17. The result
In the morning when I went to breakfast as usual, I had only to stretch out my hand to get the heavy
glass cup and it moved sharply toward me, spilling some milk on the table. I felt a bit ill at ease. I tried again, the cup moved again. Then
I thought about the bread. Two slices next to me jumped and fell down on the floor. Frankly speaking, my hair began to stand on end.
Not because I was frightened. I was not afraid of almost anything then, but because it was something so very "earthly" and precise; it was
right here and I had absolutely no idea how to control it.
I tried to calm down, took a deep breath and tried again. This time I did not try to touch anything, but decided only to think of what
I wanted – for example, I wanted a cup in my hand. Certainly, it did not happen; it just sharply moved. But I rejoiced!!! My whole being
squealed with delight, because I understood that, moving sharply or not, it happened just at my mental wish! It was awesome!
Certainly, at once I wanted to try the "novelty" on all the living and lifeless "objects" I could find.
My grandma was within easy reach, placidly preparing her next culinary "masterpiece" in the kitchen. It was very quiet; my grandma
murmured a song to herself, as suddenly a heavy cast-iron frying pan jumped like a bird from the stove and fell on the floor with a terribly
loud sound. Grandma jumped up in surprise almost like the pan, but to give her due, she settled down at once and said:
– Stop it!
I felt slightly offended, because it had already become a family habit that I was always found guilty of whatever happened in the
house (although this time, it certainly was, absolutely true).
– Why do you think it was me? – I asked, pouting.
– Well, as far as I know we don't have ghosts here, – she said calmly.
I loved her very much for her imperturbability and steadfast calmness. It seemed that nothing in this world could truly get her out of
the groove. Although, of course, there were things which distressed, surprised, or made her sad, but she accepted everything with surprising
calmness, and therefore I always felt very comfortable and protected with her. Somehow I suddenly felt that my grandma showed some
interest in my last "trick". My gut feeling was that she observed me and waited for something more. Well, I certainly did not keep her
waiting long. In a few seconds all the utensils which hung over the stove flew down with a terrible noisy crash right after the frying
– Well, well. It is much easier to break than to build; you’d better do something useful, – my grandma said calmly.
I almost suffocated with indignation! Just imagine! How could she treat this "unbelievable event" so calmly?! Doesn’t she see that
this is such... SUCH an event!!! I could not explain how much this "SUCH" was, but I was absolutely sure that one should not
treat what had just happened so calmly. My indignation made not the slightest impression on my grandma, and she said, again in her calm
– It’s pretty useless to spend that much force on what can be easily done with your hands. You’d better go and read something.
My indignation had no limits! I could not understand why she was not totally delighted with that which seemed to me such an
awesome thing? Unfortunately, I still was too small then to understand that all these impressive "outer effects" in reality gave nothing
but the "outer effects" themselves. And the essence of producing them is just to "befog" trustful and impressionable people's minds
with "the mysticism of the inexplicable", and my grandma, naturally, was not this kind of person. But because I had not yet grown to such
understanding, I was only eager to find out what else I could move. Therefore, feeling no regret whatsoever, I left my gran who did not
"understand" me to search for a new object of my "experiments".
A beautiful grey cat, Grishka, dad's favourite pet, lived with us then. I found him sweetly sleeping on the warm stove and decided that
it was a very good opportunity to try my new "skill". I thought that it would be better, if he sat on the window-sill. Nothing happened. I
concentrated and added more strength to my thought... Poor Grishka flew from the stove with a wild howl and struck his head on the
window-sill. I felt such pity for him and was so ashamed, that I rushed to pick him up with an enormous sense of guilt. But for some
reason the cat's hair bristled up and he ran away from me full pelt meowing loudly, as if scalded with boiling water.
It was quite a shock for me. I did not understand what had happened and why Grishka suddenly disliked me so violently, we had
been such very good friends before. I chased after him almost all day long, but, regrettably, I failed to get his forgiveness. Grishka's
strange behaviour lasted four days, and then our adventure was forgotten, and all was well again, but nevertheless it made me reflect
upon it and I now understood that sometimes I could do harm with my unusual "abilities" even without wishing it.
