Friday, 9 May 2014

...of the end of a life

The little girls who were sitting or lying on the stove looked down without blinking. There seemed to be so many of them, they were like cherubs in the clouds. They liked the stories, sighed, shuddered and turned pale with delight or fear. Breathlessly they listened to Grannie's stories, which were the most interesting, and they were frightened to move a muscle. All of them lay down to sleep without saying a word. The old people, excited and disturbed by the stories, thought about the beauty of youth, now that it was past: no matter what it had really been like, they could only remember it as bright, joyful and moving. And now they thought of the terrible chill of death - and for them death was not far away. Better not to think about it! The lamp went out. The darkness, the two windows sharply outlined in the moonlight, the silence and the creaking cradle somehow reminded them that their lives were finished, nothing could bring them back. Sometimes one becomes drowsy and doses off, and suddenly someone touches you on the shoulder, breathes on your cheek and you can sleep no longer, your whole body goes numb, and you can think of nothing but death. You turn over and death is forgotten; but then the same old depressing, tedious thoughts keep wandering around in your head - thoughts of poverty, cattle fodder, about the higher price of flour and a little later you remember once again that life has gone, that you can never relive it.

[Peasants, Chekhov, A.]

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