by Eldar Akhadov

translated by Lilia Berkush


The Cave


Show me the cave in which the clouds hide. Show me the cave to which fanciful flocks of wandering eyes strive, insistently following the salty foamy lips of the surf…

Show me your cave. There is no gold nor diamonds in it, but thousands of fiery genies guard its dormant ancient smoky abyss, in which everyone can only see his vanishing shadow.

Chapter One


Forgetting myself in a dream… Not feeling. Not remembering. Not storing. Only to dissolve into the unbearably piercing space of bottomless silence…

And suddenly, as if tripping over something invisible, shrieking convulsively and waking up desperately in the same place in the same moment…

They stand endlessly in the middle of the rumbling airport hall, hugging each other tightly as if they were one. But then the whole splits in two, and one of them soon disappears in the doorway into another life by going through security and boarding. Then there are a few minutes of agonizing wait for the bus. Finally, the passengers climb the ladder into the aircraft cabin. Just before the hatch, as if waking up, he quickly turns around and seems to discern her lonely frozen figure in the distance, there, in February square behind the fence, just away from the crowd of people saying goodbye…

The engines roars and the airliner begins to taxi onto the runway. He keeps looking out the window at the empty square where she still stands.

The plane soars into the air like a knife striking the muddy northern sky with its wings. A few more minutes pass. She continues to gaze frantically into the empty sky, as if waiting for the miracle to continue. Silence…

I want to endlessly kiss your rose
Gently touching it with lips,
Inhale the scent of love that arose
Between us, the tips…
Of her petals are so moist and inviting…
I’m surrounded by a lonely mist…
My heart is daunting
To the alluring songs of the East.

My darling!

Oh God, I feel like you’re the closest ever to me now!!!!!! You’re right, I love you more and more! What is going on with me? You know, today, after I saw you off and was on my way home from the bus stop, I suddenly felt like I was…YOU! As if it was you walking, not me. As if I was in you, with you, or you were in me – I don’t know how to explain this…

Just how IMMENSE is the place that you occupy in my soul now. I had no idea I had so much room in there before! Thanks to you, I felt the size of my soul. Or maybe you made it bigger? Do you think one’s soul can grow? Probably not. Then it’s that big. Or maybe it increased because yours joined it? But we share the same soul. Oh, now you see just how nonsensical I’ve become!!!

I came home, opened up my eyes and saw just what a mess my room was! Tomorrow I’m going to clean it! Just how I love you, how I love you, love you! My God! I’m full with love!!! I remember every word we said, every look you cast –everything – and I realize that I’m just raving about you!

I don’t want to forget a single word you said. I’ll probably write them all down – every one of our moments!

When my hands are caressing your hands
You look to me like a shy student,
Unsophisticated in science, but who still understands
Your eyes looking so prudent,
What to whisper about, how to be moody,
Where a pause is more important, awed…
But this is no obstacle to an inexpert body
When love enters it – like God!!!

I love you. Call me, write to me – I’m waiting! I kiss you sweetly, just as I kissed you today – remember? Be sure not to touch that wound on my your again, which I gave you in a fit of passion. What a beast I am! Now what a way of kissing! No, I’ve NEVER kissed anybody like that! Forgive me darling, I won’t bite again – I promise!!! After all, I love you!!!

I   L O V E   Y O U!

But I will bite! I will be naughty and bite and scratch… like a little bity cat!

Kisses, kisses, kisses! Nina, yours.

Chapter Two


Now where are you? What are you up to? Come here quickly! How I want to bit on you now, so that you come quickly! When you come, I will bite out, scratch out, or gnaw out all the little names you called me, so that no one will dare touch my little Misha.

I really, really want you to hold me now!

I can’t do that, I can’t sleep while you’re in the other room! Of course, together, only together, my dear! You got that right. I winked at you, too, when I asked you if you wanted to sleep…

A bath? Just a bath? .. Yesss… And who was it that just told me: it’s just bathing?!!! Does your boy miss my girl?

Poor little boy!

Just the lips? Yes, it’s possible. Just a bit…And now a little bit more… Soo…It looks like you’ve already decided what and how you will kiss?

Ok then, do it! Here you go, I’m all yours! Go caress me! Kiss me, quick, I want it so! Stroke them some more, stroke them. And here too… And the back and the tummy – a little bit, please. The cat’s got a warm tummy, you are such a sweetie!

Me?!! Not wanting to?!! You really think so? Don’t get your hopes up.! The belly button? Ok, the belly button it is… Oh! Nina’s belly button’s going to be kissed! Me too, I love you! So really much!!! Whoa! This is the first time somebody has called it like that! These words almost made her blossom…

But I probably can’t be silent now. No, I just can’t be silent… I can’t be silent! When I feel very good, I scream, very loudly – I can’t help it!

With the scissors of your arms and legs
You cut and split the air
The sky hears your begs
There are rainbows and stars in your hair
Everything around is brought to life
It has no other dress to wear
Except my legs and arms that strive
To enter this unearthly prayer

I too feel very gooooooooooooooooooood with you now!!!!! Love you!!! But look, if you’re going to give me a bath in the morning too, it’s certainly not going to be for half an hour again… It’s not even half an hour! You and I are both going to be late all the time.

Here, here! I’ll have my tea and dive under the blanket to join you! Wait for me, my dear! I haven’t forgotten you, not for a single minute, not for a single second, not for a split second! You live in me! And you’ll keep me warm, will you? You always do it so nicely… My sweetest, my dearest, do hurry up to let me hide under your wing, it’s so cozy and peaceful there. And nothing will disturb us while you are with me, I’m totally sure!

