by Anton Chekhov
"To whom shall I tell my grief?"

The twilight of evening. Big flakes of wet snow are whirling lazily about the street lamps, which have just been lighted, and lying in a thin soft layer on roofs, horses' backs, shoulders, caps. Iona Potapov, the sledge-driver, is all white like a ghost. He sits on the box without stirring, bent as double as the living body can be bent. If a regular snowdrift fell on him it seems as though even then he would not think it necessary to shake it off.... His little mare is white and motionless too. Her stillness, the angularity of her lines, and the stick-like straightness of her legs make her look like a halfpenny gingerbread horse. She is probably lost in thought. Anyone who has been torn away from the plough, from the familiar gray landscapes, and cast into this slough, full of monstrous lights, of unceasing uproar and hurrying people, is bound to think.

It is a long time since Iona and his nag have budged. They came out of the yard before dinnertime and not a single fare yet. But now the shades of evening are falling on the town. The pale light of the street lamps changes to a vivid color, and the bustle of the street grows noisier.

"Sledge to Vyborgskaya!" Iona hears. "Sledge!"

Iona starts, and through his snow-plastered eyelashes sees an officer in a military overcoat with a hood over his head.

"To Vyborgskaya," repeats the officer. "Are you asleep? To Vyborgskaya!"

In token of assent Iona gives a tug at the reins which sends cakes of snow flying from the horse's back and shoulders. The officer gets into the sledge. The sledge-driver clicks to the horse, cranes his neck like a swan, rises in his seat, and more from habit than necessity brandishes his whip. The mare cranes her neck, too, crooks her stick-like legs, and hesitatingly sets off....

"Where are you shoving, you devil?" Iona immediately hears shouts from the dark mass shifting to and fro before him. "Where the devil are you going? Keep to the r-right!"

"You don't know how to drive! Keep to the right," says the officer angrily.

A coachman driving a carriage swears at him; a pedestrian crossing the road and brushing the horse's nose with his shoulder looks at him angrily and shakes the snow off his sleeve. Iona fidgets on the box as though he were sitting on thorns, jerks his elbows, and turns his eyes about like one possessed as though he did not know where he was or why he was there.

"What rascals they all are!" says the officer jocosely. "They are simply doing their best to run up against you or fall under the horse's feet. They must be doing it on purpose."

Iona looks as his fare and moves his lips.... Apparently he means to say something, but nothing comes but a sniff.

"What?" inquires the officer.

Iona gives a wry smile, and straining his throat, brings out huskily: "My son... er... my son died this week, sir."

"H'm! What did he die of?"

Iona turns his whole body round to his fare, and says:

"Who can tell! It must have been from fever.... He lay three days in the hospital and then he died.... God's will."

"Turn round, you devil!" comes out of the darkness. "Have you gone cracked, you old dog? Look where you are going!"

"Drive on! drive on!... " says the officer. "We shan't get there till to-morrow going on like this. Hurry up!"

The sledge-driver cranes his neck again, rises in his seat, and with heavy grace swings his whip. Several times he looks round at the officer, but the latter keeps his eyes shut and is apparently disinclined to listen. Putting his fare down at Vyborgskaya, Iona stops by a restaurant, and again sits huddled up on the box.... Again the wet snow paints him and his horse white. One hour passes, and then another....

Three young men, two tall and thin, one short and hunchbacked, come up, railing at each other and loudly stamping on the pavement with their goloshes.

"Cabby, to the Police Bridge!" the hunchback cries in a cracked voice. "The three of us,... twenty kopecks!"

Iona tugs at the reins and clicks to his horse. Twenty kopecks is not a fair price, but he has no thoughts for that. Whether it is a rouble or whether it is five kopecks does not matter to him now so long as he has a fare.... The three young men, shoving each other and using bad language, go up to the sledge, and all three try to sit down at once. The question remains to be settled: Which are to sit down and which one is to stand? After a long altercation, ill-temper, and abuse, they come to the conclusion that the hunchback must stand because he is the shortest.

"Well, drive on," says the hunchback in his cracked voice, settling himself and breathing down Iona's neck. "Cut along! What a cap you've got, my friend! You wouldn't find a worse one in all Petersburg.... "

"He-he!... he-he!... " laughs Iona. "It's nothing to boast of!"

