Syedyshev Oleg
Syedyshev Oleg

Humorous Essays Based on students' memories

"All have died
except for those who are alive, and those whom we remember"Confucius

Essay 100. Dudes

Just tell me, please, what incited us, the students in their sixth year, to have an adventure with criminal flavor? And here is what happened. It was the beginning of our sixth year, autumn. And it was not just autumn, but Indian Summer. We, the sixth year students, were sent to a collective farm to dig up potatoes after a combine. First we were about to make a rumpus: "It was unheard of that the sixth year students were digging up potatoes!". Luckily there were sober minded people in our group: Olya Ptitsyna and Zhenka Romashov. Of course, I understand that nobody will argue as for Olya Ptitsyna, but Zhenya Romashov can evoke doubts in this case. So, let me assure you that it was Zhenya who could avoid conflict situations and doing stupid things, he could persuade the others to act likewise. We respected him, and so obeyed him. Olya and Zhenka offered not to protest, but use the day for a picnic. So we provided ourselves with everything necessary. I should say that there was a significant mess in various organizational issues during the days of the Soviet administration, as well as in modern Russia. On the appointed day we diligently gathered by eight in the morning in a fright yard of a Kemerovo regional hospital. No wonder, as we were going not to dig up potatoes, but to have a picnic after all that. And it was not accustomed among us to be late for parties as well as picnics.

Time flew unnoticed for the first hour of waiting, because we were very much involved in an exciting discussion about why young women have smooth face skin and wrinkled skirts, though older women have everything in the opposite? The discussion was emotional and lively, but we failed to reach a consensus, though we were close to that. And there came timid at first and persisting later questions: "And what's actually going on?" and "What are we actually waiting for?". As soon as they were Zhenka and Olya, who had proposed and persuaded us to go to dig up potatoes, we sent them to find out about the bus we had been told about. And we lay down on grass to wait for them while telling jokes. Suddenly we noticed two rams. Nobody knew, how it had come that they were on the territory of the regional hospital, but there were two of them. They were great with very impressive horns, quite big and imposing. We liked them a lot. No, we did not intend to make shish kebab or beshbarmak out of them. Sorry, but a lyrical digression cries out to be done here: we were waiting for a departure to potato fields, though for some incomprehensible reason there was a delay, so we somehow unnoticeably started sending around a bottle with our favorite "777". Luckily we had a sufficient reserve, as we were going to have nothing less, but a picnic. It is difficult to say now, how many of those bottles had already been sent round before we noticed those rams, this is not important anyway; for sure there were more than one or two bottles. Think for yourself, could you have an idea to arrange ram-fight after some miserable two bottles of "777"? No way. It's funny even to think about it, not just say it out loud.

Galya Vinnik was the first one who noticed the rams: "What cute little sheep!". Everybody started trying to catch sight of the little sheep, and found two decent rams. Sasha Salmayer and Yura Sologub started arguing whether they butt or not. So I just for fun blurted out that they were fighting rams and that I had seen rams of that kind in Kirgizia. I lied, of course, but my words caused significant interest. Vagram even broke down and went to have a closer look at the rams. Everybody started pestering me with questions of how they, the rams, could be incited to start fighting? What could I answer them? Continue lying? I started confessing that it was my joke and so on, and so forth. However, amazingly enough nobody believed me that I had made it up about the rams. Well, then I blurted again that they needed to be enraged. We hardly managed to discuss how we could enrage the rams, as our messengers, Olya and Zhenya, returned from the regional hospital's administration. They were in high spirits, laughing; it turned out that we were supposed to dig up potatoes for the regional hospital. The collective farm had offered its field for free to the hospital for it to make a reserve for winter. So not only us, the sixth year students, had been sent to dig up potatoes, but interns and assistant professors from departments, which were based at the regional hospital. And the departure had been scheduled for seven in the morning! Who told us that the meeting time was at eight we failed to find out. Though we were late, a logistics manager of the hospital was very glad that more additional hands had come anyway. Eh, if he only knew that those were more mischievous than working hands. Nevertheless he promised us to think of something and asked us not to leave. Olya and Zhenya informed us about all of that. And while Olya was talking, Zhenka was suspiciously examining us. And what was the point in examining us? We had nothing to hide; we were happy, our eyes were shining with excitement. We were preparing for the ram-fight and even started betting. And our currency was a sip from a bottle; we planned a loser to be denied one, and the winner to be praised with one. To calm down Zhenya's anger we gave him an opportunity to catch up with us in the number of sips. However even in that case there sprang up a conflict, as Yura Sologub, being toasted after the number of sips he had had, offered Zhenka to have twice more sips. But no, the guys gave Yurka a kick and threatened to deny him the right to have his sips under the circumstances. Generally speaking, Zhenka did not get Yurka's second helping, but he was happy even without it, as it turned out, we had hit the bottle rather many times. Olya also did not turn down the offer, she said: "There will be less left for you". We were vying with each other in telling Zhenya and Olya about the rams and the fight, and the bets, and about who had already betted and who with. And Zhenka got excited. He was craving for the fight and inquiring how we had been enraging the sheep. When we told him that he was a ram himself, because we had just explained to him that we were only figuring out how to enrage them; he got furious and promised to break our own horns off, if we keep calling him a ram. We all together gave our word not to, and Zhenka started acting. He offered to oil the rams' anuses with oil of turpentine. "You will see how much enraged they will become" - that was the way Zhenya summarized the debates. He went to a hospital garage, smartly expecting that as soon as there were carts there, there should be the turpentine there as well. Zhenka was a smart guy. And he really brought a jar of turpentine. The rams were peacefully grazing actually paying no attention at us. They even did not fancy what kind of danger was impending over them. At that moment an UAZ, an all-terrain vehicle, from the logistics manager's equipment, arrived; if the logistics manager himself was not sitting at the steering wheel, the rams would have had the turpentine in their certain parts. Poor Zhenka, he was almost crying because of disappointment; such a great plan was ruined. And the plan was really good. We were talking about it when sitting on milk cans in the vehicle. It was not a along drive, and at about eleven a.m. we in style arrived upon a potato field.