Oh, why are you laughing, really?! Is it ticklish, or what? No, I’m not a pervert, it’s just that your armpits smell of you! I delight in smelling them! I have the right to!

“Do take me! Love me! Get inside!”

My body almost screamed, startling,

A trickle of honey on your chest did slide,

A small drop on your lips was sparkling.

The whole bed, the world is full of honey,

Of honeysweet and tireless delight.

”I love you! Will take you! I’m coming!”

I’m saying to your eyes, so much beloved.

She loves you, she really loves you! How could she not love you? Who told you that she doesn’t? She does! Loves you so much! And will now hug you again, as always, with her arms and legs! Which one do you prefer, the left one or the right one? I can hug my sweetest daddy with both!

Oh my Mishykins! You haven’t asked me to fondle you in quite a while! Shall I fondle you? Little kitties don’t use their little claws to snuggle up to you but get them into you until there’s blood!!! But I’m not like that. I don’t want to hurt my Mishykins… Of course daddy is clever! Who argues? Mommy? No, mommy doesn’t! But what if I don’t… fail to… turn you on?

Now, give me a pat behind my ears! It’s so mighty pleasant! Oh yeah, oh yeah! Of course, of course! Hug me once again! Yes, like this! You’re doing it right… And don’t you even think of letting me go!

My Mishykins, let me stroke your little shaggy ears! And by the way, how is our little tail doing now? Oh yeah, I see, the tail wants something again. Okay, okay, can a girl give it some thought, at least to keep up the appearances?.. No, she can’t? It’s so unexpected, to do it right away. Yeah, I have my panties on! And actually I’m used to sleeping in my pajamas, remember I told you! So, while I was talking about my pajamas, my panties have already disappeared. Oh, who’s there, wanting to come in? Okay, hello and welcome, as you’ve already come in without asking. As you are already here… My sweetheart, my sweet darling, I love you! Love you!!!… Me too. And in the literal sense too.

You are my precious flower, I love you so much,

I’m longing for your beauty I’m hurrying there to touch.

I so well remember the taste of your sweet lips,

Half-open, with a promise of absolute full bliss…

A day has only passed since I was there with you,

But I began to perish when far away I flew.

My blood will get unfrozen, and I’ll be alright,

With you, my precious flower, so beautiful and bright.

And do you remember our first time when you tried to all your clothes off, and then to pull mine off? I’m remembering it now and laughing, what a nuisance my jeans were for you!!!!! Yeah, it seems we have conceived a very cute little baby again! What a cunning man you are, Misha my dear! You so much want your little Nina to get pregnant after you go. No, not at all! How can I be upset that you want a baby from me? It’s wonderful!!!! That’s right: you and I want to have kids… So let’s don’t put it on!

I mean all the same: to be a real wife, that is, to live with you, to bear our children, to be together till death do us part! So, I too am thinking of the oath two loving people give to each other when they get married: to always be beside you, to support you in everything, to be faithful, all of these things.

Yeah, exactly! I know it for sure! We’d have such wonderful children! Very clever, kind-hearted and talented, all of them! They would be just perfect! I think you and me don’t even need any glue! As soon as we met, we got glued to each other. And nothing can tear us apart!

Misha my love!!! I need you so much! If I lose you, the pain will be unbearable. You are the nearest and dearest person for me now. And this is true. I want us to always lie together cuddling like today, and talk. I so much want to see you all the time, to touch you, to talk to you… You’re my sweetest darling. Fall asleep, my dear husband! Good night, my precious!

Mishykins! Honeybunch! Oh, how much I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love you!!!!!!!!! Do you believe I love you? You’re my sweetheart, you’re my darling! I miss you so much but I’m so happy you’ve spent these three days with me!!!! These three days are such a precious gift! Thank you my sweetheart for giving this gift to me! I love you even more! You’re a miracle!!!! I love you, love you, I love you!!!!!!!

I don’t only love you, today I love the whole world – thanks to you! Thank you for those happy nights. I’ll never forget them. You do know what a woman wants. You’re really special, Misha.

I want you so much! Without you, my pain is so overt!

The world is dark for me, but light isn’t what I want!

Let me embrace, hold you, and kiss until it hurts!..

Your legs, your arms – that’s what I really want!

Do scream, do bite, do show me the bliss.

But look again a virgin in the morning,

After a whole night of passion’s deep abyss,

My only one!.. But not my wife, without belonging!

I want you so much! With you I want to merge!

I wish I wouldn’t ever have to part with you!..

May many years pass, may I be on the verge

Of perishing, but I will always feel you, only you!

Chapter Three

I understood long ago that the destiny keeps pampering me all the time… God gives me whatever I ask Him for, but I understand that He means to say something to me by this. What is it? What exactly? Sometimes it seems to me I begin to guess at the answer!

So on the one hand, I keep asking Him for things all the time, and He soon gives me exactly what I asked for. But on the other hand, do I ever stop there? Nothing of the kind!!! I get disappointed again and again, and realize that I need something greater and something quite different at the same time. I ask Him for more, and again He gives me what I asked for. But… soon I understand that it isn’t the right thing either. And here I am again, struggling to find who knows what. In the dark.

And only since a short time ago, only now do I begin to see clearly that what I need is LOVE. Real love. Incredibly huge love. Love that would make anything else seem rubbish.

