ABU. To Be Who You Are
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build “em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And-which is more-you’ll be a Man, my son!
1 Alyona. Return To Moscow
2 Discovery Of India
3 My Goa
4 Abu — The First Meeting
5 The New Life Together
6 The Quartet
7 Heredity Abu
8 Money Reform
9 New Year 2018
10 Abu’s Last Day
11 Pandora’s Box
12 Abu’s Relatives
13 20 Days With Keith
14 Friends End Me
16 Excile Zero
17 Palolem. Aggy
18 The Games оf Emotions
1 — ALYONA. RETURN TO MOSCOW
Alyona, a pale, tearful girl of Balzac’s age, who had lost ten kilograms during the last month, did not consciously wish to be anywhere else. She surrendered to the flow of life, and life’s vicissitudes ceased to attract her. She did not have any desire to start afresh as she had no other goals. She needed an urgent transformation, but she could not concentrate on anything. So, shewent along the stream. Life was going by apathetically, and to gain any satisfaction from it was like waiting in vain. All the resources were exhausted. She no longer wanted to listen to herself or look at the world from the outside. All the same, there were no new horizons for her, and the current ones only vexed her more.
She got rid of the prejudices and became disenchanted with the freedom that she had endured. Now she felt like a doll, a robot programmed by an unknown puppeteer.
Not only her black curly braid was dangling lifelessly on her shoulders, but seven happy years were also left dead behind her, and only through sunglasses flashed a memory of a bright, sunny past in which she was really happy. Alyona was in despair: nothing went the way she would have liked, although in her condition, it was pointless to talk about any desires.
The day of departure arrived. February 15. The husband of Abu’s sister insisted to drop Alyona off at the airport in his office car, as just a day ago he had given his own car for repair after the accident on the day of carnival. On the way to the airport the familiar landscape was flashing in front of her eyes. Here she had been happy with her beloved ABU. With his death all seemed lifeless to her. She was in no mood to talk, she was far away with her thoughts, and her eyes relished the last sun and endless brightness of the landscapes of this affable country, which, perhaps, she would not see soon. Will she?…
She was pulled out of her stupor by the screeching of the brakes and the scene of the accident, unfolding in slow motion, as if in a movie, right before their eyes: a huge yellow truck painted under Khokhloma, wildly screeching with brakes, flew into a blue Suzuki subcompact. Thank God, there were no victims. Raj began to get out of this abrupt traffic jam, reversing, cutting through the cacophony of signals of surrounding scooters, subcompacts and rickshaws.
Finally, escaping from the dense stream, they drove up to the airport building. Coming out of the car, as Alyona watched Raj retrieving her things, Alyona suddenly broke down into tears, remembering all her ordeals of the last few weeks: that she had lost Abu, that this was the first time in several years when it was not him, who was coming to see her off to the airport. She tried to stop the flow of these thoughts from her last efforts, coaxing herself and frantically searching for answers to questions she had already asked herself long ago: “What next? Will I return? How will I live?” Just in time, she became aware of the fact that the ability to bear loneliness is a sign of spiritual maturity, that we are at our best when we are alone. If love changes a person quickly, then despair — even faster. And one need not succumb to despair.
She alleviated her imminent return to the cold motherland with the motto phrase, which she had read from Coelho:
“Getting lost — this is the best way to find something interesting”.
Having parked near the terminal, Raj, after unloading things from the car, hugged her heartily and said: “Come back, definitely! We’ll all miss you and wait for you”.
She took out the passport and e-tickets that had to be printed out in advance, or you won’t be allowed inside the airport. She approached the armed guard standing at the entrance, scrutinizing the papers more than the faces, they did it regularly, but very meticulously.
Alyona moved to the check-in counter.. It’s funny, but the surcharge for the excess baggage was more expensive than the ticket itself. But there was nothing she could do, and Alyona had to hand over last of her rupees to the boy handling this task at a special counter. Praise the heavens, after that, all the formalities were over, and in front was — Waiting Hall.
There were a lot of people in the hall for domestic flights. Alyona had agreed to meet there with her friend Amrita, who had specifically booked a ticket for the same date and the same time, only — to Delhi. She, along with her mother and sister Aparna, waited for Alyona to get over with her check-in. Amrita even ran to her several times and watched over the progress of her queue.