"Well, then, nothing to boast of, drive on! Are you going to drive like this all the way? Eh? Shall I give you one in the neck?"

"My head aches," says one of the tall ones. "At the Dukmasovs' yesterday Vaska and I drank four bottles of brandy between us."

"I can't make out why you talk such stuff," says the other tall one angrily. "You lie like a brute."

"Strike me dead, it's the truth!... "

"It's about as true as that a louse coughs."

"He-he!" grins Iona. "Me-er-ry gentlemen!"

"Tfoo! the devil take you!" cries the hunchback indignantly. "Will you get on, you old plague, or won't you? Is that the way to drive? Give her one with the whip. Hang it all, give it her well."

Iona feels behind his back the jolting person and quivering voice of the hunchback. He hears abuse addressed to him, he sees people, and the feeling of loneliness begins little by little to be less heavy on his heart. The hunchback swears at him, till he chokes over some elaborately whimsical string of epithets and is overpowered by his cough. His tall companions begin talking of a certain Nadyezhda Petrovna. Iona looks round at them. Waiting till there is a brief pause, he looks round once more and says:

"This week... er. . . my. . . er. . . son died!"

"We shall all die,... " says the hunchback with a sigh, wiping his lips after coughing. "Come, drive on! drive on! My friends, I simply cannot stand crawling like this! When will he get us there?"

"Well, you give him a little encouragement... one in the neck!"

"Do you hear, you old plague? I'll make you smart. If one stands on ceremony with fellows like you one may as well walk. Do you hear, you old dragon? Or don't you care a hang what we say? "

And Iona hears rather than feels a slap on the back of his neck.

"He-he!... " he laughs. "Merry gentlemen... . God give you health!"

"Cabman, are you married?" asks one of the tall ones.

"I? He he! Me-er-ry gentlemen. The only wife for me now is the damp earth.... . He-ho-ho!. . . .The grave that is!... Here my son's dead and I am alive.... It's a strange thing, death has come in at the wrong door.... . Instead of coming for me it went for my son.... "

And Iona turns round to tell them how his son died, but at that point the hunchback gives a faint sigh and announces that, thank God! they have arrived at last. After taking his twenty kopecks, Iona gazes for a long while after the revelers, who disappear into a dark entry. Again he is alone and again there is silence for him.... The misery which has been for a brief space eased comes back again and tears his heart more cruelly than ever. With a look of anxiety and suffering Iona's eyes stray restlessly among the crowds moving to and fro on both sides of the street: can he not find among those thousands someone who will listen to him? But the crowds flit by heedless of him and his misery.... His misery is immense, beyond all bounds. If Iona's heart were to burst and his misery to flow out, it would flood the whole world, it seems, but yet it is not seen. It has found a hiding-place in such an insignificant shell that one would not have found it with a candle by daylight....

Iona sees a house-porter with a parcel and makes up his mind to address him.

"What time will it be, friend?" he asks.

"Going on for ten.... Why have you stopped here? Drive on!"

Iona drives a few paces away, bends himself double, and gives himself up to his misery. He feels it is no good to appeal to people. But before five minutes have passed he draws himself up, shakes his head as though he feels a sharp pain, and tugs at the reins.... He can bear it no longer.

"Back to the yard!" he thinks. "To the yard!"

And his little mare, as though she knew his thoughts, falls to trotting. An hour and a half later Iona is sitting by a big dirty stove. On the stove, on the floor, and on the benches are people snoring. The air is full of smells and stuffiness. Iona looks at the sleeping figures, scratches himself, and regrets that he has come home so early....

"I have not earned enough to pay for the oats, even," he thinks. "That's why I am so miserable. A man who knows how to do his work,... who has had enough to eat, and whose horse has had enough to eat, is always at ease.... "

In one of the corners a young cabman gets up, clears his throat sleepily, and makes for the water-bucket.

"Want a drink?" Iona asks him.

"Seems so."

"May it do you good.... But my son is dead, mate.... Do you hear? This week in the hospital.... It's a queer business.... "

Iona looks to see the effect produced by his words, but he sees nothing. The young man has covered his head over and is already asleep. The old man sighs and scratches himself.... Just as the young man had been thirsty for water, he thirsts for speech. His son will soon have been dead a week, and he has not really talked to anybody yet... . He wants to talk of it properly, with deliberation.... He wants to tell how his son was taken ill, how he suffered, what he said before he died, how he died.... He wants to describe the funeral, and how he went to the hospital to get his son's clothes. He still has his daughter Anisya in the country.... And he wants to talk about her too.... Yes, he has plenty to talk about now. His listener ought to sigh and exclaim and lament.... It would be even better to talk to women. Though they are silly creatures, they blubber at the first word.

"Let's go out and have a look at the mare," Iona thinks. "There is always time for sleep.... You'll have sleep enough, no fear.... "

He puts on his coat and goes into the stables where his mare is standing. He thinks about oats, about hay, about the weather.... He cannot think about his son when he is alone.... To talk about him with someone is possible, but to think of him and picture him is insufferable anguish....

"Are you munching?" Iona asks his mare, seeing her shining eyes. "There, munch away, munch away.... Since we have not earned enough for oats, we will eat hay.... Yes,... I have grown too old to drive.... My son ought to be driving, not I.... He was a real cabman.... He ought to have lived.... "

Iona is silent for a while, and then he goes on:

"That's how it is, old girl.... Kuzma Ionitch is gone.... He said good-by to me.... He went and died for no reason.... Now, suppose you had a little colt, and you were own mother to that little colt.... And all at once that same little colt went and died.... You'd be sorry, wouldn't you?... "

The little mare munches, listens, and breathes on her master's hands. Iona is carried away and tells her all about it.



To whom shall I tell my grief? Grief must be shared. The son of Iona Potapov, an old cabman, has died. He sits lost in his thoughts, mourning his son. He tries to share his feelings (or at least to tell his story) with each of the people who engage his cab. Iona says to each of them, "My son died last week."

The first passenger responds by asking, "What did he die of?" Iona tells a second group of passengers, "This week my son died." They give him a flip response, "We shall all die." Again, this trivializes his story and his feelings. No one listens. No one is willing to make contact with him. When he tells one of his colleagues at the yard, "but my son is dead," the person doesn't even bother to answer.

Iona "thirsts for speech." He needs to occupy his mind, to share his anguish, to avoid the silence in which he imagines his son. "To talk about him with someone is possible, but to think of him and picture him is insufferable anguish . . ." In the end Iona is reduced to experiencing some relief in the warm, animal companionship of his horse. As he tells his sad story to the mare, she "breathes on her master's hands."



 آنتوان چخوف

غروب است. ذرات درشت برف آبدار گرد فانوس‌هایی كه تازه روشن شده، آهسته می‌چرخد و مانند پوشش نرم و نازك روی شیروانی‌ها و پشت اسبان و بر شانه و كلاه رهگذران می‌نشیند.

"یوآن پوتاپوف" درشكه‌چی، سراپایش سفید شده، چون شبحی به نظر می‌آید. او تا حدی كه ممكن است انسانی تا شود، خم گشته و بی‌حركت بالای درشكه نشسته است. شاید اگر تل برفی هم رویش بریزند باز هم واجب نداند برای ریختن برف‌ها خود را تكان دهد... اسب لاغرش هم سفید شده و بی‌حركت ایستاده است. آرامش استخوان‌های درآمده و پاهای كشیده و نی مانندش او را به مادیان‌های مردنی خاك‌كش شبیه ساخته است؛ ظاهراً او هم مانند صاحبش به فكر فرو رفته است. اصلاً چطور ممكن است اسبی را از پشت گاوآهن بردارند، از مزرعه و آن مناظر تیره‌ای كه به آن عادت كرده است دور كنند و اینجا در این ازدحام و گردابی كه پر از آتش‌های سحرانگیز و هیاهوی خاموش‌ناشدنی است، یا میان این مردمی كه پیوسته شتابان به اطراف می‌روند رها كنند و باز به فكر نرود!...

اكنون مدتی است كه یوآن و اسبش از جا حركت نكرده‌اند. پیش از ظهر از طویله درآمدند و هنوز مسافری پیدا نشده است. اما دیگر تاریكی شب شهر را فرا گرفته، رنگ‌پریدگی روشنایی فانوس‌ها به سرخی تندی مبدل شده است و رفته‌رفته بر ازدحام مردم در خیابان‌ها افزوده می‌شود.

ناگاه صدایی به گوش یوآن می‌رسد:

ـ درشكه‌چی! برو به ویبوسكا! درشكه‌چی!...

یوآن تكان می‌خورد. از میان مژه‌هایی كه ذرات برف آبدار به آن چسبیده است یك نظامی را در شنل می‌بیند.

ـ درشكه‌چی! برو به ویبورسكا! مگر خوابی؟ گفتم برو به ویبورسكا!

یوآن به علامت موافقت مهاری را می‌كشد. از پشت اسب و شانه‌های خود او تكه‌های برف فرو می‌ریزد...

نظامی در درشكه می‌نشیند، درشكه‌چی با لبش موچ‌موچ می‌كند، گردن را مانند قو دراز می‌كند، كمی از جا برمی‌خیزد و شلاقش را بیشتر برحسب عادت تا برای ضرورت حركت می‌دهد. اسب هم گردن می‌كشد، پاهای نی مانندش را كج می‌كند و بی‌اراده از جا حركت می‌كند...

هنوز درشكه چند قدمی نپیموده است كه از مردمی كه چون توده سیاه در خیابان بالا و پایین می‌روند فریادهایی به گوش یوآن می‌رسد:

ـ كجا می‌روی؟ راست برو!

نظامی خشمناك می‌گوید:

ـ مگر درشكه راندن بلد نیستی؟ خوب، راست برو!

سورچی گاری غرغر می‌كند و پیاده‌ای كه از خیابان می‌گذرد شانه‌اش به پوزه اسب یوآن می‌خورد، خشم‌آلود به وی خیره می‌شود و برف‌ها را از آستین می‌تكاند. یوآن مثل اینكه روی سوزنی نشسته باشد پیوسته سر جایش تكان می‌خورد، آرنج‌ها را به پهلو می‌زند و مانند معتضری چشم‌ها را به اطراف می‌چرخاند؛ انگار كه نمی‌داند كجاست و برای چه اینجاست.

نظامی شوخی می‌كند:

ـ عجب بدجنس‌هایی؛ مثل اینكه قرار گذاشته‌اند یا با تو دعوا كنند و یا زیر اسبت بروند.

یوآن برمی‌گردد، به مسافر نگاه می‌كند و لبش را حركت می‌دهد... گویا می‌خواهد سخنی بگوید اما فقط كلمات نامفهوم و گرفته‌ای از گلویش خارج می‌شود.

نظامی می‌پرسد:

ـ چه گفتی؟

یوآن تبسم می‌كند، آب دهان را فرو می‌برد، سینه‌اش را صاف می‌كند و با صدای گرفته‌ای می‌گوید:

ـ ارباب!... من... پسرم این هفته مرد.

ـ هوم... از چه دردی مرد؟

یوآن تمام قسمت بالای پیكرش را به جانب مسافر برمی‌‌گرداند و جواب می‌دهد:

ـ خدا عالم است! باید از تب مرده باشد. سه روز در بیمارستان خوابید و مرد. خواست خدا بود.

از تاریكی صدایی بلند می‌شود:

ـ شیطان! سرت را برگردان؟ پیرسگ! مگر می‌خواهی آدم زیر كنی؟ چشمت را باز كن!

مسافر می‌گوید:

ـ تندتر برو! تندتر! اگر اینطور آهسته بروی تا فردا هم به ویبورسكا نخواهیم رسید. یالله! اسبت را شلاق بزن!

درشكه‌چی دوباره گردن می‌كشد. كمی از جا بلند می‌شود و با وقار و سنگینی شلاق را تكان می‌دهد. آن وقت چند بار به مسافر نگاه می‌كند اما مسافر چشمش را بسته است و ظاهراً حوصله شنیدن حرف‌های یوآن را ندارد. به ویبورسكی می‌رسند، مسافر پیاده می‌شود. یوآن درشكه را مقابل میهمانخانه‌ای نگه می‌دارد، پشتش را خم می‌كند و باز بی‌حركت می‌نشیند...

دوباره برف آبدار شانه‌های او و پشت اسبش را سفید می‌كند. یكی دو ساعت بدین منوال می‌گذرد.

سه نفر جوان درحالی كه گالش‌های خود را بر سنگفرش می‌كوبند و به هم دشنام می‌دهند به درشكه نزدیك می‌شوند. دو نفر آنها قد بلند و لاغر اندام‌اند اما سومی كوتاه و گوژپشت است.

گوژپشت با صدایی شبیه به صدای شكستن، فریاد می‌زند:

ـ درشكه‌چی! برو پل شهربانی... سه نفری نیم روبل...

یوآن مهاری را می‌كشد و موچ‌موچ می‌كند. نیم روبل خیلی كمتر از كرایه عادی است... اما امروز حال چانه زدن را ندارد. اصلاً دیگر یك روبل و پنج روبل برای او فرقی ندارد، همین‌قدر كافی است مسافری بیابد...

جوان‌ها صحبت‌كنان و دشنام‌گویان به طرف درشكه می‌آیند و هر سه با هم سوار می‌شوند. بر سر اینكه دو نفری كه باید بنشینند كدامند و نفر سومی كه باید بایستد كدام، مشاجره در می‌گیرد. پس از مدتی اوقات تلخی، دشنام و توهین و ملامت كردن به یكدیگر، بالاخره چنین تصمیم می‌؛یرند كه چون گوژپشت از همه كوچكتر است باید بایستد. گوژپشت می‌ایستد، پس گردن درشكه‌چی می‌دمد و با صدای مخصوصی فریاد می‌كشد:

ـ خوب، هی كن داداش! عجب كلاهی داری! همه پطرزبورگ را بگردی نظیرش پیدا نمی‌شود.

یوآن می‌خندد و می‌گوید:

ـ هی... هی... چطور است؟...

ـ خوب، چطور است! چطور است؟ هی كن! می‌خواهی تمام راه را اینطور آهسته درشكه ببری؟ ها؟ مگر پس‌گردنی می‌خواهی؟...

یكی از درازها می‌گوید:

ـ سرم دارد می‌تركد... دیشب من و واسكا در خانه دگماسوف چهار بطری كنیاك خوردیم.

دراز دیگر عصبانی می‌شود:

ـ نمی‌فهمم چرا دروغ می‌گویی. مثل سگ دروغ می‌گوید.

ـ اگر دروغ بگویم خدا مرگم بدهد...

ـ راست گفتن تو هم مثل راست گفتن آنهایی است كه می‌گویند موش‌ها سرف می‌كنند.

یوآن می‌خندد و می‌گوید:

ـ هی... هی... هی... عجب ارباب‌های خو... او... شحالی.
گوژپشت خشمگین می‌شود:

ـ تف! شیطان جهنمی! طاعون كهنه! تندتر می‌روی یا نه؟ مگر اینطور هم درشكه می‌برند؟ شلاق را تكان بده! خوب، شیطان یالله! تندتر!

یوآن پشت سر خود حركت گوژپشت و دشنام‌هایی كه به او می‌دهد می‌شنود، به مردم نگاه می‌كند و كم‌كم حس تنهایی قلب او را ترك می‌گوید. گوژپشت تا موقعی كه نفس دارد و سرفه امانش می‌دهد ناسزا می‌گوید و غرغر می‌كند. درازها راجع به دختری به نام نادژنا پطرونا گفت‌وگو می‌كنند.

یوآن به آنها نگاه می‌كند و همین كه سكوت كوتاهی پیش می‌آید زیر لب می‌گوید:

ـ این هفته... آن...، پسر جوانم مرد.

گوژپشت آه می‌كشد و پس از سرفه‌ای لبش را پاك می‌كند و جواب می‌دهد:

ـ همه ما می‌میریم... خوب، هی كن! آقایان! راستی كه این درشكه‌چی حوصله مرا سر برد. چه وقت خواهیم رسید؟

ـ خوب، سرحالش بیار!... یك پس گردنی...

