The lonely oldman and spring
| Dmitrij Igumnov
In the flickering mind of Vassily Alexandrovich, pictures were rushing at different velocities not only from the real past life, but also completely incomprehensible dreams occurred. They were sometimes quite bright and emotional, which aroused in the old man even some interest, a kind of variety in his desperate detached state.
Vassily Alexandrovich had been seriously ill for a long time already. It was even hard for him to get up from his bed often, if greatly necessary. But, disregarding the hopelessness of the situation, the lonely old man categorically rejected doctors' and social workers' suggestions to leave his apartment and move to a nursing home or other similar institution. He not simply did not want to, but rather was not able to leave behind everything that was still smoldering in the past. Even the walls with faded wallpaper, without mentioning the photographs and pictures-embroideries by the passed wife, still preserved the connection of the present with the past, the dear past.
The old man could watch the gray haze outside the window for hours, just like that, with any thoughts. He could look at the winter frost accumulating on the frame, because he often had to open a window for ventilation.
Thus passed days and weeks, until the first March drops signaled the arrival of spring.
Â The world is odd. Spring, spring! What will you bring?Â Indeed, despite the deterioration in the general condition and worsening chest pain, the images which sometimes flashed through his mind were not only brighter, but also happier. He recalled episodes from his distant youth, often just stupid...Vassily Alexandrovich was lying sometimes with a frozen smile on his face.
He once recalled his philosophical friend Valka Bassov.
"Do you know why girls become especially attractive in spring?", he explained the spring appeal towards females. "Everything is very simple. They undress in spring! They take off their coats and other outerwear. And that's all. Fact! No nature awakening or hormones have nothing to do with!"
"Tsillip-tit, tsillip-tit...", was heard all nearby.
What strange sounds were heard from the outside world? Vassily Alexandrovich turned his head and saw a bird.
On the outside window cornice a titmouse was sitting, or rather, it was constantly spinning and twisting. "Tsillip-tit, tsillip-tit...". This simple singing was happy and easy-going. The old man was looking at the guest bird with interest.
"Where have you come from, Senechka?"
"Tsillip-tit, tsillip-tit! I came to see you. How are you doing here? You got all rusty?", the tit replied by the old man's proper thoughts.
"Well," Vassily Alexandrovich thought after that, "I've really gone rusty, if I began to talk to myself on a bird's behalf...".
"Stay frosty! Spring is upcoming. Call your relatives. Organize a feast...", Senechka seemed to advise and flew away.
Vassily Alexandrovich tried yo recall his relatives. Who, where? It turned out there was no one to call. The eldest son of Vassily Alexandrovich, Pavel, a naval officer, had died during the Soviet times in large naval training exercises. He died without even a grave mound. The letter from the commanders stated bout the feat done by his first-born. The remaining grief and pride coexisted at once in the old man's sick heart. The youngest son Oleg left only a bitterness of shame and guilt. Oleg was shot in a gang fight in the mid-nineties, in the outrage of Yeltsin era. Oleg had no family, and Pavel's family, consisting of his daughter-in-law and his grand-daughter, were so far from the old man that they probably would have created a new family and there was no news of them. The whole point of the existence of Vassily Alexandrovich in recent years had been his wife. But recently she had passed. So there came loneliness, complete solitude.
Vassily Alexandrovich had never thought about it before. I hoped that it would not touch him, he would bypass it. But now social workers are getting on to him, in order to take him to welfare shelter, as a weak and lonely old man...
"Why are you complaining about your life, old man? Do you now how birds live? They even have no shelter... Wind, cold, and snow... And food? And cats? Those malicious cats!"
Vassily Alexandrovich was smiling slightly:
"Don't be scared. I have no cats."
Next morning Senechka came up again and started twisting on the cornice:
Â Vassily Alexandrovich noticed that Senechka was constantly looking around, fussing, and searching for something.
Oh, the bird's hungry!"
To somehow make up for his inadequacy, Vassily Alexandrovich heaved himself out of bed and walked into the kitchen. Here he gathered a handful of breadcrumbs. But when he returned from the kitchen to the room, the titmouse was gone.
"Where are you, Senechka?", the old man sighed. "Are you gone, romp?"
"Yes". It flew to see its mates or a friend. In spring every bird finds itself a friend. He again talked to himself - for himself and for Senechka - and went to bed. "Bye bye.
I became old and stupid. Tits adore lard! We must get some for Senechka... ".
Asya could help getting the treat for the tit.
"- What? Why do you need lard? You doctors strictly forbade you such delicacies..."
Elderly and grouchy Asya was attached to the old man as a social worker. She kept the apartment relatively clean, brought unpretentious dietary products, went to the pharmacy for drugs. Lard was noway a dietary product.
But Vassily Alexandrovich insisted on it. And soon a piece of delicacy started to wait for Senechka. And Senechka was not yet to come...
The old man even laid a small piece of lard outside on the cornice. But the tit did not come.
"Where are you, chirper? Where are you, my Senechka?", the old man grieved.
He had a presentiment of something wrong. Are they evil cats or children with slingshots, or... Where are you, Senechka?
So, in futile waiting, a few days passed.
Strange, thought Vassily Alexandrovich, he had lived a long life, he had had a family, friends, even distant relatives remained, and he was more interested in the fate of some titmouse, he was waiting to see it like a friend or a relative...
Of course, Vassily Alexandrovich understood that the titmouse was a symbol, a sign... He even made a wish: if Senechka comes back, he'll get to his feet!
The old man's spiritual gloom affected his physical health. He almost did not get out of bed, or he did it with great difficulty, if he had to. The old man still waited for the titmouse as a cure for his illness, as the only light-bearing ray in the dusk of his less capable, lonely life.
Days passed. Spring prevailed more and more. And Senechka was not seen anywhere. From time to time, in semi-mystical slumber, the old man had incomprehensible apparitions accompanied by the sounds which were sweet for his heart: "Tsillip-tit, tsillip-tit...". He again began to speak for himself and for Senechka, but when he opened his eyes and perceived the reality as it was, he could not find the tit on the cornice...
Already the last forces began to leave the old man. He no longer had the sense of time. Day and night merged in his mind. But the old man did not forget about Senechka. He just knew that his precious bird was in trouble, it needed help.
Vassily Alexandrovich gathered his strength and went into the kitchen. Soon a trembling old hand laid another slice of lard on the cornice outside the window.
"Is it all in vain? Hey, Senechka?" That's it, in our life everything passes and we have to take everything to live this. I have lost my nearest and dearest on my own. Look, I got used to it, I live with this... That's the way the world wags. Time will pass and no one will recall me either, Senechka...
"I shall recall!" I shall recall! I shall recall! "Tsillip-tit, tsillip-tit!", flew into the open window.
His dear Senechka was again on the cornice. It spun and jumped, it pecked bacon, it chirped its simple song: "Tsillip-tit, tsillip-tit!".
"I came up, I'm alive!" "So I'll live, too", Vassily Alexandrovich smiled. "Shall we live, Senechka?"
"Let's live, Grandpa!", almost distinctly and happily responded the little tit and, full and frisky, it flew away for her business.
For the first time during the recent days of timelessness, something long forgotten had moved in the old man's soul, something left forever in his distant reckless youth. It was the fascination of a simple life being. And it had never occurred to him that it was not Senechka who came to him, but another tit. Anyway, how would he know this.
"We'll live, Senechka!" We will definitely live.