And if I don’t have such love, I will have nothing. I will be nobody. You are right, sweetheart, I’ve just reread, for the umpteenth time, the thirteenth chapter of Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians. And suddenly I felt the divine lines sprouting within my soul like the spring grass. I realized that I had never experienced such love in all my life, that I could give everything up for the sake of my loved one. All the other things are not so important for a human, one can do without them. But love is something one can’t do without. I need exactly this kind of love, I need it so badly…

The earth has a true miracle somewhere,

Its secret is unknown to mankind:

Wherever you appear, everywhere

You radiate some kind of covert light.

Indifferent eyes can’t ever spot it, mind you,

When money is the measure of all things,

But when there is a loving heart beside you, 

A heart so full of love that it can’t breathe,

That love’s the only thing it can talk of,

It can see only you, all wrapped in light,

This heart will follow you, confide its love,

And eagerly disperse the gloom of night.

               Misha darling! I don’t know anything at all, and I don’t understand anything. The only thing I can understand is that you just up and turned everything upside down in my soul! The only thing I know is that I love you very much, and that you are going to drive me totally crazy very soon!!!

My love, my ray of sunshine! Come on, tell me how I can write my course papers now! And ask me, sweetheart, what my head is stuffed with again! Yeah, you got it! Still, it’s wonderful! Why would I want those worthless course papers when I have you and your marvelous paintings…

As for my temper, it is no bowl of cherries. I can be abrupt and… and… and even rude. I also have some headstrong features, there are more and more of them over time. And also sometimes when I’m in a bad mood I like to grumble for a reason or without a reason, to find fault with everything – actually, as all women do. Although I try hard to stop myself from doing that. But I only rarely succeed. And I also have a bad habit: to bite my fingernails when I’m nervous!!!! All my maladies are caused by my nerves.

Neurodermatitis, for example, – it is when the skin on my hands begins to itch and sometimes even to crack. This is always caused by worrying over things. A few times in my life I had real womanly hysterics: with breaking dishes, uncontrollable screams, and even rolling on the floor in a deranged state. 

I’m also allergic to any kind of dust, to plant pollen, to some drugs and substances, also to some foods, and to animal hair. And in fact, I can develop an allergy to anything and everything.

My hormone levels play up all the time. And also, I’ve had a slightly elevated temperature for a few years already, the doctors cannot find out what it is.

But it’s definitely not AIDS, you can be sure!!!

After all, all these are trifles (aren’t they, my love?), and I’m a practically healthy person.

Even when I was in the hospital last summer they were amazed at my health, and couldn’t find the cause of the fever. Blamed it all on the nerves or fatigue. …So what? Have you yet changed your mind about marrying me, honey? If I remember any more bad things about myself – I’ll let you know at once. Close people must not have medical secrets from each other, do you agree?

I love you more and more with each passing day. While sitting in the lectures I don’t listen to anything at all that is said! All I do is think of you and smile.

Tonight, my sleep was troubled all night long. I dreamed of you all the time, and your magical letters.

Mikhail! What is going on?! When I receive your letters I can’t really do anything else except reply to them. And when you don’t write to me I can’t do anything at all!!! All I can do is think of you, recall your paintings, your letters, your hugs, your warm words. I climb under them like under a blanket, wrap myself into them, as if dozing off all the time. This is all like a dream, totally unbelievable. A fairy-tale! A daydream! You’ve overshadowed everything that I used to have. You’ve occupied all the quiet nooks in my heart, all the free space in my thoughts. You’ve willed the whole of me, and I can’t take a breath!!!

I’m choking… with love. I don’t know how there could have been no you in my heart, and how there can be no you in it now!

Misha dear, I know what you’re like, and I’m the only one who knows it! I remember how you brought me flowers!.. You were like a hurricane! If all men ran towards their beloved girlfriends with flowers like that, I guess the world would be ruled with joy!!!!

Do you want me to tell you something in confidence? I’ve got hold of a map of your town, not all of it but just the part where you live.

Like summer lightning flashing in the dark,

Like the warm glow of candles at the dawn,

Your eyes are so bright, they have the spark,

With lashes on the sky elaborately drawn…

I’ll float far away, and will again survive

The fire deep inside, it’s burning so bright,

You smile and look at me as I come back alive,

And I’ll never need a different kind of light.

Chapter Four

You know how much I like to look at your paintings. To dive into the seething ocean of your fantasies, feelings, thoughts, emotions…. My dear Misha’s immense inner world… Sometimes I get so deep inside that I can even get lost in it. It’s boundless… There is everything in your paintings… I like to travel from one painting to another (like from one day to another in search of new impressions) across your inner world, to get confused in the storm of your feelings, desires and passions. With each new painting you draw I fall more and more in love with your inner world. And most importantly, you know, it seems amazingly familiar to me! (As if they’ve been drawn by me!!!)

No, no! Please don’t be ill! You of all people!!! I’d rather be ill myself, I’m already used to having a fever. And you please take care of yourself. I’m so much worried about you!

Yes, I remember, sweetheart. You didn’t look for me, and I didn’t address that very first letter to you. I believe now, I even know this for sure: it all had been predetermined by Heaven. Just one symbol, one small mistype in the address line of my letter to an old friend, and it was received by you instead of her. Now I understand: it wasn’t an error, it was God guiding my hand at that moment. You could have ignored that silly letter full of naïve girlish chirping that had nothing to do with you at all. You could have read it, smile ironically, and forget about it… No, you couldn’t. Then it wouldn’t have been you, my Misha. You replied, and the letter was delivered because my return address fortunately had no mistypes. And I understand one thing: it wasn’t a mere chance that we got acquainted at a distance of more than six thousands kilometers from each other. I had asked God for you. I asked and sought for true love. And He heard me.

