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Lyubomir Kaludov


It is unclear who helps whom. She has a cataract on one eye and will be ripe for operation in the Fall, along with the grapes. Her knees are twisted and painful ever since the icy winter which completely destroyed the upper vineyard. And he hardly even hears his own voice, although it is still strong and high pitched. Once upon a time the gypsies were scared from his booming voice, scolding them to quit lingering and start working. They move slowly. I see how sluggish they are through the window, how they slowly climb the stairs, how one stops to rest and the other grumbles urgently, but without malice, the way they have talked to each other for years. I know the entire story of the merchant, who used to buy their wine without tasting it, on sheer trust, for it was well known that the Katardzhievs never made bad wine. The merchant always came at Christmas time to buy their new vintage. Until the year when they opened a can of Greek anchovies and invited him to have a bite, as if saying 'we may be only wine-makers, but we are not ignorant simpletons'. But the German merchant only said to them 'if you invite me to salty fish, it means your wine is no good' and stopped buying from them for good.

They finally enter and sit on the bench, not hurrying at all, for going to the doctor is all that they have on Thursday and want to stretch the visit as far as possible. I know well that if I ask 'Tell me, Grandpa Angel, what is hurting you?", she will repeat my question right into his ear, using her specific high pitch, and then will turn and smile her toothless smile at me - 'You are the doctor, you tell me what is hurting him.' And I am thinking: let's skip the story about the egg one must drop in the young wine to find out how strong it is. Let's skip the story of the clever fox, lying still under the vines waiting for the birds to get drunk on the grapes' sugar and drop right in front of her mouth. This time I'll just pretend to be solid and important, for the next month I am going to specialize in Sofia, I am not going to be a village doctor all my life. Like serving Greek anchovies out of the blue, I am asking an unheard of question: 'Tell me, please, what are your complaint?' They look at me with understanding, think about two-three minutes, and without shouting a translation of my words into each other ears, without even glancing at each other in consultation, they answer together - 'Our complaint is our daughter in law.'



© Lyubomir Kaludov
© Vesselin Vesselinov, Craig Hasbrouck - translated from bulgarian
© E-magazine LiterNet, 01.09.2011, № 9 (142)