ـ بلای ناگهانی؛ شنیدی؟ مگر پس گردنی می‌خواهی؟ اگر با امثال تو تعارف كنند اینقدر آهسته می‌روید كه انگار آدم پیاده می‌رود... شنیدی! طاعون كهنه! یا اینكه حرف‌های ما را باد هوا حساب می‌كنی؟

از آن پس دیگر یوآن صداهایی را كه از پس گردنش می‌آید، فقط حس می‌كند و درست نمی‌شنود. ناگاه به خنده می‌افتد:

ـ هی... هی... هی... ارباب‌های خوشحال... خدا شما را سلامت بدارد!
یكی از درازها می‌پرسد:

ـ درشكه‌چی! زن داری؟

ـ مرا می‌گویید؟ هی... هی... هی... ارباب‌های خوشحال حالا دیگر یك زن دارم و آن هم خاك سیاه است... ها... ها... یعنی قبر... پسر جوانم مرد و من هنوز زنده هستم. خیلی عجیب است! به جای اینكه عزرائیل به سراغ من بیاید پیش پسرم رفت...

آن وقت یوآن سر را برمی‌گرداند تا حكایت كند كه چطور پسرش مرده، اما گوژپشت نفس راحتی می‌كشد و خبر می‌دهد كه شكر خدا بالاخره به مقصد رسیدند. یوآن نیم روبل از آنها می‌گیرد و مدتی در پی این ولگردان كه در دهلیز خانه‌ای ناپدید می‌شوند نگاه می‌كند دوباره آن سكوت و خاموشی وحشت‌بار فرا می‌رسد.

اندوهی كه اندكی پنهان گشته بود دوباره پدید می‌آید و سینه‌اش را با شدت می‌فشارد.

چشمان یوآن با اضطراب چون چشم انسان زجر كشیده و شكنجه دیده‌ای در میان جمعیت كه در پیاده‌روهای خیابان ازدحام می‌كنند می‌نگرد.
راستی بین این هزاران نفر كه بالا و پایین می‌روند حتی یك تن هم پیدا نمی‌شود كه به سخنان یوآن گوش بدهد؟

ولی جمعیت بی‌آنكه به او توجه داشته باشد و به اندوه درونیش اعتنایی كند در حركت است... اندوه وی بس گران است و آن را پایانی نیست. اگر ممكن بود سینه یوآن را بشكافند و آن اندوه طاقت‌فرسا را از درون قلبش بیرون كشند شاید سراسر جهان را فرا می‌گرفت، اما با وجود این نمایان نیست و خود را طوری در این حفره كوچك پنهان ساخته است كه حتی موقع روز با چراغ هم نمی‌توان آن را پیدا كرد.

یوآن دربانی را با كیسه كوچكی می‌بیند و مصمم می‌شود با او صحبت كند، از او می‌پرسد:

ـ عزیزم! ساعت چند است؟

ـ ساعت ده! چرا... چرا اینجا ایستاده‌ای؟ برو جلوتر!

یوآن چند قدمی جلوتر می‌رود، اندوه بر او چیره شده و او را در زیر فشار خود خم كرده است.

دیگر مراجعه به مردم و گفت‌وگوی با آنها را سودمند نمی‌داند اما پنج دقیقه‌ای نمی‌گذرد كه پیكرش را راست نگاه می‌دارد، گویی درد شدیدی احساس كرده است، مهاری را می‌كشد. دیگر نمی‌تواند تاب بیاورد با خود می‌اندیشد:

ـ باید به طویله رفت و درشكه را باز كرد.

اسب او مثل اینكه به افكارش پی برده باشد به راه می‌افتد، یكساعت و نیم بعد یوآن كنار بخاری بزرگ و كثیفی نشسته است. چند مرد به روی زمین و بالای بخاری و روی نیمكت خوابیده‌اند و صدای خرخر آنها بلند است. ستون دودی مثل مار در فضا می‌پیچد. هوا گرم و خفقان‌آور است، یوآن به خفتگان می‌نگرد و پشت گوش را می‌خارد و افسوس می‌خورد كه چرا اینقدر زود به خانه آمده است. با خود می‌گوید: "دنبال یونجه هم نرفتم. علت این غم و اندوه همین است كسی كه تكلیف خود را بداند خودش سیر و اسبش هم سیر است به علاوه همیشه راحت و آسوده است".

