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December 9.

The night was shattered by bombardments: seven volleys of six to ten AlazanALAZAN —
     a missile contrivance for destroying hailstorm clouds which was easily converted into artillery weapon in the initial stages of the Karabakh war 1991-1994.
missiles each were shot at different hours.

A missile from the second volley exploded fairly near to our place. There followed a stretch of incredible hush and then the street echoed to hasty footsteps and agitated male voices.

'Where? How?'

A not too distant voice called out, 'Hit here!'

Ahshaut slept O.K. through all the night.

Stretched on my bed I followed through the dull pane glasses of our three—so absurdly wide!—windows the languid flame traces of
AlazansALAZAN —
     a missile contrivance for destroying hailstorm clouds which was easily converted into artillery weapon in the initial stages of the Karabakh war 1991-1994.
flying towards their earsplitting crash.

During a lull between the attacks I had a strangely-protracted piece of dream.

... the bombardment is over and I am coming back home through the raw rays of the rising sun amidst a silent crowd going the same way and an old women—dark and strange—asks me to help and promptly puts a girl of nine on my back to carry along and I catch the legs of the kid riding me and through her brittle stockings feel that her left leg is cut at the knee and the oldie plods behind me assuring her dear Ira-girl that now all'll be well and then we part and I enter our room just in time to hear Sahtik calling from the kitchen that I have a visitor and I go over there to be confronted with a close-up view of a hen spread out on the asphalt floor with its head freshly chopped off and wriggling hither and thither its neck ending with a pulpy ringlet of raw meat and the girl that I have right now carried along is standing by and she turns up to me the smile on her face with lank bangs of her dark straight hair falling over the brow to her eye-sockets with no eyes at all – only seamless patches of pinch-tight skin...

It's a quarter to 10 a.m., the night is over, and Ahshaut is playing with his wooden blocks. Sahtik has dropped in and stepped out to ring up round her sisters. Roozahna, reportedly, sleeps in Shelter.

My mother-in-law went to her work place to wash the floors there, which, actually, is her job.

The Same Date, evening.

At 11 a.m. I turned up at my soon-to-be work place just to find the renderers' locked up. I went upstairs to Ms. Stella's office room.

She informed me there was no stuff to translate.

At home Sahtik announced her intention to take the kids to the downhill part of the town and this night shelter in the basement of Orliana's block-of-flats.

A senseless plan if I were asked but I chose to keep the opinion to myself, after all a long walk and change of place and doing something—however futile it might seem—would do her more good than just sitting and waiting for nothing good.

She spoke of her funny feeling at moments of utter fright.
She feels an icy curd that starts up inside her and gets tighter and tighter until real hard.

<!-- Quite contrary to my feeling of heated intestine decompression.-->

We set off under the autumnal drizzle forgetful to let up and dripping all day long.

Roozahna kept nonstop mouthing off about missiles and shelters until Sahtik emerged from her upset thoughts and ordered to stop the drivel; the grumbles of my seized up back aggravated by the athwart burden of the bag with victuals and kids' clothes made me silent too and only Ahshaut bubbled up with joy at having an all out walk and now and then issued yells of delight.

On my way back from Orliana's, I was as slow-go as the ceaseless rain itself.

Yet, a couple of times the sun peeped through the clouds to perk me up and set a-glitter the tiny raindrops.

Just past Department Store I met two of my former workmates from the gas pipeline constructing firm: horny-palmed lads of Baluja village.

Vartan asked if I had enrolled a phedayee PHEDAYEE —
     (Armenian borrowing from Greek) "freedom fighter".
group and made a sawing movement with a ridge of his hand across his chest alluding to my beard.

'No,' said I, 'I have not, and for that matter, guerrillas can't privatize beard as their league badge 'cause any writer, artist or a drifter has the time-honored right to sport it.'

Further uphill I encountered Murad, a heavy truck driver, trundling down along the sidewalk as any mortal biped yet all the same as bulkily as his bull-truck.

We just halloed each other.

I ascended one more block and at the next crossing exchanged a courtly nod with Guiro hanging uselessly around—a white-collar remains a white collar—on the other side of the Kirov Street.

Near the Theater I was saluted by a group of my former pupils from the Seidishen Village School.

They looked like adolescents with that fluffy growth on their upper lips.

Kids can't but grow up. These village boys are growing up into a war.

At 8 p.m. I went out to phone to the Orliana's from the street booth.

No one over there to answer the call. Everybody's gone down to the basement shelter, I guess.

Half an hour later I had a supper with my mother-in-law. Then she left for Shelter.
A mattress and blanket are left there on permanent basis to stake off a sleeping-place.

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