автограф
     пускай с моею мордою
   печатных книжек нет,
  вот эта подпись гордая
есть мой автопортрет

Stepanakert
                   Saga

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    days:

December 29.

No gas, no electricity.

Once upon a time in my heady youth, I was ardently revealing to what-was-his-name that no life is possible without playing the guitar three evenings a week for the dancers at a discotheque.

However, in my later curriculum vitae, I managed to survive without so an indispensable necessity sometimes for years at a stretch.

How long can one last out without gas and electricity?

Missile attacks and artillery shelling raged all the day. Separate shell bursts are most unnerving.

Scattered glass splinters spread the sidewalks; meter-wide holes crack open walls of the buildings.

Axe hacks sound all over the town. People fell trees in the streets to get fuel for their tin woodburners.

From the morning and till four p.m., I shoveled at the Site's layout.

When I came back, the mother-in-law was baking breads on a round sheet of iron put over open fire in the yard.

Sahtik and the kids spent all the day in Underground.

It's dark and dusty down there.
Galloping rats. Smoking lamps.

Perversely, I felt some kind of smug satisfaction out of the thought that our kids had seen not only all that but also the glimmer of a Christmas Tree lights.

The mother-in-law sent me with the hot bread to Carina and Orliana. I ran the errand willingly and gladly.

Desolate streets.
Din of bursts.
A cloth placard 'All to vote!' wired over the street kept trembling in the wind.
The gaudy slippers in the much too wide Department Store windows looked ridiculously defenseless.

Sashic reciprocated the bread by sending a baton of sausage and a jar of bland.

On my way back, I took over Valeric, a worker from the pipeline construction firm.
Stately strutted we uphill together talking about things through the peals of thundering cannonade.

He narrated how the day before yesterday a couple of local cops inside their windowless mini-bus were beating up two Azeri prisoners of war bleeding with wounds, freshly captured by phedayees PHEDAYEE —
     (Armenian borrowing from Greek) "freedom fighter".
in Krkjan.

' Well,' commented I, 'the policemen don't take part in combat actions, but they also hanker to be heroes.'

He also related of six Armenian youths killed yesterday by a shell exploding in a house next to his.

Entering our yard, I saw my mother-in-law helping Mrs. Nvard, the paper's queen in disguise, to bake her breads on the mother-in-law's sheet of iron.

The world is a small place indeed—their compartments in the Underground are opposite to each other.

Slavic the Moscovite was inside our one-but-spacey-room flat waiting for me.

He started to complain of family problems and beg vodka.

Instead of spirits he got a piece of reasoning that I had no desire to become an accomplice in killing him.
Under the circumstances you have to keep your eye peeled and also off booze. I really didn't want him to walk into a bullet or such like impediment. And I wouldn't put his dear life at risk by helping him get drunk.

Then, I saw him out of the yard.

After yoga, supper and bringing water, I visited Underground.

Ahshaut and my mother-in-law were asleep.
Roozahna rabbiting on from the bed. Sahtik complained of aching feet.

It's eleven-to-ten p.m. Fog reinforced darkness outdoors.

P.S.: About a minute ago cracks of shooting started up in the street. I went out. It was a near-by house on fire.
Roof-slates breaking up in flames produce shot-like cracks.

Let's call it a day.

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