            I want you to pick me up, like a little girl or a kitten! Or I want to sit in your lap – to curl up there and not to go anywhere. To stay like that all day long, even forever! Just to purr so very tenderly, so very touchingly…

Yes, exactly: I am indeed a little girl who has her faith back – in love and kindness, in unselfishness, faithfulness, beauty, in all the holy things that there exist in the world. And you have all of these in you! And if you have them, this means I have them too. And this makes me happy.

I will always love you… I will love you forever, and will always be happy when you are with me. I cannot but love you, as you are a part of me. And then we’ll make up a new tale after we die, and maybe even materialize it in a new life if God allows us…

I handed in two course papers yesterday. Lots of mistakes! Most likely I won’t be allowed to take the end-of-term exams. Half of the group won’t be allowed to take the exams! But I don’t care a bit! I don’t care because I have you!!!!!!

Wow! Do you want to send me two more of your artbooks?! As many as two!!! Do send them sooner, I’ve already begun to wait!!

There is no better name than MIKHAIL in the whole word, however hard you try to find them!!! No, there isn’t! Mishenka, Mishykins, sweetheart! Tell me when you are going to have some free time at your studio (I don’t want to distract you from your creative work on purpose), and I’ll call you. I’ve bought a phone card! Okay. So I’m going to call you tomorrow right after 8:30 a.m.! Wait for me, honey! Kisses!

I’m here, my sweetie, my sunshine! Keep me warm with your affectionate rays! Here are all of my little petals for you to keep them warm!!!

Misha dear! I called you two hours ago! How incredibly pleasant it was to hear your voice! What a pity that the connection was interrupted so suddenly. The phone card turned out to be so short… There must have been something wrong with the timing.

 Honey, what are you thanking me for??? I was so eager to call you myself, to talk with you! Hurrah! I did it, I finally did it! My God, WHAT a deep exciting voice you have, HOW you can talk, every word wraps me up and enchants me forever… I’m not like that at all… And my voice was also trembling with anxiety. How I miss you and your voice! I’m so envious of the visitors who come to your studio: they can hear you live every day! How pleasant it must be to listen to you telling about your paintings when opening yet another picture gallery! I so much desire to hear you incessantly!

Four times someone answered the phone, and four times I asked them to get you on the phone. And when finally it was you who answered, I had already lost all hope for it. Your voice still sounds inside me. I’ll never be able forget that soft enchanting tone. And I don’t want to forget it!

If you could look into my eyes while we were talking, I believe we wouldn’t have needed any words at all! You’d have read everything in my eyes. It would have been a conversation between our souls, as the eyes are the mirror of the soul! Our souls would have looked into each other’s reflections and been amazed at their resemblance. We even have the same eye color!

Oh my Mishykins! My sweet darling, my honey, my love! I’m simply jumping with joy!!! And I don’t think I’d be able to stop jumping today – I’ll even run to my institute jumping!!!!!! I want to shout, shout on every corner that I love you!!!! I adore you!!!! How else can I express all the feelings overfilling me, I don’t know!!!! Oh Lord, I could only dream of ever meeting you! I’m so grateful to God for all of this!!! For finally bringing our hearts together!!!

I’m shining, I’m all shining at the thought of you! And may everyone look at me and wonder what makes me so happy, they won’t figure it out anyway! This smile is not for them. It is only for you!!!

I saw you in my dream again today, and felt you sending your love to me – from your heart to mine. It filled all of me with sweet warmth and tranquility, like in my childhood… It felt so good!

Do you really, really still don’t know and have never ever heard? Have I never said it to you? Oh my, what a sly fox you are! Okay, I can repeat it to you many more times: my love, my honey, my sunshine, my ocean, my joy, my happiness!!! I’ll never have enough words to express how much I love you!!! I’m always with you, all the time – in my thoughts, in my soul… Will you come to me again in my dream tonight? Promise me immediately! I’ll be waiting for you! …in the same place as always.

I also liked riding in the taxi with you so much – with you, even this thing is so romantic! Do you remember how you blew kisses to me and smiled? I felt so good. I’ll never forget it! I love you, and there’s nothing I can do about this… Oh, by the way! I had some photos taken today. Specially for you. I’ll send these photos to you soon! Kisses!

I stood there freezing for an hour and a half when seeing you off because I was afraid that I would never see you again, that those were the very last minutes when I could still see you or at least just the plane carrying you away…

It’s very difficult for me to imagine my life without you because I haven’t just gotten used to you: I’ve gotten glued to you! Of course I’m worried about you too, this is natural…

         You know, my mom has worked all her life with raw numbers. And she hates her work because she’s a creative person by her nature. Oh, how well I can understand her!

Of course it’s difficult for me to reason about such things because I’ve never encountered some situations in the life, but it seems to me I wouldn’t be able to have an abortion. It would be easier for me to die myself than to kill my own baby! Although I don’t want to throw stones at anybody.

Your cat has reminded me of Bulgakov’s Behemoth now! What color is he? I’m so fond of animals, but alas, I’m allergic to most dogs and cats. Although there was time when I wasn’t allergic yet… Of course, only you! I don’t want to see anyone else in my dreams! I’ll keep everyone else away, I promise.

Really? And you too? That’s what I thought! And my mom believes that adults shouldn’t watch cartoons! So both of us are doomed to always remain kids!

Oh Mishykins! Just imagine, I had just talked with you, and when I hand up I had such a feeling that you were going to come home from your studio right now, to me… As if you were coming home! Such an amazing feeling! There’s such an abyss of space separating us, but it has emerged and doesn’t go away.

