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 72. Stierlitz∗ is no match for them.

∗Max Otto von Stierlits - a character of a novel by a Soviet writer Yulian Semenov. Stierlitz was a Soviet secret agent; he served under disguise in the Nazi Army and spied in favor of the USSR. In 1966 the novel was filmed, and Stierlitz became very famous around the whole country.

After entering an institute a student faces an issue of where to live? Of course, in our case, that did not concern the students who were residents of Kemerovo. Indeed, let's take Tatyana Yanchilina for instance. She lived in the center next to the final stop of a number 3 tram, which was going to Kirovskiy district. And she lived in a spacious stalinka apartment (an architectural style developed when Stalin was in power (1941 - 1953); in housing construction its main characteristic was high-ceilinged spacious apartments). Tanya had a wonderful family. Her parents understood us very well and quite often allowed the apartment for our group's parties. Though, it was mentioned just by the way. Or for example, Valera Kaygorodov lived in a splendid also stalinka four room apartment in Kirovskiy district, in a building where there was a hairdresser's, which was in 40 Let Oktyabrya street. I happened to be in the apartment only once; it was a dream! Valera was an outgoing guy, but his parents did not approve of parties and most importantly were against alcohol. Only once they invited us to have a tea party, but the invitation had no success in the group. So we turned down the invitation on a plausible pretext. As for me, I had a place to stay in a dorm, but preferred to rent apartments. It should be mentioned that it was easy to receive a place in a dorm at that time, and practically all of those who wanted to live in a dorm, lived there. Well, about my good self, for some reason since my early years

I did not like to stay in one and the same apartment for a long time. Subconsciously I was afraid that too friendly relations with a landlord would make my life more complicated. So almost every year I moved to a new apartment.

Though, I was not always lucky to stay at the same apartment for a whole year. Here is a situation when for the first time, and it was also the last one, Vagram and I decided to rent an apartment together. We found a huge room of 30 square meters at Potemkina street, that was where the Russian baths were, next to the former main building of the institute.

We moved into the apartment at the beginning of October. We liked it a lot. And we lived there for less than a week. The landlord, who seemed to be a complaisant woman, had four sons-rascals. Each of them was similar to mamochka from Shkid Republic (a famous film made in 1966 about a F.M.Dostoyevskiy School-Commune for Problem Teenagers, which was founded in 1918 in St. Petersburg ). Sure enough, my parents when packing me off to go from Frunze to study, loaded me with fruit, Oriental sweets and smoked foods. Vagram brought white cheese and oceans of Caucasian delicatessen.

And there arrived Dimka Mkheidze. He did not have a place to stay, so we invited him to our place for the time before he would rent an apartment for himself. Of course, we had the landlord's agreement. There was a huge spare bad in our room after all. Dimka came also loaded with tasty things; he brought a wineskin of homemade wine as well. Dimka was a generous soul, so he poured a three liter jar of wine, took Caucasian sweets and spices and brought all of that to the landlord as a gift. Vagram and I were thrifty guys; we did not treat the landlord to anything, so she did not know what we had. In the morning Dimka brought all the gifts to the landlord; we locked the room and went to the institute and to look for an apartment for Dimka. On that day we did not find an apartment, though had some ideas for the next day. In the evening we were wearily walking home, on the way we bought greens and bread at Rudnik open air market.
We were looking forward to having a dinner with wine; Dimka had brought a one liter drinking horn, and white cheese with the greens, and Oriental sweets and apples of Alma-Atinskaya Grushovka breed, I had brought, for dessert. Though when we entered the apartment we were surprised right away that the little devils were not seen anywhere; and it was quiet in the apartment. And when we opened our room, we grew numb; all the boxes, where the food was, were in the middle of the room open and empty. The wineskin, which contained about fifteen liters of wine, was also on the floor its sides sank in. Dimka was a hot-tempered guy, he rushed to the landlord to talk, but the landlord locked herself in her room and did not answer our knocking on the door. We decided to spend the night in the room and leave the apartment in the morning for any place, even a dark corner. We checked our things, everything was in order. It was good that we had not paid for the apartment. In the morning all three of us left the apartment, the landlord again did not show up. In a week all of us rented different apartments.

Though, that what happened to us was just peanuts. Here is what Nadya Nagornova and Natasha Androkhanova had to go through right before winter examinations in their first year. It was before their very first examinations at the institute in general.
Nadya and Natasha both came from Prokopievsk to enter the institute; they entered the institute together, and together rented an apartment. They were good friends. Their apartment was a good one, and the rent was affordable, so they comfortably lived all their first semester there. However right before the New Year a horrible thing happened.

Their landlord turned to be a dipsomaniac with all the disgusting consequences; once he got drunk and started a wild drunken brawl at home. There was pogrom, obscenities and uncontrollability; for the girls who had grown up in decent families and were not used to that kind of prose of life, it became impossible to stay at the place any longer. However that was later, but at that moment the girls got dressed and demonstratively left the place late at night. They could not and did not want to stay there. Upset and depressed they went to

Raya Shabalina, who rented a room in an apartment in Kirovskit district. The girls in spite of their delicacy turned to be good fighters, I mean fighters with difficulties. Well, first of all they took their belongings from the apartment. The landlord was apologizing and asking them to stay, but they turned to have hearts of stone. Their vigorous activity aimed at looking for a new place to stay brought its fruit. You would never guess where they found shelter before the end of the examinations. Yes, it is difficult to believe in such a thing, but it is a fact. A superintendent of the Morphology building offered them a refuge. She let them stay in her crib.

During a day the girls were sitting in a reading hall studying for the exams and in the evening they came into the crib. Winter was cold that year. The Morphology building practically was not heated. So the girls spent cold nights being aware that behind a wall, in containers, in formalin, very close to them there were..., yes, of course, those were specimen for training. However for the girls they were still corpses. It cannot be said that Nadya and Natasha were scared, but they were uncomfortable because of the neighborhood, and constant smell of formalin was haunting them.

Nevertheless most of all the girls were afraid not of the educational specimen (read corpses), but of rats. It's difficult to imagine, but at an institute's building, where there was a Sanitary-Hygiene Department, rats were the masters of the situation at night. Those terrible creatures with ugly tails feared nothing and walked everywhere they wanted. Once one of them ran inside the girls' crib and got into a wastepaper basket. It was not clear what it was doing there, but paper rustled horribly at night, and there were thin little screeching. Sure enough the girls woke up and started arguing who of them was braver. Long argument did not scare the rat at the wastepaper basket at all, it continued rustling with paper and screeching. During the wrangle between the girls, it became clear that Nadezhda was the bigger coward of them, though Natasha denied all reasonable arguments and insisted on the opposite. And there Nadya with a yell: You only die once quickly jumped out of bed, grabbed some superintendent's rag, threw it over the basket and threw the basket out in the hall. Nadya was exhausted when she returned, her legs did not bend and her heart was sinking.

Natasha greeted Nadya like a hero; she kissed her heartily, and then both of them burst into hysterical laughter. They were laughing excitedly for a long time. It's true, when they say, that laughter relieves stress. Anyway both girls experienced that personally.

That first winter examinations were not long. There were only two examinations and a test in anatomy, which the girls passed easily. Nobody except their families knew that they lived in the institute's building, though there was such secrecy, that Stierlitz was not match for them. After the examinations were excellently passed, the happy girls left for Prokopievsk, they went home to relax after the two weeks of horror.

The plot was kindly given by Nadezhda Sveshnikova.

15 October, 2011

© Copyright: Oleg Syedyshev, 2012
Publishing licence #21206220641

Translated by Viktoria Potykinato content