Книга Алексея Федотова "Семирамида" на английском языке
Dedicated to Hieromonk Michael (Chapel)
without whom this book wouldn`t have been.
The East visited us, to enlighten them that sit in the darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Lk. 1; 78-79
The Saint Nicholas lived in the late III - the beginning of the IV century. Almost 1,700 years separate us from him and during all these centuries his memory is carefully preserved in the Church, because he lived a wonderful life, courted a tremendous fortitude and his ardent faith closed him to God so that God gave him a special power ─ force to make miracles.
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill
When I'm good to man, I grieve for his sins, but my attitude towards him is not affected.
William Somerset Maugham
The Hieromonk Michael (Chapel), a man of an extraordinary destiny, who devoted all his energies to the service of the Church, the glorification of the St. Nicholas,in whose honour the Charitably Foundation was created by him together with Andrei Jurevich Bykov . Nowadays he is serving as representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Thailand. Probably, it is difficult even to count the people whom their Father Michael has helped, always modestly speaking in response to the words of gratitude: "I have nothing to do with it. It's all the Saint Nicholas! "At our last meeting the Father gave me a bunch of scribbled sheets, written by hand, and said:" It's a very complicated woman's life, who, being even beyond the edge of the abyss, found the strength to ask for help by God, to the Prelate Nicholas, and miraculously got it. The end of her earthly life was peaceful and prosperous as possible in her situation, she died in peace with God and men. "At the request of the Father Michael the woman, whom he was able to help so, that she, disappointed in the people, saw him as the earthly angel, described her entire life unvarnished on slips as a public confession, which can serve as a lesson in something .The Father offered me to recycle these manuscripts in the story, changing the names and what I try to do.
Fire of the first love
Life seems so beautiful and promising to a young girl, if she is beautiful! Even if her first childhood`s memories are sad: the death of her father, who left her, when she was four years old, in the care of her mother, who had another daughter from her first marriage; live in a basement,in which there was only light of all facilities. However with eleven years Semiramide – an Assyrien, born in the Soviet Union - had gold jewelry. Her sister Lilith, who was five years older, seemed to her to be a close friend then. Their mother Vardia raised daughters alone, tearing between several jobs, so that the children didn`t have any needs. They then lived in Rostov-on-Don near Nakhichevan. When she was a child the
mother told her about the mysterious eastern queen, after whom the daughter was named, and about the hanging gardens, named in honor of the sovereign, appeared much later and which were recognized as one of the wonders of the world. It is not known whether the magic mistress lived actually, but the story of Vardia impressed the girl.
According to this legend, the future queen was the daughter of the Assyrian goddess Derketo –a fish with a human head and an ordinary man. The goddess Aphrodite punished Derketo with the love to him for some reason. After the birth of her daughter an unusual girl's mother thought that she had humiliated herself with connection to a death man and killed him, she threw herself into the lake and left her daughter in the desert. But the child did not die: it first was fed by pigeons
and then she was found by the shepherds, who brought her to the caretaker of the royal gardens Shem, and she was raised by him. Over the years she became more and more beautiful. At that time lord of Assyria was the king Ning, a renowned warrior, conqueror. He became for seventeen years of his reign the ruler of possessions from the Mediterranean to India. He constructed the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, called by many the most beautiful city in the world. One of his satellite Oannes loved the young Semiramide at first sight and took her as his wife, brought to Nineveh, where she bore him two sons. He was so attached to her that he could not live without her even a day, he took her with himself to the war, in which he participated together with the king.
Semiramide helped with cunning to conquer the capital of Bactria and then the king Ning noticed her. He also fell in love with this woman of a superhuman beauty and demanded from Oannes, that he would give him his wife and he himself would marry his daughter. Oannes could not imagine his life without the one who became its meaning and committed suicide.
In one version of the legend Semiramide,being the Assyrian Queen, gave birth to a son of Ning. She became his good friend and his adviser. Before his death, Ning appointed Semiramide as his successor. According to another version, she became his concubine and she asked him to appoint her for one day Mistress of the country. He found it funny and performed her whim, because he was crazy about her. And she took advantage of this to give the order for his execution… Anyway – Semiramide became the Queen of Assyria. She continued policy of Ning – founded Babylon, led wars of conquest, but their son Ninos wanted to kill the Queen to rule the country. According to one version, he managed to do it, on the other – the mother herself gave him the reins and left this world, becoming a dove.
There were many other stories about the queen of Assyria, but the prudent mother didn`t want to clog consciousness of her unspoiled young girl. A fabulous name of the queen promised also her namesake a fabulous life. She was not afraid that the life of the mistress according the legend was not sweet. Despite the fact that they lived in the same basement, it seemed to the girl that her life was becoming more like a fairy tale.
She remembered herself from that moment when they drove a truck into a courtyard, and her mother unlocked the door, leading to the basement, where she was destined to live for many years. And she remembered his father's funeral with her photograph in his hands.
The coffin was placed in the yard of their home on two stools. There was a lot of people around it. Vardia, already burying her second husband cried. Semiramide poorly understood what was happening: she was still too small. "You were for him more than all" – she remembered her mother's words, addressed to her. And the words of someone from the family, adjusted Vardia: "No, the dearest were you! And in his daughter he loved you! "
Her father's death didn`t imposed a heavy imprint on the life of the girl. Everything was easy for her. She had two friends who lived in the house next door, one Russian - Nina, the other - an Armenian girl - Karine. She sang and danced in two ensembles - Russian and Armenian. She has graduated from the sewing courses, after school she trained as a hairstylist. She and Lilith had expensive things, the newest equipment. From the side you could think that they were daughters of wealthy parents, and meanwhile their mother throughout denied herself for the sake of her children. Men liked her, the number of marriages, in which she entered in her lifetime, evidenced that. Lilith was born from the first marriage, from the second marriage - Semiramide. Whether the daughters were to Vardia more important than men, or whether she suffered the death of two husbands too hard, each of whom she loved, but only when the girls grew up, she married a third time.
The older Semiramide became, the more her beauty blossomed - so people spoke at the Assyrian festivals and weddings and all around. However, a girl liked herself, she noticed how the boys were looking at her. With many of them she met, but those meetings were innocent.
And once Semiramide met Tigran who was twelve years older than she.
He had a family in Yerevan, from which he left, leaving everything to his wife and his son. In Rostov-on-Don he rented a house, worked as a driver, freight forwarder, carrying for shops sausage products.
Tall, blue-eyed, he captured the heart of a young Assyrian, from whom nothing was concealed, including the fact that the court would be held, where he`d act as a defendant because of some fights.
The young girl has not given then the value to these stories, for what she bitterly regretted later bitterly. She remembered very different words ...
- My fairy queen, I`ll never give you up!
The seventeenth Semiramide mockingly looked at the adult man who has lost his head in love with her, and she was flattered.
- Do not you leave me as your wife, - she asked as strict as possible.
- No, it was a mistake, for which I will pay for a long time.
- And maybe I am a mistake?
Tigran looked at the girl, who argued as if she had a great experience.
- No, you're not a mistake, you're my first love, - he said firmly, and looked so at the girl's eyes that, she realized it was true.
- And you are mine ... - she said.
And then Tigran became the first man of Semiramide... She, regretting a lot, has never regretted this. The sun was so bright in these spring days and not burned. The air was fresh, cool breeze gently ruffled hair of the lovers.
Tigran asked Semiramide to introduce him to her mother, but Vardia didn`t liked him. She forbade them to meet, but her daughter did not listen. Their secret meetings gave brightness to their relationships. The lovers got into the car, leaving somewhere; her mother sometimes saw it, but the scandals did not stop. They waited for her majority to get married, as Vardia adamantly refused to agree to their marriage until adulthood. But once Tigran did not come to the appointed place, he did not come in the following days ... Only much later, when nothing has been no return, Semiramide learned that it was not because he didn`t love her, but because he lost his freedom ... And then all her life turned over. She thought her favorite threw her, and all were right in saying that he was playing with her ... She did not cry, she did not writhe in hysterics, did not show her hurt , how she was afraid. Like all the girls she still believed her girlfriends and shared with them her secrets.
The closest friend was Karine –an Armenian girl with whom Semiramide has been friends since childhood. She excitedly told her about her secrets:
- Can you imagine how wonderful Tigran is, he's so beautiful, his eyes, and he loves me!
- Are you sure? - Karine answered discreetly, she herself liked Tigran, but she was afraid to give herself before her girlfriend.
- Well! I have never heard such words! And as he looks me in the eyes!
A serpent of jealousy at this point stuck into the heart of a young Armenian woman, although she not only had no rights to Tigran, but even knew him barely. But the happiness of her girlfriend was so radiant that she wanted to have the same, even she would have to take him away.
- Men - they are so difficult - Karine said aloud - why he left his wife? And it seems the children do not mean anything at all for him! And you yourself even are as a child - so naive! He will play with you like a fun toy, and throw!
- What are you saying! – happily laughed Semiramide. - He says that I am to him more than life!