Will you call me tomorrow from your studio? I want this so much!!! It’s only that I’m not alone at home in the mornings now – my dad is on leave. But it’s okay, I’ll lock myself in my room, taking both telephones with me, and will wait for your beloved, warm voice.

Slam shut the door, lock it, and see again

A mere glimpse of candles in the windowpane.

And now, it’s beginning to dawn.

To snow and dust, to the horizon line,

To roads never ending and always divine

Forever your eyes will be drawn…

It’s been so forever, night gives way to day,

The leaves always rustle when falling away,

Your hands will be tickled with raindrops at night,

And you will keep looking at worldly crossroads,

Repeating your prayers and the holy words,

Forever believing in great love’s full might…

Chapter Five

          Mom has wondered if it is you who I keep talking on the phone with, getting away from everybody. And if it is me who your last paintings are dedicated to. (She has seen the two last albums you had sent). I’m as close as an oyster. She says, “Artists are very amorous people, they are always quick to fall in love with someone.” She likes you very much. But still I’m afraid of her response to your proposal, it will hardly make her happy if I suddenly say that I’m going to marry you.

Oh how much I love you, love you, LOVE YOU, LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m the happiest girl on the earth, in the world, in the whole universe there’s no girl happier than me!!!!! It seems to me now that all of this is for us, the whole world has been created only for the two of us! Although this sounds too self-confident of course, but I have such a feeling as if all the others are sort of dummies, and only you and me are real! You know, like in The Matrix. Have you watched The Matrix too?

Well, okay, I’m getting off the topic already. But still, I will repeat this with great pleasure: I love you very much, incredibly much!!!

My parents have just returned from vacation. And we had a bit of a celebration on this occasion, just for the three of us. Oh no! By our standards, it wasn’t much at all: a meat salad, salmon and ham sandwiches, and a meatball soup. In the end we had some cake, and felt so stuffed that we went to bed at once. Of course there were some drinks. Mom and me had red wine, and dad had some vodka. He never drinks anything else, it’s a matter of principle.

Yes, do have something to eat too, please! C’mon, my sweetie, “Open wide, one spoonful for mommy, one spoonful for daddy, and one for your little Nina”. You and my dad are almost of the same height: he is tall too. I don’t think my parents will get angry, my love! But of course it will be a great surprise for them!!!

If I’m not at home, don’t give my dad too much detail on the phone about who you are. And actually, dad won’t even ask you about that. Just tell him to get Nina on the phone, okay? Don’t get shy on him! He’s a very kind and nice person! Just ask him to get me on the phone, and that’s all. I did ask your mom for it when I called her.

Yeah, everybody is afraid of him in the beginning because of his voice. And also, he isn’t very happy when men call me – well, you must understand why. But if you could see him within the family circle, he is a very peaceful and cheerful person!

Dad offered me a banana today. D’you know how he did it? He said, “Finish it, or I’ll have to throw it away anyway.” This is called, “All the unwanted things to the children!”

Of course it will be more convenient for us to live in your town because you have all of your creative activities there, and you just cannot leave them all. And your elder children are there too. Of course it wouldn’t be easy for me to move so far away from my family, but this doesn’t matter for me because I love you! I believe we would be okay in our town too. But your whole life is there and not here!

However, let it all happen according to God’s plan. I rely on Him completely!

But how nice it would be to live here!!!! In our town! Although it will seem a really small town to you as compared to yours. But we could live in some other place, not so far away, I’d just like to see my family and friends more often.

Today it smells of spring outside, and this makes me so happy! I threw open the small window, and there was a bird chirping so nicely! I had already forgotten those sounds! Now I don’t want to shut the window again. Its chirping is so sweet! It’s about love, about spring… this is our soul indeed!

No, I too cannot even imagine you belonging to anyone else. You are mine and only mine! And I get surprised at myself… My sweet love, my Mishykins, what are you doing to me?

Today mom began looking through your artbooks again. She grows more and more fond of your paintings. Right now, dad is asleep already, and I’m going to bed too, but she’s still up, looking through them. Watch out, she may fall in love with you.

Uh-oh! So you have quite young girls flirting with you?!!! Now, now! What do I mean for you, then?!..

Well, maybe I wouldn’t really kill you, but would definitely get you slightly maimed. Okay, don’t be afraid, I won’t kill you, sweetie. But you wouldn’t be able to avoid hysterics, my love!

Well, what more can I say? My folks like to grumble a little bit sometimes. And I’m a bit of a grumbler at times too! This is kind of a family trait.

Of course it will be more convenient to have our wedding here. I’m just afraid that my parents can’t afford to fly there, to your town. And what about my friends? And my other relatives: three aunts and a cousin brother with his family?

I’ll invite mine too. Approximately how many of yours will there be? I believe it’s not a problem to meet and accommodate them! Not a problem at all! Are you going to invite any of your artist friends?

Sweetheart, do you really want me to scream on our wedding night like I did that time? Very, very loudly? For all the neighbors to hear? That’s up to you, sweetheart…

See how the stars are all aglow

Like raindrops in the sky,

Wherever you live, wherever you go,

Their light will never die.

Your happiness may take a flight,

A friend may be untrue,

But the eternal eyes of night

Will always be with you…

And can you say there’s no joy

When all your life since birth

You see the glow, eternal glow

From all the ends of earth?!

Yeah, of course we’ll have to live separately from them. I wouldn’t put up with another homemaker in my home either!

Wait, wait! Save these words till you can say them before the altar.

