Sign of the Way

Dirt. Slush. Dampness. Decay's smell. Water, dripping from a ceiling.

It used to be here so for a time being. No one was ever going to fix this cellar, and it was unimportant for inhabitants of this house – totally and irreversibly. They, too, were unimportant for those tenants, not to anyone, not to anybody.

Only a few ones aided them and responded to their requests… immensely simple requests, so easy for these rich tenants.  To give some money – as little as they can, as much as impossible. To bring a small piece of bread – for they were starving to death.

Practically nobody ever helped. So few ones.

Why? Why? Why?

What an immense amount of boldness was required for them in order to address someone! To plead for help in the condition, in which they were, for now, to stand against a gaze, full of hatred and contempt.

What for did men despise them? For, when their father died and mother passed away from this world as well, having choked in some furious illness, for, when this has happened, government expropriated their apartment from them – so totally young, and since then they have been doomed to wander through courtyards and cellars, by hook or by crook finding even a single piece of bread? Stealing so seldom, so much often – just to beg. To plead for help, for aid with something – what can be given, can be spared. They were left with the last possibility of survival – a sincere human request, addressing the hearts of men… But almost no one ever dared to help.

Once again they gathered here today, in a stuffy and dirty cellar – best option, which they have managed to find during last months. Gathered to discuss results of the day – to share what it was possible to find with each other. If it was possible, that's it.

They didn't conceal anything from each other, didn't hide, referring to adverse circumstances – shared all they have managed to get. They, who have been struggling against such deprivations, had no knowledge of contempt and egoism, they aided one another… They – two brothers and a sister. Two sixteen-year-old teenagers and fourteen-year girl.

For almost three years they have been living that way. How it was possible, as much as they could. They have already sustained three years of such life – how much is left for them in the storehouse of life? A month, a year, a decade? Nay, it's better not to think of that, not in that direction. Period.

The obstinate reason made one feel uneasy, running in circles time and again – even now. Tried to create rescue plans, to calculate possibilities to jump out of this dark and dirty fetid hole into the living world. To leave this excuse for a world behind, and enter a new and pure one, not its pity caricature.

No matter what, they were left to explore this type of world for now on. Only that pitiful one. But what will be with all those noble causes and achievements, of which they have dreamed so often in long-forgotten childhood, what is going to be with all them? Will they be lost? Or will find the inner strength to survive?

Must survive.

They have to survive for their dreams to be realized – their pure dreams must survive in hearts of theirs for them to survive – so that they can live on as men. Dying is not an option, in both cases. They will survive. And implement their light dreams afterward.

His reflections were suddenly interrupted by a soft and high pitched voice – one of his sister, who has just come running from the street. Entered this poor excuse for a home.

“Pasha, Pasha, take a look at what I've found today. Come to me, please come closer!”

He took a look. There was an apple pie in her hands – a big apple pie. Already slightly dried up and soiled, with a large part which has been bitten off. She yearned, poor soul…

“Vanya, Pasha, take it. Take it all. I have already eaten, was given food. A wonderful kind grandmother, single such one for many ladder flights. Only one. She gave me warm and sweet-sweet tea with jam. Can you imagine? Never in my life since the death of our mum and pa have I eaten such yum-yum. She allowed me to eat some pies, and when I have told her that I have two brothers as well, she has been searching for something for quite a while, distressed. And then she told me that for now she practically has nothing more as a food for you, for she is no more able to walk freely, and her sons buy and bring her meals. A pie, this very pie – she said that she has baked it herself, and for now that's everything she has to give you. She gave me that for you and then told that if I am either hungry or terrified, I can return to her once more – and she will warm and feed me. That's it. These are great news!”

While she, distorting and eating words, has been chattering all that, he approached her and silently sat down nearby. Took a glance at her – she was shivering. Then he embraced her and pushed to himself. Let she be warmed, calmed down. She's a good fellow, brought some meal. That was rarely possible even for both of them. A good fellow.

“You are the good fellow,” he told her. She smiled. “I did my best,” he heard.

Now, now they are going to eat to be warmed. Their organisms will obediently take offered food and transform it into a heat. It should suffice for today – and tomorrow they must repeat it all from the very beginning.

And every day is so much the same. A month? A year? A decade?

With no visible option to escape this circle. It, certainly, exists, – yet he's unable to find it. But he will find, most surely will. For their own sake, for the sake of his younger brother and little sister – an escape route will be found, a breach will be located. He's obliged to locate it.

Slowly did drops drip from a ceiling. Time hung heavy. He was sitting and reflecting… remembering his former carefree life. How much he's missing it now! They all are missing the caress of parents, their kindness and care. Life forced them to become totally-totally adult very early, being thrown away from a childhood. It was necessary for some mysterious reason… Was required…

To teach them not to be afraid of deprivations? To help them be kinder and tolerant to men, especially now, when so few of them were ever going to behave the same in return? To make them understand the pain and burden of others, same as they are?

Probably. Most certainly.

But from this endless stream of vital lessons he, seemingly, learned at best a lesson of compassion and mutual aid – he could never imagine his life without an aid to his brother and little sister. He was obliged to aid them to get out of this hole. Help them…

In this very instant of time his little sister somehow amusingly smacked one's lips, and turned to another side, still holding the edge of his jacket in her small hands. He turned around and once again covered her p let the foolish cold doesn't disturb her at least in her dreams…

They didn't even have a tiny possibility to earn some money – to earn with theirs, though childish, but totally selfless work. It would become as such if he managed to find some job at last. But never in his condition was it possible.