After this event I began treat everything that unexpectedly manifested in me with more seriousness and "experimented" much more
carefully. Of course, in the following days I became obsessed with the idea of moving things. I tried to move mentally everything that
caught my eye and sometimes got deplorable results.
For example, I watched in horror how the shelves, neatly set with dad's very expensive books, fell down on the floor and I tried to
put everything back with my shaky hands as quickly as possible because books were "sacred" objects in our house and before I could
take them, I must deserve them. Fortunately, my dad was not at home then and "the storm passed" this time.
Another very funny and at the same time sad event happened with dad's aquarium. As far back as I can remember, my father was
always keen on fish and dreamed that one fine day he would construct a large aquarium (which later he did); but then we had only a
goldfish bowl with a few multicoloured fish in it. But even such small "piece of nature" gave joy to my dad's heart and everybody, incuding
me, looked after it with great pleasure.
One "ill-fated" day, when I passed by my dad's aquarium, being extremely busy with my "moving" thoughts, I accidentally looked at
the fish and felt sorry that the poor things had such a little place to live in. The bowl suddenly began to vibrate and burst to my great
horror, pouring water all over the room. Before the poor fish had time to be scared, our cat, being extremely happy about such a sudden
stroke of luck right out of the blue, ate them. I felt truly sad, because I did not want to distress my dad, even less to take somebody's tiny life.
That evening I waited for my dad in a very poor state – I was ashamed of my foolish blunder and although I knew that nobody would
punish me for it, I was sick at heart. I gradually came to understand that some of my "talents" could be very unsafe in certain circumstances,
but unfortunately, I did not know how to control them and was anxious more and more because some of my actions could be quite
unforeseeable and possibly have unintended and undesirable consequences.
But I was only a curious nine-year old girl then and could not be upset for long because of lost fishes, even though it had been my fault.
I zealously continued to move all objects I saw and was unspeakably glad of any unusual manifestation in my "research" practice.
Thus, one wonderful morning during breakfast my cup unexpectedly hung in the air right in front of me and continued to do so, and I
had no idea how to let it down. My grandma was in the kitchen at that moment, and I feverishly tried to find something to fix the thing in
order not to blush again and explain myself, expecting to hear her words of complete disapproval. But the stubborn cup did not want to
come back to the table. On the contrary, it suddenly glided and, as if teasing me, began to make wide circles over it, and I was unable to
My grandma came back into the room and froze on the threshold with her cup in her hand. Of course I rushed to explain that "it just
flies, for no particular reason" and "isn’t it really beautiful"? In short, I tried to find a way out of this situation, in order not to appear
helpless. And suddently I was very ashamed of myself. I saw that my grandma knew that I simply could not find the solution to
the problem and was trying to "mask" my ignorance with unnecessary and pretty words. Then, being indignant with myself, I gathered all
my "wounded" pride and quickly blurted:
– Well, I don't know why it flies! And I don't know how to let it down!
Granny looked at me, her face serious and suddenly very joyfully said:
– Try then! This is what your mind is given to you for.
A load off my mind! I hated to seem clumsy, especially, when it came to my "strange" abilities. And I tried... from morning till evening,
until I flopped out being absolutely exhausted.
A sage once said that there are three ways conducive to higher reason: the way of reflection is the noblest, imitation is the easiest and
one’s own experience is the heaviest. For some reason I always chose the third way and my poor "neck" truly suffered because of my
But sometimes the game truly was "worth the candle" and my unremitting toil was crowned with success and at last it happened
with moving things. Soon I could move any object; they flew, dropped and rose when I wished, and it already did not seem difficult
to control that, except in one case, a huge omission of mine, which to my regret happened at school – the thing I always honestly tried
to avoid. I did not need additional rumours about my "oddities", especially among my schoomates!
My being far too relaxed was the reason for the vexatious event, which was absolutely inexcusable in this situation, taking
account of my "moving" abilities. But we all make big or small mistakes once and, as they say, learn by them. Although, frankly speaking,
I would prefer to learn some other way...
The teacher Gibiene was my form-mistress then. She was a gentle and kind woman and all the schoolchildren sincerely adored her.
