Every day, my non-Smoking neighbor “shoot” a cigarette, running away from loneliness

The story from the book of the priest of Alexander Dyachenko “Sholei. Simple and complex stories about people”, published by the “Nike”.

Photo: Luca Rossato / Flickr

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Priest Alexander Dyachenko

Tolstoy in “Anna Karenina” wrote: “Varvara said that only in Russia men of fifty years, consider themselves old.”

“The old man of pyatidesyati” — now this is about me. Early was puzzled: here young lieutenants graduating from military school and leaving their garrisons.

Two years later, they are already senior lieutenants, another three — captains. We have a part often catches the eye of the majors and even Lieutenant colonels, and colonels that have already met much less frequently. And I think: where are the rest of the once brave young men, those who did not become a Colonel? During the war — is understandable, but in peaceful years, where did they go? Is it so many losers?

Standing in the subway on the escalator, out of habit, look in the face SAG with me the crowd, and suddenly I realize that these “old men of fifty years old” like me, almost no one there. I wanted to scream, peers, my dear, where are you all? Really nobody left?

Shared the trouble with friends, they reassured.

Don’t worry, in the subway who goes? Students, migrant workers and workers from the suburbs. Your peers in the subway already does not go down and prefer to travel in private cars.

I calmed down and even remembered the conversation with my friend, father Victor, who asked him why he leaves early morning to work by car and two hours of kicking in the jams, if by metro the same distance is easy to overcome in twenty minutes? Victor immediately began to nervously scratch his palm:

Once drove. Hands then a month itched, you see, something I still picked up.

I like the subway, the smell it pleasant. Probably because it’s one of the smells of my childhood.


February, dirty sticky snow, much cold, sneezing people. I’m going to Grodno. Sister called: dad has a stroke, it would be better if you were here.

I am a late child from my parents. But although I is now in its sixth decade, they are still alive. Sometimes I hear: you’re happy! Though gray and an orphan…

I remember when I served as an emergency in a company often came a telegram with the news of the death of someone’s loved ones, mother or father. And it wasn’t a ploy to get an extraordinary vacation. Usually the telegram did not lie. Since then, I’m afraid telegrams and surprise late calls. Although I understand that sometime their is no escaping. Alas, very soon now.

At the station in anticipation of landing aimlessly wandering around the huge hall. Passengers who is talking, who is eating something or reading a newspaper. Some guy furtively drinking beer, just in case the Bank wrapped in a handkerchief. Near the coffee machine stands a man about thirty years old. He bobbed, almost under the machine. Probably military or a police officer. Although me before the trip friend the hairdresser has snipped so that I now too, more like a football player than a priest. Man drinks coffee and treats are hand-written and glued on the machine ad: “does not Surrender”.

— Like a traffic COP — a nod to the leaf. He looks at me, then at the camera and suddenly starts to laugh.

That and look, you will spill your coffee. After a laugh, puts his hand on my shoulder and says, still grunting laugh:

— It’s like “the priest keep the change happen”! — And again laughing.

Guessed that I was a priest? No, hardly, my hair is now more “under Roberto Carlos”. And only when you have to substitute duty at the candle, give always. For a moment rises offense, but he is guilty, it was not necessary to start. And I go away from it.


Talking to sister on the phone. How are our old people?

— Differently, – the sister says, — a lot depends on the weather and the mood. In General, weak, could barely walk around the apartment without a stick is here. No words like sorry for them.

Of course, sorry for all, not just their own. As food, winter, cold, bus, seen, delayed. At the bus stop, a lone figure of a man. Sorry man decided to ride. He sat down and a long, warming, breathing in his arm, then razomlev from the heat, dozed off. Didn’t talk to me, just looked at my cross and said:

— Pop?


I dropped him off where he asked me to. The old man got out of the car and looked back at my cross.

— What think you now everything is permitted, bourgeois damn!? Wait, our time will come back! A lot of lights, will hang on them as a unit.

Then slammed the door so that I almost all of the seats are not made. And went towards home, slowly, every movement emphasizing their contempt for the priest-parasite.

I for a moment felt what it was like for our predecessors in the distant thirties. Although why the Daleks? This man boy is still able to participate in the destruction of the temples.

Spent his eyes the receding figure, and rose again in my heart the feeling of pity. Surely his life ends in loneliness, hence the grudge against the whole world.

Alone now — the inevitable destiny of old people. And everyone is trying to run away from him in their own way.

My elderly neighbour every morning and goes outside to find the Smoking man, and “to shoot” one of his cigarettes. Every time I meet with me, he asks to smoke.

— Father, you know I don’t smoke, and everyone is asking. Let me buy you a pack?

— No, the bundle I don’t need, I ask for a cigarette. And tell everyone that only one for the whole day. While the smoker will be met with a dozen people to discuss this. Grandchildren will question health ask. All is not one. A pack of cigarettes to buy I can, but I don’t want them, I’m also a man Smoking.


The morning dawned, saw his reflection in a large mirror that is built into the door of the wardrobe. Mirror depth I searched already not young, white-haired man with high receding hairline, bags under the eyes and deep wrinkles on the forehead.

— Man in the mirror is you.

Remember Zinovy Gerdt in the role Panikovsky and smiled. What it looks like. With age more and more begin to resemble and Socrates. In any case, his description of what the ancients left us. They say he was remarkably ugly. But unlike the great Greek, I have learned to compromise and keep the tongue where it is preferable to remain silent. He will be remembered always forgotten about me during his lifetime. To be forgotten, to die is not necessary.

Some where still alive “rustic” fashion to hang on the walls pictures of different years. Sometimes come to the house where old people live and you will hear:

— Here, sir, we as a youth. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Of course, the beautiful, who can argue. Young all beautiful. And we once were. Where has it gone? We school friends wondered how the rest of our future, and every one wanted it to be happy. But the years put relentless smears on our faces and sins, evil, envious thoughts and actions add wrinkles, gray hair and bitter folds at the mouth. Who are illiterate time easy to read these signs of the history of our lives.

Fortunately, the eyes do not change, often remaining all the same, young and cheerful. Now, if the eyes of the man, something lifeless, dead, then, really bad. The eyes are the mirror of the soul, and if she dies, the eyes become whitish, as if someone liberally sprinkle them with salt.

Soul from the very beginning of life preparing for eternity. Gaining experience and worldly wisdom, she has to grow up and stay as far away from sin, it is deadly.

Where it goes youth, our hopes, dreams? After all this I didn’t dream, that was with us really was, and photos — silent witnesses of that wonderful pore, which then remember for the rest of my life. But and errors, crimes, meanness, betrayal committed then, too, remembered and experienced for many years.

We begin full of hope, and ends frequently in hospitals, sometimes vodka, drugs, a lonely old age, incurable disease… And it’s a pain, and always fear. Love is what kills fear. But where to get it, this same love? It is born in childhood, she was with you in youth and continues until old age. Love will follow thee, and in eternity, if not to lose it on your way.

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