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And the light shines in the darkness

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And the light shines in the darkness

(In memory of my godmother Nina Georgievna Bruni)

Now, as I write these lines, nothing is left of the life that I try to reproduce.

Only the Green Book.

Either time so skillfully erases any presence of details of a past era from people's lives, or objects and people themselves are so short-lived, but the past thirty-two years plunged into the abyss of nothingness the whole material world that surrounded me then, the whole real world that was by me, leaving only a haze of memories. Which, and I must admit, it is quite possible, are already more than half the fruit of my imagination.

What remained true, strong and unchanging from there, from that life, past, sunken, past?

Green book. Green book.

Yes, now, when I am writing these lines, nothing has remained of the life that I am trying to reproduce, but the Green Book lies next to me. She hardly suffered from time. The first few pages are wrinkled, but the binding is frayed on the spine …

*

Even her name seemed inconspicuous to me. Well, what is Ira? Boredom. We all in our company (or, as they said then, a party) had sonorous names, bright English-language nicknames. Sometimes they were received for some reason, sometimes because of some incident. And more often they thought up for themselves. In Moscow, Peter, Lviv, Minsk, and throughout the USSR, many Steves, Litlovs, Jones, Freds went …

Bizarre nicknames, which were added to the name, were also missing. Mike Chernukha, Jura Terrorist, Misha Krasnoshtan, Lesha the Hobbit, Ira Sky and many, many others immediately come to mind …

So when she introduced herself, simply calling herself Ira, without any prefix, I even frowned.

Well, what is Ira?

Boredom.

*

I’m trying to remember where in the apartment where we spent the night reading the Green Book, there was a crowbar with which I drove the Boatswain, and I can’t, but I remember for sure that the crowbar was there. There was also an old round table without a tablecloth, with a worktop swollen from dampness and age, the same decrepit Viennese chair and a sofa without legs …

The boatswain appeared unexpectedly and ordered Ira to pack up. He was much older than me, I think, about ten years or more, so at that time he was about thirty. The boatswain was nicknamed him for a kind of "skipper" beard, which he apparently greatly appreciated and followed …

There was nothing more outstanding in it. This man, a completely civil engineer, who has a very distant relationship with our party, was Irin's lover. Having met with her somewhere, he was playing passionate love while being married, and Iru kept here, on a hippy flat, in a non-residential apartment on the first floor. On the second floor lived the famous hippie couple Pasha and Masha. Their “flat” was a party place day and night, but often had to spend the night on the ground floor.

So, that evening, the Boatswain was clearly dissatisfied with something. Either by the fact that he didn’t get along at home, or by Ira, or by my neighborhood with her.

The scandal that erupted behind the wall took serious forms. I heard screams, the sounds of a struggle. Apparently, Ira did not want to pack up. I was alarmed. Honestly, it was from what. Despite the peace declarations, our society was brutally brutal. Sometimes cruelty came to complete savagery.

But so far it has been a simple fuss. Perhaps it will break off, screaming, slapping the slaps, or, even better, the sounds of love, as has often happened.

However, after a couple of minutes I heard a man scream, as if the Boatswain had hit himself on the finger with a hammer, and after a couple of moments Ira flew into my room.

*

Outwardly, she was nondescript. Such an ordinary curly girl from the third desk. When I first saw her, I thought: "She has no place among us." No place among the bright and squalid, among the ugly and beautiful.

Ira was an ordinary sparrow. Correct facial features, thin pointed nose, gray eyes …

Now, when I try to reproduce that ghostly life that broke into small fragments, mixed with road dust and disappeared in time, I can remember a lot, but not her face. I hardly remember her face.

Only her thin, almost transparent hands with pale palms and white fingers. And in her hands, a bright spot, I see – Green Book.

*

It was evening when Ira ran into my room.

The yellow, faint light bulb that burned under the ceiling made all surrounding objects cloudy and unsteady. But even in this unsteadiness, the blood on Irina's lips was clearly visible. Red mark on upper and lower lip. And on the cheek on the left.

She only had to take two steps and pressed against the wall opposite from me, as the boatswain entered the door.

*

The boatswain was a small man. And, as I now think, not too confident. He pretended to patronize Ira.

Tightened and neat, which was rare in our midst, as well as domineering, he entered his room as if to his own home.

– Let's go! He said to Ira.

This blood is on her cheek and lips … And she looks scared, driven out.

“You need to say hello,” I said. “And permission to ask when you want to go into someone else's room.” Decent boys always do that.

“They forgot to ask you, pioneer,” said the Boatswain, and, two steps away, next to Ira, grabbed her hand.

*

I’m trying to remember where the crowbar came from in that apartment, and I can’t. Yes, and does it matter?

We lived in an incorrect, unsteady, like muddy light of a fifty-watt light bulb, world. There was chaos in him. Instead of a crowbar, an ax could have appeared; instead of Ira, any other hippus …

I grabbed a crowbar and hit them on the round table. Bolt. The table folded in half and fell apart. The second blow fell on the Vienna chair – the back splashed with a fountain of chips.

I had nothing more to break, and I threw a crowbar at the Boatswain. Fortunately, he missed. Rather, the crowbar, having hit the door jamb, bounced off, hit the Boatswain in the shoulder and crashed into the parquet with a ringing.

Absolutely stunned by the deed, I suddenly sat quietly on the sofa, saying:

– When you enter, you have to say hello. “It was Boatswain's impoliteness, not the battered girl, that caused a flash of my anger.”