At this moment Raj called Alyona and asked her to give her keys of the apartment back, and although the relatives of Abu already had a whole bunch of his keys to all the apartments and bikes, for some reason, he still needed Alyona’s key. The feelings of abandonment, crushing, uselessness and futility of life overwhelmed Alyona with new force. Of course, she understood that such treacheries would never cease. Only through the strength of her will, she drove away her suspicions, clutching to the hope of finding something human in these people, and locked these thoughts inside a dark closet in the deepest corners of her soul, forbidding herself to ponder over it, so as not to torment herself further. “Accept everything as they are! — she told herself. -That way it will be simpler and easier”…
Finally, passing all the remaining checks and procedures, she found herself alone with Amrita: alone at the airport, amidst the crowd of departing people, all alone. They hugged each other and cried. Until recently they were such happy and full lives, today they were two widows- shattered, tired and desolate.
Raj, as if confirming the absurdity of the world around them, had already called Amrita requesting her to collect that key. With some inevitable apathy Alyona gave her key to Amrita, and she also silently accepted it.
To shape a person God often has to test him. Alyona had earlier wondered at the strength of Russian women to endure such incredible suffering that she had read about in the classics or seen in movies, but now she herself could feel that this source of immense energy existed right within, as well as outside. One only needed to find a way to the productive metamorphosis of this energy, rupturing out of it.
It seemed as if the wound, blanketing the shroud of the eyes and stuck as a lump in the throat, would soon explode, but it did not happen. She really wanted to throw up, suffocated by this lump, but it stayed inside. And when the crescendo of the heartbeat rose up and reached the very throat, the convulsive rhythm of thoughts about the loss, separation and grief, went away buzzing, and the spasm unexpectedly released itself and tears rained over Amrita’s shoulder. They stood embracing briefly, exchanging friendly emanations and concerns, saying goodbye to their happy life gone by and getting ready to fly off to meet the new, the unknown, full of mysteries, riddles and, perhaps, great achievements. It was at this moment that Alyona realized that her Way, her Power was — in humility. Regardless of whothey are, everyone faces the similar events of life and death. She thought that if she were to survive all this, then she must without fail share this knowledge with other people. Maybe it will help someone to “open eyes,” and perhaps this experience of her would help someone to know the world of other people.
“Be yourself,” — Abu said to her on this New Year’s Eve. Maybe he meant exactly that? As soon as the answers are found, the questions change. Finally Alyona, without any fear, with humility in her heart, without fear and pain, was able to reveal to herself, answers to all her long-settled issues. The questions changed within moments, as soon as she accepted them with her heart. Whenever she lost hope, a new one kindled in her, which, like a guiding star, showed to her next goal.
Fate continued to be consistent throughout: the flight to Mumbai was delayed. Amrita and her family’s flight had already departed, whereas she was still waiting for half an hour, even though her flight was rescheduled to fly 30 minutes early. In fact, this is normal for Indian domestic flights. For example, trains of Indian railways earlier used to delay for a day or more. Anyway, Indian railways — that is a different tale altogether: can you imagine “train-surfers” hanging on our Moscow suburban train from head to toe. This they have in the order of things: not enough seats, but everyone wants to ride, so one can just latch on to whatever it’s possible.
Four years ago, when Abu was going to meet her in Delhi on a train from Goa, his train got delayed by six hours, because in Indian state of Rajasthan it had knocked down a camel. Abu told Alena that he witnessed with his own eyes how the waiting and clearing exhausted the passengers, and they jumped out of the train and at the very same place, skinned out the still warm camel. Someone kept the meat as reserve stock, someone there itself lighted a fire and started cooking kebab on-the-spot! Incredible India. Every day there is something to be surprised: for example, their friend Leila took a ticket to Delhi spending the last of her money and a week before the end of her visa: there is such an extreme of our tourists rely on the “Russian Avos1.” Well, Leila did not leave, the train was canceled because of some strike in Gujarat where people just came out and sat on the tracks like birds on wires.
1 blind trust in divine providence; blind faith in sheer luck; blind trust in sheer luck; counting on a miracle At last, the boarding started. Luckily, the plane was not far, and everyone settled in rather quickly. The girl got a place at the aisle. Quickly placing her little backpack on top and the folder on her lap, she again got attuned to wait. There was noise all around, racket and a continuous bacchanalia. Have you ever seen how they show local flights in movies, with whole chicken coop and piglets right in the cabin? Well here, of course, this was not the case, an earnest flight to Mumbai. Some bulky passengers brushed her by elbows, packing airplane lockers to the gills, talking loudly and buzzing like bees in a hive. She sat silently, thinking about the fickleness of fate and the very meaning of life.
The most important words in our lives are spoken silently.