Her son Remi was in our class. Unfortunately, he was a very spoiled and unpleasant boy. He always despised everybody and mocked
the girls and was constantly tittle-tattling about his classmates to his mother. I was always surprised at the fact that, being such an open,
clever and pleasant person, his mother could not or did not want to see the real face of her darling offspring. Maybe, it is true that love
can sometimes be blind, and in this case it was truly blind.
That ill-starred day Remi came to school already being "wound up" and at once began to search for a scapegoat to vent all his
accumulated malice on. Of course, I was "lucky" enough to appear exactly within striking distance at that moment, and because we
did not like each other very much from the very beginning, I became the ideal object for the wreaking of his discontent with God knows
I don't want to seem biased, but not a single class-mate, even the most fearful one, blamed me for what happened a few minutes
later. And even those who did not like me much were very pleased to the bottom of their hearts that there was someone at last who
braved the "thunderstorm" of an indignant mother and taught an arrogant bully a good lesson. Frankly speaking, the lesson turned out
to be cruel enough, and if I had had the choice to repeat it, I probably would not have done such a thing again to him. But no matter
how much I felt shame and pity, I have to admit that the lesson was very well learnt and the hapless "usurper" never again showed any
inclination to terrorize the class.
On choosing his "victim", as he thought, Remi headed straight toward me and I understood that conflict, regrettably, could not be
avoided. He began to bug me, as he always did and suddenly something in me broke out. Maybe it happened because I had been
subconsciously waiting for it a long time? Or maybe I was sick and tired of bearing his insolent behaviour all the time, without any
comeback? One way or another, the next second he got a strong blow in his chest, which threw him from his desk to the blackboard
and, on flying in the air about three meters, plopped down on the floor like a squealing sack.
I never knew how I could perform this blow. The point is that I did not touch Remi at all – it was a pure energy blow,
but I can not explain even now how I managed to do it. An indescribable havoc spread among the class – somebody squeaked in fright,
somebody yelled that it was necessary to call the ambulance and somebody rushed to bring the teacher, because whatever he was, he was
her now "disabled" son. I stood in a frozen stupor, wondering what I had done and not understanding how it had
Remi moaned on the floor, making himself out to be the almost dying victim, which really horrified me. I had no idea how strong the
blow was and therefore could not know even approximately whether he was playing to take revenge on me or he truly felt that bad.
Somebody called the ambulance, the teacher-mother came, and I still stood stiff as a poker, unable to talk, so strong was the emotional
– Why have you done that? – The teacher asked.
I looked into her eyes and could not pronounce a word. Not because I was unaware of what to say, but because I still could not
come back to myself from the terrible shock of what I had done.
I can not say what the teacher saw in my eyes, but the violent indignation which everyone so expected did not follow,
more precisely, nothing happened at all. Somehow she managed to control her indignation and calmly told us to sit down
and began the lesson. Just like that! As if nothing happened, although it was her son who was a victim!
I could not understand it (nobody could), and I could not calm down because I felt very guilty. It would have been far easier for
me, if she had shouted at me or expelled me from the class. I perfectly understood that she must be very offended over what had
happened and it was very unpleasant for her that it was exactly me who did that, because before the incident she always treated me
very well, and now she had to make a quick (and preferably "faultless"!) decision regarding me. I also knew that she was worried about
her son, because we still had no news about his state.
I did not remember how the lesson passed. Time hung heavy and it seemed that there would be no end to it. Finally the bell rang
and I came to the teacher at once and said that I was so sorry about the incident, but that I honestly did not understand how it could
happen. I do not know whether she knew something about my strange abilities or she just saw something in my eyes, but she somehow
understood that nobody would be able to punish me more than I had already punished myself.
– Go and prepare for the next lesson, everything will be all right, – she said nothing more.
I shall never forget that terribly painful hour of expectation, while we waited for news from the hospital. I felt very frightened and
alone, and this awful recollection was forever printed on my memory. I was guilty of an "attempt" on somebody's life!!! It did
not matter whether it happened by chance or unintentionally. It was a Human Life, and it could have abruptly come to an end through
my action, albeit inadvertent. Certainly, I had no right whatsoever to do that.