- Men say a lot of things until they get what they need. And then they do not need more a girl!
- He's already got, - said the young Assyrian, blushing.
- Are you crazy? - exclaimed the girlfriend , she immediately hated her. And then with barely concealed hope in her voice she asked: - And what? He avoids you, hiding. They always do so in such cases!
- No, - laughed Semiramide. – He more than anything else wants to marry me! Only the mother is still against it ... But I will soon be eighteen and need not ask her...
"I must talk with our aunt Vardi," - said thoughtfully to herself Karine and chirped out loud: "How happy I am for you! As if it is my joy! "And she thought to herself:" Of course, it will be mine - together with Tigran! "
Vardia, whom Karine told everything, took her daughter to the gynecologist. Gestational age was four and a half months; abortion was too late. The mother agreed to cause the artificial childbirth. She told her daughter about it only later, when it was negotiated. Semiramide really wanted to leave and bear this child whose father she loved so much. But the girl herself was so young! Vardia cried, she was afraid of shame and condemnation of the Assyrians .The heart of Semiramide burned, she heard the cry inside her:"Leave me, it's my life!" But apparently she did not show it. As in a dream the artificial birth has gone in some room .The young mother did not understand: if it is happening to her? Born was a dead boy with palm size. That one, who only in a few months could bear him normally, looked with horror at her son and thought: how can we decide for others to live or not?
The young Assyrian wrapped up the son in a rag, put it in her pocket, in which she carried him everywhere with her. Her mind was clouded. She often took a rag from her pocket, looked at the body, said something ... Her fantasy painted not at all what she saw: here they are with Tigran together in a large capacious room, and with their son, so she sings him lullabies songs, here he crawls, tries to take the first steps, here she teaches him to speak, here he had said the first words and he's already gone to school. In the happy eyes of Tigran she sees the pride on his son ... And then consciousness returned. And again before her there is a tiny corpse, which just in a few months could become her favorite boy. Tears appeared in her eyes, but from the internal pain, burning everything inside, girl suddenly became an adult, she could not even cry. She carried everywhere with her a tiny dead child and lived in a world of dreams until it started to decompose, and the young mother did not understand that it was necessary to bury him. Semiramide washed it, dug a hole, in which she buried her son.
It seemed that nature itself wants to increase the strength of her misery. Scorching sun was blinding, stuffiness did not let to breathe, horseflies swirled around her in swarm and mercilessly stung. But the unhappy felt no pain.
Thus ended her first love and first motherhood; this pain she carried through all her life.
Only some years later, she learned that her favorite after serving punishment - six months - looked for her, asked about her Karine. But she herself would like to get him very much. She has talked to him, that Semiramide loves another, she does not need him ... At last Tigran left, and Semiramide, for whom he became the first man, dreamed of him all her life, which could be quite different if their son would be alive, if they just would be together. Wouldn`t she wait for him some six months, if she only knew? Yes, plenty could she wait! But ... when Semiramide learned the treachery of her girlfriend, too much had changed, and, most importantly, she had changed, and she did not have the strength to look for whom who always remained in her heart.
Meanwhile her uncle found for her a fiance in Moscow, soon they had to come. But among the Assyrians it was considered a disgrace if the bride was not a virgin, so Semiramide urgently decided to marry any man of another nation. "All would like to have a beauty, and the mother will take it easier!" - she thought. To find a husband was really not hard. A Nakhichevan Armenian Robert, four years older than the bride, who would be eighteen in two months, quickly made her an offer, to which her new pregnancy (as he thought, the first) pushed him. The marriage and the wedding were held, to which more than three hundred relatives from different places came... Everybody was having fun, dancing, drinking, only the bride was sad - she cried, but the tears flowed like inside her, the girl seemed outwardly calm. She could not understand why the one, whom she loved with all her heart, was not suited as a husband, but that one was suited...
A married life began and brought new trials. The official address of Semiramide was the same basement, where she was born, but she lived with her husband together with his parents. The Father-in-law and the mother-in-law were very good people, but the husband was a pickpocket. The marriage was short-lived and ended barely begun.
"I am not a dekabristka to follow him in prisons and banishment" - said the young wife, and she decided to go to her mother. And her mother managed to get by this some benefit for the family.
Vardia`s new husband was sick, and now the pregnant Semiramide returned to her. All this has helped her to attain a two-bedroom apartment, although she had to go Moscow repeatedly and knock on a variety of rooms.
Vardia`s grandson Vartkes was born in a new apartment. When he was six weeks, his mother and father divorced. Semiramide was not working and was sitting with her son at home. They had a lot of books at home, the young Assyrian had nearly all of them read.
She sometimes liked to tell fortunes on the books: she took the first available book and opened at random, starting from wherever fell view, read almost a whole page, using its content as an example for her future. At heart the woman felt that she was doing something wrong; that even an innocent attempt to lift the veil of secrecy over what, that will happen to her, is something unlawful, which may lead to bad consequences; but her unrealized religious feeling even demanded some way out. Until some time those lines, that she read, gratified her imagination, as they promised something good. Usually the curiosity made her look the name of the author and the title of the book, and the year of publication. Once Semiramide at random opened the first volume of a two-volume of Oscar Wilde from the issue of 1961. And in one of the tales of this English writer at the end of the three hundred fifty-seventh - beginning three hundred fifty-eighth page read the following:
"And she said to the young fisherman:
- I told you about the joys of this world, but your ear did not hear me. Permit me now to tell you about the sorrows of the human life, and maybe you'll hear me. As truly, there is the Sorrow mistress of the world, and there is no one who could escape its networks. There are those, who have no clothes, and those, who have no bread. Some widows are dressed in purple, and others - in rags. Lepers roam the swamps and they are cruel to each other. On major roads beggars are wandering, and their wallets are empty. In the cities, along the streets walks the Famine, and the Plague sits at the city gates”.
... Semiramide shivered. A premonition of something tightened her heart with an iron hoop. "Maybe it was just the wrong book I took?" - she thought, and took off from the shelf at random an another book. It was "The Man Who Laughs" of Victor Hugo of edition 1969. On the five hundred seventy-sixth page Semiramide read: "If you only knew what I had to see! There are such sufferings down there! The human race is put into prison. There are so many prisoners, who are innocent! They are deprived of light, deprived of air, they have no courage; they do not have even a hope; but the worst is they are still waiting for something. Be aware of all these disasters. There are beings, whose life is the same death. "
After that Semiramide was very bad. After all she had a calm period in her life. It seemed, that all bad things were in the past; somewhere there remained also something good - Tigran and her possible happiness with him, but among the replete and unconcerned life it seemed as if it did not occurred to her, but if it was taken from recently read books ... Where did her mother and her stepfather got the money, the young woman did not reflect on. They constantly were meeting with someone, buying something, everything seemed so civilized and decent - not the same as it was by the pickpocket Robert, who got away with it. But her decent painful stepfather was arrested and convicted quickly; after a while the mother was arrested. And they did just something wrong: could live, in another time and another place they would be respectable people, but in the Soviet Union they went to court.
Lilith married an Abkhazian. The investigation in the case of Vardia continued an entire year and a half. And all the time they needed money for lawyers, their relatives did not help - on the contrary, they tried to buy up on the cheap gold, which they had. As a result, Vardia was sentenced to ten years and was sent to Mordovia. At the same time Lilith gave birth to the son Elijah. The relationship of the sisters changed. Semiramide was already superfluous in the apartment where her older sister considered herself a mistress.
Scandals arose constantly. The younger sister had already no possibility not to think about money and to spend time reading books. She got a job as a kindergarten nanny, helped the cook there, for what she gave her more food, which the young woman brought home. Semiramide generally loved children. In every kid she saw her first child, whom it was not destined to live. Doing something good for other people's children, the woman thought that she redeemed her fault before him a little. The educators went away, and the children stayed with a babysitter who found for everybody kind words, who could soothe when a child cried.
The parents loved the caring babysitter, educators were surprised when they were presented on March 8 two or three gifts, and she- in each group - by twenty eight ... But this didn`t add love of her colleagues.
As a result, when Vartkes was taken ill and Semiramide was a month at the hospital, on her return she was accused of stealing mugs and plates and something else there ... She was offended, paid for all and left.
The relationship with Lilith became more complex. When the older sister quarreled with her husband so, that he for a short time left her, the youngest sister carried to her money and food, then she was needed. But as soon as the relations of Lilith and her husband got better, then she again was displeased with her stepsister.
Semiramide began to work at a woodworking factory. She made boxes and at night she sorted out nails. And she accustomed to such a work. Vartke was often sick, Lilith refused to sit with him, and the mother had to take him to the factory, where he slept right on the iron table ... The mother's heart bled at the sight of the conditions in which her son was. She had to leave the factory. The Assyrian did not know whom to ask for help; she spoke to someone unknown to her, who somehow appeared before her in the form of a gray-haired man with a comely small beard in some unusual garb. She did not know his name, but asked him for help. She requested to help her, her son, her mother ... But, as it seemed to the woman, no one had heard her ... There was only hurt and murmur at her life, her destiny.