The boatswain held onto his shoulder and looked at us. "Now he will raise the crowbar and …".

But the boatswain did not begin to lift anything.

He looked at me dumbfounded, then looked at Ira.

“Young idiots.” Now the cops will come!

*

Turned around and left. And we stayed.

I looked at Ira, who was still huddling against the wall.

“The cops won't come.” The precinct was on Wednesday. We give them a damn. Maximum Pashka will wake up.

– He won’t wake up. He is in the cut.

– Then at all. Let's sleep, ”I suggested.

“Wait,” Ira said. “I'm scared there.” May I sit with you?

I thought about it. Relations in our party were free, but I had just begun an affair with a completely home sweet girl Sasha, and I did not want to change.

– No no. We read aloud, ”Ira said. – Just read it.

– read?

– Well yes. You have a big sofa. I have a pillow and a plaid. And the lamp. I still have a lamp there. Small. And we turn off the big light. We lay down on the sofa, and I read to you. Do you want

I suddenly thought that nothing could be better. Lamp. Pillow. Plaid. Girl. And what else is there? Oh yes, the book.

– What are we going to read? Which book?

“Green,” she said, and went into her room.

*

The book was indeed a voluminous folio of green. Ira settled comfortably on the couch, wrapped in a plaid, and began to read in the light of the lamp.

*

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. It was at the beginning of God.

Everything through Him began to be, and without Him nothing began to be, what began to be. In Him was life, and life was the light of men.

And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it "…

*

It was the gospel of John.

I have never read or heard this before.

Once my father gave me a rare book to read – “The Master and Margarita”, saying that in it one can learn about Christ. But I liked that hero the least. It was a miserable and flat compared to Woland and Homeless character who muttered something ….

That night I heard quite a bit, but already in the second chapter I realized that the one whom the Green Book is talking about is very different from Bulgakov’s character. He was generally different from everyone about whom I had heard and read so far. The man, who…

“Having made a scourge of ropes, he drove everyone out of the temple, also sheep and oxen; and he scattered money with the exchangers, and overturned their tables ”

… was completely alive. I not only saw and felt everything that was happening, but also understood that I had encountered some hitherto unprecedented truth. With a reality that certainly existed, but had nothing to do with my world. I could not say this and explain. Right now, just like that, right now Christ, just like in the Green Book, turned water into wine at the request of his mother. And right now, the boatswain was undergoing a medical examination at the emergency room. He was walking on water right now and reproaching the little believers; right now, drug addict Pasha was lying a floor higher on the couch, rolling something into his vein, and at the same time, Christ fed five thousand people with bread. Right now, the Boatswain was writing a statement at the police station, and right now the warriors were weaving a crown of thorns for Christ …

Everything that happened in the Green Book was real reality. And this reality not only did not come into contact with mine, but suddenly made my life kind of fake, faded, ugly.

It was a deep night in the yard when we finished reading. I looked at Ira and, wanting to hide the shock, asked …

*

“This is for you,” Ira said. And she gave me the Green Book. “For protecting me.” She will always be with you now.

– Why?

– Because we found each other. We are all like children who are lost. And they seek each other in the darkness.

– Where did you get this book from?

– Took out of the house when running away. This is father’s book …

“And he …” I wanted to ask, but I did not know how.

– He is a priest. Pop, in your opinion.

“Did he read you this book?”

– Yes.

“And yet you ran away from him?” Or did he die?

– No, he began to drink. I do not like when he drinks.

– Many drink actually. Some stick out …

– You see, in his case it was …

– Wrong? – I wanted to help.

“No,” she shook her head. And I thought. – You see, we also read with him … And it turns out …

“Did he betray it all?”

– Yes.

*

We did not sleep that night. And, whether it is necessary to add, did not touch each other. We talked about the book, I asked a lot of questions, Ira, it turns out, she knew a lot …

– It seems that I understood almost everything, but this woman with whom Christ spoke about water … It’s very difficult there …

“Did you like this chapter too?” About meeting with Samaryanka?

– Yes, only she is some mysterious.

“The water that I will give him will become in him a source of water flowing into eternal life,” Ira quoted and suddenly smiled broadly. A smile transformed her face for a moment with traces of beatings. She all seemed to be lit up by that smile.

“And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it,” I thought for some reason.

*

The police appeared in the morning. They took us.

When we were taken away, Ira whispered that when they let me out, I could pick up the Green Book for myself. She pointed her eyes at the windowsill.

Yes. The green book was lying there.

Ira seems to have been released quickly, having taken evidence. I, as already having a psychiatric article, were sent to the fifteenth hospital.

I left in a couple of months, and then everything was as I already described in other stories. I returned home to my parents. Then he came to flat to Pashka. He died of an overdose. I managed to get to the first floor, but, of course, the Green Book was not there. It was foolish to think that Irin would wait for me in this brothel. He did not wait for me, as did Ira. She disappeared. Perhaps she returned home to her father. To be honest, I hope so. I even want to add something like that. But perhaps I won’t. In that life, meeting and parting was forever normal. In the end, we remained only children looking for each other in the darkness …

In the darkness we met and parted, forever disappearing into darkness.

That summer, I was baptized at home with my sincerely believing aunt.

The priest was pleased with my knowledge of the gospel. And almost no one noticed how surprised I was when, after completing the Sacrament, my aunt handed me a present.

It was the Bible of the sowing edition. The cover is green.

*

She will always be with me now.

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