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9785717200936

Sense

by ;
  • ISBN13:

    9785717200936

  • ISBN10:

    5717200935

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-05-22
  • Publisher: Glas

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Summary

" Sensewill be of interest to the English-speaking reader for its intimate vision of the world of a confused adolescent in a threatening and dangerous world. This young and courageous author has a sense of irony and humor and manages to distance himself from his hero's social preoccupations and hyperbole. The book's appeal is in its youthful immediacy."--Arch Tait "One is infected with the author's energy and his passionate aspiration to get some sense into his life, to act, to live for the sake of something."-- Literary Russia "This Chechen boy created a portrait of dissident youth in the best traditions of Tolstoy and Turgenev."--Eduard Limonov Arslan Khasavovis the 2009 Debut Prize winner. He works for the BBC Russian service as a columnist on Northern Caucasus. Arch Tait, a recently retired professor of Russian literature, has many successful translations to his name, including books by Anna Politkovskaya and Ludmila Ulitskaya.

Table of Contents

From the Nationale Hotel I made my way up Tverskaya Street
Boutiques, restaurants, newspaper kiosks, everything familiar was suffused with something unfamiliar
A shirt with intricate patterns in a shop window hadn't changed since last I saw it, yet now it seemed quite different, not how it had looked yesterday or the day before, or when it was first arranged in the display
Different
This differentness was everywhere
Everything was imbued with change
On Tverskaya itself there were army vehicles of various descriptions, mainly khaki, but some were blue with barred windows and the word æPolice' painted on them
There were what at first glance seemed to be ordinary buses, but the bodies moving about inside them were wearing military uniforms
Huge antennae mounted on specialist vehicles reached out a dozen hands in different directions
On the roof of a Gazelle truck a policeman perched, looking into the viewfinder of the videocamera presciently mounted there and pointed in the direction of where I was going
By the red painted headquarters of the Mayor of Moscow, from whose balcony, a plaque reminded us, Lenin once spoke, a young soldier was trying on a backpack with an aerial only too familiar from films about the Second World War
Behind the Podium jewellery store, as if trying to hide, fifty riot police were on duty, their trousers tucked into their boots and their helmets the size of ripe watermelons.
Some loser I didn't recognise was cleaning the windows of the jewellery shop with a special mop, a sponge neatly attached to a long thin pole
By his feet, a red bucket filled with murky water stood on the pavement of Tverskaya
ôHow can anyone be cleaning windows with all this going on?"
I looked at the road
Hundreds of cars sped Muscovites in both directions
ôHow can people be going about their business with all this going on?"
I looked reproachfully at the window cleaner, a scrawny little man with a wispy moustache
ôWhat can I do about it? I've got a family to feed," he thought apologetically, I thought.
Tverskaya Street was blocked
The usual party of force had settled there, posted throughout central Moscow by their unknown warlord
I had almost arrived
I needed only to get through to Mayakovsky Square, the epicentre of events which promised to culminate in an outburst of street fighting.
Here we shall do well to turn for a moment from the military force and focus on the figure I cut
I was clad in tight black trousers, a black turtleneck, a black sailor's sheepskin jacket, black hat, and brutal pointed boots I had burnished before setting out
My black bag, which usually felt so heavy, today was weightless
I felt elated, and seemed not to be walking but hovering a couple of feet above the ground and moving my legs only in order not to attract attention
In this manner I proceeded from the Modern History Museum to Mayakovsky Square
God grant I get the chance to experience that buzz at least once more in my life.
Here the military stood shoulder to shoulder
Faces were distributed along the full 500 metres or so of the pavement
As if on parade, they stood solemn and resolute, but registering no real understanding of what they were doing there
There were almost no pedestrians
I would even say, I was on my own
All those who were supposed to be at the protest were already there
Others had probably chosen different routes
I was alone with the army and we were not on the same side.
I knew that in all probability every one of them was a perfectly decent guy
They all had their own life story and it was only circumstances obliged them to stand there, obeying orders from superiors rather than marching with me and others to demand a revolution, to create one
I walked on, feeling like a doomed revolutionary on my way to the firing squad
The eyes of all the soldiers were on me
Entering into the part, I walked a little taller, added to my expression a hint of ruefulness at being thus caught, and a little disdain
At the same time, I was thinking, ôDon't worry, guys, I don't hold this against you
You are only doing your job
Everything's cool."
They all admired me, I thought, my dignity and bearing
I wasn't weeping, wasn't snivelling or trying to find a way out, but marching contemptuously towards the scaffold.
Having proceeded 200 yards in the guise of a tragic captive, I was suddenly transformed into the leader who had forced the regime to take such meticulous precautions, cluttering up Moscow with military hardware and the people who serviced it