As it turned out to my enormous relief, nothing terrible happened to our "terrorist-class-mate" except for getting a good fright. He
got off with just a small bump and already the next day sat at his desk; only this time he was quiet as a mouse and, to everybody's
satisfaction, undertook no "vindictive" action toward me. The world was wonderful again!!! I could breathe freely, without feeling that
terrible guilt, which recently hung so heavily on me and which would have poisoned my whole existence for many long years, if a
different reply had come from the hospital.
Certainly, the bitter sense of reproach and deep regret for what I had done still shattered my peace and quiet, but that terrible genuine
sense of fear, which held my whole being in its cold grip until we got positive news, left my perturbed soul. It seemed that everything was
all right again. However, this ill-starred incident left such a deep print in my heart that I could not even hear about anything "unusual". I
pushed aside the least manifestation of any "oddity" in me, and as soon as I felt that something "strange" began to show up, I tried to
suppress it, preventing myself from being involved in a whirlpool of any sudden dangerous activity.
I honestly tried to be the most ordinary "normal" child: I went to school (and studied even more than usual!), read a lot, more often
went to the cinema with friends, diligently attended my favourite musical school… and continuously felt a deep aching emptiness in my
soul which any of those studies and pastimes were unable to fill, even if I honestly tried to do my best.
But days raced past one another and everything "bad and frightful" gradually began to be forgotten. Time healed big and small scars
in my child's heart and, like they say, absolutely correctly, truly appeared to be the best and most reliable healer. I began to come back to
life and little by little returned to my usual "abnormal" state which I had terribly missed all this time.
Not without reason do they say that even the heaviest burden is not so heavy for us only because it ours. It appeared that I longed for
my "abnormalities" which became usual and normal for me and, unfortunately, made me suffer quite often...
That winter I acquired the next new "abnormality" which, probably, can be called self-anaesthesia. Regrettably, it disappeared
as quickly as it appeared. Just as very many of my "strange" manifestations which suddenly and very brightly opened in me did and then
disappeared, leaving only good or bad recollections in my enormous personal "brain archive". But even that short time, when this "novelty"
was "active", was enough for two quite interesting events to happen.
The winter had already come and my class-mates began more often to go to a skating rink. I was not a big fan of figure-skating (more
precisely, I preferred to watch it), but our skating rink was so beautiful that I simply liked to be there. It was arranged every winter on the
town's stadium which was built right in the forest (as was a greater part of our town) and was surrounded by a high brick wall which made
it look like a diminutive city.
An enormous beautifully decorated new-year tree was there already from October and the wall around the stadium was decorated
with hundreds of multicoloured bulbs the reflections of which interlaced on the ice like a very beautiful shining carpet. Pleasant music
sounded there every evening. All that created an agreeable festive atmosphere which nobody would wish to leave. All the children from
our street went there and of course, I went with them. So, the accident about which I would like to tell you happened precisely on one of
those pleasant quiet evenings.
Usually we skated making a chain of three or four children, because it was not quite safe to skate alone. The reason for that was a
number of boys who came every evening to play a nasty "catching" game. They spoiled everybody's enjoyment and were disliked by all.
Several of them would join together and, skating very quickly, try to catch the girls and knock them off their feet. The girls were usually
unable to withstand the blow and fell onto the ice. It was all accompanied by laughter and whooping, which many found foolish, but, for
some reason, nobody made any attempt to stop.
It always surprised me, that among so many almost adult guys nobody was angered enough or at least touched by this situation to
feel forced into to producing some kind of counteraction. Maybe they were, but fear was stronger. There is a foolish saying: "Being
cheeky is fun". So, these "catchers" took others prisoner by their frankly not funny insolent behaviour. It happened every night and
nobody even tried to stop these obnoxious fellows.
One evening I was caught in exactly the same foolish "trap". I did not skate well and therefore tried to stay as far away as possible
from the mad "catchers", but it did not help much, because they rushed about all over the rink like beings possessed, sparing nobody.
Therefore, no matter whether I wanted it or not, our collision was inevitable.
The push was very strong and the whole moving pile of our bodies fell on the ice. I was not hurt, but I suddenly felt something hot
flow down my ankle and my leg became numb. Somehow I crawled out of the ball of bodies floundering on the ice and saw that my
leg was terribly cut. Probably, a falling guy's skates seriously wounded me when he bumped into me with all his might.