Lost in these thoughts, Alyona spent almost the entire flight, thinking that she had finally grabbed by tail, the very same answer, the question to which she had asked for a long time but could not find a solution. Sometimes you need to die before you start living (P. Coelho). Something in these words was true, touched those same strings of her wounded soul, which eagerly responded, absorbing them letter by letter, drop by drop, as arable lands soak in the long-awaited rain. That Black Hole, that abyss of frightening darkness that had taken roots inside thegirl with the passing away of her beloved, gradually began to shrink, expelled by some confidence. Confidence in what needed to be done further and what to strive for. In each of us, there is a Black Hole that obscures the way to the Light, to the true realization of one’s genius in this world. While in contemplation, Alyona didn’t notice how the time flew during her flight. In India, generally, time flows otherwise.
Coming out from the airport in Mumbai and getting her luggage, she looked around and realized that she had landed to the wrong airport. Terminal, where they had arrived, was intended only for domestic flights, so she had to urgently rush to the international airport.
Dragging her suitcase, that was getting heavier with each step, down the street, the girl tried not to be distracted by the pain in her back and her eyes searched for a rickshaw that could be hired to travel to the right airport. Behind Alyona someone called, she turned around and saw a taxi driver who was offering her his services as the carrier.
— No thanks! — The girl responded briskly in Hinglish. — I’m looking for a rickshaw!
— There’s no rickshaw! — The taxi driver shouted. — Not Available!
Seeing, how he was losing his next money-victim, the taxi driver spat directly on the roadway with red-yellow saliva.
Saliva had such a shade because of the betel. It’s a kind of Indian nut, a legitimate drug for the poor. It causes profuse salivation and a slight narcotic effect, many who chew it, are gradually addicted to it. The gum and teeth become orange-red, the whites of the eyes turn pink and turbid, then the teeth start to fall, and their eyes gradually begin to lose vision. Every second taxi driver in India chews or intakes already powdered form of this cheap potion, so as to not to fall asleep behind the wheels. In fact, the effect of it was akin to intoxication, so Alyona was wary of such drivers.
Luckily she soon stumbled upon a rickshaw stand: 14 kilometers along a noisy, dusty, loud, gassy, smoke-filled metropolis for someone, probably, would be very interesting. It scares some, and fascinate and attract others, but certainly leaves no one indifferent. This creates an effect of an exploding cultural bomb, the effect of a complete immersion in the very essence of the country, in its life and realities.
Upon arrival at the international airport, Alyona paid by the meter, out of her last remaining hundreds — 84 rupees. In Goa for such a trip, she would have paid a minimum of 500 rupees. Here, although it’s the second capital, but still not Goa, so the prices are different, more humane, but this applies only to taxis.
At the counter it suddenly became clear that the Brussels Airlines’ ticket allows you to carry only one luggage with no more than 23 kg. Alyona began to panic, definitely, this was not her day. But what to do now? How to pack the travel bag with things necessary for her such as: brushes, stands, palettes…? It won’t just fit in an already jam-packed suitcase. Here the panic gave way to the already gone tears, and Alyona got hysterical again. The girl left the queue, trying to gather her thoughts and understanding that the issue somehow needed to be resolved.
The solution was as usual banal with no place for any novelty, resulting in the sum of 7100 rupees for the second luggage. She was forced to change money at the ugly rate.
Hardly managing to stand, she paid, and finally, getting rid of unbearably tiring suitcases, she got two tickets at once: Mumbai — Brussels and Brussels-Moscow.
Sitting on the last row with double seats in front of the toilet, the girl cringed under the blanket. She was feverish from the extreme bitter cold of her native land and from the thoughts about her future destiny. The stress suffered over these weeks and from the events of the previous day, took its toll. The girl spent the whole flight half-asleep, half-delirious. It was dark in the porthole. All the way it seemed to her that Abu was so close, that he was hugging her and singing a lullaby, comforting her that even nine hours passed like one. Abu came to her dreams, talked to her, joked, smiled, she broke away from this wishful dream to refuse the food offered on the flight, to cry a little and to again fall into the sweet oblivion, where her man was — so alive, so close and cheerful.
Finally, the plane landed in Brussels. The frosty air forced the lungs to exhale the steam — a long-forgotten and unpleasant feeling for her, along with an instant allergy to the cold, it made all her essence shudder from the fingertips to the very top. As if a thousand frosty needles pierced her whole body at once, causing her shoulders to jerk convulsively.
A hours later, after accelerating, the plane took off from the land of a calm sleepy Belgium. In the porthole the dawn was already peeping, and one could see huge electric windmills, green grass interspersed with monograms on the road. The sun, appearing from behind the horizon, heartily blinded through the porthole, but warmed-it did not. The senior pilot announced not a happy news: in Moscow it was minus seventeen. After two hours of flight crystals of snowflakes appeared on the window’s panes. They sparkled beautifully, like white stars against the blue sky, and the sun lit them up like a theatrical ramp. They were so beautiful, even tender, but so cold. At that moment Alyona thought that not in vain, apparently, Schopenhauer had said:
“Of all the worlds available, the world, which we live in, is the worst”.
