Giovanni Di Cristofano

I'M STAYING ON IN MOSCOW, IVAN IVANOVIC

J G page and Mary C. Goggin  

                   I'M STAYING ON IN MOSCOW, IVAN IVANOVIC

And just as she was thinking about the examination, she was overtaken by
her friend Ivan Ivanovic in a carriage of four horses. When he came up to
her he recognized her and bowed.

-How are you Marya Goggynovna,- he said to her. You are not going to spend
the Eve of the year alone in Moscow, are you? My dacia is nostalgic for you
and I have cut enough firewood to warm us all winter long.

-Happy to see you, Ivan Ivanovic. I was lost in thought..I believe, they
have caught a government clerk in the town. They have taken him away. The
story is that with some Germans he killed Alexeyev the Mayor, in Moscow .
-Who told you that?-
-They were reading it in the paper, at my school, in the Teachers' Room. A
conspiracy, I believe. I am so shaken my mind has gone blank.

Marya sat in silence in the carriage. For twenty years now she had been a
schoolmistress, and there was no reckoning how many times during all those
years she had been to the school downtown for her salary. And whether it
were winter as now, or a rainy autumn, or a warm spring, it was all the same
to her, and she always, invariably, longed for one thing only: to get to the
end of her day at school.

-The roads leading to the Dacia are dry, Marya and even if the woods are
covered in snow and the stairway to the Dacia are frozen over, there is a
warm April sunshine. Will you join me there, my beloved one?
-Please hear what I have to say. My Uncle Filippov has fallen sick, He needs
to be taken care of. It is futile to try to entice me with your talk of
sunshine gleaming through the transparent ice in the woods.
-"Marya, you are a compassionate soul."

Marya's carriage stopped at the level crossing, on the other side of the
rails a cart laiden down with cucumbers was crossing the road. Marya stared
at this in silence, fascinated by what she saw.

-What does your silence mean, Marya Goggynovna. Possibly you don't love me
anymore? Do you wish for us to part?

While Ivan was talking, Marya suddenly remembered that she had no butter
left at home, and this caused her mood to change.

-You know very well I never loved you, Ivan Ivanovic,so parting from you
would be meaningless.
-The ducks in the pond near the dacia are restless, it is as if they
perceived your absence.

- (There he is going on about his ducks again, with butter at two kopecks
more than last year, how am I supposed to think about his ducks, well,
anything to keep him happy). I am so sorry about your ducks, Ivan Ivanovic.

-And how are things with the pope's wife?

-Pope's wife? How come you are interested in her? Are you thinking of
studying theology?

-Three weeks ago you told me you couldn't come to my dacia, since the
pope's wife had slid on the ice and you had to take care of her. Do you know
what they say? Some love the pope, some others love the pope's wife.

-Our pope's wife is better now, but she could still need me.
-I ask myself how the saintly Mother Russia would manage without you. The
white bear is peering out from the clearing..it looks as if he too needs
your help.
-Back to that old story of the white bear. Cucumbers have almost doubled in
price and here I am thinking about the white bear and his attacks of
melancholy. What am I going to serve up with the tea? My guests are going to
think I have become a miser.

-Hold on, Marya.
The cart lurched violently and was on the point of overturning when
something heavy rolled on to Marya Goggygovna's feet, it was her parcel of
purchases. There was a steep ascent uphill through the argile. Here in the
winding ditches rivulets were gurgling. The water seemed to have gnawed away
at the road how was one supposed to get by! The horses breathed hard. Ivan
Ivanovic got out of his carriage and walked at the side of the road in his
long overcoat. He was hot.

-What a road!- he said, and laughed again. It would soon smash up his
carriage.-
-Nobody obliges you to drive about in such weather,- said Marya in a surly
voice. You should stay at home.-

-I get bored at home, you sweet child. I don't like staying at home." "Hold
on, Marya!" .
Again a sharp ascent uphill. . . . And again she thought of her pupils, of
the examination, of the School Council; and when the wind brought the sound
of the retreating carriage these thoughts were mingled with others. She
longed to think of beautiful eyes, of love, of the happiness which would
never be. . . .
-You are silent, Marya, you are silent and remorseful at having abandoned
me.
-You know, Ivan ivanovic, high quality gherkins are unobtainable, unless you
buy them at the black market. Rumours are that some relatives of the Czar
bought up all the gherkins from the farmers to take advantage of monopoly .

-Your mood has changed so much of late, Marya.
Marya Goggynovna starts to cry, as if all the gherkins in Moskow had
abandoned her house for ever. Now she is a child in a large house on the
other side of the Moskowa river, and all people around her, peasants coming
and going, make a lot of noise but carry in low price fruit and chikens, and
loads of high quality gherkins offered for a few kopecki. She felt as though
she had been living in that part of the country for ages and ages, for a
hundred years, and it seemed to her that she knew every stone, every tree on
the road from the town to her school. Her past was here, her present was
here, and she could imagine no other future than the school, the road to the
town and back again, and again the school and again the road.

- You are crying, Marya Goggynovna, you are sad. You will find me up in the
dacia when the frost thaws? It will take only a few weeks.
- I do not know it, Ivan Ivanovic, perhaps my neighbor will have to go to Saint
Petersburg, and then she will ask me to take care of the cherry-trees garden
.
- -Will you come then?

- We will see, Ivan Ivanovic, we will see.

J G Page and Mary C. Goggin

 

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Giovanni Di Cristofano.
Published on e-Stories.org on 04/24/2009.

 

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