It looked, I must say, very unpleasant... My boots were low, like the ones for speed skating (we could not get figure skating skates
then) and I saw that my leg near the ankle was cut almost to the bone. Others saw it too and the panic began. Nervous girls almost fainted,
because, honestly speaking, the sight was quite sinister. To my surprise, I was not scared nor did I feel like crying, although I had been
almost in a state of shock for several seconds. I clutched the cut with my hands with all my might and I tried to concentrate and think of
something pleasant, which did not appear to be a simple task because of the cutting pain in my leg. Blood leaked through my fingers and
fell onto the ice; large red drops were gradually gathering into a small pool.
Naturally this did not calm down the already highly-strung guys. Somebody rushed to call the paramedics and somebody else clumsily
tried to help me somehow, only worsening the already unpleasant situation. Then I again tried to concentrate and thought that the blood
must stop, and patiently began to wait. To everybody's utter surprise, in barely a minute nothing leaked through my fingers anymore!
I asked our boys to help me to get up. Fortunately, there was my neighbour Romas who usually never contradicted me. I asked him to help
me to get up. He said that if I got up, then blood certainly would "flow like water". I removed my hands from the cut... and to our huge
surprise we saw that there was no bleeding whatsoever! It looked very unusual – the wound was large and open, but almost completely
When the ambulance arrived at last, the doctor could not understand what had happened and why I was not bleeding having such a
deep wound. He also did not know that I felt no pain at all! I looked at my wound with my own eyes and, according to all
natural laws, should have felt extreme pain... but I did not. I was taken to the hospital for the wound to be stitched.
When I said that I did not want anaesthesia, the doctor looked at me as if I were completely insane and prepared to give me an
anaesthetic injection. Then I said that I would yell... This time he looked at me very attentively, nodded and began to sew it up. It was
very strange to observe my flesh being pricked with a long needle and myself, feeling a light "mosquito" bite instead of something very
painful and unpleasant. The doctor watched me all the time and several times asked whether everything was all right with me. I answered
in the affirmative. Then he inquired whether things like that always happened to me? I said no, only now.
I do not know whether he was a very "advanced" doctor for that time or I succeeded in convincing him somehow, but in any case,
he believed me and asked no more questions. In approximately an hour I was at home and devoured with enormous pleasure grandmother's
warm pirozhki at the kitchen table and could hardly get enough to eat; I was truly surprised at such wild hunger, as if I had not eaten for
several days. Now I understand that it was the enormous loss of energy after my "self-treatment" which needed to be quickly recovered,
but I certainly could not know that then.
The second case of the same strange self-anaesthesia happened during an operation which our family doctor Dana persuaded us to
undergo. As far as I could remember, my mother and I very often had quinsy. It did not happen only in winter because of cold, but also
in summer when it was very dry and warm outside. Should we overheat a little, our quinsy was right there and forced us to spend a week
or two in bed, which neither my mother nor I were fond of. So, on consulting Dana, we at last decided to listen to the voice of "professional
medicine" and ablate that, which too often impeded our normal life (although, it appeared later that there was no need to ablate it and
that was the next mistake of our "omniscient" doctors).
The operation was scheduled for a week-day, when my mother, as all others, was at work. We agreed that I would be the first to go for
the operation in the morning and she would have hers after work. My mum promised that she would try to come at least half an hour before
the doctor started to "attack" me. Strangely enough I did not feel any fear; however there was an aching feeling of uncertainty. It was the first
operation of my life and I had no idea whatsoever how it would be.
From the early morning I walked along the hospital corridor hither and thither like a lion cub in a cage, expecting it all to begin at last!
I hated waiting for something or somebody then, as I do now, and I always preferred the most unpleasant reality to any "downy" uncertainty.
When I knew what was happening and how, I was ready to solve it or, if necessary, fight it. According to my understanding, there was no
unsettled situation, but only indecisive or indifferent people. Therefore in the hospital I longed to get rid of the "nuisance", which was
hanging over my head, as quickly as possible, and know that everything was left behind.
