The magical mystery day wasn’t going to end there. After the lessons, there was an event awaiting us and no less intriguing than the arrival of a new teacher. Some time ago, Klaus had sent a letter to the Beatles fan club, the real one, in Britain. He’d found its address in a Polish youth magazine that our school library subscribed to. Somehow Klaus mastered this language, too. “A real treat for an amateur decoder,” – he laughed it off. “The Ukrainian language written in English letters!” Still, he’d been hesitant to send the letter by regular mail. Yes, there was Gorbi13 with his perestroika, “new thinking” and all that … but somewhere out there, in Moscow. However, our faraway city life went on as usual. Nobody fought with the “pernicious influence of the West,” as it had been a few years ago, so Klaus decided to play it safe. He’d handed the package to one of his father’s friends, a master mariner, whom he jokingly called Captain Flint, asked him to send it to the addressee in the nearest foreign port. To his letter he added a compact cassette with the Beatles’ songs he recorded by himself with a guitar on his home tape recorder. With pirate cunning, Captain Flint smuggled all this stuff through customs, and now, it seemed, the reward had found our hero.
It just couldn’t be otherwise because the day before Klaus had discovered in his mailbox a post office receipt with his name on a registered letter from London. Assuming the possible consequences of such correspondence, Klaus secretly told the news only to me and our bass player Nikita, who was studying in a parallel class in our school. Our keyboardist Gosha went to another school, so we decided to show him the letter in the evening at rehearsal. No time to traipse through half the city. Every minute is precious! For that matter, it was unclear whether they would give us the letter without inquiries or start asking questions right at the post office.
Hardly waiting for the end of the last lesson, we stood for some time at the trolleybus stop, then went on foot, shifting over to a speed-walk. The trolleybus caught up with us, and the rest of the way we rode. Somehow, we travelled the whole way in silence. I thought I could hear Klaus’s heart pounding. He, however, tried to look carefree and only fiddled with his passport. At the post office, approaching the window, he took a deep breath and handed the receipt and passport to a post office clerk with thick square glasses. She sighed and waddled off to a dimly lit room at the back of the room. We waited in silence. Before long she returned with a thick package in her hands.
Klaus put his signature on the blank, took back his passport, and we went outside. The envelope’s thick brown paper sported a row of stamps, again with a lady, but not with glasses – this time with a tiara.
“See this, guys?” he pointed excitedly at the envelope. On its right side, below the stamps, was written clearly by hand…Mr. Nicholas Motrych!
“Nicholas, that’s it! Any idea who that might be?”
We looked around the street. No one was going to arrest us, neither the militsiya nor the KGB seemed to have any interest in our little adventure.
“Let’s go back and open it in the school park,” said Klaus. “We aren’t supposed to open it right here, are we?”
No sooner had we gotten off the trolleybus than we saw Alisa, apparently returning from school and leisurely strolling down the park’s central alley. Klaus was the first to notice her.
“Look, Kit!” he said to Nikita, “Our new anglichanka.14 Instead of Roza.”
“And where is Roza?”
“Sort of called it quits.”
“Emigrated, or what? And they let her out, did they?”
“Why not? Isn’t she a secret physicist… or a rocket scientist?”
“Good for them, these émigrés,” Kit sighed. “Fade away quietly abroad, without a sound.”
“Probably they do exactly that,” agreed Klaus. “You know what, guys? Let’s show Alisa our letter!”
Nikita looked at him in bewilderment.
“You say! Mind playing “Zeppelins” to direktrysa?”
“Don’t worry, she’s a cool dudette.” Klaus stood up for the young teacher. “Gave us ‘fives’, me and Igor…we read her ‘Penny Lane’.”
“Fives – for that?” Kit repeated incredulously.
“You bet!” confirmed Klaus, and shouted at the top of his voice:
“Alisa Arturovna! Alisa Arturovna!” With the stress on the second syllable.
She stopped abruptly, as if expecting some kind of catch again, this time less innocent.
“Back to school, guys?” she asked at last.
“Back to the USSR! And we mean it!” said Klaus in an excited tone, and seeing that she hadn’t grasped it, handed her the envelope.
She turned the letter from London in her hands while listening to his story. Eyeing Klaus intently for some time, she finally said in a serious tone:
“Da, eto postupok”15 and then, to my great surprise, added the phrase Klaus has said just minutes ago, almost word for word: “Let’s go to my place and read it. I live nearby. We aren’t going to open it right here, are we?”
(…to be continued…)
14. Russian: Englishwoman (informal name of the English language teacher)
15. Russian: That’s a real act!
2021: Conceived – Volume 2 of a Contemporary Transadaptation
January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)
February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)
March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)
April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)
May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)
June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)
July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)
August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)
September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)
October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)
November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)
December: I Can’t Breathe – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)
Background – Context
In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: Odessa, Ukraine – On Potemkin steps – Pink Candy (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed