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 149. We were optimists...

“Necessity is mother of invention” – who would argue about that? Though, this can be said about students when raised to the tenfold power. We already had chemistry classes in our first year. We diligently studied biochemistry together with that subject. It was my favorite subject even when at my secondary school. I can boast that Raisa Vasilievna Sadovnikova, our chemistry teacher at Kedrovka secondary school, even allowed me not to attend her classes. Well, if chemistry was the last lesson in a timetable, and the weather was fine, then I skipped it with pleasure to go fishing, and quite often Vitya Belkov and Lesha Borichev were off school together with me. However that had been at the secondary school, but I was at a higher educational institution, the medical one. All in all I was an excellent student in chemistry at the institute, and gladly helped Zhenya Romashov and Dimka Mkheidze; and together with Dima we helped Yevgeniy. Poor laboratory assistants of the Chemistry Department;

after every our class they missed flasks or funnels, or trivial test tubes. Why Yevgeny needed all that, neither Dimka nor I knew or understood, but helped Zhenka to filch all those goodies from the department. Communists however selected and developed a new gene in people, a very powerful one. It was a gene of misappropriation. A Soviet person filched everything he or she saw. We were not an exception from the rule. Of course we enquired Zhenka what he needed all that for. But he gave a short answer: “It might come useful…” However when Zhenya made up his mind to steal in the Communist style a Liebig condenser from the department, Dima and I said in unison: “But this is a distiller 90%!!!”
Zhenya smiled cunningly to that and announced: “Eh, it’s a pity that this is a straight condenser. Efficiency factor will be low. We need a coiled one. I cannot say anything for Dimitriy, but I opened my eyes wide and was staring at Zhenka: “What efficiency factor?” I will honestly tell you, one should have known Zhenka to imagine his kind and somewhat attractive smile. “A lot of vapors will be wasted, and there will be little of condensate”, - Yevgeniy had unimaginable potential of worldly wisdom compared to us, greenhorns. Ultimately it took Zhenka not long to be sad. In just two or three classes the lab assistants left a Liebig coiled condenser in a class room, and we successfully laid our hands on it. Then the issue of laboratory glassware somehow died away by itself. We studied, had parties on occasions of birthdays and holidays; generally speaking everything was all right and even wonderful. And why not? What are the students’ worries? They are about how not to receive a bad grade or make up for the already received one.

Once in our fourth year Yevgeniy offered to club together and make home-distilled vodka, to have at least something to celebrate holidays. Yevgeniy made an inflammatory speech about what a paying business it was. He said that from two kilos of sugar, there would come almost two liters of pure, like a tear, moonshine. He also said that he had stashed lots of filters to purify the finished product; and with a jar of Indian coffee we would turn the moonshine into excellent brandy. The speech was really inflammatory, it was liked by everybody. A hat was immediately sent around. It was decided to put enough to get five liters of the finished product per person. Timid squawks of Arkashka Blyakher and Toma Ogorodnaya that we would be poisoned were fiercely scoffed at; and they were announced that they’d better give the agreed amount voluntarily, or it would be deducted from their stipends. Generally speaking the unanimity was restored. In the same democratic way it was determined that Zhenya Romashov and Valya Timoshenko would be in charge of everything. Supervising and examining commission included Arkashka, Toma and me. It beats me how come that we overlooked that Zhenka, with the best intentions, of course, decided to increase quantity of the finished product, and instead of regular white beet sugar from a grocery store, got yellow Cuban cane sugar stolen from a brewery. However that was three times more by the number of kilos. Zhenka was praised for his zeal and scolded for his adventurism, as there were Department Against Misappropriation of Socialist Property (OBKhSS, the Soviet financial police) officers constantly hanging around the brewery at Kirovskiy.

However what was done was done, and it was left to find a container to make home brew, i.e. half-finished home-distilled vodka. And there invaluable help was given by Valya Timoshenko, or Timonya, as we lovingly nicknamed her. She ordered and was brought from a village the very container, and it was Timonya, who brewed the home brew in it. She turned out to have experience in the matter prior to the one she got at the institute. She had seen how the brew was made and matured. Everything comes useful in life. Don’t you agree? So on Friday Yevgeniy announced that he had sampled the brew, and it was very strong, which meant the moonshine would be strong as well.

It was decided to distill the home-made vodka on Saturday after classes, in order if it took too much time, there would be Sunday to finish. A brigade of moonshiners included Zhenya, Valera Kaygorodov and Slavka Sizikov, and Arkashka and I were supposed to come with an unexpected inspection. It was agreed beforehand that “the unexpected inspection” would be on Saturday night. Though, somehow it happened so that we managed to come with the inspection only in the morning on Sunday. My God, what we saw in the house at Tretiy Osobyi. Our moonshiners were hammered. They were unconsciously drunk. Slavka Sizikov was trying to set on fire a tablespoon of moonshine, and Valera was just holding his thumb up in silence and nodding significantly. The only person able to make contact with was Yevgeniy. He reported to us that the home-distilled vodka turned to be the first class one, and they had already significantly exceeded the expected rate, and by lunch time would finish, if they had enough energy.
He also gave us to try the moonshine they had produced. No matter how much Slavka and Valerka were asking Zhenya, they were absolutely denied sampling. Arkashka and I sampled about one hundred grams of the turbid, stinky, warm liquid, which was burning with blue flame. Oh, they made such crap. We told Zhenya exactly that.
Later at a general meeting of our group after our report, very favorable, by the way, the group decided that that quantity of the product would be enough to last till the New Year minimum. We were such optimists!

Moonshine is a strong alcoholic drink, made by distilling brew via homemade (or industrial) distillers; the brew is made of brewing grains, potatoes, beets, fruit or other products containing sugar and converted starch substances (from Wikipedia – free encyclopeia). (from Wikipedia).

12 May, 2012

© Copyright: Oleg Syedyshev, 2012
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Translated by Viktoria Potykinato content