در گوشه‌ای درشكه‌چی جوانی برمی‌خیزد، خواب‌آلود و نفس‌زنان دستش را به طرف سطل آب دراز می‌كند.

یوآن می‌پرسد:

ـ می‌خواهی آب بخوری.

ـ آری!

ـ خوب... به سلامتی بنوش! داداش! پسر من مرد. شنیدی؟ این هفته در بیمارستان...

یوآن به جوانك نگاه می‌كند تا ببیند سخنش در وی چه تأثیری دارد.
اما در قیافه او هیچ تغییری مشاهده نمی‌كند.

جوانك پتو را روی سر می‌كشد و دوباره می‌خوابد. پیرمرد آهی می‌كشد و پشت گوش را می‌خارد. همانطوری كه جوانك میل به نوشیدن آب داشت او هم مایل است حرف بزند. اكنون درست یك هفته از مرگ پسرش می‌گذرد و هنوز راجع به آن با كسی سخن نگفته است. باید از روی فكر و با نظم و ترتیب صحبت كرد. بایستی حكایت كرد كه چطور پسرش ناخوش شد، چگونه از درد شكنجه می‌كشید، پیش از مردن چه گفت؛ بایستی مراسم تدفین، رفتن به بیمارستان در پی لباس پسر درگذشته‌اش را توصیف كرد. در ده آنیا، نامزد پسرش تنها مانده است. بایستی درباره او هم صحبت كرد. مگر آنچه باید بگوید كم است! شنونده باید آه بكشد، تأسف بخورد، زاری و شیون كند. اما گفت‌وگو با زن‌ها بهتر است. گرچه آنها ابله و نادان‌اند ولی با دو كلمه زوزه می‌كشند.

یوآن با خود می‌گوید:

ـ بروم به اسبم سر بزنم همیشه برای خواب وقت دارم.

لباسش را می‌پوشد و به طویله‌ای كه اسبش در آنجاست می‌رود. در راه راجع به خرید یونجه و كاه و وضع هوا فكر می‌كند. وقتی تنهاست نمی‌تواند درباره پسرش بیندیشد. صحبت كردن درباره او با كسی ممكن است اما در تنهایی فكر كردن و قیافه او را به خاطر آوردن تحمل‌ناپذیر و طاقت‌فرساست.

یوآن وقتی چشمان درخشان اسبش را می‌بیند از او می‌پرسد:

ـ نشخوار می‌كنی؟ خوب نشخوار كن! حالا كه یونجه نداری كاه بخور! آری! من دیگر پیر و ناتوان شده‌ام و نمی‌توانم دنبال یونجه تو بروم. افسوس! این كار پسرم بود. اگر زنده می‌ماند یك درشكه‌چی می‌شد.

یوآن اندكی خاموش می‌شود و سپس به سخنش ادامه می‌دهد:

ـ داداش! مادیان عزیزم! اینطور است. پسرم "گوزمایونیچ" دیگر در این میان نیست... نخواست زیاد عمر كند... ناكام از دنیا رفت. فرض كنیم كه كره‌ای داشته باشیم و تو مادر این كره باشی و ناگهان آن كره بمیرد.
راستی دلت نمی‌سوزد؟

اسب نشخوار می‌كند، گوش می‌دهد، نفسش به دست‌های صاحبش می‌خورد.

یوآن بی‌طاقت می‌شود، خود را فراموش می‌كند و همه چیز را برای اسبش حكایت می‌كند و عقده دل را می‌گشاید...

منبع: آی کتاب

Writing to Heal Grief

There’s a story by Anton Chekhov entitled, simply, “Grief”--also sometimes called "Misery"--which speaks beautifully, I think, to what grief may require--and to how the process of writing might contribute to the healing of grief. Not so much the erasure of grief. And not, certainly, the erasure of memories. But the healing of grief.

I've included a brief piece about this story below. I've also included links to a brief summary of the research on writing about grief, several writing ideas, and a list of resources--both books and websites.

I. The Chekhov Story
When the story begins a cab-driver waits at twilight in the snow for a fare. His son has died the previous week. He waits a long time in the snow, and then finally—a passenger. As the evening wears on, the cab-driver attempts conversation with three different passengers. Three different times he attempts to tell his story—what has happened with his son. Each of the three interrupts him. One closes his eyes to stop the story. One informs him that we all must die. One simply gets out of the sleigh. Still later, the cab-driver attempts to stop and speak with a house-porter, but the house-porter tells him to drive on.

