Аида Кадырбаева

Страна : Казахстан

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Country : Kazakhstan

Перевод новеллы Айдара Шамшибаева “Вечная проблема



An excerpt from the short story “The Eternal Problem”


I have always been lucky with women. I remember well each of them. I recall them with warm and tender feelings. Parting with them was always painful for me. 

Now I don’t even know why I left them. I don’t understand myself. Overall, I’m forty with no wife and no children.

But my love for women does not leave me for a second. It will ruin me someday. I know.

            It was just an ordinary day when I met Eleanor. She was choosing the right furniture for her country-house, I was picking just a chair for my desk. I caught her eye. “Business lady. Fitness. Fiftytwo or fifty three. Lonely. ” These thoughts had flashed through my mind before she came up and asked something about the furniture.

             “Unfortunately, I’m not an expert in this,” I said, asking another question just to keep the conversation going. 

I saw her looking at me. I knew that women of her age somehow liked me. And she was clearly interested in me. Here’s a chance for you to get to know a woman much older than you. “Why not?” – I thought, looking her right in the eyes.

            – Did you drive here in your car?? – She asked leaving the furniture salon.

            – No.

            – Want me to give you a lift?

            We got into the car and drove straight to her new mansion. This is where my next love story began.

             Usually, the problem arises where you don’t expect it. My business partner (when I still had the business) fell off a cliff and died. Unfortunately, I was with him on that trip. And now his brother, former longtime prisoner, is persecuting and threatening me quite seriously. He thinks that I killed his brother in order to take possession of his share of our joint business. A couple of times he met me near the house and we had argy-bargy about the fact that his brother’s death is too strange and “he died somehow fortunately well for me.” I sincerely tried to explain to him that I did not get any benefit from the death of his brother and that the  business failesd because his brother died. But he was unpersuadable in his suspicions – if the business failed, then I was leading to that. In general, I must give him his brother’s share, or he will solve this problem “in his own way.” And then further on like this. Now he and his accomplices are watching me and frankly this annoys me. I don’t want to die, especially, in the prime of life. Moreover, I don’t want to be murdered by some guy who got an idea into his head that I killed and took over his brother’s business and therefore must be responsible for this. It is not possible to change his mind and only God knows where you’re going to end up.

Eleanor didn’t’ wait that long and that same evening she got me into bed.

Domineering and accustomed to the fact that her will is the law, she almost ordered me to sleep with her. I laughed at this to myself, because as it seems to me, I am an independent person and I only sleep with a woman when I want to. But at that situation I decided to play along with her and pretend that “I hear and obey.” She liked it even more than that. Eventually she has become very attached to me. So, I ended up inside the “golden cage.” That same evening Eleanor defined my role in her life and my place in her business. She told me bluntly, “I’m fifty. Leave now if you want to. If you stay, you’re mine. ” I was alarmed by the phrase “you are mine.” But I really wanted to know what that means.

                  She introduced me to her employees as her assistant and she did it in such a way that everyone immediately understood how I was “helping her.” I have not experienced greater humiliation and shame in my life. She controlled everything. “I convert everyone to my faith,” she said when we somehow got to talking about this. “I come and propose, that’s all. They are forced to do what I want. Because I make offers that only fools refuse …” She also controlled me, right down to the color of the socks which she also chose with the thoroughness of a caring mother, although she had no children. At first it amused me, but then I somehow got used to it. Now I can’t even tell why I got involved in all this. Curiosity is my scourge …

                 We used to come to the office together. She began to give out valuable instructions and sat down at the papers, I sat down at the computer and tortured the Internet. An hour and a half or two later, we went to some construction sites, met with some people, conducted some kind of negotiations … All this fuss lasted until seven in the evening, after that we went to some restaurant to have dinner until nine o’clock and then returned home. Everything is right on schedule every day, week by week.

In the evening she continued to command in bed and sometimes it seemed to me that this was a continuation of her working day. She gave orders in a familiar businesslike manner. Then I realized that she lives like that, she just does not know how to live differently. All her life is a complete work schedule.

