The Soldier Ay Bee See

Translated by Eugene Ostashevsky

along the shore of the sounding sea walked the soldier Ay Bee See. He had a main directing thought about nuts. He walked and whispered a song. It was evening. The soldier Ay Bee See, approaching a pitiful, unlit by the inhabitant fishermen fisherman’s hut, where fishermen lived, provided they were not out navigating the sounding, black, caspian, or essentially even the mediterranean or, which is one and the same, adriatic sea, but were ashore, that’s when they lived there. They the fishermen were five in number. They intently ate soup with fish. Their names were Andrey, Bandrey, Bendrey, Gandrey, and Kudedrey. They all had daughters. Their names were Lialya, Talya, Balya, Kialya, and Salya. The daughters had all gotten married. It was evening. The soldier Ay Bee See did not stop by the home of these garden-patch minders. He did not knock on their home door. He walked deep in his thought, the main directing him thought about nuts. The soldier Ay Bee See did not notice their fisherman’s house. Not their nets, not their rigging, not their daughters, not their soup. Even though he felt cold and night was falling all the same, he still walked past them. So much was he engulfed by his main directing thought about nuts. It was evening still. Ay Bee See walked, almost ran and spoke his nut song. Let us imagine, that is let us mentally hear, this song. Does it follow from the song’s being called nut song that nuts must feature proudly in it. Yes, in this case it follows. It is far from being so always, but in this case it follows. Here it is, this song. The soldier Ay Bee See sang about the difference in the shells of the walnut and the brazil nut. Here’s what he sang.

The shell of the walnut
is tender to look at.
The shell of the brazil nut
is savage to look at.
The former shell is clean,
firm, lush, and lean.  
The latter shell is a simple one,
it’s like a tailless swan.
Why this difference, goodness gracious,
those in the know are horribly pugnacious.
I like the walnut before and after,
its body carries a certain laughter.
Its shell is mighty fine
but thinking about it is a waste of time.
The brazil nut has color,
maybe the color is its brother.
Yet where its dawn gets its start,
no one can say either forward or backward.
Why this difference, goodness gracious,
those in the know are horribly pugnacious.
This is all that I could say
about their shell that ends with an A.

Here, as if in answer to this song, blazed up the candle-lit, previously unlit, window of the fisherman’s house whose light had gone out entirely and forever. The fisherman Andrey, Bandrey, Bendrey, and Gandrey rapped his fist on the window and shouted to the soldier Ay Bee See: Officer officer, do you take the world’s offer, sir? But the fisherman Kudedrey with self-reliance cooked and went on eating his fisherman’s soup. It was evening, although also night was falling. But what could Ay Bee See say in reply when he didn’t hear the question. He was already very far away from them. And then he suddenly, but not unexpectedly, turned into a father and … and right away sang a new song. The father sang. The mother listened. The father sang but the mother listened. The father sang and the mother listened. And what was she listening to? 

I walked a    long the    ci   ty    streets,
I looked for     my son    e   verywhere,
but I cou   ldn’t   find him a  nywhere,
even among      the     sea side     cliffs.
Then I    walked in    to the    fo    rest,
then I     ran     to      wards      the sea.
Where    are you,      where     O      my
son, I cried        a round       me         sa
dly. My son     an       swered       here I
am, may        be I     ’m enti   rely here,
then I       looked a      round my    self,
my son who          lly    disa    ppeared.
All the     birds put       up      a     howl,
coo ed      the     wild     ani             mal.
Cry       and cry       and cry      and cry,
the fo    rest cuc    kooed to   them  all.

The soldier Ay Bee See, strongly inspired, courageously we