There’s so much that the cab-driver needs to tell. Chekhov writes:

One must tell it slowly and carefully; how his son fell ill, how he suffered, what he said before he died, how he died. One must describe every detail of the funeral, and the journey to the hospital to fetch the defunct’s clothes. His daughter Anissia remained in the village—one must talk about her too. Was it nothing he had to tell? Surely the listener would gasp and sigh, and sympathize with him?

The details must be told. And then—that gasp—that sigh—from the listener.

At the end of the day the cab-driver returns to the stables. He begins to speak to his horse:

Now let’s say you had a foal, you were that foal’s mother, and suddenly, let’s say, that foal went and left you to live after him. It would be sad, wouldn’t it?

The horse munches his hay and breathes his warm breath—and does not interrupt him. And that is how the story ends—with the cab-driver telling his story, finally, to his horse.

Perhaps what grief requires, as much as anything, is that the process not be interrupted. That it find a time and a place in which to unfold--with a companion (when possible) and without (too much) interruption. And, perhaps, at least for some of us, writing can play a role in this process


"Misery" by Anton Chekhov has a straightforward plot. Iona Potapov, the protagonist of “Misery,” is a cab driver in St. Petersburg whose only son has died the week before. Throughout the story he is surrounded by people, but he remains genuinely alone. He “thirsts” for the opportunity to talk about his grief, but no one will share the burden of his misery. Each of his cab fares brushes off his overtures for conversation. The hunchbacked young man, who one might think would be more compassionate to a fellow person’s affliction, is particularly cruel; after he hears Iona’s news, he strikes the cabby. Iona’s fellow lodgers offer no comfort either; a young cabman falls asleep when Iona tries to discuss his loss. Unable to sleep, the tormented Iona goes out to the stable. In Chekhov’s famous ending, Iona tells his mare the story of his misery.

A significant question to consider in Chekhov’s story is whether the final scene of “Misery” is purely pathetic or whether it contains an element of affirmation. The pathetic element is easy to see: poor Iona can find no human compassion for his suffering. In the populous city of St. Petersburg, he is utterly alone. Yet there is something nobly humane in Iona’s decision to go to the stable to visit his mare. Iona’s pain has not diminished his own compassion. Earlier that night, when he realized how little he had earned from his lonely night’s work, he worried about his horse as well as himself. When he tells the mare they cannot afford oats, he speaks in the first person plural: “wewill eat hay” (our italics). In speaking of his grief to his horse, he affirms his human need to articulate his own suffering. “Now, suppose you had a little colt,” he tells it.

Chekhov does not turn Iona into a saint, and he does not turn the other characters into villains. The passengers are unsympathetic, true, but chiefly they are busy with their own affairs, or they are drunk. (One of the drunks is a hunchback, and although we feel that he behaves badly toward Iona, we feel also that nature has behaved badly toward him.) Second, Chekhov does not simply tell us that the world is indifferent to Iona; rather, he takes care to show the indifference before we get the explicit statement that Iona searched in vain for a sympathetic hearer. Third, it seems to us that the episodes are carefully arranged. First we get the officer, who, despite his initial brusqueness, makes a little joke, and it is this joke that apparently encourages Iona to speak. The officer displays polite interest—he asks of what the boy died—and Iona turns to respond, but the passenger immediately (and not totally unreasonably) prefers the driver to keep his eyes on the road. Next we get the drunks, who can hardly be expected to comprehend Iona’s suffering. All of this precedes the first explicit statement that Iona searches the crowd for a single listener. Next, in an extremely brief episode (we don’t need much of a scene, since we are already convinced that Iona cannot find an audience) the house-porter dismisses him, and finally, again in a very brief scene, even a fellow cabman—presumably exhausted from work—falls asleep while Iona is talking.

The story has an implied theme: Deep suffering is incommunicable, but the sufferer must try to find an outlet.


تاريخ : شنبه بیست و سوم مهر ۱۳۹۰ | ۱۷:۱۸ بعد از ظهر | نویسنده : ر |
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