I never liked hospitals. The sight of so many suffering people in one place terrified me. I wanted to help them very much, but could
not, at the same time feeling their pain as strongly as if it was mine (probably, being totally "plugged in" to the situation). I tried to somehow
protect myself from it, but it fell heavily on me like an avalanche, leaving no chance to get away. I wanted to close my eyes, withdraw into
myself and run from all that pain as far and fast as possible without turning round.
My mother still failed to appear and I began to worry that something had detained her and most likely she could not come. By that time
I was tired of walking and sat at the duty doctor's door, pouting and hoping that somebody would eventually come out and I would not have
to wait anymore. A very nice duty doctor appeared in a few minutes and said that my operation could start in half an hour, if, of course, I
were ready. I had been ready a long time ago, but could not to do it until my mother came, because she promised to be there in time, and
we were accustomed to always keeping our promises.
But to my huge regret, time went on and nobody appeared. I found it harder to wait with every minute. Finally, I decided that probably
it would be better, if I went now and then that nightmare would finally end. I brought all my will together and said that I was ready to go
now, if, certainly, he could receive me.
– But what about your mother? – The good doctor asked, astonished.
– It will be my surprise, – I answered.
– Well then, let’s go, my brave little hero! – The doctor smiled.
He led me into a small, very white room, sat me in an enormous (for my size) arm-chair and began to prepare the instruments. There
was certainly nothing pleasant in all that, but I persistently continued to watch everything he did and mentally repeated to myself that
everything would be all right and I would not surrender, not for the world.
– Don’t be afraid, now I’ll give you an injection and you will see and feel nothing, – the doctor said.
– I don’t want the injection, – I objected, – I want to see how it looks.
– Do you want to see your tonsils?! – He was surprised.
I proudly nodded.
– Believe me, there is nothing pleasant in them to look at, – the doctor said, – and it will be painful for you. I cannot let you do that.
– You will not anaesthetize me, or I shall not do it at all, – I insisted. – Why don’t you give me the right of choice? Just because I am
small, it does not mean that I have no right to choose how I should accept my pain!
The doctor looked at me with his eyes widely open and it seemed that he could not believe what he had just heard. For some reason
it suddenly became very important for me that he believed me. My poor nerves were already at breaking point and I felt that only a bit
more and treacherous tears would pour down my tense face, which I could not allow to happen under any circumstances.
– Please, please, I swear that I shall never tell this to anybody, – I still entreated him.
He gave me a long look, then sighed and said:
– I shall let you, if you tell me why you need it.
I became confused. I think I didn't understand then very well what had made me to reject the ordinary "saving" anaesthesia so
persistently, but I forbade myself to relax, understanding that I needed to find an answer very quickly if I did not want this wonderful
doctor to change his mind so everything would go the ordinary way.
– I am afraid of pain so much and have now decided to overcome it. If you help me, I will be very grateful to you, – I said, blushing.
My problem was that I could not lie at all. And I saw that the doctor understood that at once. Therefore without giving him a chance
to say anything, I fired:
– Several days ago I stopped feeling pain and I want to check it!
The doctor gave me a long and inquisitive look.
– Have you told anybody about it? – He asked.
– No. Nobody knows yet; – I answered and told him what had happened at the skating rink.
– Well, all right then. Let’s try, – the doctor said. – But if you feel pain, you already will not be able to tell me about it, understood?
Therefore at once you should lift your hand, agreed? – I nodded.
To tell the truth I was not sure at all why I started all that, and also I was not totally sure whether I would be able to manage that and
not have to feel bitterly sorry about this crazy story. I saw the doctor preparing the anaesthetic injection and putting it on the auxilliary
table next to him.
– In case of an unforeseen failure, – he warmly smiled, – Well, shall we?
For a second all this seemed to me a wild endeavour, and I suddenly wanted very much to be like everybody else – a normal, obedient
nine-year old girl, who closed her eyes, just because she was terribly afraid. And I truly was afraid, but to retreat was not my habit and
therefore I proudly nodded and prepared to observe. Only after many years did I understand what this nice doctor risked in reality. I never
knew why he did it. It forever remained a secret "sealed with seven seals". But then everything seemed quite normal and, honestly
speaking, I did not have time to be surprised.
