Misery9 mins 168 9 mins 168
“Whom should I tell my grief?”It is a foggy evening. A wet and thick layer of snow is slowly spreading around the lighted area around the lampposts. Due to the snowfall, the coachman Jonah Potapov is looking like a white ghost. He has bent his body to the extent a man can bend. He is silently sitting, without any movement, on his horse carriage. His little horse is also covered fully with snow and looking completely white. It is also standing without any movement. Its stability, slim body, and straight legs, like wood, are giving the impression that it is a cheap and lousy horse.
Both Jonah and his little horse have not moved out of their place for too long. He had left his farm before mealtime, but he does not have any passengers yet. ”O carriage man, will you go to Viborg?” Jonah suddenly hears.
In a hurry, he leaps out from his place. From the snow that is covering his eyes, he sees an officer in a gray coat, with a hat shining on his head.
"Viborg"' The officer says once again. "Hey, are you sleeping? I want to go to Viborg. "
Jonah pulls the rein of the horse in preparation for the journey. Layers of snow fall from the horse's neck and back. The officer sits at the back. The coachman, fondling the horse, orders it to proceed. The horse first straightens its neck, then folds its legs, looking hard like wood, and finally begins to move in an indecisive way. As Jonah pushes the horse-cart forward, he hears from the crowd coming from the darkness, "Hey beast! What are you doing? Where are you taking it, you, idiot? Turn right "
"You don't even know how to drive! Stay right. " The officer sitting behind shouts angrily.
Then after a pause, in a slightly restrained voice, he says, "How mischievous are they . . . all of them!" And trying to be funny, he further says, "Looks like everybody has sworn either to push you down or to die under your horse"
Coachman, Jonah turns to look at the officer. His lips move a bit. Maybe he wants to say something.
"What do you want to say?" The officer asks him.
Jonah forcibly brings a grin on his face, and tries to say in a broken voice, "My only son, Barin, has passed away this week, Sir!"
"Good! “How has he died?"
Jonah turns completely towards his rider and says, "What shall I say, Sir? The doctors were saying, he had only a high fever. The poor boy continued suffering for three days in the hospital and then left us and gone . . . Who can do anything before God's will?"
"Hey, Idiot, drive properly. " Someone shouted from the darkness, "Hey Old man, have you lost your senses? Why don’t you use your eyes?”
"Just drive the horse. . . a little fast . . . ," the officer, shouted, 'Otherwise we will not be able to reach even by tomorrow! Just a little faster!" The coachman once again fixes his neck; sits upright and rudely uses his whip. In the mean time, he turns back several times and looks at his rider, but the officer has now closed his eyes. It seems clear that he does not want to hear anything at this time.
After bringing the officer to Viborg, Jonah puts the cart near the tavern, and once again lies on the seat crouching. Two hours pass. Then three boys come there quarreling with their thin rubber boots making sound of "choo choo, chee chee" on the pavement. Two of those teenagers are tall and slim, while the third is with a slight hump and short.
"O coachman! Will you go to the Police Bridge?"' The boy with the hunch back asks in a hoarse voice. "We'll give you twenty kopeks. "
*** *** ***
Jonah pulls the rein of the horse and makes a sound, which is an instruction for it to get ready for move. Although twenty kopeks is not a reasonable fare for such a distance, but he does not bother whether it is a ruble or five kopeks. For him, all are the same now. The three teenagers use abusive language while shoving themselves on the seat to sit together. After a lot of debate and tantrum, they finally decide that the boy with a hump should stand, being the shotest.
"Okay, now drive fast!" The boy with hump speaks through his nose. He takes his place, causing his breath to fall on Jonah's neck. "To hell with you! Will you move all the way at this lousy speed? Why not your neck…"'
"My head ache kills me," says the tall boy among them. "Last night at Donkmasov's house, Vaska and I drank four full bottles of cognac".
"I don't understand why you lie so much? You are a liar like an evil person! ' Another tall boy said angrily.
“ Upon God, I speak the truth. ”
"Sure why not! There is as much truth in your talk as a camel coming out of the eye of a needle! '
"Huh, huh, huh . . . How funny you all are!" Jonah giggles and speaks.
"Hey, hell with you. "' The hunchback becomes angry. "Old man, how long will it take to reach us the destination? Is this the way to drive the cart? Try using your whip too sometimes! Just whip it hard, Old man. ! Are you a man or a man's tail?"
Jonah is looking at people like this, but gradually a sharp feeling of loneliness makes him sad. Hunchback has started abusing him again. The tall boys have started talking about a girl, Nadejda Petrovna.