Way to the bottom
It was getting with money worse. The house had a lot of books; Semiramide once read them, but now she used them for another purpose: she took them secretly and handed over to the store. When the young Assyrian appeared there with thirty volumes of Dickens, the compassionate saleswoman advised her to sell them at a flea market, where these books cost a lot more. There a woman, named after the orient Queen, learned to trade ... All went wrong with her sister finally, when she almost hit Vartkes with the iron. The mother closed him with herself, between the sisters occurred a clash. She later recalled it this way: "Evil clouded her mind ... I closed my son with myself, but when I raised, there was a beast in front of my eyes ... not the younger sister but an infuriated lioness ... all this calmed her down for a while. But I decided to leave home and do not expose the son to any danger. It was a rash act on my part. But I was tired of scandals. I can`t be angry for a long time, and I couldn`t live with her in the same apartment. Well, where I could go, only to my native Nakhichevan? I knew all local people there, young people went dancing to "Melody". And many people knew my mother ... "Semiramide decided to leave for the safety of her son, and not to her relatives though they called her, but to Roma. Vardia baptized their children at them, and they took her as their own daughter.
- Do you want me to teach you guess? - a young Rom Nastya asked her, smiling mischievously.
- No, thank you, I have foretold for my lifetime! - Semiramide said.
- Are you crazy! And how did you guess? - the girl asked her with interest.
I had to tell her about the books. She laughed:
- All is in the head, as my grandmother Esmeralda says. What you believe, that will be.
Semiramide categorically did not want to guess, but something she had to deal with: in fact, for the Roma could not maintain her and Vartkes endlessly. The young Assyrian learned to cook the cud, but she already knew how to trade.
After some time she left Roma to her girlfriend of the childhood who lived with her elder brother. Semiramide increasingly mastered on the Nakhichevan market. At first she was given products to market, and then she herself began buying things. As she recalled, "she learned so that she could make from one ruble a hundred rubles."
A southern market today is the same as in Central Russia. But at that time it was a different world with its own unique flavor. There was noise, dialogues of sellers and buyers. Each of them was proving his equity, as a result, everyone was pleased: the buyer - he could reduce the price, the seller – he was able to raise it ... In this market crime played a major role, here the other laws were dominated and they were differed from the Soviet laws.
Semiramide felt herself at the market as a fish in water. Her mother was very enterprising, but that she had to pay later for it later. Apparently this trade feature of the daughter was hereditary, though, as she realized later, she was to Vardia far away.
New problems came from an unexpected quarter. Her girlfriend and her brother drank. The lodger first refused, because her son was here, but eventually she started drinking, at first a little, but often. She drank coffee with cognac on the market, at home - a glass of vodka. "It's quite a bit - she thought. - Just to cheer up. "But she gradually added instead of thirty grams forty grams of cognac, a glass of vodka of forty grams gradually turned into one hundred grams.
One day she met her Russian girlfriend Nina, with whom she had made friends when she was four years old.
- Semiramide, is that you? – she called her on the market.
- Nina! – the Assyrian was glad to see her..
- How do you live?
- Yes, I am trading ... Vartkes! - suddenly she called her son and smiled apologetically, told her friend: - he goes with me to the market, all people love him here, strive to give him a pie, so he eats so much that the stomach hurts ... And how are you?
- I'm all right.
- Do you want some coffee? - Semiramide offered.
- No, thank you.
- And I'll drink half a cup - Semiramide took a thermos and poured herself some coffee, dripped something into it from a flask.
- What's that? - Nina asked.
- Cognac. Very good coffee, I have not even known it earlier. Have you ever tested it?
- No, I haven`t – the girlfriend replied, wincing a little. - And where do you live with Vardkes?
- By my acquaintance – answered the Assyrian, not noticing her contemptuous grimace. .
- What about your apartment, which aunt Vardia received?
- There lives Lilith with her family. I think it would be better to exchange it.
- And why not? What is your sister better than you? You have to wander to unknown people, and she lives like a mistress!
-Don`t say anything to anyone until!
- What kind of conversation! Of course, I will not tell! Promising to keep silent, Nina on the same day called Lilith and said that her sister wanted to exchange an apartment and to spend the money to drink. Yes, and Lilith must take her son: he is hungry, begs for pies of people...
Lilith wrote Vardia; she sent a letter to Semiramide asking her not to change the apartment, to give her the opportunity to have a refuge when she is released, and to give her son to the sister so that the excessive dwelling was not taken. And she listened to her mother about what she was sorry afterwards.
At the end of her life, she recalled it this way: "I guess the love to my mother darkened my mind. I loved my mother, and if she asked for my life, I would give it without any hesitation. I heard that the road to the Hell is paved with good intentions. How could my son grow up kind and gentle, if he had heard since childhood: “ Your grandmother is a wardress and your mother is an alcoholic " ... Semiramide gave her son to her sister. Vartkes grew a tricky child, not loving anyone besides money.
Semiramide began to drink much, both at the market and at home. She felt herself worthless and useless. Sometimes the woman could not drink, but then the next morning her eyes were swollen from crying, cried during a sleepless night. The world seemed to her cruel and evil, so that it was simply impossible to look at it with the sober eyes. This woman wrote about her state so: "One day, to hide the pain, the man wears the mask of a fallen one, but if you wear it all the time, it will grow to him. He will be what, for whose mask he hides. "Like all alcoholics, she found that in all her troubles was to blame anyone, not just herself.
A new marriage
Once at the market someone called Semiramide, immersed in her gloomy thoughts. - Hello, beauty!
She raised her eyes, looked at the speaker. No one was addressing to her in such a manner. Before her stood quite a nice young man, judging by appearance - her kinsman. "I wonder if I really am beautiful?" – thought the Assyrian, but aloud she said aloud sharply:
- Beauty, but not for your honor!
Usually her casual boyfriends, seeing aggression, left her alone, but that one looked only into her eyes slightly sheepishly and asked softly:
- Why is not for me? Do you have a husband?
- No I have no husband, and I don`t need anybody! – the women replied more sharply.
Another man would just leave her, and this said calmly:
- Maybe I'll be your husband, who knows?
- You!? – Semiramide laughed, but looked at him intently, and suddenly broke off.
- Why not? - Looking straight into her eyes, the man asked.
-A husband stuffed pears! – the Assyrian grumbled and asked him more calmly: - What is your name?
- Zacchaey. And what`s yours?
- I knew at once that you're a queen!
-Oh, a queen - she muttered sheepishly. - And who are you to a nation?
-An Assyrian. And I will not ask about it: your name and your eyes say it all themselves.
- And what do they say?
You are a daughter of the same people as the queen whose name you have.
- You sing beautifully! But smart people do not talk at the first meeting about a marriage seriously. Do you want to laugh at me?
Her face became again formidable, but Zacchaey saw that her severity was feigned.
- Let's go out today after your work - he suggested.
- And now I have nothing more to do, just loafing around with the casual acquaintances! – Semiramide clasped her hands. – Maybe you accepted me for a walking woman?
- Not at all - the young man laughed, and his laughter disarmed her.
- Well, if not, you know where I stand, come, if you need very much. And if you don`t come - so it is better to me! - the woman said.
She thought she would never see this casual boyfriend, but he came the next day. For some reason he began to talk about himself. He is from the Ukraine, where he lived with his mother in Ilovaisk. Then he came to Rostov-on- Don to work, repaired sewing machines. In these hot summer days, promising, as the Assyrian felt, changes for the better, they had a few meetings without any obligations at the market, after which he suddenly made a proposal to marry him and to go to the Ukraine.
Semiramide agreed, she was tired of living among drunkards and Zacchay didn`t drink even beer. She agreed to go with him to another republic though they even had never kissed. Being in the Ukraine, when they first stayed overnight together, Semiramide said:
- Okay, I'm a fool, for I decided to leave for the world`s end from that swamp, where I was drowning. But you're not a young boy after all. How did you decide to connect his life with a woman, to whom you didn`t touch?
And he seriously replied:
- There are different women. There are those that, when you look into their eyes, so this look is more than a thousand nights with another woman!
- A Thousand and One – the Assyrian grinned. - I read these tales once. But there she did not only feed the husband with tales - she gave birth to children.
- And you will give birth! -Zacchaey suddenly said with confidence, grabbed her and kissed her ...
Nine months later they had a daughter, a year later - the second one.
The Assyrian hoped that if all goes well, she will be able to take Vartkes. She did not dare to take him immediately: though Zacchaey told her that he was ready to take care of her son, he was to her an unknown man. Maybe it will be worse to Vardkes to stay with her than with Lilith? Even starting to drink, Semiramide did not begin to go on a bat, she continued to worry about her child. Her new husband eventually was even more in love with her, but she was not able to love him.
The relationship with her mother- in- law didn`t form from the first meeting. Zacchaey`s mother, in despite of his assurances that she will love Semiramide, met his darling unfriendly.
