Trafika Europe 13 - Russian Ballet

Val Votrin

I remember one such particular madman. A lapsed shaman he was, who continued to walk around in his old black cape, hooded and with its pointy, sharp- cornered shoulders. Tall and thin, stooped, with a long wild, tangled beard, he went everywhere, tapping the ground with his staff, mumbling incessantly: “When. When. When. When.” On his lips, the word lost its intended, interrogative meaning; “when” ceased now to be a question that troubled all of us. He would simply repeat the word, endlessly mumbling it under his nose — when, when, when, when, when, when. We children raced after him everywhere, and when he’d come to a stop, we would crowd around him in a circle and scream loudly: “When?” I remember well his fearful, paralyzed glance. His mouth would fall open, and a terrible scream would issue from it: “I have forgotten when! Forgotten when!” We would scatter with squeals, and he’d collapse in the dust, in the road, and grow still, both his arms wrapped around his head. Yes, of course, the answer to this question was known to the shamans. It isn’t for nothing that they communed with the spirits, and those spirits appeared before them, in the form of black smoke, for a reason also. They


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