Lots of hugs and kisses for you, my sugar, my honey, my raspberry jam!!! What an affectionate voice! What warm words! Today I’m definitely not going to freeze!!! Sweet Mishykins, you’ve made me so happy!!! I can see your mood when I look in the mirror: you are pleased and… happy? Like me? Indeed? We are the two halves of one soul, aren’t we?! And each one of them will feel exactly what the other one feels? Hurrah! Many kisses to my other half! A thousand kisses! Hurry to call me, I love you very much!

Oh, and what if I go bad? What if I become a nagger, and begin to pick at you like my mom always does? Of course I try hard not to be like my mom, but it’s difficult to get rid of one’s genes… genas… both genas and cheburashkas, d’you remember that tale?

And anyway, I’m a nervous girl, don’t you forget this! Faithful? Who said that? And who’s immune to unfaithfulness?

Do you want more kisses? I’m sending you very affectionate kisses!

Chapter Six

Now, that’s it! I’m going to be ugly, sick, irritated, whimpering, wicked, and most horrible! Let’s see how long you can tolerate me when I’m like this.

I miss you so badly… It’s good that you still try to make me laugh with your magical stories, or else feel so bad these days… I didn’t want to tell you, but I feel very bad sometimes, feel lost.

I didn’t want to tell you, but I’m just scared. I’m only a defenseless little girl, and I am scared… I so much hate to cause such great pain… just SO much hate it! I already feel guilty of everything. And one more thing… it’s very scary for me to lose everything I’m used to. You can reproach me for it, but still, I am scared.

The only time in my life when we moved from our old apartment to the new one, here, I was 8 years old. You know, it seemed to me then that my life was over, although we moved with our whole family. But my friends, all of them, were left behind, and mom… she took me to the old place only once and, after seeing my tears, said she would never go there with me again. It was so painful for me… And she didn’t understand me… Well, okay, this is an old story.

Now everything is completely different, but I am scared anyway. You can say I’m weak and indecisive, or anything else, but I’m afraid of changes! And I have never yet experienced such dramatic changes in my life.

  Yes, me too, I also feel as if I’m under torture. My parents notice that there’s something eating at me, and keep asking what is wrong with me. I so much want to spill it all out, but I can’t tell them anything yet. I don’t even want to give a hint – why stuff their heads with it! They are such happy people, and I don’t want to make them sad by this yet. I just have to hang on to all of it, without even letting it show. I always do this, I’m used to it – my parents seldom understand me, so I don’t like to show my feelings to them.

I really hope it will be so! My parents seem to always be ready to understand me. And they do, sometimes. But when it really comes to something serious, it’s difficult to resist my mom’s point of view, and we have quarrels often, and dad simply keeps silent and stands back. If it weren’t for my friends’ support I’d feel completely lonely at such times.

I hope I won’t be similar to my parents in this regard. I really hope so. I want to be a true support for my children, I want them to be able to trust me totally.

As for our dad, he hates conflicts. If he began to stand up for me, mom would definitely burst into tears and say, “You don’t appreciate me at all, you are so good and I’m the only bad person here”, well, you know, all kinds of stuff like that. You know, she has lots of problems with her nerves, and a whole bunch of complexes. Dad simply protects her. And I can understand him. It’s me who cannot control myself sometimes, and pick a fight with mom… she and I, we have incompatible tempers.

Yes, I know about this omen. If it is to be believed, I’m also incredibly jealous, in addition to everything else!

It is one thing to be nice to you now when mom doesn’t yet know anything about our story. But afterwards, when you are more than just a bright and talented artist from a distant town for her, this will involve personal feelings already. And I know it for sure, she will be really upset that you are ready to leave your family to be with me.

I know my mom, she’s horribly conservative, and it’s very difficult to make her change her point of view on these things. She will begin to project this on herself, to imagine herself and dad in the situation you and your wife are in. She will say that she would go crazy if dad did such a thing to her… well, and so on like this. If she likes you now, this fact alone doesn’t yet mean that she would take the news differently.

This is exactly what I wanted you to do, to protect me, to defend me before her, to say, “No, you’re wrong, she isn’t like that…” Well, okay, never mind…

You are a very good person, Misha! And I just go to my room when I feel bad, lock the door, turn on some music, and then burst into tears when nobody can see or hear me.

Oh, your poor wife. I’m very, very sorry for her, really. I like to squeeze out pimples too! And I also like it when somebody squeezes them on me!

Well, what can we do? You and I have become near and dear since long ago, and now we are even nearer and dearer! I do feel this. It‘s true, I do feel this!!!!!!!!!!!

It will probably be better for us to live in your part of the country, indeed, because you have your job there, your friends, all of your ties, and what is the main thing, your kids. They do need your support, and if you go far away they won’t be able to see you as often as they’d like to. As for me, I don’t yet have any job here, and I’m graduating from the Institute soon. Although I have my friends here, and my parents live in this town, but my friends may move to other places too, and indeed, I’ve already supposed that I’d have to move to somewhere else from here. The only problem is that it isn’t convenient to travel here to see my parents from your town, our meetings will be very rare. For them, it will be even more difficult to travel to see me. It’s also more difficult to travel to Moscow to see my brother from your town than from ours. But anyway, I believe the best place for us to live in if we get married is there, in your town. Many kisses to you, my love.

Hate? No, I don’t think she will hate you. Of course she will be worried. Indeed, I don’t know, I think I should begin to get my mom prepared for this. I’ll do my best.

My sweet love! I will never ever do such a thing to you!