- And whom did you find? - she screamed in the middle of the street, not even inviting them to enter the house. – And at what flea market did you dug this whore, whose price is one penny on a market day, and then no one will pay! I always knew that my son was an idiot, who would break my heart. I admitted that he would marry a whore, but not the same! She's a drinker I suppose: on her mug is all written! It is nowhere to put a place-mark on her! Don`t you look at me with your shameless eyes!
Zacchaey was taken aback and did not find anything to say. Semiramide recalled later: "When we arrived at his home, his mother met us with such words and curses that even I, a market-woman, was taken aback, but only for a second." And then I also screamed:
- Maybe it's you an old fool and whore yourself, because if there is nothing in yourself, you can`t see it in the others. I knew that I didn`t need to go to the Ukraine. There is nothing good here. I believed your son that he loved me. I threw my native places, my family and my friends, I followed him, leaving everything. So, let him decide. Whom do you need, Zacchaey, me or your mother?
He suddenly chose Semiramide without any hesitation. It shocked his mother so that she showered them both already with the curses, remarking her future daughter- in- law:
- Don`t you think that you should say me you?
- Sorry - Semiramide smiled softly and said with a gentle voice: - You are an old fool and a whore, your son did not need you, you have no mind, no tact, you make the others lose both. I can`t promise that I will love you , but I promise to say to you "you" !
And saying goodbye, she smiled again with her disarming smile, which she called "Hollywood."
- Why are you behaving so with her? – Zacchaey asked when they departed.
- And why is she so? - His fiancee immediately boiled. - Or do you think you brought me here to her for entertainment that she would act whatever she wanted?
- No, I don`t. Calm down – he said to her softly. Now we`ll find out where to spend the night, and tomorrow we`ll rent an apartment. The next day they rented a house and soon they married. When they had two daughters they were given an apartment. Vardia got freedom, the stepfather of Semiramide had already died. But there was no place for the mother in the apartment of Lilith. Vardia still was successful with men, despite of all these years of testing; she got married again and began to live with her husband.
Semiramide often quarreled with her mother- in-law, although she lived apart from her. She began drinking again, but she worked a lot: sewed baby clothes and she was selling it. She said to the husband to buy a shoe stall, so he hadn`t to go to work. But he soon became crazy about the games. At first it was lottery tickets, "Sprint", "Sports Lottery." Semiramide decided to move back from the Ukraine to Rostov-on-Don. She found a house of three rooms. Vardia worked in a shoe stall too, she helped to Zacchaey to get the same stall. But his passion for the game progressed - he started playing at the races. His wife broke down and started to drink ... She didn`t need the husband.
Then, many years later, she wrote: "To save yourself and get rid of bad, you must recall yourself and run there where you have lost your childhood. I forgot who I was. I was angry and was calling that one, whom I couldn`t remember. That one, who didn`t drink and was confident. I tried to find myself in my children, although I obviously knew, that the children are another. Maybe I was looking for an excuse to drink ..."
Semiramide continued to drink. Playing games of her husband was an excuse for her drinking. He annoyed her, even when he called her "Sima" - "What am I for you - a cat?" – Semiramide flashed angrily, being proud of her royal name, not listening to her husband's explanation, that people in Russia call so those girls who have not just the royal name but the highest angelic name of Seraphim ... "Maybe you call me Simka" - she swore. She had a terribly expensive at that time mobile phone, and a "piece which was inserted into it was called “ simka”."You irritated me, well, let`s drink with you!" – the Assyrian stated. And before that the reason to drink was that her mother and her son were not with her. Motives have always been ... Soon she kicked Zacchaey out of the house, they divorced. He continued to play at the station. Their daughters were seven and six years old.
Test by wealth
Vardia`s husband died. "Am I not a black widow? - she laughed bitterly. - I bring misfortune to the men who love me. "Many men loved her in her life, and each time she married. "But that`s enough! it's time to the old Assyrian to think not about men, but about her daughter and grandchildren", decided Vardia and moved to the youngest daughter, who just broke up with Zacchaey. “ Lilith doesn`t need me, and I have made you a lot of messes in your life, and now I`ll help you!", she said to Semiramide . But she had forgotten about the days when her mother attained an apartment in Moscow, allowed her to stay home with the child, not working and not thinking about her daily bread. Now in her perception she was a miserable sick woman who needs help. But very soon the daughter realized that she, with all her experience of market trading and the ability to "do from one ruble one hundred” is only a kid of her mother.
The end of the eighties of the twentieth century has allowed many enterprising people in the Soviet Union to do business. There were no rules, the risk was great. Suddenly the wealth appeared and disappeared without a trace rapidly. But the mother and the daughter began their business together: they carry hair dye from Poland. At this time, they quickly got rich. The trade was successful, and soon they were carrying by the trucks not only hair dye, but also other products.
They bought a few houses. They had personal chauffeurs and lived in a great way, taking debts for percent, though they could spare somewhere. Semiramide gained the aristocratic habits but the mother warned her:
- No, my daughter, believe my life experience: wealth comes and goes. It is easier for those who have a smooth life, without ups, they do not have very much painful downs!
- It's so boring such a life! - replied Semiramide with laugh who was drunk with the wealth suddenly fallen down on her head.
- I'd rather be bored than to enjoy in Mordovia, said Vardia sadly.
- Well, why such thoughts! All will be well, life is short, we need time to have some fun! - objected to her the daughter.
- Do not be too fun, otherwise you`ll have to cry too bitterly then! - shook the mother her head, knowing that her words will be not heard.
Meanwhile, their relatives who didn`t want to hear about them before began increasingly appear, talking about how they love them. Even Vartkes who did not want them to know began to come to them often. The first time he came, he hugged his mother and his grandmother, wept, said that he requested for forgiveness for having avoided contact with them.
- I have no excuse! - he said. - Excuse me!
And Vardia and Semiramide, whom he kissed the hands, immediately melted. They were already experienced women, and of course, they felt false, but you always want to believe in it, what you want. And they wanted to believe that their boy found the strength to overcome what Lilith had inspired him. He came with a humble appearance, looking into the eyes of Vardia and of Semiramide, told that the aunt Lilith had described them not as they really had been.
- I am proud that I am your son - he said to the mother, and to the grandmother he explained colorfully that his heart is full of the proud of the knowledge that he was her grandson. There were tears in his eyes: how could they not believe that he was sincere in his words? Only a few meetings later Vartkes began to talk about his life difficulties which persecute him; how it was terribly hard to struggle against them.
- But I can`t ask by the women who earn all due to their work! - He said so confidently that it seemed sacrilege to doubt in his sincerity. - You are for me an example of how to live and to work, looking at which I myself can do many things: for I am a man, therefore, should be able to anymore. If only the difficulties that haunt me now, do not ruin me completely; because, as Nietzsche says, whatever does not kill us - makes us stronger.
So he did not ask anything, and women, feeling their guilty before him, tried themselves to give him something. First - a little, then more, and then he began to ask himself, demanded, forgetting his recent words about what he would do ... Easy money didn`t bring to Vardkes any use - he was addicted to drugs. As a result, he got in trouble – he could get from six to fifteen years imprisonment. Vardia who was experienced in such matters bribed someone who should be bribed – he was sentenced to three years. And she maintained the whole camp during three years so that her grandson had a comfortable life there ... Vartkes was released, the mother and the daughter thought that now they`d live better. And then dollar jumped, and many debts were in dollars. They had to return quite a different amount. At the same time Vardia despite the difficulties, loaned three thousand dollars to one young newcomer Assyrian without interest. When it was time to repay, he disappeared ... During the heyday of the family business the mother with her daughter bought several houses and one communal flat. To pay off their debts they had to sell the houses, there was only one communal flat. At this moment, after a long absence appeared Zacchaey. He said that he had lost, they would kill him if he did not pay the debt. Semiramide bitterly looked at the man who had only recently loved her so much that she was ready to respond to his love. Now, before her was a sick man, for whom the game was more than the woman he loved more than anything else, more than their daughters.
- I'll help you, - said Semiramide. - But you must understand that I`ll give you all I have, in the memory of that how you loved me. We won`t have any future life. But you must do something for yourself, in memory of the love that once lived in your heart, find, finally, the strength to change yourself and become a man, but not a compulsive gambler!
She sold the last communal flat, gave him the money that he wouldn`t be killed. He paid off the debts, lost again and left for the Ukraine. But Semiramide didn`t feel sorry that she gave the last thing she had to the man who once had loved her. Vardia didn`t abuse her too. "Maybe you're right - she said sadly. - But that's how we're going to live now? And most importantly – how your poor little daughters will live?
Return to the basement
The mother and the daughter who had nothing left rented a house not far from the Nakhchivan market. They began to sell the jewelry. A sharp change of their social status led to the fact that they quickly began to sink lower. The relatives turned away from them and the first was Vartkes: no money, they were not necessary to him without money. He did not feel the slightest gratitude for what his grandmother and his mother had made for him. Moreover, he charged them that he was imprisoned, that their unjustly earned money and their bad heredity had on him such a devastating impact.
Semiramide drank more: at the market - coffee with brandy, there wasn`t coffee there, and at home - vodka before a mirror. The reflection gave the illusion that she drank not alone and therefore she wasn`t an alcoholic.
