Titles by Georgian authors

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The Moonlit Garden /by Naira Gelashvili/

'The Moonlit Garden' is a collection of short stories. It makes very pleasant reading, emotionally charged stories create a whole artistic space and offer the reader a particular example of a modern aesthetic. At the same time the collection is inspired by a strong feeling of protest. The short story 'I'm off to Madrid', which was published in the early 1980s in one of the Georgian literary journals, became the pretext for serious danger for the editor of this journal since the Soviet censors saw in the short story criticism of the Soviet Union and an 'excessively free point of view'. It is an interesting fact, and one characteristic of that odd time, that in order to neutralize this danger, the Writers' Union (the official writers' association at the time) awarded this short story with a prize as the best publication of the year.




     I'm off to Madrid
     At work
     'Thank you so much, Simon, sir, so very much, for bearing me in mind... Of course I understand. What two weeks' unpaid leave means at this time, when we are at our busiest... If not for my desperate, truly desperate, situation, I wouldn't have troubled you... My deepest thanks, how I can I ever forget... And since you've done such a good deed I'll be so bold as to ask you for a favour: I don't want my colleagues to know where I'm going. You know what it's like, it's autumn and everyone longs to be in the country, and if someone were to visit me there in the country I wouldn't have the time for them now, I've explained to you, haven't I, what a terrible state my mother is in... What a time to visit an old bedridden woman, something could happen to her at any minute, O dear, she's old, just thinking about this terrifies me, you do understand, don't you, sir? Who can replace our mother, while your mother is alive, you're neither an orphan nor homeless, motherless, yes... whatever your age... O dear, you lost your mother last year, didn't you... if I were to tell everyone now why I was going: my mother is seriously ill and I've got to look after her, they'd be upset, you know: someone will offer me medicine, someone a doctor and I don't want that either... I don't want people to be anxious, you understand... This is why I'd be very obliged if you'd help me in this... OK, let them think I've gone off on a business trip... Thanks a lot, Simon, sir, thank you so much, all the best, the very best...'

     At home
     'I'm off on a business trip tomorrow for two weeks. To Sokhumi. Yes, do pack my things for me, I'll not need anything much, the weather is apparently good. Don't bother with the raincoat... no. But for God's sake remember this: If anyone should call me or not, you know someone will call, don't
let it slip out to anyone that I'm in Sukhumi... At these times if someone has to visit there, I know, they'll call on me, they'll drop in and I don't feel like drinking and entertaining. At the same time, I really do have lots to sort out. My boss asked me particularly... Tell them I'm resting in Kislovodsk... Start packing already, I've got to go out for a while, there's something I've got to arrange...'
     Neither at home, nor at work
     'How will I manage a fortnight without you... Time to get up and get dressed. You can stay in bed if you like. I've got to be at home in time, I've got to get ready... Wouldn't it be nice if we were going somewhere like last year... O dear, if it was another town I was visiting, I really would take you along, but Kutaisi will not work out, you do know, don't you... If you only knew how much I can't be bothered... Why on earth is it now that they want to sort out the inheritance... They can't be
bothered with anything, my mother- and father-in-law, and I've to go chasing after everything, you understand, don't you... But what can I do... It's not about the small inheritance. How could you manage a fortnight with them in the house... Somewhere else... we'd go together, but there... The whole city is full of my wife's relatives... Well, don't feel lonely... that's it... once again, that's it... I'll definitely call you, all the best, my dear...

     In the street
     'How are you? How long it's been since I last saw you!'
     'I'm fine. How are you keeping?'
     'Alright, you're really looking good: I was looking at you from a distance, you were striding along like a chap hurrying somewhere nice.'
     'That's right, I'm off to Madrid.'
     'Hey! How'd you manage that?'
     'If you really want something, you know... My life's wish is coming true! Spain, Madrid! – It's my mania!
     'Well, that's it then, have a safe journey!'
     'Thanks, thanks... look after yourself!

     At the hospital
     'Excuse me. May I go in to the Head Doctor?'
     'Go ahead, he's free right now.'
     'Ho, ho, ho! Who's this I see! Is it really you? No, is it really you? Hang on, let me have a good look at you! How on earth did you get here! What genius told you?! Are you a man and have you any kind of conscience?! How could you not have remembered me at least once, mate, what have you found in this city, haven't we spent seven years sitting at the same desk! You can't remember any more, you shameless person, you?! Sit down. Sit down. Just a sec, just let me have a good look to see how you've changed.'
     'You've got to help me, Gogi, things are bad!'
     'What's the matter, what's happened to you! If there's anything I can do...'
     'What's happened to me! If I only knew... My nerves are failing me, do you understand, my nerves! I can't see anyone any more. Do you understand? No one. No one. To hear no one's voice. Face. Voice... no one's. I'm tired, I'm overtired... I no longer want... Haven't I the right to be tired? I want a little time for myself. All alone. All alone. I want quiet. Do you understand? Quiet. Isn't it possible? I ask you, isn't it possible for a person to want quiet?! I've been crying a lot lately, do you understand? Crying! And I have burst out sobbing over such things, such silly things that I've almost had a fit of rage: let's say I'm watching television and the announcer states loudly and in celebration: 'Rustavi steel is coming'! and a lava of
steel gushes out and scalding tears spilt from my eyes. I'm sitting and sobbing! What devil is making me cry, I ask you? The next minute they are showing some war or other somewhere, people are slaughtering one another, they're shooting, they're throttling, they're burning – and I'm sitting enraged, not a tendon twitching! There's some kind of utter confusion in my psyche, I've broken down entirely. I'll tell you the rest later. I've come from home, some think that I'm on a business trip. Some think I am with my mother in the country. In short, you've got to help me, perhaps you could accept me here and manage to find me a separate ward... If not, I don't know, I don't know, what has happened to me...'
     'That's easy! It's good that you remembered me. I understand. I understand. Nerves! O dear, it's such a time now. That's all very well, but how could I not understand you! I myself... let's keep this to ourselves: when I become anxious... I see mice everywhere! I tell you, little black mice...

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