I am drawing happy little people of many colors. They are dancing next to a brown house with a small window. Above the house the sun and the moon are side by side with light blue clouds and big stars. Smoke rises from the house's chimney to the sun – evidently Alichka's cake for the little people is baking. There is grass around the house. I carefully draw each blade of grass. Among the blades of grass there are flowers of many colors, like the people, and big, like the stars. The people are dancing and laughing.
I am sitting in a chair with my legs tucked under me. On the wall there is an enormous magnetic chessboard with a game in progress. My brother Igor sits for days on end at the large table opposite the chessboard as he prepares to enter the university in impregnable Moscow. My nanny, Marianna, sits on a stool in the kitchen and knits little rugs out of old rags. I can hear her talking in Polish to the cat Kos, her only listener –she's sharing memories of her youth. She's wearing a black apron, tied in a knot in the back, which I always untie, after choosing just the right moment, and then duck the inevitable slaps. I am drawing little people of many colors and I am smiling. My little people are the happiest people on earth. They are dancing and also smiling from ear to ear – the happiest smiles. The sun is yellow (the yellow color of a newly born chick), the moon is light blue, the dancing people are happy and from the chimney the aroma of Alichka's cake drifts toward the sun. The big stars are reflected in the flowers in the yard in front of the house.
Listen: What is Music? [From Songs for Children by Lera Auerbach]
I run to show my drawing to Mama. "Mama, look!" After taking a look at the drawing, Mama asks, "Why are they fighting?" "Who?" I ask, not understanding. "The people. Aren't they fighting? And why do they have such angry faces? And look, the house is leaning, it's going to collapse. And then you can't have the sun and moon in the sky at the same time." "Those aren't angry faces, they aren't fighting, but exactly the opposite, and the house isn't falling down, but is flying, and the moon married the sun and now they can live together in the sky!" I'm practically crying."Oh, so that's the way it is... Well, then I understand," Mama agrees to make me feel better, after seeing how distraught I am. But that doesn't work with me. How could it be that Mama thinks that my happy, dancing little people are fighting? I look at my drawing and it seems wonderful to me, more wonderful than ever before: yellow sun, blue moon, stars, flowers and happy little people. But a shadow of doubt has crept into my heart.
I forget about the drawing, but several days later I come across it when I'm leafing through my album. The little people with the monstrous gashes of their mouths that run from ear to ear, grimaces of either anger or disappointment, have frozen in awkward poses – they're fighting or arguing. The brown house is at a slant – it's going to collapse on them at any moment. The column of black smoke from the chimney is propped against the sun. The thorny grass is like needles between which the varicolored smudges are supposed to be flowers. In the sky hangs an absolutely incongruous light blue plate, apparently the moon, and big, sharply pointed flourishes represent the stars.
I study the drawing with horror. Where has the world of wonderful, dancing little people with the happy smiles gone? These grotesque monsters don't have anything to do with it. Nevertheless, this was my drawing. What has happened? I cry inconsolably, my tears run on the paper in varicolored smudges, and the world of happy little people that has nothing at all in common with my picture floats away on the river of losses to the shores of memory in order to be saved by memory in the primordial world.
Only children are given to cry over true tragedy and to know bliss.
View: Children Drawings of the Spanish Civil War
Brain-teaser [Day 2]: What do these ten words have in common?
cookie • cosmic • cues • moose • mummy