She did not know how to improve her situation. The Assyrian was a big dreamer, and alcohol gave her fantasies a morbid character. Somewhere she heard that one can sell a kidney. Without thinking she advertised in several newspapers that she wanted to make such a deal. "Well, what kind of fool! - Her mother scolded. - How will you live without the kidney? And who needs your drunken kidney? "
- No, - said her daughter smiling slyly. In one hand she had a poured on the hem of faceted glass of vodka in the other - a slice of lemon. She looked in the mirror, finding herself very pretty ...
- What is not?
- You're not right! It will be bought, and we'll improve our business! We`ll succeed, we will begin to live well again!
- You're my silly girl – wept Vardia and hugged her daughter. - To what did you came?
They didn`t find buyers, but the reporters started coming in procession. First the articles were in the local press, then in Moscow. Only later Semiramide realized that they had laughed at her…
They have been rich recently, and now have become homeless. Vardia had only the passport with the residence permit – she was fictitiously registered to one unfamiliar woman who had pity on her, so that she could receive a pension.
Semiramide said to the mother:
- We helped with you to very many people. That`s why they`ll help us too!
- Who? The relatives who don`t want to know us? – laughed Vardia bitterly.
- No, not the relatives! – smiled the daughter slyly and drank half a glass of vodka at one gulp. – There is the Internet now, I will write an appeal there, and very soon we won`t know what to do with our money!
First she went to the Assyrians around the world to help, but no one even sent a ruble. Then there was an appeal to the people all over the world with the same result. She didn`t think where exactly her appeal was allocated, how many people read it, whether they visited the site. She believed that if it is written in the Internet, it means that all people in the world know about their trouble. "No one wants us!" - she said to the mother bitterly.
Vardia thought more real than her daughter and addressed to the head of the Assyrian diaspora in Rostov-on-Don. He gave seven hundred rubles of his own money, but it couldn`t save their situation. "I am ashamed of my people, I am ashamed that I am an Assyrian" - screamed Samiramide when she understood how the total of her mother`s ado was. "Well, at least he gave it" - she smiled sadly; unlike her daughter, she had no illusions about their life. They could not pay the rented house and had to go to the basement, where they once had lived. Thirty years ago the mother and daughter left it, and now the daughters of Semiramide, who increasingly saw and believed no one, have to live in it. The basement was empty, damp and cold.
Rostov-on-Don is a large southern city just a hundred kilometers from the Ukraine. There are many newcomers and among local residents there are people of different nationalities. In the heart of Rostov, in Semiramide`s native Nakhichevan, once a former independent town, in the place where there was a statue of Empress Catherine, now stands a monument to Karl Marx. According to an intention of the creators of a new socialist reality, who set this monument, the creator of the Marxist doctrine was to overshadow by himself the city, as a kind of religious symbol of the country that renounced the religion..
In Nakhichevan there are many old houses now, recognized as the monument of architecture. Some of them are empty with closed windows.
Today the dwelling conditions, in which people live in Russia, mostly have changed for the better compared to the end of the last century. It is hard to imagine that the whole family can rejoice in the opportunity to live in a basement. But still there are such families today, and what to say about the border of the millennia, when Russia has a lot of people who because of their naivety and inability to live in the wild capitalism lost the right to dwelling!
They came to live in it voluntarily, without asking permission from anyone. Semiramide judged so that as they once lived in it, and now no one lived there, they had all legal rights to it. Vardia, grinning her daughter`s naivety, thought that if they ask, they will not be allowed, and so at least you can live until you will be expelled.
Autumn this year was chilly. The rain fell steadily, the cold wind pierced throughout. The old dwelling of the Assyrians didn`t save from the cold; with fear they thought how they would live in winter there.
A seller of watches
At the market where Assyrian traded, not far from her place, worked a man who was selling the watches. They met and sometimes talked for a long time. He was a believer and talked about things that were to Semiramide incomprehensible then. He said that if you ask something of the Lord with faith, He`ll help though not immediately, but certainly. It seemed to her something was not connected with her. She drank already till the lost of conscience. She was tired of fighting, her future terrified her. A new friend continued to tell. He told about the Saints and their exploits, and that God does not shun fallen people that everything that happens does not happen without His will; told about the freedom of choice that determines the fate of the man.
- If you ask the Lord with faith, He certainly will help! – spoke the man confidently.
- Whom can He help here? – exclaimed the drunken Assyrian bitterly.
She cried and mumbled through her tears:
- As a child I dreamed of a fairytale queen, after whom I was named, that I would be as beautiful as she was ... And that's what I am now ...
- Before God, you're beautiful as this fairy queen in your eyes, whose name you have, and even more beautiful – the seller of watches told to her.
Semiramide smiled bitterly and said:
- Tell me, I don`t understand: who may like a drunken woman? But you throw your goods, you sit down next to me and talk about God. Why do you need it?
- Nothing in this world happens by chance. Perhaps these conversations are necessary.
- Whom? I myself destroy my life! - said the woman tearfully. - Probably, God feels disgust looking at me!
- No. He knows that one kills himself not casually. Turn to Him with faith, and you will get help!
- How to believe in that you don`t see? How to talk to whom who is not tangible?
But the woman did not want to hear the answer to her questions; the conversation took her a lot of efforts.
But the answer to these questions came unexpectedly. Semiramide became another friend – a nun, who lived in the world. She also talked to her a lot, brought spiritual literature.
- Your books are very clearly written, what the Lord has done for our salvation- told her the Assyrian. - The seller of watches could not explain it to me ...
- But he made you think about these questions.
Once the nun brought a thick old book. "The Life and Miracles of St. Nicholas and his fame in Russia" - read Semiramide on the cover and looked at the year of the publication: 1899.
- I once loved to read, - she said. - But this is a very big book, I can`t master it. You know, I used to have a bad habit: to open the book and to try my future that will open.
- Indeed, You are bad! – exclaimed the girlfriend. – It won`t lead you up to good!
- As you can see, it didn`t, although I don`t think that it was the main reason why I became so, - said with a bitter smile the Assyrian.
- But you, I hope you don`t want to guess with the help of the holy book?
- No, I just read a page for spiritual benefit, - said Semiramide, and it was not clear what she really thought.
She began to read the five hundred ninety-ninth page, and then read what was on the six hundredth. Although prerevolutionary spelling disturbed her a little she found the content of the book to be very interesting:
“ Vassily, a son of the resident of Tomsk Ivan Momotov, being still a child, suffered from the torment of demons within three months so that he had lost the mind, the memory, and the bodily fortress, was not able to move or hold his limbs and lay completely relaxed. No matter how many doctors called his father to son, none of them helped the patient in his throes, until finally a wonderful assistant - the Saint Nicholas visited the sufferer. This lad lay once half-dead from the illness, and here appeared him a splendid man in the bishop dress, with a white shining beard, went to the bedside and told him, "Get up." - "I can not, my God, get up, answered the lad, because I have absolutely no bodily forces." Then the old man took his hand and raised him, saying, " By me, His servant, my Lord Christ orders you to get up of this bed and be healthy. In response to this the young man in full consciousness said: "What gratitude I will repay to You, O Lord, for Your gracious visit me?" The old man said to him: "Now arise, go to the cathedral church and sing thanksgiving to God for your healing, glorified in the Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, before his icon that is in the cathedral church, on the right side, in the chapel of it, where usually are governors, and ask the priests to consecrate the water; take this water that is near a deep moat. If you fulfill this with the help of Christ you will be completely healthy”. Immediately the boy went to his father and told him all about the phenomenon. Having heard his son`s story and when he saw that his son was suddenly healthy the father hastened with his son to the church – to perform what the thaumaturge ordered to do, and with joy and praise to the merciful Saint Nicolas he returned home with the lad, perfectly reasonable and healthy.”
- Perhaps this is a very important book, but I have no strength to continue reading - she said ...
They often went together with the nun to the Iberian monastery. Semiramide repeatedly tried to stop drinking; she appealed to psychics, but after all she decided to pray.
Once during the service in the Iberian monastery she closed her eyes and saw that she was on some wasteland. Everything around was white; she said something to someone, begged for all her relatives. Then she opened her eyes – around her there was the service again, all sang, prayed ... What had happened in the service, worried the Assyrian, and she decided to tell this to her friend. But that, although he was reading the spiritual literature, did not know what the alcoholic psychosis was.
- The Mother of God allowed you to tell her that oppressed your soul, - he said.
- How can I tell?
- If you don`t know the prayers, then say them with your own words what you want to say, what you want to ask. This is the prayer of the heart. It comes from the heart and not from the mind. If you'll believe that you can get help, then you will certainly get help, but if you don`t believe it so it would be better not to begin to beg. By the faith it will be given you. ...
This was a period when she was drinking or praying ... In the daytime she drank coffee with brandy, and at night she sat down on the bed and appealed in her own words to all of whom the nun told and the seller had told her, and then- to the dead relatives, so that they helped her...
