the life-byte there, in the distance, and she listened, peering at me with already a little another’s hyphens the person, and all touched fingers dress edge. Mum examined an album with photos which I brought, but, having seen, as she brings them to her eyes, trying to make out, understood that she almost sees nothing. She answered questions inattentively, and I guessed that she also does not hear.
Much has changed for these years. The loneliness has made the destructive business – mum, always was cheerful and cheerful, looked not simply tired, and that is even worse – lost, she has become reserved, as a snail in a bowl, became indifferent. She, probably, understood that there should be another, such as before, but has forgotten what. She has already plunged into this terrible for the old person a whirlpool of abandonment, hopelessness and despair, and it did not release it. Mum has hardly bore seven-year separation.
I went about rooms, looked at half-forgotten apartment, Rooms were clean – the neighbour’s girl helped mum to clean apartment from time to time. I considered books which as soldiers on a post stood on book shelves, waiting my returning. Mum took one of books, and has got therefrom a pack of banknotes. It appears, it was that money which I sent her.
«Mum why you did not spend them? », – I asked. «Pensions were sufficed for me, – she answered. – I saved them for the ticket to go to you, but now they are not necessary for me. I already do not want to go anywhere. I want to remain here. And they will be useful for you. Take».
And then she asked a question which prepared for a long time, but did not dare to set: «You have come for a long time, sonny? You when need to come back?» Tried to speak easy that the question turned out as though by itself, by the way, as natural care of mother of affairs of an adult son.
But she could not deceive me. In the voice of mum I heard so much melancholy and a hopelessness that stopped and became silent. Weepingly, as through magnifying glass, I suddenly saw this small, hunched lonely old woman, my mum, the dearest person for me and when I could speak, I told: «I am at home, I am with you. I will not leave you anywhere».
The city of my destiny
At first I used to walk about the city, met friends, classmates. And those and others who have remains very little – ones have left, others were going to leave the city, and someone has died. A lot of time I spent with mum. We long talked, walked on the square near to the house. I love Ashkhabad, the city in which I was born and have lived almost all life, the city of my childhood and youth as an apple of my eye. I walked the streets, on which I spent my childhood, touched with palms the trees, which still remember me, here still there live my friends, girls whom I loved and who loved me.
The well-groomed lawn with accurately cut green grass … the white tower of a high-rise building reaching the sky … the footpath, bending around a lawn and withdrawing in a lane … Still here stood recently the house where my childhood was spent . The solar, joyful, happy childhood filled with heat, bright, adventures and opening. In this house there lived my friends, there lived kind, cheerful, careful people. Those faraway years all people seemed kind, generous, disinterested. but then, they were really so.