What memory will you leave behind

I must admit that I based my recent book purchase on the cover, or rather on the author’s name. How could I resist the description — the planned flooding of a village, written by Rasputin! Why, that sounded like James Dickey’s Deliverance. Turned out however, that  Valentin Rasputin’s novel, Farewell to Matyora, is a beautiful and lyrical tale of the changing world, departing of the old, and the coming of the new. It’s an absorbing story about human destiny, penned by the author who has devoted his writing to spiritual dilemmas, and ethical and environmental issues. It’s about the inhabitants of Matyora, farmers who must leave their village, and move to a city.

The following is my [imperfect] translation. Grandma Darya to her grandson Andrey:

“You praise the machine. That machines are working for you. Well, well. They no longer work for you, but you’re working for them. And they have a lot of needs! Machine is not a horse, which you can feed oats and let it out to pasture. Machine will tear your veins open. Look how fast it runs, how it plows, scoops the earth. You’re drawn to it. Machines get away from you, and you pursue them. You either catch up or not catch up with them, and these machines have created the next, without your input. Self-born, iron from iron. These new ones are faster. And you have to rush furiously so as not to be left behind. You no longer have time for each other… soon you’ll ride over each other on the road, in pursuit of living faster. You know, in earlier times people had worked too, they did not sit with folded hands, but they worked leisurely, not like that. Now everything is done on the run. You run to work, and to the table – there is no time for anything. Even children are born in a race. And these children barely had time to be born, they barely stand on their feet, and are already out of breath.

You do not have to act like that, you do not have to rush blindly. Why not live your life in some order, think about the memory you leave behind. A memory remembers everything, it freezes the time, every little crumb of it…”


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