I became the visionary politician, a living legend, whom chance circumstance had caused to be late in coming to head his rebel army but for whom self-sacrificing people were waiting in the square, people willing to die for my ideas, for my person, and for the order I planned to establish
This role suited me no less than the previous one
The roles came to me of their own accord, imposed on me by my heart
I could even feel the cold metal of a pistol tucked into my trousers and concealed by my jacket
What sort of leader doesn't carry a pistol?
Of course, when the bullets started flying in my direction, valiant men would shield me with their own bodies, saving my life as they perished one after the other
Later I would weep at their graves and pray and award them posthumous honours, but not just now
Just now we were joined in a decisive battle and there was no place for tears.
When I suddenly became transformed into the rebel leader, the young soldiers whose eyes had been following me also changed
There was more contempt in their faces too, but in most of them I read, ôIt is my duty to despise you now, but when battle commences we will all come over to your side and support you!"
In Mayakovsky Square the speaker was saying into his microphone, ôThe regime is scared of us
It is a cowardly regime! We shall return to this place! We'll be back!"
Thousands of young throats picked up the refrain: ôWe'll be back!" Someone in the crowd shouted ôRe-vo-lu-tion!" and everyone shouted back, ôRe-vo-lu-tion!" The December wind fluttered banners, red and white, black and white, orange
I had arrived precisely as the protest was ending.
Journalists from TV companies I didn't know were speaking into microphones, reporting to their fellow citizens on the events taking place
The riot police started flexing their muscles in anticipation
Someone unfurled a white banner above the rally with black lettering which read, ôWelcome, March of Political Prostitutes!" ôProvocateurs!" said an old man standing next to me
The protestors shouted, ôGet stuffed! Get stuffed!" at the provocateurs and there was so much energy in that chanting, such enormous power!
I was looking for Limonov
I wanted to see him
I intended to meet him, or someone in the party leadership in order through them to contact him
I had studied their faces on the Internet until I could recognise the party's entire executive committee
There were a great many people around and to find Limonov was a practical impossibility, particularly since I couldn't actually see any of the leaders
As I made for the exit from the rally, I pulled myself up on the stone wall of a building in the hope of getting a better view
Two lads passed me
One, a short young man wearing a dark blue cap, boasted, ôI gave an interview." ôWho to?"
ôThe Russian Service of the BBC."
ôOh, the Russian Service of the Pee Pee Sea," his friend mimicked.
Strange-looking people in black, wearing headsets with microphones, were, as if just for their own home video, surreptitiously filming those leaving
Limonov's supporters began to appear under their banners, but none of those in the front row were the party's leaders
They were rank-and-file members with armbands, a few of them masked, and some without distinguishing marks of any kind, moving along Brestskaya Street.
I joined this motley crowd of members of an officially banned party
They were chanting ôPower to the people! Power to the people! Power to the people!"
And ôPutin out! Putin out!" A helicopter hovered above us
Suddenly, our orderly ranks wavered
About fifteen metres ahead I could see clashes
Those in the first ranks carrying banners started fighting back with their flagstaffs at the attacking riot police
Some, as always, tried to run back but others ran forwards into the melee.
They started to crush us
The small group I happened to be with was blocked in and not allowed to move forward or back
I was afraid of a stampede, because I would take the full brunt of it, standing right next to a wall
ôWhat's going on?"
I asked the person standing next to me
ôI have no idea," he said with an embarrassed smile
He must have been fifty or sixty years old.
I had a feeling that all those who were being blocked in were just the hapless protestors they arrest as æcriminal elements' in order to meet some target
Try telling them you were only a bystander! I could imagine the face of my parents if they found out I had been arrested on this march, after our conversation
I tried to persuade myself I didn't care in the slightest what my parents thought
If you worried about upsetting them and always followed their advice, you would never make your own way, and end up living conventionally
I tried to set all such thoughts aside.
Suddenly there was movement and everybody was running back towards Mayakovsky Square
Behind barriers and the backs of the police, journalists were photographing and recording everything
In order to get clear of the crowd, I moved right over towards the forces of ælaw and order'
Coming round a group of people, I glanced over at the journalists...
Damn! One of them was filming me with a hefty camera perched on his shoulder
I stepped in a puddle with my boots, which until now had been as black as deep, dark caves.
Walking back to Belorussky Station, I took the Metro a couple of stops and was soon home
Russian TV said not a word about what had happened
I turned to Euronews
In a handful of people kettled against a wall by the riot police I glimpsed the top of my hat.
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

Excerpts

From the Nationale Hotel I made my way up Tverskaya Street. Boutiques, restaurants, newspaper kiosks, everything familiar was suffused with something unfamiliar. A shirt with intricate patterns in a shop window hadn’t changed since last I saw it, yet now it seemed quite different, not how it had looked yesterday or the day before, or when it was first arranged in the display. Different. This differentness was everywhere. Everything was imbued with change. On Tverskaya itself there were army vehicles of various descriptions, mainly khaki, but some were blue with barred windows and the word ‘Police’ painted on them. There were what at first glance seemed to be ordinary buses, but the bodies moving about inside them were wearing military uniforms. Huge antennae mounted on specialist vehicles reached out a dozen hands in different directions. On the roof of a Gazelle truck a policeman perched, looking into the viewfinder of the videocamera presciently mounted there and pointed in the direction of where I was going. By the red painted headquarters of the Mayor of Moscow, from whose balcony, a plaque reminded us, Lenin once spoke, a young soldier was trying on a backpack with an aerial only too familiar from films about the Second World War. Behind the Podium jewellery store, as if trying to hide, fifty riot police were on duty, their trousers tucked into their boots and their helmets the size of ripe watermelons.
Some loser I didn’t recognise was cleaning the windows of the jewellery shop with a special mop, a sponge neatly attached to a long thin pole. By his feet, a red bucket filled with murky water stood on the pavement of Tverskaya. “How can anyone be cleaning windows with all this going on?” I looked at the road. Hundreds of cars sped Muscovites in both directions. “How can people be going about their business with all this going on?” I looked reproachfully at the window cleaner, a scrawny little man with a wispy moustache. “What can I do about it? I’ve got a family to feed,” he thought apologetically, I thought.
Tverskaya Street was blocked. The usual party of force had settled there, posted throughout central Moscow by their unknown warlord. I had almost arrived. I needed only to get through to Mayakovsky Square, the epicentre of events which promised to culminate in an outburst of street fighting.
Here we shall do well to turn for a moment from the military force and focus on the figure I cut. I was clad in tight black trousers, a black turtleneck, a black sailor’s sheepskin jacket, black hat, and brutal pointed boots I had burnished before setting out. My black bag, which usually felt so heavy, today was weightless. I felt elated, and seemed not to be walking but hovering a couple of feet above the ground and moving my legs only in order not to attract attention. In this manner I proceeded from the Modern History Museum to Mayakovsky Square. God grant I get the chance to experience that buzz at least once more in my life.
Here the military stood shoulder to shoulder. Faces were distributed along the full 500 metres or so of the pavement. As if on parade, they stood solemn and resolute, but registering no real understanding of what they were doing there. There were almost no pedestrians. I would even say, I was on my own. All those who were supposed to be at the protest were already there. Others had probably chosen different routes. I was alone with the army and we were not on the same side.
I knew that in all probability every one of them was a perfectly decent guy. They all had their own life story and it was only circumstances obliged them to stand there, obeying orders from superiors rather than marching with me and others to demand a revolution, to create one. I walked on, feeling like a doomed revolutionary on my way to the firing squad. The eyes of all the soldiers were on me. Entering into the part, I walked a little taller, added to my expression a hint of ruefulness at being thus caught, and a little disdain. At the same time, I was thinking, “Don’t worry, guys, I don’t hold this against you. You are only doing your job. Everything’s cool.” They all admired me, I thought, my dignity and bearing. I wasn’t weeping, wasn’t snivelling or trying to find a way out, but marching contemptuously towards the scaffold.
Having proceeded 200 yards in the guise of a tragic captive, I was suddenly transformed into the leader who had forced the regime to take such meticulous precautions, cluttering up Moscow with military hardware and the people who serviced it. I became the visionary politician, a living legend, whom chance circumstance had caused to be late in coming to head his rebel army but for whom self-sacrificing people were waiting in the square, people willing to die for my ideas, for my person, and for the order I planned to establish. This role suited me no less than the previous one. The roles came to me of their own accord, imposed on me by my heart. I could even feel the cold metal of a pistol tucked into my trousers and concealed by my jacket. What sort of leader doesn’t carry a pistol? Of course, when the bullets started flying in my direction, valiant men would shield me with their own bodies, saving my life as they perished one after the other. Later I would weep at their graves and pray and award them posthumous honours, but not just now. Just now we were joined in a decisive battle and there was no place for tears.
When I suddenly became transformed into the rebel leader, the young soldiers whose eyes had been following me also changed. There was more contempt in their faces too, but in most of them I read, “It is my duty to despise you now, but when battle commences we will all come over to your side and support you!”
In Mayakovsky Square the speaker was saying into his microphone, “The regime is scared of us. It is a cowardly regime! We shall return to this place! We’ll be back!”. Thousands of young throats picked up the refrain: “We’ll be back!” Someone in the crowd shouted “Re-vo-lu-tion!” and everyone shouted back, “Re-vo-lu-tion!” The December wind fluttered banners, red and white, black and white, orange. I had arrived precisely as the protest was ending.
Journalists from TV companies I didn’t know were speaking into microphones, reporting to their fellow citizens on the events taking place. The riot police started flexing their muscles in anticipation. Someone unfurled a white banner above the rally with black lettering which read, “Welcome, March of Political Prostitutes!” “Provocateurs!” said an old man standing next to me. The protestors shouted, “Get stuffed! Get stuffed!” at the provocateurs and there was so much energy in that chanting, such enormous power!
I was looking for Limonov. I wanted to see him. I intended to meet him, or someone in the party leadership in order through them to contact him. I had studied their faces on the Internet until I could recognise the party’s entire executive committee. There were a great many people around and to find Limonov was a practical impossibility, particularly since I couldn’t actually see any of the leaders. As I made for the exit from the rally, I pulled myself up on the stone wall of a building in the hope of getting a better view. Two lads passed me. One, a short young man wearing a dark blue cap, boasted, “I gave an interview.” “Who to?” “The Russian Service of the BBC.” “Oh, the Russian Service of the Pee Pee Sea,” his friend mimicked.
Strange-looking people in black, wearing headsets with microphones, were, as if just for their own home video, surreptitiously filming those leaving. Limonov’s supporters began to appear under their banners, but none of those in the front row were the party’s leaders. They were rank-and-file members with armbands, a few of them masked, and some without distinguishing marks of any kind, moving along Brestskaya Street.
I joined this motley crowd of members of an officially banned party. They were chanting “Power to the people! Power to the people! Power to the people!” And “Putin out! Putin out!” A helicopter hovered above us. Suddenly, our orderly ranks wavered. About fifteen metres ahead I could see clashes. Those in the first ranks carrying banners started fighting back with their flagstaffs at the attacking riot police. Some, as always, tried to run back but others ran forwards into the melee.
They started to crush us. The small group I happened to be with was blocked in and not allowed to move forward or back. I was afraid of a stampede, because I would take the full brunt of it, standing right next to a wall. “What’s going on?” I asked the person standing next to me. “I have no idea,” he said with an embarrassed smile. He must have been fifty or sixty years old.
I had a feeling that all those who were being blocked in were just the hapless protestors they arrest as ‘criminal elements’ in order to meet some target. Try telling them you were only a bystander! I could imagine the face of my parents if they found out I had been arrested on this march, after our conversation. I tried to persuade myself I didn’t care in the slightest what my parents thought. If you worried about upsetting them and always followed their advice, you would never make your own way, and end up living conventionally. I tried to set all such thoughts aside.
Suddenly there was movement and everybody was running back towards Mayakovsky Square. Behind barriers and the backs of the police, journalists were photographing and recording everything. In order to get clear of the crowd, I moved right over towards the forces of ‘law and order’. Coming round a group of people, I glanced over at the journalists ... Damn! One of them was filming me with a hefty camera perched on his shoulder. I stepped in a puddle with my boots, which until now had been as black as deep, dark caves.
Walking back to Belorussky Station, I took the Metro a couple of stops and was soon home. Russian TV said not a word about what had happened. I turned to Euronews. In a handful of people kettled against a wall by the riot police I glimpsed the top of my hat.

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