Svetlana Molchanova

It’s getting colder. I desperately try to keep warm by rubbing my hands and hopping on both feet. It must seem like ridiculous behavior in a grown woman, but no one cares. My eyes become watery, and my nose, I guess, turns crimson. At last, I manage to squeeze myself into the fifth bus. It is not a direct one. I will have to transfer to get to my destination, but as long as I am in a place where it is a bit warmer, I do not care. There are way more people in the bus than are allowed onboard. I stand on one foot and am not able to reach the handle, but nonetheless I am in no danger of falling: The bus is so packed that I have no room to fall.

A young girl at the back tries to push her way to the exit but fails. “Push harder,” some passengers advise her, “then you’ll manage to bulldoze your way out.” But the girl is no bulldozer, so she is forced to go two or three extra stops before the crowd gets a little thinner and lets her out.

It is nice that they have a bus map displayed on the window, so I know when our paths will separate and I will have to descend. Then I will catch a minibus called a marshrutka. It will drive me to the industrial and residential outskirts of the city, where, for kilometers, the road goes along the railway, separated from the latter by a wall. This wall is covered with graffiti art so one will always have something to look at when travelling into this otherwise dull area. A girl with a tear-drop is depicted next to some aliens, with the city skyline in the background. This painting is followed by a dachshund with a bun on the side and ketchup on top. My favorite is a 3D ruby rose.

A couple of guys with a rusty piece of white goods get on the bus, completely blocking the only door. The driver starts to protest, but the guys assure him that they’ll get off at the next stop, which is just opposite the scrapyard they are heading to. “Helped my auntie get rid of an old stove,” one of them explained. “She really is a nice old body.” The driver sighs and shakes his head, but says nothing. “I thought my heart was made of stone,” he continues, addressing his pal now, “but then I met this girl. She’s such a charming little thing. Sorry, buddy, don’t got no money on me,” he says turning to the driver when they arrive at the stop. The driver seems to be glad to see the last of them, even though he has gained nothing.

It starts to get warmer as we approach the flare of a local refinery. It is burning day and night, and the few locals still residing in the area joke that they need neither lanterns outside nor central heating inside. The buildings here are dark gray with soot, and the sky is orange from the glare. The whiff of burning rubber is in the air. The pipes here have always been molten hot, and we used to heat our sandwiches on them when I was a kid. Now the community around the refinery is in decay as people are moving out. Stray dogs have come to take their place, their barking heard round the clock.

I am addressed by a woman asking about her stop. I explain that she will have to get off at the stop after the next one. She can’t hear me properly, so I speak up. The driver, overhearing, butts in and says: “It is five speed bumps away.” I chuckle, but the woman looks puzzled. “We’ve just crossed one sleeping policeman, and there are five more and then it’s your stop,” he explains. You can always feel it when a bus rides over a speed bump as you bounce up and down. I used to like it when I was a schoolgirl and would have a back seat if given an option to experience this sensation in full, but nowadays I would rather enjoy a smooth ride.

Finally, I arrive at the destination and get off. It is quite dark already and the street is poorly lit with lanterns. I summon my courage and start walking as briskly as I can up a narrow path trampled in the snow. But my progress is rather slow as the path is uneven. Time and again I step into the knee-deep snow giving way to anyone heading in the opposite direction. The street is built up with Khrushchyovkas, drab gray five-storied apartment buildings from the 1960s (the Khrushchev era) with low-cost tiny flats. The only bright spots are the shop signs of the outlets located on the ground floor. Huge icicles are hanging from the roofs, and I put my hood up over a fluffy bobble beanie to have some extra protection, just in case. Anyway, it is freezing, and frost is the best protection against falling icicles… apart from clearing snow off the roofs.

After climbing up what locals call a mountain, I have to go down the metal staircase. I cling to the banister, descending carefully. Although the stairs have been cleared of snow, there is still a thin layer of ice on them. They run to a lane with garages on both sides. The garages are used not only for cars, but also as a getaway or a mental health retreat for men. The only way out for pedestrians or cars alike is down the remaining third of the slope that kids use for sledding in winter. The snow here is packed hard. A sled might have come in handy. It would have allowed me to get to the bottom in an instant. Instead, I start moving sideways, carefully, pausing after every step. If I fall down and hurt myself, chances are, I won’t be found till morning. “Stop speculating,” I say to myself. “There’s only a little way to go.”

At last, I reach the foot of the hill. I really doubt any car can make it down in winter.

The most trying part of my journey is over, and I reach a small detached house at the end of the street without much difficulty. I ring the doorbell and, when the hostess answers the door, say hello.

“Hi, Katia. We’ve been waiting for you for ages!”

“Sorry. It’s been a really long trip.”

Transadaptation Volume 4 – Material Dissent

January: A Blinding Light and Then, All Darkness – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Opportunist – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

March: A Stranger in my City – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

April: A South African Soundtrack – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Full Circle – Ina Maria Vogel (Germany)

June: La Lluvia en Bogotá – Adriana Uribe (Columbia)

July: Freedom – Krisztina Janosi (Hungary)

August: A Bus Ride – Svetlana Molchanova (Russia)

September: Transcendence – Armine Asryan (Nane Sevunts) (Armenia)

October: Motherhood – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

November: Nine Days – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

December: Open – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 3: Evanescent – Young Adulthood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2022)

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: 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

Credits (left side, middle – top to bottom, right side)

1. Engels, Russia – The City Park – Natavilman (Shutterstock); 2. Saratov, Russia – At the hairdresser – Tramp (Shutterstock); 3. Saratov, Russia – Kirov avenue – Fire-fly (Shutterstock); 4. Saratov, Russia – The bus – trolleway (Shutterstock); 5. Saratov, Russia – Drawing on asphalt – White Fox (Shutterstock); 6. Saratov, Russia – Setting – Anastasiia R. (Unsplash); 7. Saratov, Russia – Sledding – White Fox (Shutterstock); 8. Saratov, Russia – Chernyshevsky Square – Fire-fly (Shutterstock)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

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