And that it was not for nothing that he was called a pessimist. Probably, he suffered in this life too.
2 — DISCOVERY OF INDIA
For happiness it is undoubtedly more important what is in a person than what a person has. Schopenhauer And there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9
From the beginning, knowledge is present in every man. The game is how to extract them, these fossils of a soul? There are no guidelines. Therefore, you must deal with the rationalization of your own “I” yourself. In the process of creating a new avatar of yourself everyone has to face a lot of doubts. This is normal. The only thing I have not learned to cope with is my own lunar dependency. The most powerful full moon in my life has always influenced the course of events. Bioenergetics and astrology are powerless over simple human life, as it is impossible to systematize in synthesis.
During different phases of the moon, my sensitivity is aggravated at times to physical pain. Emotions are at peak. It becomes impossible to curb my morbid emotionality. I become harsh, hostile and resolute. The full moon causes the greatest ups and downs. There is a persistent desire to reach the top, even if this choice is a mistake. I want to seek and take risks. Impulses are incorrigible. It is time to realize the most hidden desires and plans. It is beyond me to stabilize the emotional condition at such a time. How else can I explain the miracles and my visions coinciding with the full moon?
Like the ones of Jorge Luis Borges, who became my favorite writer. Since the moment his books came into my hands, I came to believe in a network of diverging, converging and parallel trails. The illustration of these labyrinths was my own life. His characters, like me, never sought the meaning of life, they never forgot that the likelihood of a person finding his justification or some distorted version of it is nil. They simply lived and enjoyed life, avoiding any kind of system and rules. Do they have their own hierarchy? No. They are free from systems. Languages? Any spoken syllable in one of the languages means the mighty name of God. When I read the plot “The Rose of Paracelsus”, it became clear that my society, family and surroundings made some hideous medical history out of its life, and from its gifts — some misfortunes. It’s foolish to change the world that was not created by us. Revolution must be done in our own evolution.
The day you were born doesn’t matter, but the day when the light appeared in you. As soon as I formulated for myself a specific goal, a task, miracles started happening. There were means, opportunities and time for its implementation. No doubt, we ourselves draw our own lives, and no matter what kind of artist you are, the color of thoughts is important.
Before my first visit to India I had already managed to get two educations (middle and higher) — direction and acting; to get married and divorced; to give birth, raise and send a son to the army; to work in different theaters as an actress; to leave the theater for nowhere. I tried out my strength in film crew and as a film actress. The entire search did not give my longings the desired effect. More often, I would close my eyes and concentrate on efforts to stop the shaking from the irritating reality that surrounded me. It would seem that I was surrounded by an apartment with European-quality repair; I had my own foreign car, an interesting and well-paid job, a lively and healthy husband, a son serving in the Airborne Forces, the prestigious armytroops, and a happy stable and prosperous life. But that is an outsider’s view.
I began to dream more often of a distant country from school memories, where fantasies do not masquerade as real people, but are quite real, and I can interact with them. Dreams became more and more colorful and filled with new details until I finally came to believe in them and did not allow myself to take them as the reality itself. The illusions of my sandy sea shore, colorful exotic trees, unusual entities, metamorphic characters — all weaved into one and enjoyed life with me. Reflecting on dreams opened a desirable and exciting world and led to a flow of thoughts that triggered my intentions to be where they existed. I liked their mystical captivity. There, in my fairy-tale country, birds flew; the light was so pure that it seemed to resonate within me, ringing like music, echoing “OM” in velvety low-frequency male voices.
And coming back from my dreams, I again found myself in a worldly Moscow, on a flat land. Here nothing took off, and the noise quickly wore you down with its cacophony of roaring cars on the Moscow Ring Road, the growl of aircraft landing in front of my windows, the creaking of the metal structures of the garbage truck, people’s voices, squealing of children and slush under the dark low gray sky. I blinked not from the bright glitter of my dreams, but from the monotonous repetitive reality of the urban technogenic world of robots.
And I again got behind the wheel and went to work, on shooting area to pretend to be alive. Avalanche of hurry-scurry filled another day, weeks, and months. One project was coming to an end, a new one was starting, and they had shot one TV series, and were already preparing for another. And I was already feeling nauseating during the process of script reading, perhaps from saturated, material and quite safe creative work. My soul was hungry; I strengthened my subconscious union between dreams and determination to rise up to the purity of light and no return.
