in Translation


PICTURES by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Translated this morning by me

I came to visit a friend—to ask for a loan. He wasn’t at home, nor his wife: a boy came out to meet me in the hall. He was squeaky clean.

“Wait a little. Mom and Dad are coming back.”

And so that I wouldn’t be bored, the boy began to show me pictures.

“Well, this is what?”

“A wolf,” I said.

“A wolf, right. And you know, a wolf, it does not eat grass, it eats sheep…”

And in that way he meticulously explained all the pictures, until I was sick to death. He revealed a rooster.

“And what’s that?” he asked.

“That? It’s a hut,” I said.

My boy’s eyes bulged out, dumbfounded. After a while, he managed to find me a picture of a real hut.

“Well, what is this?”

“This is a birch broom, that’s what.”

The boy smiled politely and began to prove: a hut does not peck grains, but a rooster does, and you can’t live in a rooster, but you can live in a hut, and there are no doors on a broom, but a rooster…

“Listen here,” I said, “dear boy: if you don’t leave this minute, I’ll throw you out the window.”

The boy looked into my eyes and saw I really meant it—I would throw him out. He screamed and went to complain to his grandmother.

His grandmother came out into the hall and began to reproach me:

“How are you not ashamed, young man? He is such a sweet boy. After all, he told you the real truth.”