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 92. Those who are drowning are to be saved by themselves!

So I've reached the point when I am requested to write an essay. No, this is not a work made to order. This essay is written to the readers' request to tell them how I was coping with difficulties. Of course, I had them as well, especially when I moved from Uzbekistan to Ukraine. When in Uzbekistan I had generous bonuses to my salary: I worked in a system of the Third Main Agency of the Healthcare Ministry of the USSR, which was serving uranium mines and uranium processing enterprises.
So I was the head of the only psychiatric department of the Chief Directory in Central Asia. And correspondingly I was paid more than well.

And then Gorbachev signed a Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement with Americans, and together with reduction of armaments, there were closed the mines where uranium was mined, as well as serving them clinics and medical units. So the clinic in Cherkesar, where I worked had to be closed. There were several ways for me to go. The first one was to keep my position and continue working after the clinic was given to the republican administration, to the Healthcare Ministry of the Uzbek SSR. The second one was to be transferred to a clinic, which would be suggested to me by the Central Directory. I was offered a choice of moving to Severodvinsk or to Eastern Siberia, to a city of Krasnokamensk of Irkutsk region on the border with Mongolia. And the third way was to be dismissed on grounds of redundancy, receive the tripled rate of my salary with all bonuses and find a new job independently. I had chosen the third way long before the official proposal and sent my resumes to three organizations on each level, which were by the Black Sea.

The three organizations were a Regional Healthcare Agency, a Regional Bureau of the Interior, a Regional Social Security Department. All three of them had psychiatric service. To our surprise, my wife and I received many job offers. We chose Donetsk region, the city of Mariupol, which was also by the sea, though the Sea of Azov. We settled at Mariupol suburbs at Mangush. The chief physician, as I remember, told me then that if I "impress him", he would give me an extra half of wages rate. And I started from a single wage rate of a district psychiatrist. I will honestly say that that salary was not enough to provide for two of us. However I did not want to apply for extra working hours, as I was concerned about owing a favor to the chief physician. I went another way. I bought three hundred chickens, which laid a full bucket of eggs for our family every day. And I was also a fisherman. I got the hand of fishing bullheads. It's small, but delicious fish. First we fried it, but soon had enough of it and started sun drying it.

My fishing technique was improving, and I started bringing home three or four buckets of bullheads. So one day Natasha told me: "Oleg, we have more than a thousand eggs and three sacks of sun dried bullheads piled up. All this can get rotten. Something has to be done". So we decided to sell excess produce at a marketplace. It took us a long time to get ready for the first trip, as Natasha absolutely did not want to sell at the market. I had to apply remarkable effort to persuade her, that there was nothing to be ashamed of in selling extra produce of your own farm. And she finally consented.

There was no hassle with the eggs, but we had to do some tiring work about the bullheads. We sorted the fish by size and then strung by tens. In Ukraine farm markets under the Soviet rule as well as now start working very early, at daybreak. Well, sure enough, we did not go there that early, but by seven in the morning we arrived to the central market of Mariupol. That was an anthill. Even though we had been there before bringing the eggs and fish and found out what had been where sold, we got confused a bit, and Natalek was ready to go back home without even starting to trade.

I had to help her out. I brought the eggs from our car, and there were several boxes of them, and the three sacks of bullheads to a counter. Then I bought a coupon for a trading spot and started shouting at the top of my voice: "Bullheads, sun dried bullheads, excellent bullheads!" and "Eggs, chicken eggs, fresh, huge eggs!". It should be noted that nobody cried like that and advertised goods at Mariupol market. Natashka and I were the first. I bawled for five or ten minutes, and people started crowding around Natalka, they even stood in a line. Well, and I went at work, after I had promised to pick Natasha up by 1.30 pm, after receiving my patients, and if there would be a need to finish selling what would be left. I left for the hospital, though I felt uneasy. I was worried about my Natalek, what if someone would abuse her. I knew the quantity of the bullheads and eggs, and the market prices I also knew, but I could not believe that that amount of money could be made by selling, that so many eggs and bullheads would be bought. To my extreme surprise and worry, when I came to pick Natasha up, I did not find her where I had left her. However the old ladies who were selling greens next to her reassured me that she had sold everything and left long ago: "There are her boxes and buckets and sacks under the counter. She was so happy that left everything and ran away. And we collected everything". Here are the babushkas, a real treasure, but the old ladies. I wanted to thank them and offered them money for collecting and keeping the boxes, but they did not take the money; so I bought some of their greens, and they were very glad and promised me to look after Natalka, if we come to trade again. And, by the way, everything was exactly that way afterwards. So while I was having a chat with the babushkas and bringing the empty tare to the car, Natasha showed up. She was excited, bubbly, and had a bunch of packages in her hands. It cost me a lot of efforts to make her sit in the car and go home, that much she wanted to tell me about the trade. On the way home she started demonstrating me her purchases. She was very happy and praised every item, as if she intended to sell it to me. And when she told me how much she had paid for that, I dropped my lower jaw and had my upper jaw tilted. That was the sum, which several times exceeded my salary. And when we were at home Natasha told me that in spite of spending that much, what she had spent was significantly less than the amount she brought home. After recalculation of what was left after the shopping, we concluded that to trade at the market was profitable, and we would sell there for some time. And we also decided to go to the market more often in order Natasha did not have that big sum of money on her, as that was dangerous. And Natasha asked me, whether that was possible to sell everything wholesale.

On the first day she was approached by several people, who offered to buy everything wholesale, everything she had, but with a small discount. The discount was really quite acceptable, only 15-20 per cent of the total sum we had calculated. So we decided to sell everything to dealers and save us the trouble to stand at the market. I was enthusiastically fishing and sun drying fish, the chickens were laying eggs with high efficiency, though the number of eggs was deteriorating, as we would behead one or another chicken, when wanted to treat us to chicken broth. We were trading like that till autumn, when I arranged a room for performing hypnosis at our place and started receiving patients at home. That was the period, when Gorbachev made it possible for cooperative and entrepreneurial activity. I resumed my medical practice, which I actually had not stopped, though I spent a lot of time on fishing and processing the fish. That way Natasha and I resolved the financial problem in our family.

I will honestly say that it jars on my nerves, when they complain about life or their neighbors or government or whatever... Just tell me, when the authorities ever cared about people? Well, never. In the past, let's say under the communists, they did not give a damn about people, to say nothing about the time after that. There are wonderful signs around all beaches saying: "Those who are drowning are to be saved by themselves!"

13 December, 2011

© Copyright: Oleg Syedyshev, 2012
Publishing licence #213101900979

Translated by Viktoria Potykinato content