Believe it or not, but we were greeted with applause, not even applause, but ovation. All the diggers with pleasure dropped their buckets and came up to us to shake hands and find out, why we were so late. The Soviet people did not like working on a farm, and medics were not an exception, though everybody knew Vysotskiy's song "...It seems that all of us like potatoes if to chow down on them with salt...". We were eagerly telling how we had been bursting to help them, but ill fate had been on the way, and how we had almost oiled the rams with turpentine. And in conclusion we blamed the logistics manager for everything, that he had not sent us to the field for so long. All the present agreed that he was a pest and suggested starting lunch right away at eleven in the morning. However the one, who was called a pest, heard everything and kept silence, but the very moment he heard that the guys were going to have lunch, he started shouting at the top of his voice. He was asking to start lunch at one o'clock. The logistics manager was an experienced one; he knew that after lunch nobody would work anymore. He used a foul blow, something similar to a kick below the belt. He said that if we work till one o'clock and only then have lunch, he would give for all of us a three liter jar of medical spirits. If to consider it, then for everyone to have it that would make a couple of drops, but the magic word said together with an attribute "medical" had its effect, and the guys dragged their feet back to the field. It was amazing, but everybody approved of the initiative that came up by itself: those three who finished digging up a row of potatoes were leaving for lunch. And that was about one hundred meters. Communists' slogans such as: "a record-setter, a counter plan, heightened undertaking" and suchlike were solidly hammered in our heads. And the hospital logistics manager remained the pest he had been before.

He was walking along the rows after the diggers and checked them; if he found a potato, he started wailing demonstratively carrying the potato in his hand held high up. However it should be mentioned that nobody paid any attention at his demarches. So our group was working hard digging up potatoes.

We managed to dig up at least a bucket, as Sasha Salmayer and I were sent to make a fire and were given the bucket of potatoes. Sasha and I found a place near a stump, overturned the bucket the way the potatoes did not fall out. We started making a fire around the bucket and the stump. Why am I telling you the common truth about such things as surviving of students when sent to dig up potatoes? Everybody did the same. The fire we made was so big, that the pest logistics manager came running and started lecturing Sasha and me; he was reading fire safety rules to us. He was diligently lecturing us, but the fire continued burning violently as before, proving the saying about a caravan and a dog to be true. And when there were lots of coals in the fire, we added two more buckets of potatoes and covered them with coals. At half past twelve hungry "record setters in potatoes digging up productivity" started gathering and got actively involved in the process of making preparations for lunch. They quickly came to us from the field to give us bags with food; and when the first girls who had completed their duties arrived, the clearing started looking differently.