No one, nobody gave them a job – they were almost immediately thrown away at first sight. “People,” he was compelled to shout to all those men, giving clips and punches, decorated maidens, fastidiously screwing up their faces, and starting to whisper something to those men quickly after his first appearing before them, “people! Why do you drive me away, leaving with no possibility to get out of this terrible hole, in which I have sunk? I am trying to jump away from it, trying to change my life! I am not even begging anything from you – I'm simply trying to earn something, even for a meal. Why do you despise me so? You don't even know, you have totally no idea of all those burdens and deprivations which I along with my brother and little sister had to sustain! You, whether you know, I wonder, how's that – to live with no roof over a head, with no place which you can call home… to live the way I do… to live, being ready in each new day to cease living, having simply died from hunger? Do you have the slightest idea of this life's taste? Have no desire to know? I, too, have none – totally – but had to feel it on my own lips. I had to. And now I can make nothing… Almost nothing”.

Do I indeed can make totally nothing… is that really so? Cause if… if a constant source of food and heat won't be found soon – they will be lost. Will die… and… that's all?

If he's unable to earn… something… a bit… then… his little sister will have to… have to…

Nay, no, no way! The damn reason, shut up, shut up, shut up!

That will never happen! Never! I won't admit it! Break oneself about thresholds, begging for work – but won't admit it!

After all, she, Nina, could become a true princess… a sunray for a lot of people – she, since her very birth, she had the talent to play life… playing it so lovely, so naturally. She has been living almost like a child even now in that cacophony of their life. She could become a wonderful actress – actress of life… various life… uneasy life.

And he along with his brother could help a lot of people, teaching them to value what is being given to them by life, to appreciate any blessing, any help… to respond to the request, a sincere human request… not to allow one's hearts to freeze…

Water, slowly dripping from a ceiling. A peep of rats behind a wall. Two boys and a girl, nestled to each other. Sleeping. What is awaiting them the next day?

Next five hundred sixty-seven days…

***

A pen, being put aside. Sheets of paper, piled upon each other. He will continue his work tomorrow – continue writing. He still has much to tell people.

A still young man with a strange for the random passerby radiant sight left his table. Yes, he's going to continue the work he devoted himself to tomorrow.

He reflected for a moment and smiled. How lovely and natural her sister was! She has been living that way even now, living as a child, still capable to take care of her and others. She has been living like that even now, when troubles and misfortunes of their past have been overcome, having left a large hem in a memory. Slowly healing hem.

Have all the lessons been learned? Is the meaning of his life's events been understood? Were answers, given to the questions, asked by life itself, honorable and wise? Questions asked more than ten years ago… Much has been understood and comprehended, but more is awaiting him on his road. And he'll try to analyze results of his selections, comprehend own errors. He'll make it in the book – his first book. No, in their common book – a book of their life. Two brothers and a sister.

His sister called him yesterday by phone. Her voice was, as always, melodious and joyful. A lovely voice of a close person. Yes, she rejoiced her new life. Was indeed happy. She was granted a new role in a remarkable film – a role of a gentle wife and loving mother, the one, which she so perfectly carries out now in her own family. In a family with no insult and hatred ever possible, one without mistrust and self-interest, with a light and air of freedom, gentle aroma of love and mutual aid and assistance, trust, gratitude and kindness – where all that is present as a basis, a core. She's truly happy in that family of hers – she always spoke so… shared her joy in their meetings.

He's happy as well, in his new work.

Only his brother doesn't send news for quite a while. Never mind, he'll sure will, when returning from abroad. He's now a businessman, influential one and a man of action – largest magnates of a country listen to his opinion. Yet this sort of power hasn't spoiled him, he – they all – were given a lesson of deprivations for a reason. It made them kinder and wiser, despite the obstacles, in spite of the barriers.

Now each of them implements his own dream. Just as they once dreamed…

Someone will probably say, that it's a miracle and shed a few tears with a joy in own eyes. Somebody will be wrinkled mistrustfully, having muttered that all this “story” of his own life, embodied in a book, have much in common with a ridiculous fairy tale and silly fictions. Some will thank him for an advice. Some will start applying the advice in own life. And he himself will name it – a Trial, a life's test. A test, symbolizing the beginning of new ones… each and every day.

Is that truly a miracle that after almost five years of wanderings, they, at last, managed to be arranged in some circus to look after animals, and when some unknown actress left the group, the attention of circus managers was suddenly turned to his little sister, to her live and childish spontaneity… to her unspeakable beauty in that spontaneity?

And then there were years – years of hard work. So very different years.

He's been made a gymnast – along with the natural dexterity he coped perfectly with that role. His brother has been taught to juggle. Their sister began to conduct shows. This was the beginning of their new life's journey.

Is that really a miracle that his sister soon became an actress – and her charm and sincere beauty have brought her a world's fame?

Whether that a miracle that his brother, having saved a small fortune, opened a business, which has grown into the largest transnational company?

Whether that a miracle that, wishing with all his heart to seek answers to life questions, to learn himself and to teach others making right choices, – became a writer?

He won't name it a miracle, he'll call it a Sign – a sign of the way. His and their way – a way which they must – have been obliged to – pass to become the ones they have become.

To cope with challenges. To feel no fear of obstacles. To believe in fine dreams, to implement them in one's life. To become a Man, a man with a capital letter.

To be him.

21.12.2004