COLUMBIA was the first shuttle's name.
Twilights beyond the dull-glassed panes of our immensely wide windows condensed into the darkness echoing at times to a rare pedestrian's footsteps along the hollow street.
Traditionally, silence in the streets is a sign of some holiday in progress with all the folks gathered to watch an autodafe, guillotining, hanging, quartering or some other popular entertainment of human nature.
But why does this night sound so holidaylike?
The only explanation I can put my hand on – today is a birthday of the woman whose daughter brought a baby in the Ukraine—making me a grandfather—six months ago.
Up till now I have no notion about my grandchild's gender. Communications with the outer world are rather limited down here.
In the morning I practiced auguring: suppose today we'd have as many shell-bursts as she—born this day so-and-so many years ago—had lovers beside me.
Astoundingly, the count stopped at a pretty low number – some couple of dozens.
But then, perhaps, the number only reflected her achievements during the three years of our marriage?
However, the blasted bangers were exploding at most unsuitable and sensitive points of time.
Some thundered when we were at our dinner.
Sahtik dropped her spoon, huddled Ahshaut up in her arms and rushed out calling to me to leave everything and see them to Underground.
<!-- Indisputably natural behavior pattern.-->
That Underground shelter helps me to keep afloat too. I am much braver knowing they are down there. Then I returned and finished my dinner and took theirs over there in a bag.
All the day I was busy being ill. Sahtik and Ahshaut joined me in the business; but he obviously got over it by the evening.
I repaired the handcart and the do-it-yourself oillamp. Right now I am writing by its light (an up-hill job though).
The water we have now will hold out for a couple of days.
A week ago the nearby village of Karin-Tak was attacked by Azeri forces. Fifteen villagers were killed and many more wounded.
Recently, they found out who'd shown to Azeries the passage over mine fields surrounding the village.
The traitor together with his two adult sons and his son-in-law were staked out in front of the Pedagogical Institute. Anyone swept up with patriotic emotions and just indignation was allowed to beat them up or spit on them at one's heart content, they say.
I, for one, wouldn't take their guilt for certain.
"Alles ist Luge, Herr Offizier", were the last words of a Jew hanged for treason of a state at war.
That was another war, of course, but all the wars seem to have a good deal in common. Witch-hunting, for instance.
It's twenty past eight p.m.; all the family are gone.
Now and here I have neither needs nor desires—the classical definition of a happy man.
So, I'll just be lying and sweating the fever off and wishing all and everyone