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Tamro /by Beso Khvedelidze/
Size: 130x195 mm
Number of pages: 107
Tamro, an old vagabond woman, with heavy make-up and a constant smile on her face; she is an indivisible part of the history of local town. Everybody knows her.
This heartbreaking and warm story of poverty and pride is based on a true story and is dedicated to this picturesque character, whom the author knew personally. A woman, who was a great beauty, somehow ended up as a beggar, but not a typical one – hiding saddest stories behind her simple and warm smile. Tamro takes care of her blind handicapped brother. Because of his sensitivity, she cannot let him realize the difficulties she faces. Instead, she builds illusions of happy and careless life to keep her brother happy. Pushing her limits, she makes the impossible happen, literally the impossible.
by BESO KHVEDELIDZE
She'd never set foot on a different road. Tamro can't permit herself to stand at a bridge. She'll see them in the hell sooner than equal herself with those unwashed and stinking toads. She'd rather walk up and down, see her own reflection in shining shop windows, smoke a cigarette proudly, read placards and walk down to Mikhailov Hospital. People stand in queues there to obtain visas. They're alarmed and troubled. She'll find an acquaintance of hers and talk with him there. The one will necessarily understand what she's talking about. He'll give her some small change or paper money found in his pocket. Then Tamro will turn back, pass by the underground railway station darting a glance at small things set out there. She'll drink some carbonated water and have another chat with someone, mainly shop assistants. They know Tamro very well and know
everything about her life. None of them is so unfeeling to frown at Tamro and be offended by her appearance.
She doesn't live alone to think about scratching out only her own living. She has a brother. He's younger than she. The born blind youth has been handicapped since he was a little boy. He always sits at a TV set and knows much more than those who appear on television. He listens to everything with attention and remembers everything for there's nothing that he's to do. He can also do crosswords with lightning speed. From time to time he makes Tamro read and she gives herself the trouble to read. Sometimes it happens that she isn't ashamed of reading a thick book aloud for her brother's sake. She borrows books in the shop called "Journalist". The shop is at the underground railway station. She takes books, mostly old ones, for a couple of days or so. Who would ever have read those new books. Her brother says they mostly make futile fiction. Yes, she reads Anatole France for her brother. Sometimes they read Chekhov and Dostoyevski, sometimes it's Javakhishvili and Evelyn Waugh. Then he analyses those books and makes conclusions but Tamro can neither say anything not hear his words because her thoughts are far away...
By the way, they live in an Italian yard. They've two poky little rooms there and share their kitchen and toilet with some neighbors.
She usually comes home late at night. She feigns that she works as a janitor at the hydrometeorological station and says she has no
rest the whole day. She tells the same tales to her brother too but unfortunately this is not the case...
Each evening she brings a book or a new paper to her brother. Sometimes it's a sports newspaper, sometimes it's a different one but there's one thing about these papers that never changes: there must be at least a crossword in any of them. She starts with reading a book but then thrusts a word or two about their neighborhood telling him about the people around then in every detail.
"Gio, Basa departed, Basa Qvitsisani..."
"For where? For he was stoned..."
"Ouch!" - says Gio and pokes himself on his knee. "It's amazing what one can hear... And what happened then?"
Then she returns to the book and reads:
"A kind man came and asked after me. I told him everything. He said he was going to give me five lessons and I had to remember them: never rely upon an ignorant man; never let him think you're weak; always be careful even when you're at home; don't guest those who're poor; and don't expect any gifts from a pauper..."
All of a sudden Tamro remembers some other things too:
"Anzora, you know him, someone cleaned out his kiosk this morning, Gio..."
"Who did it?"
"Guys from Nakhalovka, who else would come to do it... There's nothing left there. They left droppings on the table and a fork stuck in the crap..."
"My! What are you talking about, Tamro?"
And Tamro goes on reading:
"I was hunting. It was a cock pheasant. I sent a hawk after it. It turned out that it was a hen pheasant. I'd nothing left and I threw a whip. Its strap yoked the bird but the bird flew away. I came to the place next year and I saw the pheasant had fledglings all having small whips hanging from their necks..."
No, Tamro doesn't know who're Basa and Anzora. Gio... Does he know them?.. They're nobody because they're Tamro's imaginary characters. Neither real Basa nor Temura are real. And the guys from Nakhalovka? They're pure fiction too, just some trash. The thing is that she can't tell her brother about her wandering in the street. It'll hurt him.
She takes him out on Sundays in an invalid chair. She trundles him along the avenue all day long. Sometimes she took him to the fountains in the park. Sometimes they go to a snack bar to eat some kidney beans cooked in earthenware pots and khachapuri. She feeds him herself and lets him take some lemonade after the food. Then they move to the stadium along a track. Tamro chatters like a magpie:
"Look, Gio, Styopa exchanged a high five with us... tall Styopa...
"Across the street, to your right".
Gio raises his hand and waves it too but there has never been anyone like that Styopa. Tamro is so smart, and besides, she doesn't want him to lose courage.
"Gio", - she whispers into his year, "two girls have just passed by us... Wow! They were so cool... of high breeding... I think they liked you...
"Really?" - Gio is in raptures and he can't help it. He turns his head but of course he can see nothing.
"What they were like, Tamro, tell me, tell me?"
"One of them was tall... like me... She was long-legged and well-endowed..."
"Do you think I'm a liar? She'd black straight hair and wore pants".
"And the other one?"
"Well, she had fair hair... thick lips and blue eyes. She wasn't as tall as the first girl but she had a better figure..."
"She was even a bit plump..."
"And how did they look at me... how... What did they say?"
"Smilingly... and they whispered to each other but I still managed to hear..."
"What, what did they say, Tamro?"
"What a handsome boy... He seems to be very clever..."
"Exactly. I heard it myself..."
It makes Gio cheerful. They go on with walking more self-confidently. Tamro trundles the wheelchair and keeps cheating her brother just because she loves him. Then she trundles him into the cinema near the bazaar. They watch an Indian movie there. Gio just listens to the film but Tamro whispers in his ear and tells him about everything happening on the silver screen:
"This man wears white clothes. He's in love with that girl with a birthmark on her forehead. Her father doesn't let them get married and the man sings in a foreign language... By Gar! She loves him and she sings too... Her father sends some menials... They sing. They must take the girl and beat up the man with sticks... They're going to fight now. Oh, the girl stares at them as if trying not to miss anything but it's not easy".
Then they trundle home and Gio doesn't go to bed till late at night.
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