My soul demanded change. I, apparently, had a completely prosperous and comfortable life, that would make even my mother happy — like others, I had everything. I lived in a separate apartment in the capital city with my husband and son, worked in a creative sphere, changed cars, communicated with friends and acquired a standard set of entertainment. I went to rest around the world as part of package tours or sightseeing tours and excursion routes of different countries. I visited Europe, Africa and Asia. In some countries, not just once. BUT. I was already infected with the Sehnsucht. Mom did not understand what kind of haunting ghosts there in her daughter’s head were, instead of joy of her well-being.
I was feeling so cold, suffocated, cramped in the largest country of the world. The realization of the imperfection of the world around me did not get along with my agile mind. I needed to be convinced of everything myself or to be challenged in an experienced way. In the present experience, I could only agree with Saltykov-Shchedrin: “If I fall asleep and wake up in 100 years, and people ask me what is going on in Russia today, I will say drinking and stealing”.
But there is another world: the world of books, where every human life is a personal book of everyone. The number of possible books is unlimited, as is the number of stars. Each new heir adds a new chapter or rules the page of the predecessor. I found temporary salvation in reading, books held my steady interest, where through the word I could travel in time.
Any hero chooses one of the paths from the numerous ones in his own life, dismissing the rest, but there are all-rounders, like Ts’ui Pen, choosing everything at once. He simply did not believe, unlike Newton and Schopenhauer, in a single, absolute time. He believed in the innumerable series of time, a network of diverging, converging and parallel times. I could boast not of my own books, but of readings like Borges. And I felt like his heroine, striving for the impossible, trying to unravel the mystery of being, to discover my potential, to create myself a laconic book. A book where novelty arises from a combination of words, rather than in a new message. Even Plato knew it: “All knowledge is nothing but a memory”.
Most importantly, I was still ready to give up everything for the sake of Love, which I had never found. I was ready to throw myself into the ocean and take on the face of a mermaid for the sake of a man I loved, or become a bird, and then the only possible direction would be up. Only in dreams, I was so exalted and so full of delight that reality in contrast became increasingly unbearable. Especially when the cold came — and what’s even worse for me — frost. Travelling teaches you more than anything else. Sometimes one day spent in other places, gives more than ten years of life at home.
Another movie project was finished. I worked there not only as an art-decorator, but also played the episodic role of a forensic laboratory assistant. Despite the success of the movie and the decision of the producers to continue our series, my decision to change everything became stronger. I had several months of comfortable freedom left, and the hated period of cold was setting in, then there came the opportunities to escape from it. Already in the final shootings and preparations for the “shapka” (a cheerful ocassion marking the completion of the film project, accompanied by drinks, snack, dancing, calm communication of colleagues and discussion of new plans in an informal atmosphere), my determination was reinforced by talking with Lucia. The rather strange and rare name of this girl confirmed her eccentricity and suited her well. She was special. She worked with us on the project as a barmaid, as she couldn’t care less what role she was playing. She just wanted to get acquainted with the filming process, take part in this:
— You know, Alyona, we’ll finalize the last shift now, and I want to return to India again. I watched the film and the filming process, and I did not like it.
— To India? This has been my dream for long. Cold is here, and I am going to get sick again. — With surprise and curiosity I entered the conversation, sipping hot tea from a plastic disposable cup given to me by Lucia.
— Dreams should be realized. My guru taught so, when I lived six years in the Osho Ashram in Pune. And the Indians said that people get sick from unfulfilled dreams, — she continued smiling.
It’s hard to describe my emotions after her two simple phrases. I worked with her for a whole 16-series project, for days and nights she gave me lunch in plastic boxes, poured tea and coffee, having studied my taste (how many sugar cubes to put), and amid all the humdrum of work, I did not notice such an interesting person in the barmaid?!
I felt dying worldliness in myself and immediately was overwhelmed with interest. Like a guenon monkey, eating candy, I began to question her about India, and with each sip the taste of tea changed. The search for traces of my legendary quest of self over the past few years suddenly began to manifest as my footprints on the wet sand of the shores of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, in the snow of the Himalayas. India!? Ashram? Osho? What does it mean?
— Meanings change depending on the country and the era, — Lucia said with all the same calmness and a simple smile. — Like earlier, the path through the desert was considered safer until ancient meteorologists learned to determine the time of the monsoon, how to use the wind and how to sail. Knowledge, which they used to go only with camel caravans, floated across the seas beyond the oceans. The methods of movement vary, but there is a risk in any way.