The things you are telling me about are very sad, my love. Unfortunately there are very many such people in the world. They can feel good only when others feel bad…

For them, the main thing is to vent their anger on somebody, and they can only find peace when they succeed. For a short while. You know, there’s a saying about such people, “I’m so full of joy today, lousy tricks I gladly play.” I guess they are guided by some kind of unknown dark energy. I’ll never do such a thing to you, and will never ever let anybody do it!

Chapter Seven

Okay, you probably need some time to digest what I’ve written to you… In fact, a friend is coming to visit me. So I won’t be able to write for some time. Most likely, I’ll finish writing only late at night.

Do you think it’s the right thing for me to do: stay in the same room with my sleeping friend and write confessions to you at the same time! He can wake up any moment. So don’t worry if I suddenly stop writing. Now, what do you think about your little Nina after this? Am I a bad girl? Surely I am!

The way I kissed you, is only for you, don’t even try to ask me to kiss other men like that. This kiss is only yours!

I can’t imagine not forgiving you for anything. You are the best man on earth, the kindest and most affectionate one! You’re a marvel, you’re a treasury of feelings! Nobody I know can feel so delicately and express their feelings the way you do. And this is the reason why I love you.

My friend is very nice, he would do anything for me, but I cannot return the same kind of affection to him. I used to love him more. But now… I don’t know what has happened. Actually, everything could have been alright, but he and I, we don’t have such mutual spiritual understanding. He isn’t you. It’s rather difficult for me to put it all into words and explain it all now…

I need spiritual communication, and he’s unable to give it to me.

Look me in the eyes: do they say that I can ever abandon you? I can say it over and over again that I’ll always be with you, whatever happens, whether you want it or not!!! And how can I not forgive you for that, my sweetheart, my darling? Here are some more very strong kisses to you! And some more big hugs too. Please, oh please, don’t be afraid of anything! I’m with you. Do you feel this? I’m sending you my hugs and my love!!!

No, no! We didn’t do anything like this today! And indeed, he and I, we don’t only meet to make love! Today we first watched a movie at his place, a very beautiful movie, title’s Final Fantasy. It is made entirely in 3D. Then he helped me with my business plan.

So please stop making up those heartbreaking scenes! You wind yourself up by that even worse! Just think that I’m spending an evening with someone I know, and this is why I can’t communicate with you at this time.

No, you are no less a man than him! I know this for sure, me of all people!

It’s good to have two husbands, on the one hand, but on the other hand, I have to split myself anyway! To worry all the time if I’ve done anything to upset the other one. Although, there are moments when I begin to understand such families. What would his response be? Nothing good, I’m sure, he wouldn’t even give an answer, especially if he figured out it wasn’t merely a joke. Then he’d be definitely worried!

As for the man I had before Dima, he got too drunk quite often. And he could also lay a hand on me sometimes. He called me again today, recalling the past. But I don’t really want to talk with him. And he still has hopes…

No, I haven’t gone anywhere yet. I just had a phone call from Dima.

I love you both! And this makes me feel good and bad – at the same time! Misha, have you never loved two women at the same time? And here’s another thing: never tell me that you take up my time – this isn’t so! I’m always glad to receive your letters, always, remember it, please, sweetheart, okay? You are the best man on earth, my dear Misha!

It’s not only tonight, but every night lately, that I’ve been with you!

I know polygyny exists in many countries, what a pity that polyandry doesn’t exist anywhere.

I didn’t want to upset you but he’s going to come again soon. No, no, we’ll just have a chat – and nothing else, I promise!!!

My friend Dima is asleep again now. He believes I’m busy with my course papers, and must not be distracted. So he fell asleep from boredom. Or rather, it was me who made him fall asleep. You do know, I have a magical bed here, and the person lying on it will fall asleep without even noticing it, whenever I want this to happen. And I take advantage of this.

Do you want me to be honest? I don’t allow him to do it! In fact, we haven’t even seen much of each other lately. We’ve decided that we should stop seeing each other for a while.

I feel very sad today. It so happened that Dima and I were walking past the hotel today. The same one, our hotel… It stirred up the memories in me, and only now do I feel how badly I miss you. Really badly.

I love you very much, and I’m sad. “I feel so sad because I love you so much….” Do you remember this line? I need you badly. Oh my Lord, how badly I do need you!!!!!!

So, I’m having champagne today! Oh my Lord! I’ve almost never yet wanted to have a drink. Just to have a drink. And today I want one. And what I want is some champagne. I’m raising my glass for things to be good! I can’t find words to put it differently.

Dima came to see me today. We had a very long conversation, and decided that we shouldn’t see each other for another week, he’s only going to call me. He still doesn’t know anything about you and me.

What’s it got to do with the age difference?!!! I know that I’ll be happy with you again, but at what cost?! Will I be able to live in peace after that, enjoying the family happiness?

I thought of you all night long in my dreams. But I didn’t see you. Tonight I’m going to think of you all the time again. I’ll look at the sun and smile at it, as if smiling at you.

You look me in the eyes. And he is with you, kissing.

You look me in the eyes. Dark skies are turning grey.

The morning’s come. The wind is gently breathing.

The clouds up above are soaring far away…

The scar near my lips… No, it is there, still there.

I’ll touch it with my tongue. It’s there, and still stings.

And high in the blue sky, with clouds everywhere,

See how my soul, like a little birdie, rings.

You feel me so well, although he’s there with you,

He strokes your hand without saying a word.

