Anatomy. Joanna's Page 16
Anatomy. Joanna's Page 16
The light went off. Yana ran to her place at the first floor. Mom just returned from work and, having no time for changing her clothes, hurried to cook a supper. In her right hand she had a knife and in her left one a potato.
Mom already drove away the stepfather and didnn't wait for Arkady Sinegin from war or from Australia, and she quitted engaging in gradual courses and dissertations. Now all her dreams, passions and hopes were connected with Arkady Sinegin's daughter who was a clever girl, a voluntary activist, and a pride of the school.
Reading Yana's face, she could see that something had happened and ran after her to the room; tapping with her slippers she caught her eyes. The forty years old mom was slightly fat already; she had a sharp wrinkle in her cheek and slightly visible ones on her forehead and the bridge of the nose but her eyes shone with expectation. Now a miracle was happening that she had waited for all her life. Yana, please speak!
"I've got a job in 'Plamya', in its staff!"
Mom threw up her hands, and her strong and hot hands closed up behind Yana's back. In one hand she still had a knife and a potato in another.
And then Yana suddenly began to understand that it could be said to her, only to her.
"Do you know Yury Shirokov, a writer?"
"Well," mom's heart sank in expectation.
"He said I was talented."
She pushed Yana away and went to the table. At last she put away a knife and a potato and wiped her hands by her apron. And when she turned round, Yana for the first time could see peace in her eyes. This waqas peace of achievement.
"It is achieved," her eyes say. "I have always believed it."
It was September of 1955, Mokhovaya-street 8, a university yard. By lunchtime lists of correspondent students who had been admitted to the journalist faculty should be hang out. Yana had got a fair grade: four A marks and a C mark for geography. The brutal geography teacher failed all girls: he asked how many locks Byelomor canal had, prodded a mute map with his pointer and asked what was there.
"A geographical point," Yana answered.
"What kind of point,"
"It has a great geographical significance," she couldn't lose.
You have a C mark only for your wit," the geography teacher said, "A future journalist should know his own country."
And now she had to grow hysterical because there were rumors that a part of failed full-time students 'with a pull' pretended to their places, and girls suffered from it in the first place.
Yana sat on a bench under soft autumnal sun being weary of waiting. She was afraid of being eliminated and it would be a great shame. She was hungry because she had been hanging about here in expectation for a few hours. And also she was weary of idleness because in that eventful and busy life of hers there was no place for idleness.
At her right girls from a philosophical faculty revised French verbs smoking secretly. At her left on a next bench boys from a medical faculty crammed for their anatomy exam: they had their lecture rooms nearby. Everyone was busy. Oh what a nuisance!
A brawny fellow with pink cheeks and in a white overall shouted the most loudly and looked at her side as if he learnt all her bones with difficult Latin names.
She couldn't bear all of that anymore and must eat something!
She was in a dining-hall. A royal lunch per 45 kopecks consisted of minced schnitzel with mashed potatoes, beetroot salad, a glass of tea and a toasted doughnut with jam. With gusto did she swallow schnitzel, a mix of minced tendons with soaked bread, root salad with too much salt in it and a doughnut. A doughnut was really delicious: its crust crunched in her teeth. She wanted to take three doughnuts but got only the last one.
This was a medic student. His friends sat nearby and laughed. He was going to make advances to her. But he looked so innocently and had a full and heavy tray of doughnuts. He stood in the queue behind her!
"I've brought it from another hall," he caught her look. They are fresh and hot. Help yourself. I could see you got nothing. "
Yana had no strengths to resist. She grabbed two at a time. A medic student quickly put plates; he had strong arms and sleight of hand like a magician.
The crust crunched in her teeth, hot jam burns her tongue.
"I'm Roman," he stretched out his hand.
"I'm Joanna," she answered with her mouth full.
"Wow, is it in the honor of Joann the Terrible?"
"No, it's in the honor of Maid of Orleans."
"So you are Joann," he shaked her sticky fingers as if they were made of China porcelain.
In five minutes he fished out all her biography up to her agitation because of ill-fated list.
"You will be admitted," he declared fanatically, twinkling with his eyes. But you shouldn't leave me until lists are hung out. I will share my luck with you. I'm lucky."
Swallowing a glass of compote in one gulp, he pulled her along.
"Let me introduce Joan who is named in honor of the girl in armor.
"But now we are going to anatomy practice."
"Roman was in despair.
"Can't I go there?"
"Dead bodies are there," one of medical students said, "former people."
Anyway she tagged after them to the anatomy hall. She rubbed in her head that Roman was really sent to her by providence, and she shouldn't leave him during those two hours. An unforeseen obstacle, a horrible anatomy hall, strengthened that superstition of her even more. It was something like an obligatory hard test on the way to her cherished high aim.