The operation began, and I somehow calmed down at once, as if the knowledge that everything will be all right came on me out of
somewhere. Now I don’t remember all the minor details, but I remember very well how shocked I was on seeing "that" which had mercilessly
tormented me and my mother for so many years when we caught the slightest cold or got overheated. It was two grey, terribly puckery lumps
of matter which did not even look like normal human flesh! Probably, on seeing such "ugly things" my eyes became like saucers, because the
doctor broke into laughter and merrily said:
– As you see, things extracted from us cannot always be beautiful!
The operation was done in a few minutes and I could not believe that everything was over. My brave doctor nicely smiled, wiping his
sweaty face. He looked for some reason like a "squeezed lemon". Apparently, my strange experiment was at a price for him.
– Well, little hero, still don't feel pain? – He asked, attentively looking into my eyes.
– I just have a tickle in my throat, – I answered, and that was the sincere and absolute truth.
My mum was very upset and waiting for me in the corridor. It appeared that there were unforeseen problems at work, and no matter
how hard she tried to get permission to be absent, the head would not give it. I tried to calm her, but it was the doctor who had to tell
her about everything, because I still found it difficult to speak. After these two cases the "self-anaesthetic effect" disappeared and never
19. The neighbour
As far as I can remember, human attributes like the thirst for life and ability to find joy even in the most hopeless or sad situation
always attracted me. In short, I always loved the "strong in spirit" people. Our young neighbour, Leocadia, became the real example
of "survival" for me then. My impressionable child's soul was staggered by her courage and truly ineradicable desire to live.
Leocadia was my light idol and the greatest example of how high a human being could rise over any physical ailment
preventing it from destroying either their personality or life.
Some illnesses are curable, and only patience is needed whilst waiting for that to eventually happen. The effect of
Leocadia's accident was doomed to be with her for the rest of her life and, regrettably, there was not the slightest hope for
this brave young woman to become a normal person again one day.
Fate had treated her very cruelly. While still a small, but absolutely normal girl, she had the bad luck to fall off the
stone steps and strongly harm her spine and breast bone. At first the doctors were not even sure whether she would be able to walk.
But time went by and due to her determination and persistence this strong cheerful girl succeeded in rising from her bed and slowly
but confidently began to take her "first steps" again.
It seemed that all ended well, but over time, to everybody's shock, an enormous and absolutely ugly hump began to grow both
in front and at her back and later completely disfigured her body. The most terrible thing was that nature, as if mocking, endowed
this blue-eyed girl with an amazingly beautiful, light and refined face, probably wishing to show what a marvellously beautiful
woman she would have been, if it had not been for such a cruel fate.
I don't even try to imagine through what heartache and loneliness this amazing woman had to go, trying to find ways to get used
to the frightful misfortune whilst being a little girl; and how she could survive and not break, when many years after, being a young
lady, she should look in the mirror and understand that she could never experience a simple woman's happiness, no matter how good
and kind she was. She accepted her misfortune with pure and open heart and probably exactly that helped her to preserve a very strong
faith in herself, without getting angry at the surrounding world and crying over her wicked and distorted fate.
Even now I remember her permanent warm smile and joyful luminous eyes which met me every time independent of her mood or
bodily condition (but very often I felt how truly hard it all was for her). I loved and respected this strong light woman very much for
her inexhaustible optimism and cordial goodness. It seemed that it was precisely she, who did not have the least reason to believe in
good, simply did, even though in almost every way she was deprived of the chance to feel what it was to live a full life. Or,
maybe, she felt it much deeper than we?
I was then too little to understand the abyss of difference between such a crippled life and the lives of normal healthy people, but
I remember perfectly that even after many years my recollections of my wonderful neighbour very often helped me to bear offense and
loneliness, when it was truly hard not to break.
I never understood people who always were displeased with something and constantly grumbled about their permanently "rough
and unfair" fate... I never understood the reason why they thought they had a right to consider that they were destined
to be happy right from their birth, and had the "legal right" to happiness, disturbed by nothing (and absolutely undeserved!).