Newspapers were spread for a table, there we put boiled eggs, green cucumbers, freshly-salted cucumbers, pickled cucumbers, tomatoes, salted lard, boiled sausage: "Doktorskaya", "Lyubitelskaya", "Molochnaya", somebody even had brought smoked-sausage "Moscovskaya". We cut it into such thing pieces, that one could read what was written in the newspaper, however as it was found out later, everybody got a piece of the sausage, even the pest logistics manager. You won't believe, but he also joined the party, though let's give him a credit: in addition to the three liter jar of alcohol, he gave three boiled chickens. Everybody unanimously thought that he had stolen them from the hospital kitchen, nevertheless the chickens were eaten. You just cannot imagine how delicious everything was! How appetizingly the cucumbers were crunching, how nice were to us the soiled all over with coals faces of those sitting in front of us! With what appetite the potatoes Sashka and I had baked were eaten! The potatoes were peeled and eaten with lard, onions and pickled cucumbers. That was the culinary abracadabra we had, however it was extremely tasty that time. And with what care the brought by somebody smoked sausage was shared. And what toasts were proposed! At the same time, how scolded Yura Sologub was, in whose hands a plastic folding glass suddenly folded; they were popular back then. Unlucky Yura, was almost beaten for the second time then. Zhenka's hands were itching too much to give him a clip on the back of his head for the spilt alcohol. The pest logistics manager was forgiven by everybody. He turned to be a cool guy, he was elegantly attending young female students and telling funny jokes. He in general proved to be a well of jokes. All in all, the lunch was going on till four o'clock. And when it was over, because there was no more anything that was sent round and all food was eaten, it turned out that more than half of the workers had already left to the city. How could they do that? How could they leave such fun? It appeared that while we were eating, there came a bus, but we did not notice it. The pest logistics manager made an order to take to the city those, who slipped away from the lunch, and come back for the rest, meaning us. Later the pest logistics manager was ready to leave in his run-down UAZ-car, and those, who agreed to go with him sitting on containers, also left.

Our group and about fifteen other guys stayed waiting for the bus. All fun faded away, and there again came offence at the pest logistics manager and those who had already left and at everybody in general. And this dysphoric mood for some reason was prevailing in our number 614 group. We were joined by Slava Sizikov and Tanya Yanchilina, who even though had transferred from us to the groups of gynecologists and obstetricians, but their hearts stayed with us. We could not keep still. We were expressing our indignation that the bus, which was supposed to collect us, was not coming for so long, and there Yevgeniy offered to walk to Kemerovo. He said he knew the area, and that distance was just three-four kilometers, and that we would wait for the bus, which for sure was broken, for more time, than we walk along small woods in the fresh air. Generally speaking, he was talking and persuading us so impressively, that I, Sasha Salmayer, Slavka Sizikov, Vagram Agadzhanyan, Olya Ptitsyna and Galka Vinnik agreed to have the walk. Well, and why not, as that was only three-four kilometers? That meant 30-40 minutes of walking. That was what Yevgeniy persuaded us in, anyway. Maybe he was right, if we would have walked directly to Kemerovo, but we were led by Susanin (Ivan Susanin was a Russian folk hero and martyr of the 17th century.). Yes, that was how we started calling Zhenka after an hour of walking, but there was no sign of the city. That was some situation. At that point all of us were angry at Zhenka. We were saying that he was the biggest windbag in the whole wide world, there were many things we were saying, and we were using bad language as well. Interestingly enough, Yevgeniy even did not talk back. He himself realized that he got lost and was keeping dead silence. And we were cursing him really loud. Then we approached a pond, not a big one. And on the pond's bank there was a construction, kind of a hut or a hayloft. We set down to rest, and Zhenka went to look around. In about five minutes he came back and brought ten chicken eggs in his hands. He treated us to the raw chicken eggs and told us about what he saw and found out. It turned out that that was a hen house, and there were about forty chickens roosting there. Strangely enough, the hen house was there, but it was not clear who it belonged to? Where were the chickens' owners? That was the question. Well, and what do you think we decided to do? Tried to find the hen house's owners and ask them to show us the way to the city? You've made a big mistake, you see. In our corrupted by socialism heads there were quite different ideas. They were simple, like a blank piece of paper.

Catch about five chickens, tear their heads off, and boil or fry the chickens. Well, wasn't that incredible? Just a couple of hours ago we were overeaten at the picnic and at that moment we were making plans about having something to eat again.

And the main thing was that none of us had even a thought, that the chickens were somebody else's, and that if we were caught the consequences could be the most unpredictable. I am telling you honestly, we were not thinking about any of such things at all.

We were concerned about how to catch the chickens. And we did catch them and turned their heads off. Luckily nobody saw us or caught us stealing. And we relaxed a bit during the adventure, and somehow came to the road and almost right away stopped a truck, which brought us in no time to the city. Well, and when we got off at the train station, Zhenka unexpectedly invited all of us to pay a visit, not to him, but to an acquaintance of his. Yes, Svetlana became his wife later, but at that time he had just told us: "an acquaintance". Perhaps, I was the only one, who had known then that Svetlana was more than an acquaintance for Zhenka. Generally speaking, Zhenka praised her culinary talents, promised us that we would lick our fingers,

and all together we went to a dorm of a pedagogical institute, where Sveta lived. Poor Svetlana, one had to see her astonished face, when she opened the door of her room and our company led by Yevgeniy barged inside.

Zhenya was fussing around, asking what to cook for us of the chickens, whether to fry or boil them. Everybody was tired and agreed to have just chicken broth. It should be said that the broth turned out very thick, as it was made of two chickens. We ate though without the appetite and excitement we had had and left. That was the end of the full of events and adventures day.

1 February, 2012

© Copyright: Oleg Syedyshev, 2012
Publishing licence #213101901005

Translated by Viktoria Potykinato content