Once at the market Semiramide casually noticed Karine. The resentment against her girlfriend who had betrayed her, immediately shot through her whole being. The Assyrian drank a cup of coffee with brandy at one gulp, in which there was cognac three times more than coffee, and screamed:
- Oh, you, a lying ass with the heart of a rat! How does the land carries you a snake`s offspring!
Karine flinched and looked closer and, having recognized her ex-girlfriend, with the pretended courtesy said:
- Semiramde, what is the matter with you, dear? I almost thought it was some kind of a screaming cat here!
- Cat? Oh, you, carrion! Yes, I have drunk some coffee with brandy! - cried the Assyrian, who had drunk that day almost a total bottle of brandy and a cup of coffee, but she thought that she wasn`t a drunkard, because she only added cognac to coffee to strengthen herself.
- Yes, the time turned cruel to you - said Karine with mock sadness, noting with pleasure to herself that she herself had kept very well.
- I`ll be now cruel to you, - said angrily Semiramide, whose eyes were bloodshot.
The Armenian got seriously scared. But here the seller of watches came, he always knew how to calm the Assyrian and Karine escaped.
- Why did you stop me? - asked the sick woman her friend bitterly.
- And what would be changed if you did something bad? Would you feel better?
- You're probably right, - said bitterly the unhappy woman, whose forces pained away immediately. - Nothing can be brought back, all is lost ...
- But we must not think so! Ask God, He will help you!
- Will ... – whispered the Assyrian silently. Her eyes closed and she barely whispered: - It is unlikely ... I hate her! I damn her!
- But we can not say so! - corrected her friend kindly, but firm.
-You always say - it's impossible, that`s impossible, - smiled the woman bitterly. - Why?
- Curses come home to roost, as the Bible says!
- So, am I wicked? - she started to get angry, but for some reason she couldn`t get angry at the seller of watches. And she said calmly: - Well, wicked, and what is then?
- And then you turn this curse on yourself and your children. Don`t you want it?
- I'm already cursed ... And my poor girls too ... And I don`t want to talk about boys ... You have told me that we can`t repay evil for evil. Why?
- The fact is that who does evil, carries his punishment in the very same act. Ceasing to live by the laws of God, he begins to live by the laws of the world of evil. And it's a cruel and terrible world to get into that - there's nothing worse. And the more the man commits evil, the more suffering and sorrow he would have to endure himself; the rulers of the world of darkness will make sure that he has paid fully for all bad things committed by him. A person, who pays back evil for evil begins to live by the laws of this world. One must be able to give the court to God ...
- In the hope that this person will be punished, so that it wouldn`t come to the offended one? - asked the Assyrian slyly.
- God does not punish. He just stops sometimes to protect some!
- Well, - said the woman suddenly calmly. - I imagined that what I would like to do with Karine for the fact that she had hindered me to connect with Tigran; so if you say that it will have something worse, I just feel sorry for her!
And she laughed bitterly.
... The youngest daughter of Semiramide managed to escape from the nightmare in which the family lived. She married and moved to her husband, and the elder daughter stayed with her mother, although many courted her. Semiramide did not interfere in her daughter's life. She behaved so not because she didn`t take an interest in them, but she was afraid of grievances from their side, if her advices were incorrect. The eldest daughter was so depended on her that it was not necessary to say something else, and the youngest was so independent that it was clear whatever she would be spoken she will act her own way. She loved her mother, but took the first opportunity to live apart from her.
Illness as hope
Once, when Semiramide was returning from the monastery after the evening service she saw in the sky three men with beards. They were so big that the woman looked away out of fear, and when she looked again, they were gone.
Sometimes she could not drink for a long time. The first day was always very difficult. She could not stand up, she turned sick, the heart was beating like crazy, it swept under the shoulder, her head torn, in her eyes swam dark circles, the whole body was shaking and hands - so that it was impossible even to hold a cup of water ... At night fear came and along with it insomnia. Sometimes she heard some sounds, before the eyes appeared images, but it was so vague that the woman did not pay attention to this. She had only one desire to live as soon as possible until the morning, to leave this house and go where there were people, to the market where there were a lot of people ... And Semiramide went to the market much earlier than this the interests of trade required; during the day she could digress a little, and in the evening it was difficult to her to recover. A week later, she felt that she could never drink; in her head appeared fantasies how she`d live, if there was the booze in her life no more. But then, usually a week later, came the idea that it was possible to drink one glass, and it all began again...
Once Semiramide did not drink more than two weeks. She came from the market, sat on the sofa - and suddenly ceased to understand what was happening around.
Vardia was telling something to her granddaughter, television was showing some program and in her head men's choir was singing. She thought that she had burning fever. The choir was singing without music and the same: "Lord, help her!" - And so from half six pm till midnight.
Semiramide came to the market to the seller of the watches, whom she now called her brother and told him about what had happened to her.
- What was that?
- I`ll bring you now one book - he said thoughtfully. In the book there was written, that that sometimes happened on the graves of the saints, but it was given to hear to simple people. Her friend didn`t connect the visions of the Assyrian with alcohol. He even introduced her to a grandmother from the village, which brought to the market milk. When the old lady was on a pilgrimage trip, by passing two monasteries, she heard a choir of men, but other pilgrims did not hear anything.
The Assyrian calmed down a bit, but in the evening at the same time again she heard a choir of men. After a couple of hours it was added by the female one, and then by the children one. All of them sang a song. Something about the Mother of God, but Semiramide could not understand the text, she thought it was something laudatory. Then the choir of men stopped singing, then the female one, the children choir was sill singing, but a saxophone prevented to hear it. The woman tried to "remove" it, but this increased her headache, she had a feeling that the top of the head was burning. And then the idea came that one should read the prayer "Our Father." But Semiramide knew only two words of it - "Our Father." It was an hour till twelve still; during this hour she read the prayer that she had never known before, if someone prompted her. With the last words of prayer the saxophone stopped, the children sang beautifully and the poor woman felt asleep. Having waked up, she knew "Our Father" by heart.
The next day she told about all to her friend.
- I don`t understand why you still hear it... - he asked.
- Maybe I must tell about it someone else?
- What! No one will believe this because they themselves did not hear. And they`ll announce you crazy!
She told him about the book about the Saint Nicholas, which the nun offered to read.
- This is a great Saint! – told the seller of watches her seriously. - Pray for him, he'll help you.
And he pulled out his homemade book in half-sheet, which he always carried with himself. There was an Akathist to St. Nicholas and his life, transcribed by hand. He began to read the life, written in the tenth century by Simeon Metaphrastes: "Because of his natural talents and mental abilities Nicholas mastered the most of Sciences in a short time; he despised all possible fuss and shunned unworthy gatherings and conversations, evaded to be involved in a conversation with the women and didn`t even look at them, caring only about the truly reasonable. He bade farewell to worldly affairs and spent all his time in the homes of the God, preparing himself to become worthy of the house of the Lord. As the Saint worked hard to keep the Scriptures and to understand divine dogmas, as he was decorated with many good qualities and observed a blameless life, befitting to the Priests, and also because he was calm and reasonable long before he became old, it was decided to honor him a priestly dignity. Thanks to the care of his uncle, who replaced him the father, the Primate of the Church in Miry consecrated him to a bishop; so he, God-given to the parents, in their prayer, returned to the God. And this archbishop Mir, conferred a divine spirit, saw, that the soul of the boy bloomed virtues, predicted him a future abounding grace and said, that he would be a boon comforter of those who sadden, a good shepherd of the souls, a giver of salvation to those who were in danger, and would call erring people on the fields of piety. "
- It is hard to me to listen to this - interrupted him the woman. – And I couldn`t to listen to the nun... Let's wait.
But this came not so soon. The day was as usual. But in the evening the Assyrian singing sounded in the head of Semiramide. The Assyrian musical instruments were playing and probably the ancient Assyrians were singing.. She began singing with them as if she knew everything that they were singing by heart ... But the language, in which they sang, was to her unfamiliar. No one was home, Semiramide even danced, she was so happy ... She thought, "Here my mother will come, and I'll sing her one verse, and she will translate, if she can." But when the mother and her daughter finally came, all the words disappeared from her head.
The exhausting summer aggravated the internal sufferings of the woman; she wanted to run away from herself. If she could get out of her skin and run away somewhere she`d do it immediately.
She wondered, what those visions, that had visited her, meant. At the market she asked an elderly Assyrian, how did their compatriots pray in the days of old, and she said with songs and dances. Since that time she could not drink at all, regardless of whether she would it like or not.
At the bottom
After Semiramide had heard singing of the ancient Assyrians, she decided that she'd be fine, and began to make up their dwelling problem. She appealed to the authorities to recognize their basement as a legal dwelling.
When Vardia learned about it, she scolded her daughter:
- Why do you meddle in what you do not understand? Where are we going to live now? -she cried.
- Everything will be fine! - replied Semiramide confidently.
