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



рукописи не горят!.. ...в интернете ...   

head header

December 10.

It was really a hard day's night; so I heard only one missile attack (they say there were more) followed up with a deafening retaliation bangs from the legitimate—Soviet Army's—artillery.

I had a loathsome impotent dream of sticking it in but feeling nothing, neither felt she (who?!) and didn't care a pin to conceal her resentment.

What was my wrongdoing to run into such a scalping dream?

At noon I went to Orliana's to take Sahtik and the kids back.

When heading downhill I dropped into the Theater to participate in the referendum on independence for this here country.
Sahtik voted on our way back.

<!-- So, we did it on the road... Anybody saw us? -->

At 3 p.m. the so-long-and-eagerly-craven-for event took place in the Chief Editor's office: Maxim signed my application.

From tomorrow I (nominally) am a sidekick reporter at the local newspaper but actually in charge of Armenian-Russian translations because throughout its glorious history The Soviet Karabakh was seen through the press as a bilingual paper – each vernacular issue being duplicated in Russian for the Big Brother to check its consistency with the current imperial course. This wise provision allowed me to say 'good-bye' to unemployment and embrace the position of a translator for a 3-week period, till January 1, and then (quoting Maxim) – 'as God will dispose'.

After this final invocation I took leave of him and went home with my ears alerted to the noise in the streets.

'I wish you saw', a Soviet Army officer on the sidewalk said to his mate, 'the mess that 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.
made of my hotel room'.

In the next couple of talkers—a half block nearer to our flat—a Russian military officer's wife plastered with a finger-thick makeup flashed back to her companion:

'Yeah, I agree!' in so shrill a pitch as if to drive home to the passers-by about her readiness to agree.

From 4 till half past 8 p.m., I was fixing a basement compartment in the block of flats next to Twin Bakeries.

There was a stir in the musty air of the cemented catacombs—the buzz of voices, wheezy rasping of a hand saw, busy hammer knocking—people shuttled through the basement trunk tunnel ferrying pails of rubble and litter out of their would-be shelters.

One of the compartments was overlooked by shelter-seekers.
My mother-in-law conveyed the intelligence to Sahtik, who, in her turn, instructed me to go and see to it.

I went over and found the mentioned compartment, dark and silent; flickering of a match helped to discover the mains running loosely along the bare concrete walls. I went home to bring a glowbulb attached it to the mains and in its steady light turned about to have a look and couldn't hold back a tiny whistle of comprehension.

One peep was enough to grasp the reason why no one had staked a claim to the room.
There had to be done a dreadful lump of work to carve out a relatively habitable place in that 6 by 6 meter room filled up to the ceiling with heaps of discarded ventilation fragments, boxes, tins, bottles, bits and pieces of all descriptions, earth, masonry blocks, worn-out tires and such like what nots.

Everything was coated with fuzzy dust layers and sagging cobweb festoons copiously criss-crossed the remaining room.

So it was the only compartment to choose from.

<-- Poor Robinson Crusoe! How could you possibly come to this! -->

After two hours of concentrated efforts all of the sizable objects and things were copulated into each other and pressed into one half of the room.

At that point arrived the reinforcement — our landlord Armo together with his son Arthur, a boy in his late teens, and Romah, the adopted son of a single mother living next door to Armo's house.

Normally, they all took refuge in the cellar under the floor of our one-but-spacey-room flat, descending there by steep flight of stairs directly from the yard.

Sahtik rallied them by advertising the advantages of an underground basement shelter where the din of explosions is almost inaudible and where the ceiling is made of reinforced concrete slabs and not of those worn-out boards.

Armo took on shoveling the earth and litter into pails, the rest of us—the two boys and I—were taking it out. So we freed a place enough for half a dozen cots and a table.

Then the women came and swept the cement floor, hung some blankets and old rags to divide off the trash-store in the other half of the room and it acquired a look of a sufficient war-time shelter.

It's half past 10 p.m., and all of my family now are in over there.

Armo, the landlord, ducked out of moving to the block's basement room. His wife, on her second thoughts, balked at the idea and lined him up into sticking to their place.

May be, the cellar under the wooden floor is not so safe a shelter; yet down here she queens over those of her neighbors who, having no cellars of their own, seek refuge in hers.

Locking them out altogether is inconceivable in the present situation and it must seem equally unthinkable to her to leave the cellar with her jams and pickles in it entirely on to their mercy.

It is a still and starry night outdoors.

The muffled chitchat of the shelterers preparing for their night's repose is heard from beneath the scraped floorboards in our one-but-spacey-room flat.

Good night, everybody.

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