Ivan D. Hristov

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THE ORDEAL

LIFE

Translated by: Росица Шопска

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happening, and she had kneaded all the flour. She had even lit the furnace. I told her:

“Give half of the flour to Nako!”

And she looked nice to me, showed me the empty sacks and said,

“I do not have any left, Dimo, I do not have! I got it all kneaded. You can see that I do not have any!...”

“Listen what I’m going to tell you: if it’s for a man, I’m so good that you may take the clothes from my back, but if I know that someone’s playing games with me and lie to me looking in my eyes – it’s hard for him.”

I got so angry, that my hair stood up. Nako, too, took the spade for bread. I could not stay calm anymore, and I shouted in such a way that I was afraid of my voice.

“Give the flour; otherwise you will not eat bread!”

The dough in the bread troughs was kneaded and was now rising. The fire in the furnace was still burning. I drew Nako.

“Take the the bread troughs!”

He was only waiting for that and pulled them so that he would spill the dough. Gogov’s wife hurled herself against him and they nearly started to fight with the spade if I had not separated them. I took the bread troughs with one hand, and with the other I pushed her. I helped Nako take them through the stairs, and the woman started swearing at us and all our relatives. We got out of the house. Nako rejoiced started to drag the bread troughs in the snow.

I accompanied him to his house. He brought me into a dark and smoky room. Inside there was only a wooden bed, covered with two or three skins and a torn fleecy rug. The door was crooked and from the cold the water in the copper pans had frozen. His wife’s eyes were red and wet from the smoke or something else, and a child less than a year old screamed in her hands. The others, I do not remember, five or six, cold and hungry, as soon as we got in, came around and stretched their hands to the dough.

Nako leaned under the bed and pulled out their bread troughs. His wife Gela, with ruffled hair, left the little one in the cradle and quickly kneaded the dough into them. She rolled up her sleeves and began to form it, making small round pieces of bread, sticking them to the stove. The kids, nearly naked in the middle of winter, sniffing, took the raw pieces of bread from the stove and ate them, so that their ears are moving, and tears were flowing from their eyes...

I could not stand it anymore. I left the house and went to the pub. I did not feel the cold that was freezing the ground, I was deaf to the wailing of the blizzard, but somewhere deep in my soul I felt a pain that made me clutch my fists.

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