Анастасия Хатиашвили

Страна: Грузия

Анастасия Хатиашвили — журналист, переводчица, поэтесса, автор сборника рассказов “Грузия такая Грузия”, документальной книги о Белле Ахмадулиной “Больше, чем сны” и романа “Лучшее, чего у меня нет”.


Country: Georgia

Anastasia Khatiashvili is a journalist, translator, poetess, author of the storybook “Georgia is such Georgia”, a documentary book about Bella Akhmadulina “More than Dreams” and the novel “The Best I Don’t Have”.

Отрывок из современной прозы “My Versailles” 

I read about your death when I landed in Paris. When the landing gear of my plane hit the ground in the city of my dreams, I immediately turned on the phone and a message from my sister appeared on the screen. Only two sentences: “In the mountainous village of Omalo, a local teacher, O.M., died in a car accident. The art history teacher was 40 years old.”
The neighbor on the right, a naughty boy with an ever-groaning mother, whispered:
– You shouldn’t turn on your mobile phone right now. You can interfere with the landing of the plane!
– I’ll do what I want, – I replied and unfastened the belts.
And so, it happened – in this city I did everything I wanted. In the morning, and it was very early in the morning, you know how I can’t bear early morning if I don’t sleep in a warm bed, wrapped in a blanket, so in the morning, around seven o’clock, I got out of the bus and sat down next to the bakery which was closed. It was opened only at nine o’clock. These two hours I was speaking with a man who lived on the street, near the door of this bakery, more precisely, three meters from it, in the corner. There was some kind of recess in the wall, probably some kind of original architectural solution, so that’s where Frank’s mattress fit. Yes, his name is Frank, my first friend in Paris.
By the way, Frank is not an old man. He is 55. He has a higher education. He is a former sculptor, with twenty years of successful work and five years of life on the street. Imagine, he said that he even knew the sculptor Antoniucci Volti. That Frenchman of Italian origin, who created sensual sculptures of women. Do you remember? Sorry. I wanted to advise you to google it. But there is no internet in the coffin. Yes, it’s me and my dark humor. You liked it so much…
Frank is autistic and that’s why he was honest with me. He said that I didn’t look well and suggested something to eat. I politely declined half of his breakfast and asked him why he lived on the street. Frank smiled strangely and replied that on Wednesdays he doesn’t remember the bad things.
At nine o’clock a nice old couple opened the bakery and I bought my first croissant. Do you know the phrase – gastronomic orgasm? This is how I described my feeling from this culinary treasure. After this bliss and a cup of hot coffee, I went to look for a beauty salon. Frank was right: my head was in total chaos.
The stylist at a salon called Chez Ginette, a slender black man in canvas pants and a T-shirt, asked me:
– What hairstyle do you want?
– I’m in Paris for three days. Make me a Parisian. As much as possible.
In less than an hour, I got a short bob with bangs. And makeup as a gift. When I looked in the mirror, I remembered one of your desires: you wanted to walk with me in the rain on the Seine embankment, so that we looked like true Parisians, in our hands – a bottle of wine, on our lips – a drunken smile, in our heads – wind or love. Something very light and pleasant. Something elusive like time. When I got out of the Chez Ginette, rain started and, according to all the laws of romance, I should have burst into tears. But you know me. I rarely cry, almost never.
– Versailles? – asked a guy leaning out of the newsstand across from the salon.
– Sorry? – I didn’t get it.
– Versailles, mademoiselle? Would you like to go on a tour of Versailles?
I realized that I definitely did not look like a Parisian and, frustrated, ran into the subway. Three stops on a sweltering trip and I’m already on the banks of the Seine. Wine. Where is my wine? Where is my Versailles?
– Versailles? What a stupid nickname, – you told me when you heard it.
– No, it isn’t. You know French and love France. Also, you’ve been buzzing my ears about Versailles, what else should I call you? You’re my Versailles. C’est la vie! Why don’t you like your new name?
– Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Faulkner, Dostoyevsky, Borges, Wild… All this I also love no less than Versailles.
– Sorry, you’re my Versailles. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
– Thank you for not being your Valentine!
– Tell me more about Versailles. How many rooms does it have?
– The Palace of Versailles has 700 rooms with 2,153 windows, 1,200 fireplaces and 1,250 chimneys, as well as 67 staircases. About 6,000 paintings and 5,000 pieces of furniture and other artifacts were used to decorate the palace.
– Please tell me once again about the history of the Hall of Mirrors.
– Did you like this story so much? Of course, I’ll tell you. There are 357 mirrors in the Hall of Mirrors. When it was built, Venice had a monopoly on the production of mirrors, but France was not deterred by this fact and enticed the Venetian mirror artisans to make a few copies especially for the Palace. Later, the Italians killed these masters for giving away their secrets.
That’s how smart and well-read you were.
At 12 o’clock I met two friends from Portugal, Tiago and Beatriz. For them, as for me, this city was almost an obsession. We drank white and red wine, ate different types of cheeses, baguettes, fruits, sushi, chocolate and ice cream. Then I got sick. When I vomited in some gateway, Tiago was telling me about how he treats animals in the city of Porto, and Beatriz was holding my hair and speaking out loud the French verb “to fly.”
Then I fell asleep on a bench in the park near the Eiffel Tower, and Tiago covered me with his leather coat, sat at my feet on the ground and started playing the song Tico Tico no fuba on the ukulele. Beatriz ran to the nearest ticket office and bought tickets to Versailles and to the river tram. I said that I could neither go to Versailles nor take a ride on the water tram. But Tiago and Beatriz lifted me from the bench, gave me mineral water to drink, and together we boarded the river tram.
I looked down into the depths of the Seine River. I was looking for my tears there. You’ve always been genuinely surprised by the fact that I can’t cry. And one day, after drinking a little and becoming bolder, you looked at me sadly, as seriously as ever, аnd said that I would not cry even when you die. You, nasty medium, told me that if you die, I will not shed a single tear. You were right, almost… Then I asked you to change the subject immediately and you asked me to dance.
The music started to play on the waterbus: it was Joe Dassin’s “Et si tu n’existais pas”. My heart jumped in my chest. It was your favorite song. You listened to it on the record player for days and nights. And then again, and again, and again. “And if you did not exist, tell me why I would exist? To hang out in a world without you, without hope and without regrets” …
I raised my head and looked at the city: Lord, how divine it was. Buildings, like princes at a ball, looked at me with bated breath, as if they wanted to invite me to a dance. These architectural masterpieces, churches, domes, bridges and roofs were so beautiful, so graceful and spiritual that I reached out my hand and agreed to dance. I closed my eyes and danced, so tender, so sweet and so bitter at the same time. I was wrapped in memories of a teacher in the mountainous village of Omalo, where you went, ran away from love for me, ran away from us.
When I opened my eyes, Tiago was dancing with me, and Beatriz was hugging me from behind and crying. It’s my fault. I told them all about you. I told them how we met in Tbilisi, how we had a great time together and how you then decided to go to the mountains and become a teacher. In this you saw the meaning of your life. Life has been so unfair to you.


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