But the mother was right: they really were asked to vacate the basement. One friend advised Semiramide to work as a keeper at Gardener's Association thirty kilometers from Rostov-on-Don. She worked informally, because she hadn`t the registration. She was paid eight hundred rubles instead of two thousand, but the women were pleased. They lived in a cold iron van, because they were afraid, they took for the protection dogs, which were treated as family. Vardia went to the market to sell, because otherwise they would die from hunger. Semiramide herself was afraid to go to the market, she had an apprehension to start drinking again in the usual environment. They lived so poorly that the homeless people helped them.
Once Vartkes came to them, he didn`t accuse of nothing, but sadly sighed and shook his head reproachfully, as if he said what they had now! And after some time he died. As it turned out, the last few years he had lived with his father. The youngest daughter drove Semiramide to the funeral. When they arrived, the coffin was already in the bus. The mother, who lost her son, saw with a corner of her eye the sister and her friends.
At the moment she saw her son smiling ...She had to get into the bus. She overcame every step with great difficulty. Semiramide asked her daughter to get into the bus and to pull her by hand, and she knelt, crawled into it. The daughter cried softly. The mother looked at the man who was lying in the coffin. It was a swollen man who didn`t look like her son. But suddenly she saw instead of him her son again so as he lived in her heart.
Getting out of the bus, Assyrian angrily looked at her sister: "She tried to show a good aunt to her friends, laments!" Semiramide was sitting silently. She did not cry, even when she had carried her tiny dead son in her pocket, who was conceived from the only man she loved. Because of some stupid conventions her child couldn`t be born and live normally ... Her thoughts were interrupted by a nephew, who came up and asked her to leave because "his mother was nervous."
Semiramide saw the pain in the eyes of her daughter, to whom it was bitterly of what how they related to her mother. "Together with my son died my relatives" - said only the Assyrian. They took a taxi and left. After that, her legs refused, she could do only a few steps. A year later they had to leave the gardens. The youngest daughter found some money and the elder daughter found a small house without documents in an abandoned village, where they could move. The life there was the hardest.
Winter that year was unbearably cold. Frost forced to think about the approaching end. There was hard with food. The dogs that didn`t see not only meat, but they had never bread enough to eat, died of exhaustion soon. Semiramide realized that they`d be the next. And then Vardia went for a pension to Rostov-on-Don, and lost her memory. She had been absent for eight days. The daughter didn`t hope to see her again, but at last she appeared in the yard. Her feet were swollen, and she could not remember where she was these days.
Help of the St. Nicholas
One old man sometimes helped them with food. He advised to pray to St. Nicholas, who helped everyone who was perishing. Where did this old man come from? He seemed to be not local. And he always came exactly when the women began to think it was the end.
- Ask the St. Nicholas, he will help you! - he said to Semiramide every time. And she couldn`t do nothing else except to pray. She was ready to die - so was her fatigue. The woman asked his new friend to tell her about the Saint for whose help he had told them to ask.
- He was very strict, but at the same time he was kind, - said the old man thoughtfully. - Once he was on the Ecumenical Council in Nicaea; the Church had to answer to Aria who taught that not God was incarnated in Christ. Arius was a man of great knowledge and he was so eloquent that all believed him. There was convened the Ecumenical Council with the support of the first Christian emperor of Rome – the first Council in the history of the Church, to which three hundred eighteen bishops came to examine the doctrine of Aria. They all couldn`t find the words to prove that Arianism was a false teaching. The St. Nicholas also didn`t find the words and he hit the heretic...
-That`s why he is so holy? – asked Semiramide skeptically. - My first husband had a habit to beat right in the face, but there was holiness not a penny in him...
- Not so, of course - the old man laughed. - You see, and I also can`t explain anything to you ... Then he was a bishop, and the bishop, if he hits anyone, is deprived of his holy order, and the order was for St. Nicholas the most important! And your-ex-husband, if he hit anyone, what was to him for that?
-It was nothing to him for that! –laughed the Assyrian, whom even life with a pickpocket and a bully seemed something funny, compared with her current position.- However, I`ve lived with him very little. But my favorite man was so punished only for what that he had hit someone...
A lump in her throat did not let her speak - instead of the words broke out a bubbling, and suddenly the woman sobbed, though she had no tears earlier... As if she was yesterday with Tigran, the separation from him had broken their lives ... "It's not because of his fight, but that I let kill our child!" – corrected Semiramide herself abruptly. Her life could be quite different - she thought - and not a homeless life, she could be a princess with whom, who loved her and whom her heart loved so much that the sick old woman suddenly became beautiful, remembering him. And the old man seemed to see everything that was happening in her mind.
- I see you understand me, - he said. - So, the Council deprived the St. Nicholas of his order, because he hit a man only once in his life, - for the fact that he broke souls with his eloquence...
- And what was really so bad in his teaching? – asked the Assyrian, who didn`t understand the intricacies of theology.
- How do I explain it to you? - thought her companion. -The Christianity is a religion that teaches that in compliance with the laws of human logic can`t be, that God Himself in order to save the people united in Christ with human nature. Aria, who thought logically, supposed that it would be correct to believe that only one of the highest spirits was incarnated in Christ, great, but created one. St. Nicholas`s heart felt that what the Church was singing in one of the songs: " Not an Advocate, not an Angel, but the Lord Himself was incarnated" ... But he had no words to refute the most learned theologian of that time, that`s why he struck a slap...
- From his inability? - sighed the woman.
- From the human weakness, in which the power of God is accomplished. His action was so unusual that it attracted the attention of all the Fathers of the Council; they began to look more thoroughly objections to the heretic and found them. And many of them had a vision from the Lord, after which the St. Nicholas was acquitted and restored to his archbishopric.
- And had I visions from the Lord? – took the Assyrian the opportunity to learn the opinion of such a knowledgeable person and talked about what she had saw and what had it preceded.
- Don`t be angry with me, but it is called delirium, - smiled the old man - I think it didn`t hurt you haloperidol. But God turns even evil to good; you have done the right conclusions, having stopped to drink...
- Is that not a spiritual vision? - asked Semiramide resentfully...
- Let see, what does it mean –“spiritual”? - laughed her companion. - There is a world around us that we do not see, and it is a great blessing for us, because people in a damaged condition can`t see the world of spirit without danger to themselves. Changes, that people make in their bodies with the drugs, alcohol, hunger, something else can give them the opportunity to see some fragments of the spiritual world, but as a rule, it is a dark part of it. It is devastating for the person who has gross sins; a chronic mental illness can appear. And there is no need to look for mystical visions. Is it once in Scripture said at least that who does not have them, is imperfect? It says that something quite different is the true value of a human: love for God and neighbor, purity of heart.
He often spoke to them so. He talked about three daughters of a decent, but not a particularly mentally stable person, who after he ruined himself, began to think how he could arrange them somewhere as concubines, if not worse ... And how the Saint Nicholas knocked at the window of his house secretly at night and threw a bundle of gold coins. The unlucky father used it in a correct way: he married off his eldest daughter, and Archbishop threw him the second one in a short time, this arranged the fate of his next girl, and then the third one, that helped the younger daughter...
- The fairy tale - a knock at the window three times and unexpected gift that changes the life in an unrelieved gloom to sunlight! – said Semiramide thoughtfully. - But it's just a fairy tale, can`t it be in our everyday life?
- Sometimes - replied the old man confidently.
He told her about the nobles, who were condemned innocently, whom the Saint rescued from an undeserved execution. They witnessed how the St. Nicholas drew the sword from the hands of the executioner, not allowing the execution of three libeled citizens whose innocence was proven later. These high-ranking people struck not only the fearless bishop, who had stopped the execution, but how close to the heart he took their misfortune, and the most surprising - he acted with such power that it was impossible to disobey him.
After some time these nobles needed help themselves: the capital's mayor slandered them before the emperor, he put forward them a serious charge in treason, for which death was a punishment. The unlucky prisoners remembered the St. Nicholas. "If he was here he would save us as those citizens" - they thought. And though the Saint was far from them, the innocent prisoners approached him with the earnest prayer, believing that he would hear them, no matter the distance.
And the St. Nicholas really heard them. He appeared in a dream to the emperor and the mayor; it was a new hearing of the case, as a result the officials were not only justified, but also restored to all the rights.
He told also about the perishing people at sea and many other things. The Assyrian began to think that Saint Nicholas was the dearest of all whom she had; she was especially impressed by that fact that there was something similar to the sufferings of Tigran, as she thought, how the St. Nicholas had suffered, defending the faith at the Ecumenical Council ...It was impossible to inspire her that Tigran was just a bully; she knew that he was the best of all people who had ever lived in the world ... She always prayed to St. Nicholas affectionately, calling him as “Nicholushka." Semiramide thought that he wouldn`t be angry with the old sick Assyrian, living in anticipation of death, because of it. She remembered a passage from a book, which her friend, the nun, had given to her; it was recently, but already new sorrows rub off the past and a fragment of the ancient lives that the seller of watches had read to her... And for some reason it seemed to her that the Saint necessarily would create a miracle in her life too, like one the old man had told her.