As for me, I never believed in my "obligatory" happiness and probably therefore did not consider my fate "bitter or unfair". On the
contrary, I was a happy child and that helped me to overcome many obstacles which my fate very generously and constantly presented
to me. It's just sometimes there were short-term frustrations when I felt sad and lonely, and it seemed to me that I just needed to surrender
in my heart, stop searching for reasons for my "uncommonness" and fighting for my "unproved" truth, as everything would fall into place;
and there would be no offensive bitter taste of undeserved reproaches or loneliness which had already become almost permanent.
But the next morning I met met my darling neighbour Leocadia, luminous like a bright sun, who joyfully asked:
– It's a wonderful day, isn't it?
And I, healthy and strong, became very ashamed of my inexcusable weakness and, turning red like a ripe tomato, I clenched my
little, but "resolute" fists, and again was ready to throw myself into the fight with the whole world to defend more furiously all my
"abnormalities" and the whole of myself.
I remember that one day after the next "emotional confusion" I sat alone in the garden under my favourite old apple-tree, trying to
make head or tail of my doubts and errors and was very displeased with the result. Leocadia was planting flowers under her window
(her ailment made it extremely difficult for her to do that) and could perfectly see me. Probably, she did not like my state of spirits
(which, good or bad, was always clearly visible on my face), because she walked up to the fence and asked me whether I would like to
keep her company for breakfast and taste her pirozki.
I agreed with pleasure. Her presence was always very pleasant and calming, and her pirozki were always delicious. And also I longed
to talk to someone about the things which had oppressed me for several days. For some reason I did not want to share them with anybody
at home, probably, because sometimes the opinion of an outsider could give more "food for thought" than the care and untiring attention
of the always worried about me grandmother or mother. Therefore I accepted the neighbour’s invitation with pleasure, detecting from
afar the wonderful scent of my favourite pirozki with cherries.
I was not too "open" when it concerned my "unusual" abilities, but from time to time I shared with Leocadia some of my failures or
distressing incidents, because she was a truly excellent listener and never tried simply to "protect" me from troubles, unlike my mother
who, unfortunately, did it very often and sometimes it made me shut more away from her than I would like to. That day I told Leocadia
about a little "failure" which happened during my next "experiment" and strongly vexed me.
– Don't be upset, my dear – she said. – One should not fear falling down; the most important thing is always to be able to
Many years have passed from that wonderful warm breakfast, but her words were imprinted in my memory forever and became one
of the unwritten laws of my life where I had to "fall" very often, but until now always succeeded in getting up…
Days passed and I gradually got used to my surprising and so different world and felt truly happy in it, despite occasional failures.
By that time I had clearly understood that I would not be able to find anybody with whom I could openly share what constantly
happened to me. I calmly took it as a matter of course. I was not distressed anymore on this occasion and quit any intentions to prove
anything to anyone. This was my world and if somebody did not like it, I was not going to invite them there.
I remember when later reading one of my dad's books, I came across an old philosopher's lines which were written many centuries
ago and which made me very happy and surprised me unspeakably:
"Be like everybody else, otherwise life will become unbearable. If you will break away in your knowledge or ability from normal
people too far, they will stop understanding you and consider you a madman. Stones will be thrown at you; your friend will turn away
It means that already then (!) there were "unusual" people who knew from their bitter experience how hard it all was and
considered it necessary to warn and, if they could, to protect other "unusual" people!
These simple words of a person who once lived a very long time ago warmed my soul and settled a tiny hope in it that some day
I maybe would meet someone who would be "unusual" for others the same way I was and with whom I would be able to talk freely
about any "oddities" and "abnormalities", without being afraid of being given a hostile reception or, at the very best, being pitilessly
laughed at. But this hope was still so fragile and unbelievable, that I decided not to get carried away thinking of it too much, so that in
case of failure I would not be too hurt to "land" from my beautiful dream in rough reality.
Even from my short experience I had already understood that there was nothing bad or negative in all my "oddities". And if sometimes
the result of some of my "experiments" was not perfect, only I suffered the negative effect, not the surrounding people. And if my friends
dreaded being involved in my "abnormality" and turned away from me, I did not need such friends.
I also knew that someone needed my life for something, because no matter what dangerous situation I got into, I always succeeded in
getting out without any negative consequences for me, as if someone unknown always helped me; as for example, it happened that summer
when I almost drowned in our beloved river Nemunas…