Jonah looks at them many times. After waiting for a momentary silence, he turns and mutters, "My son . . . passed away this week. "
"We all have to die one day. " The hunchback took a cold breath and wiped the lips after coughing. "Hey, drive fast . . . very fast! Friends, I am not ready to move at this slow pace. When will he take us to our destination? "
"Hey, tickle your horse's neck a little. "
" Did you hear . . . old man! Oh, worm of the hell. I will break the bones of your neck. If we keep pampering people like you, we may have to walk! Are you listening, old man? Son of a pig! Do they make any effect on you?
Jonah is listening to this verbal abuse, but he does not feel anything.
He laughs it off. "You are all respectable people. You are young . . . God bless you!"'
"Old man, are you married?” A tall boy, from among them, asks.
"I? You people are so funny! Now, I am left with my wife only . . . She has seen everything with her eyes. Do you understand my point? Death is not far away . . . My son is dead and I am alive . . . What a strange thing. Death has reached the wrong door . . . instead of coming to me it went to my son . . . "'.
Jonah wants to turn back and tell how his son died! But at the same time the hunch-backed boy draws a long breath and says,"Thank God! Finally you have brought my colleagues to the destination!" Moreover, Jonah sees them all slowly disappearing across the dark gate. Once again, he feels extremely lonely. Surrounded by silence . . . His grief that had subsided for a while, returns again, and this time it rips his heart even more powerfully. Being extremely restless, he sees the crowd on the road. He is looking for someone who will listen to him. But the crowd moves without paying any attention to his grief. His grief is boundless. If his heartbreaks and his sorrows come out, they will fill the whole earth. Still no one sees him. Jonah sees a porter carrying a sack. He wants to talk to him.
"What time is it, brother?" He asks the porter.
"It is more than nine O'clock. What are you waiting for here? No use now, return back. "
Jonah keeps moving for a while, and then sinks into his crouching position filled with anxities. He understands that it is useless to look to people for help. He could no longer bear this condition and thinks of the 'stable'. As if his horse understands everything and starts walking at a trot.
*** *** ***
After about an hour and a half, Jonah is sitting near a very dirty stove. Many people are snoring on the ground and on benches sitting around the stove. The air is heavy with stifling heat. Jonah looks at the people sleeping. He regrets for coming early.
“Today I have not been able to earn even for horse feed” - he thinks.
A young coachman wakes up at a corner, sits, and blabbers in a sleepy condition. Then he moves towards the bucket of water.
“Do you want water?” Jonah asks him
"Is it a question to ask"
"Oh no, friend! May you stay healthy! But do you know that my son is no longer in this world . . . Have you heard? This week . . . in the hospital . . . is a long story. "'
Jonah wants to see the effect of his words, but he cannot find any. The young man hides his face and goes into deep sleep again. The old man takes a long breath and scratches his head. A week has passed after his son's death but he has not been able to talk to anyone properly about it. It can be narrated only very calmly and carefully as to how his son fell sick, how he suffered, what he said before he died and how he died. It is necessary to narrate about the last rites in detail and also how he went to the hospital and got his son's clothes. At that time, his daughter, Anisia was in the village itself. It is also important to tell about her. He has so much to tell. The hearer will surely take a long breath and sympathize with him. It is also good to talk to women, although they are stupid. To make them cry, only two emotional words are enough.
"Let me just look at my horse" - Jonah thinks. There will always be time to sleep. Why should I bother about it?
Wearing his coat, he goes to his horse in the stable. At the same time, he keeps thinking about grains, hay and weather. He does not have the courage to think alone about his son.
"What do you eat so seriously?" Jonah asks his horse . . . He looks at the glowing eyes of the horse and says, "Okay, eat fiercely. Although we could not earn our grain today, it does not matter. We can eat dry grass. Yes, this is true. I am too old to drive the cart now . . . My son could have driven. What a great coachman he was! I wish he were alive!”
Jonah keeps silent for a moment. Then he continues, "Yes, my dear, old friend. This is true. Kujya Yonich is no more. He has left us to live alive. Just think, if you have a calf, you are its mother, and suddenly that calf dies leaving you to live without it. How much will it hurt you? Is not it?
His small horse breathes on his master's hand, listens to him and licks his hand.
Pressed from the burden of his grief, Jonah narrates his entire story to that small horse.
A Russian Short Story By Anton Chekhov Titled " Misery" Translated By Sushant Supriy
दुखअंतोन चेखवअनुवाद - सुशांत सुप्रिय