Unnoticed, I look at you, flying high up in the sky

And crying up above, a-chirping like a bird…

Chapter Eight

Misha! I’m tired of lying. Lying to everybody: my parents, Dima, everybody I know. My conscience is pricking me. I cannot have it like this – you are married but you want to stay with me at the same time. I cannot just break up with Dima now, but I cannot lie to him while making love with you. I cannot step over your family that you are ready to leave for my sake. I will not be able to step over all of this. I will always feel guilty. I really cannot have it like this.

I will feel so bad if I break up your family. I will not be able to step over this. Even after your words that it’s been already broken up anyway. But it still exists, and can get broken up because of ME!!! You shouldn’t destroy anything because mf me.

It’s been quite a while since your little Nina has had to say so many lies. And these lies make her writhe. I’d want you to come. And I’d want to experience the sweetest moments with you again… But if only all of that were pure! If only you had no family, if only we didn’t have to lie to everybody… This is the way it should have been. Only this way.

You are so dear to me! And I want to see you… No, not out of pity! You are very dear to me, I love you, but I’ll say this over and over again: my love for you isn’t strong enough to agree to everything straight away…

As for having our baby before marriage, this is also somehow… well, you should understand. I realize that it would probably be more convenient and more pleasant for you to have it this way. But what about me? This is what it looks like: I was with my friend at first, and then got pregnant by you… And it will look as if I married you only because I had no other way out, and it was the only reason. But I wouldn’t want it to be so.

I don’t want you to get divorced out of despair. You still can remain with this family. And one thing is for sure: I’m not getting married on the quiet.

This is easy to say! But I’m in anguish. My conscience is tormenting me! So what, shall I throw it away too? You do know what conscience is. Don’t you? You do know it isn’t just such a feeling… Conscience is the voice of God. This is what I believe in. And the sacrifices we make will be appreciated in heaven, at the very least – and this is definitely true, isn’t it? There’s another saying, “ You can’t build happiness from others’ unhappiness.” Doesn’t your wife’s unhappiness count?

No, you are not guilty of anything! And I’m not blaming you! As for stroking and fondling you, I’m always happy to do it!

I’ve understood all of this, I told you that in the very beginning of our conversation today. It’s very good that my near and dear one is here… but… but… my CONSCIENCE IS TORMENTING me anyway!!! So what, if I’m near and dear for you, does it mean I shouldn’t even fear God? I want to have earthly happiness too. But I don’t want to go against Him. Or maybe it was Him who brought me to my senses, making me understand that we must not live our lives in such a way, under SUCH circumstances. So I’m thinking about the ways to do it.

I just don’t know how to explain this to you, but please, don’t come to see me anymore. It will be better this way. I too very much want to see you, but I’d better have some time to myself, without anybody pulling me anywhere, just to be able to understand my feelings in peace. Yes, I really need this, I need some time – at least a little bit of time. You say that time seems to be moving very slowly for you, I understand you, darling. But anyway, I don’t want to hurry, there’s not enough time for me at all! I know that you love me, so you will understand me. Don’t ask me any questions, don’t try to persuade me that I have nothing to fear, please don’t! I just know that I NEED have some time for myself, alone.

If I don’t write anything to you before midnight today, don’t wait up for me any longer please but just go to bed. Kisses!

Chapter Nine

The ground became rippled, it shuddered and rolled backward: farther and farther away, slower and slower. Then it rocked slightly, time and again, and began to rapidly fall into the thickening mist, like a drowsy bird’s eye getting covered with a whitish membrane. For the last time, by mere chance already, something painfully unattainable could be glimpsed in the cloud break. And then it was gone…

Wherever I am, and wherever you are:

Let all the expanse be so bright like a star,

And let the blue sky be unclouded by rains,

When I was still able to see you from afar,

And let out words sound like blood in our veins.

…Remain near and dear? We will, most probably.

I love you too… send you kisses… fall asleep beside you…

Many times people told me all sorts of lies about you. And every time I believed all of that, and thought about you again. Now there’s no need for me at all to do that. I look at you and understand: everything that has been said is rubbish, and the main thing cannot be described by words. You are with me. You are here. And it makes no difference to me who will tell me what about you, or who will tell you what about me, as I know the main thing: it is impossible to live without love…

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs, love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth; it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophecy in part; but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears…

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face; now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.”

Paul the Apostle


Many years passed.

Misha started a family with another woman. 

Nina married Dima, but they divorced in a few years. And Nina went to a convent. A woman with this name doesn’t exist anymore: there is a nun who has quite a different name and the only Eternal Bridegroom.

Eldar AkhadovHe was born in Baku in 1960. He lives in Krasnoyarsk. He is a member of the Writers’ Union of Russia, the Writers’ Union of the 21st Century, the Writers’ Union of Southern Russia (Ukraine) and the literary and creative association “The Lightning” of Azerbaijan. He is a member of the Russian Geographical Society, the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly and the PEN International Club. He is the author of 65 books of poetry and prose published in Russian, English and Serbian in Russia, the United States, Serbia and India. He is the laureate of the State Literary Award of the Governor of the Autonomous District Yamal-Nenets, awarded with the National Awards “Silver Pen of Russia,” “For the good of the world,” Russian-Swedish Prize “The North is a country without borders,” Award of the publishing house ZA-ZA Verlag (Germany), Homer Awards (Greece), Diplomas of the Italian competitions of “The Academy Giulia Brignone” and “Vincenzo Padula,” finalist of the 2021 Prize in honor of the poet Aníbal Rodríguez Sanchez (Venezuela), silver medal of the “Fourth Literary Festival of all Russia,” silver medal of the “Fourth Literary Festival of all Eurasia.” Participant in the 31st Medellín International Poetry Festival (2021).