She sometimes was sitting for hours in front of a small paper icon (she couldn`t stand: her legs didn`t obey), talking with the holy Wonder -worker, imaged on it, as with the closest friend, sharing with him the sorrows of her life:
".. Once my favorite man came to me when I was not married yet. It appeared that it was a trial for a fight, and he was condemned to six months in a jail. Then he was released, he came and saw my girlfriend, the Armenian, asked her to call me. But she deceived him, envying me, and said that he had not to bother me because I loved another. She wanted to stay with him, but he was gone. And this was my best friend! Envy - it's dreadfully ...”
Another her heartache was the dead son. "When my sister brought a letter from my mother, I kissed my son, gave him to my sister (she was waiting in the corridor). What made me commit such an act: being sober to give the son to another woman with my own hands, even to the own sister? I can`t explain it. If I knew I was losing my son forever ... "She complained to her friends:" One thing I realized that if you are more fortunate than your girlfriend, you will automatically become her enemy. But if you're at the bottom, she doesn`t need you, you're not a rival for her. If the relatives turn away from us, then what can we wait from strangers? There is no more a blind man than the one who does not want to see ...” She complained of the father of her daughters:" In Rostov he played at the races. And he ruined everything. It began by me a nervous breakdown. I knew what a soothing medicine I needed... And I recklessly started to behave in spite to him. He went to the races, and I - to the bottle. He bored me. I haven`t seen the money, moreover he was rude to me. I'm not an angel without wings, I'm a human. There is a devil in every man, but it was too much in me... "Sometimes, appealing to the Saint, Semiramide began to philosophize, trying to understand her life:" I'll tell you everything: how I was trampled by the brutal truth of life, how my hopes and dreams were killed by ruthless destiny. Who will protect the fallen woman, mired in sins? It is very scary when turn away those who were dearer than life have turned away... Evil has many guises and resorts to the most treacherous tricks. "
Vardia also prayed before the icon, but ns "confidentially” as her daughter did. She believed that one need to ask the Saint for help with veneration, without loading him with unnecessary information. She looked at Semiramide bitterly: the old Assyrian felt at heart that if she hadn`t made her to get rid of the child, all her daughter's life would have been different...
Vardia apologized for everything that she had done not right, she asked for help - not for herself and for her daughter, but more for her granddaughter: "She is to blame for nothing! She just loves her mother too much. She could get married for a long time and live a normal life, and she, having seen nothing in it, had to share with us this nightmare willingly! We have lived at least, have seen much, but what is she suffering for? "
The greater the external difficulties were, the hotter the prayers of the women were; her situation seemed to be hopeless.
... Vardia sometimes went hitchhiking to Rostov-on-Don. One night after the prayers Semiramide and her daughter heard a knock at the window - three times. They looked out, but there was nobody. Their situation was worse than usual, and their benefactor - the old man - disappeared recently. Vardia morning got ready to go to the city. When she stood on the road, a passing jeep stopped. An imposing man came out from it, and seeing where she went, offered her to bring her to the city. In the city he gave her an envelope, in which there were sixty thousand rubles and a paper icon. And he took a taxi which drove Vardia home. And when the money ran out, he came to them, helped to get out of this village and to buy a house.
Semiramide died before her mother. The mother and the daughter were with her in the last hours. The earthly way of the sufferer was over. Vardia looked sadly at her died daughter, whose face now was peaceful and she said to her granddaughter: - I often told her in her childhood a tale about the eastern Queen Semiramide. The legend says she isn`t dead, she turned into a dove. And my daughter, your mother, now is free from the bonds of this earthly vale of darkness and suffering and went to God.
- But is our life so that it is absolutely not worth living? - asked her granddaughter.
- No, there is a lot of good in this life. One must be able to see it. It usually is so, that what we have is not enough to us - no matter how much we are given, we want more and more. We must be able to be grateful to God for the things that many did not even notice. For it is difficult to assess of what the greatest value are freedom, the absence of severe pain, hunger, when there is a roof over your head...
The granddaughter looked at her grandmother, who had outlived in her past life the conclusion in Mordovia, and disease, and wandering, hunger and began to cry.
- Do not cry, my dear, - she smiled and hugged her. - Now you'll be all right!
However, her heart was restless. She felt that the path of sorrow for her and her daughter was over, but the granddaughter maybe would see a lot of bad in her life.
Vardia also lived not very long after she had buried the daughter. She and Semiramide died in peace with God and people and the daughter, who lived with them. She is working at the church now. But that's another story...
The man who helped them, - Mikhail Chapel, is now Hieromonk Michael. He helped many people completely disinterestedly. The fragment about a knock on the window resembles a fragment of the life of the St. Nicholas, who threw through the window bundles with gold, to save three girls from the moral death. And this time, through the Father Michael, he helped to these three women to avoid the ruin.
The story of the fractured life of the woman testifies that God cares for every man, no matter how deep he has been wrong in his life and how much he has been sick. Fortunately, there are among us still those who care about someone, who are not indifferent to the misfortune of the others, who are willing not only in words, but actually to help the suffering people, and thus, all is not lost for this world ...
I would like to finish this story with beautiful words of the Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) about the Saint Nicholas: "When you read about his life, one is astonished that He cared not only about the spiritual life; He took care of every human need, the most humble of human needs. He was able to rejoice with those who rejoice, he could weep with those who weep, he knew how to comfort and support those who needed comfort and support. And that's why people, the flock of Myra, loved him so much and why the whole Christian world respects him: nothing is too insignificant, to which he would not pay any attention of his creative love. There is nothing on earth that seemed to be unworthy of his prayers and unworthy of his works: disease and poverty, disgrace and fear, sin and joy, hope, and love - all found a response in his deep human heart. And he left us the image of a person who is the radiance of God's beauty, he left us a living acting icon of a genuine man. But he left it to us not only that we jubilated, delighted, amazed; he left us his image to learn us how to live, to love, to forget yourself and remember fearlessly, sacrificially, joyfully every need of another person.”
Instead of an epilogue
Dear Alexey, of course, her story really touched me, but the leitmotif, constantly sounded in her words, was: "I have always prayed to Nikolushka." Even before the state of a homeless person, she had a strong faith. I do not know who that man was, but he inspired and supported in her a fantastic faith. They reached the bottom: the grandmother, the mother and the granddaughter slept with dogs to warm in winter. There were almost no glasses in the windows in the house, and instead of them there was glued a hazy polyethylene film.
It was a cold winter, when I met on the road the granny. We drove fast, as we had to drive from Kuban to Kalmykia and we didn`t take traveling companions. Truthfully, we flew past the grandmother, standing alone and not even voting. Probably she had lost all hope of help. I don`t know what made me stop, I just said to the driver: slow down, turn around, let`s help the granny. Then I added: "Something is wrong!" The appearance of the grandmother was appropriate, but neat. On the way we talked and she said that she was going to Rostov to a funeral, and maybe she would procure the money, as she and her family were completely destitute.
On the road of Rostov-Stavropol we parted. We gave her all our sweets - fried pies with different fillings, the money that was called “stock”. The grandmother did not spend a penny, she had all brought home. Then they returned their debts. I asked her about the name, stopped a taxi and asked very convincingly a young guy to drive the granny as his own one. He was a fine fellow and didn`t leave she in Rostov, he did everything as I expected.
About two weeks later (the frost was intense, there was an unusually low temperature for Kuban - about – 25), my soul started to ache. Where is my granny, what is with her. I didn`t know where to go. I didn`t know her address, except the name and my heart couldn`t calm. There were many questions: where did she come on the road from, and etc. I put some products: gruels, sausage, cheese, butter, tea, sugar, coffee, crackers, matches, two sacks of potatoes - and send the drivers Dmitry and Sergey to find the grandmother with the family. If it is the will of God – you`ll find her. They found her, though they were tormented. The guys themselves were eager to help her. I admonished them: do your best, we have everything to eat, but people are starving and dying from cold. They found them: an abandoned village, people were afraid to leave their homes: there were no roads, only boardwalks. Our cars bewildered the local inhabitants very much and people didn`t want to contact with us, thinking we were some bandits, but if I'm not mistaken, the man who admonished them in the faith, gave her address. In the village were living some invalids, people with deformities and the elderly. The drivers even felt horror. They returned, being shocked by such a picture.
I decided not to leave this family, to find and to buy a house with the registration. I providentially managed to buy a normal house, and even with a plot. We bought coal, wood. We came to them, took them and moved. In a cheap shop we took a decent furniture. The house was ready for their arrival. Some kind Christians helped us.
The grandmother and the daughter remember with gratitude the man who persistently talked about the faith and the Saint Nicholas. What was surprising - the lower they descended and they have lived so for few years, the stronger was their faith and hope. What a wonderful power of the spirit! The author of the story herself just smiled, talking about it, and repeated: I always, always, always believed in Nikolushka. Now the both women are dead because of the severe hardships of life, but the granddaughter is working at the church in one of the Kuban Cossack villages with the same fervent faith in the St. Nicholas.
Maybe you could use this for the development of the theme, all events are based on the real facts.
With deep gratitude. Hiermonk M.
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