      I did not know any refusal. Pockets full of cash, credit and loyalty cards. I forgot how to walk on foot. There were three maids, who did not have time to clean our things the number of which was magically increasing day by day. At fifty years old Eleanor was not beautiful and looked older than her age, but she had everything a woman needs for her little personal happiness – money and an amazing figure.

“You don’t say sweet words to me,” one day she said with a note of sadness in her voice.

             Sweet words … An eternal problem.

– I think you feel it anyway … – I dissuaded, trying to give my voice a little irritation to stop a conversation. 

Looks like she was making plans for me. But I had completely different plans. I was two and a half months in a cage. That’s enough for me.

“Eleanor,” I said one morning. – We need to talk.

– There is no time, – she snapped, collecting her business papers in a folder. – Go

“Let’s talk,” I insisted. 

Eleanor looked at me as if she were trying to pass through my skull to find out my thoughts. There was a seriousness appeared in her eyes and some watchfulness seemed to me.

“I’m leaving,” I said quietly.

Eleanor stared at me intently. 

– “You are tired. You need to get some rest,” she said not hearing me. “Everything will be fine,” she added under breath as if she was comforting herself and not me. –  Go to some resorts, islands … If you want to. Make it on your own.

– Eleanor…

– No time… no time

Eleanor got quickly into the car as if afraid of something and drove away. I suspected that the conversation with this capricious woman would be difficult, but suddenly I saw a defenseless lonely woman clinging in all possible and impossible ways to what perhaps was important and valuable to her. Eleanor did not come home. She stayed in the city apartment, saying that she had a lot to do, and she needed to work. I knew that she had no such urgent matters. She did not want to continue this conversation and tried to avoid it in her own way. She knew that I would not leave without talking to her. Apparently, she felt that the break-up was inevitable, and therefore tried her best to delay this moment. She was gone for three days. She didn’t call. And I didn’t call. I honestly waited. Finally, she arrived. Seeing me, she silently took off her shoes and went into the bedroom.

– Hello.

– Hello … – she answered in a tired voice.

We were silent for a while.

“Take off your clothes,” I heard her voice coming from the bathroom.

I thought she wanted to calm me down with sex.

“Take off everything I bought you,” she clarified.

          I stood in disbelief.

“Take it all off and go,” I heard the voice echoing off the marble walls again.

         I undressed.

         “Socks and panties too,” she continued calmly.

         I hesitated, but there was nothing to do – I undressed completely.

         “Now go away,” she said slamming the bathroom door, she was about to take a shower.

         I stood naked. In the middle of the room, in the midst of all this rich decoration, I stood naked, humiliated and insulted, so extravagantly saying goodbye to the life that I no longer wanted. The maid looked into the bedroom.

– Oh … Sorry … – she was embarrassed. – I wanted to bring clean linen.

– Please, – I turned to her, – find me something … not from the wardrobe …

The girl put the laundry on the dresser and quickly left. After a while she brought the gardener’s overalls, which I put on over my naked body, and dressed like that with borrowed money from her I got to my apartment, which I had not been in for more than two months. 

“Don’t tell Eleanor,” I told the maid. “Otherwise, she’ll cut you into overalls. And thanks. I will give it back.

The transition from one life to another also causes certain difficulties. In this life of mine, there is no one who does laundry, cooking, driving in a car … Breakfasts in bed and evenings on the veranda with a glass of wine will now remain only in memories of the past life, albeit carefree, but still strange. And with my life coming back there were also problems patiently waiting for me all that time

“You’re hiding in vain,” said the same tireless brother of my deceased partner, meeting me at the entrance. – This will not solve the problem.

“And I wasn’t going to hide,” I replied. “I see no reason to hide.

– So, what are we going to do? – he asked, making it clear that the time allotted to me to solve this problem has expired. – You seem to marry money …

         Living with Eleanor I unwittingly thought to resolve this issue. And I could have done it easily.


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