Translated by Ekaterina Zhuravleva and Elena Zhuravleva
Edited by Daniel Allen
– There are a few mosquitoes today, perhaps our reindeer will have gone far away.
– They shouldn’t be.
– Hey, son, if you are too lazy to go after them, you should keep silence.
– Grandpa, I’m not, but it was you who said the reindeer are herded by smoke, not by
man. So I’m going to light it up.
– Such a smart boy! Very smart!
– This is what, my son! Your smoke will be gone with a wind, absolutely not where the reindeer are.
Granny took a deep loud breath and said to no one
– Ah! Eh! Oh!.. What have I come to? Here sit two lazy-bones – the young one and the
old one, and they are fighting about who’s got to go and catch the reindeer.
I switched on the radio set, and the “chum” (tent) was filled with romances the whole winter evening. How this genre is still splendid and perfect! It feels so bitterly and so warmly. Its words are not about your soul’s contents, but nevertheless it queerly has something in common with your feelings. What is it? Is it human inborn, or instilled through upbringing?
The whole day I was making a coffin for some woman.
And for some reason I remembered the Nenets’ saying “The cradle for a man is made two times. The first time is for birth, and the second is for death.”
The first cradle of mine is in the past, but there is the last one left…
Thinking about it, I realized that it matters to me who will make my last cradle. I recalled all my fellow villagers to mind and couldn’t put forward anyone.
Maybe, that kind of person is not nearby at present or he hasn’t been born yet? Or will I die in a foreign land? Or, maybe my dead body can decay somewhere unburied?
Once my grandfather had said, being closer to death a man can feel the person who is going to make his last cradle. Grandfather assured me that it would be me who knocks together his… So it was.