She was ready to pass though that test because she psyched up for terrible things. The only thing she couldn't bear was stinking. Being dressed in a white overall and a cap like all others she stood at a wall pressing a handkerchief saturated with cologne to her nose and watched Roman who forgetting about her efficiently worked with 'those things'.
She persuaded herself, "Body is a simple cover or skin but soul is immortal; it's not here. They are not people; they are dolls, exhibits and learning aids..."
Perhaps, everything would have been all right if a gloomy man hadn't entered the hall. Looking over everybody like an ostrich he smelled the air and stepped to Yana.
"How do you like that perfumery? Shame on you; you are a future physician. How are you are going to treat sick people: peritonitis, purulent ulcers and gangrenes. Will you do it with a handkerchief too? To what group do you belong?"
"To ours," said Roman, "she is a nervous person."
"There is nothing to do in medicine for nervous ones. Come with me, I need your help."
Roman and boys stood still. Yana knew that they would get it hot when it would be found out that there were outsiders in the anatomy hall and followed a gloomy man. And then she didn't fear at all when like in a dream she came down after a gloomy man and when she carried together with him in a stretcher a naked frozen doll with an ink number on its leg, persuading herself that it was a simple doll, visual aids or a waxwork. When they came back to the anatomy hall she caught a desperate Roman's gaze and even winked him, as if she would like to say, Look, how courageous I am!
Then a doll with a wooden knocking was turned over from a stretcher to a free table, and a gloomy man pinching Joanna's thy said, "That's it," and went out.
Joanna stood and wondered that she couldn't feel anything at all.
A waxen and yellow hand of the dead body stuck as if it saluted her. There was a tattoo on it, 'the town of Sochi, 1951'.
Maybe, this very thing finished her. She began to laugh and laughed until Roman pulled her out to a corridor and started to shake her shoulders, and then when it turned out to be useless, gave several professional slaps on her face and said that he had worked at medical emergency service before studying at the institute, and so he knew how to calm down hysterics.
Slaps really helped her. Yana stopped laughing and began to cry. He wiped her nose with the ill-fated handkerchief and apologized that it had come so. Then they ran to look at the lists, and Yana with delight and squeal hung on his neck because she was admitted, and said that she was admitted after 'passing over dead bodies'.
With the news about her admittance she was going home by a suburban electric train. It was in winter 1955.
Many years ago she had in prospect a wonderful autumn. Almost in every number of the newspaper 'Plamya' Sinegina's writing materials were published. Sometimes they were lyrical and warm and sometimes biting and uncompromising. Khan doted over a new worker though he still fought against her 'genies', mercilessly killing them by read lightings of his pen.
"You must understand that we work at a newspaper! Allegiance to ideas, laconism and principality are our weapons but all those stylistic embellishments are gibberish. For the time being you must learn the life. Newspaper is the best school. As for you talent, it won't disappear; there will come a time when you write for Shirikov's magazine.
Yana doesn't object. But what about genies? Being cut out, torn out, cleaned out but a rubber and thrown into a rubbish-bin they came back to Yana as if nothing happened and tormented her until she surrendered in a fine evening after putting aside her next reportage.
She was ashamed of this passion of hers and concealed it even from her mother who moved about the room like an unheard shade, trying not to breathe, put logs into the stove, brought her daughter a plate of crumpets or a cup of tea with lemon and, becoming a night awl, didn't sleep at nights, watching from her sofa pains of compositions endured by Arkady Sinegin's daughter.
In the bookcase of her father's desk, the only one that was locked, a pile of written sheets was growing: sketches, short stories, 'something' without title, beginning and end, simple scenes, portrayals and dialogues. Here her genies lived. She was person whose profession was drawing terrible placards of a kind: 'beware of the train'.
She wrote about the boy with whom adults, who were at outs with each other shared, their offences and every one of them was right. About a woman-boss who liked swimming but didn't go to a swimming pool because her seniority prevented her from undressing before her subordinates. About a husband who was left by his 'wife with a dog'. And about many others characters who were cut out by Khan and again revived by het at her leisure.
Not the death of the leader, not his dethronement but treachery and double-facedness of his satraps who defamed the dead god left a mark in her heart. Her work was serving the Truth. Truth showed the way and provided with wings; it was the light that was necessary for people: it was the way and the hope. You must 'cultivate reason, kindness and eternal values', weed, look after sprouts, fatten and water them; and it was her duty to people, Homeland and Heaven.
Before going to sleep she still prayed to God for the living and the dead: her father Arkady and the leader Joseph.
"Edik of Garik is waiting for you there," Khan says.
"Tell him to get lost, Andrey Romanovich..."
"By the way, he has introduced himself as a producer from Moscow and smoked up the whole room. Go."
"Yana followed Khan to his office. Now she was meeting Denis...