Painting and Embroidery

My Canadian friend Tod is quite opposite to our babushka though he is not a young person either. He does what he can and does not doubt much about his actions like babushka, who  always grieves that she said or did something wrong and tears out her hair distressed with what others will think or what consequences will follow, her favourite saying is “utter fools we are!”

Like babushka Tod lives with his daughter’s family, he does not speak much with his grandson as they do not have much to talk about: his grandson is interested in neither literature nor philosophy and Tod is unaware what’s on the TV, both of them just smile when they greet each other, that’s it. As for our babushka she immediately starts to take offence and to complain why her grandson does not talk to her if Arseny keeps silence being in his own thoughts, she wonders why a grandson does not communicate with a grandma, how it can be that way?

Tod does not visit the hospital where his hundred years old mother, who lost her memory, stays, thinking it does not make sense, if I start talking about our friend with whom, the only one in all Canada Tod could talk about arts, he replies that Curt died and it cannot be changed. When it just becomes warm babushka foresees how we will go to the cemetery and when she hears on radio that someone whom she had never heard about previously, passed away, she may easily have a little cry.

Tod does not congratulate me with holidays, he does not remember birthdays, does not respond to the compliments, forgets to answer questions, sends me one by one parcels with collages which he had made for the exhibition, then changed his mind, gave the pieces out and even lost some. Babushka follows rules and conditions: if she forgets to congratulate someone she will start to repent of it, she does not do anything crazy, she likes to comment on actions and events as if they have a capability to change depending on the angle they were presented.

Tod lives not looking around, he follows his own principles, he carries responsibility for his actions, if he does something wrong he says that it made a breach in his self-respect. Babushka lives in correspondence with common logic, she constantly checks and adapts, trying to be a mould of an existing sample.

Tod sometimes disappears: first I thought he was offended at me for something, now I know that even if I blurt out something silly or if he stops writing at all or if one of us dies nothing will change, everything will remain as it is.

Babushka believes in rituals and gestures, she wrings my hand trying to express her feelings, she pronounces words trying to put her soul in them, she becomes offended that I cannot respond the same way and she has nobody to talk to.

Tod lives as if improvising, as if painting his own way, he unusually mixes colours, he does not care of their combination, he is an authentic artist, he is confident in his work, nobody has ever painted like that before.

Babushka lives as if she embroiders on a tambour, she neatly fills in prepared little squares with the appropriate crosses, she does not invent, she does not dream, she is a good work-woman.

I wish to be like Tod, but I did not get away from babushka, I seem to do what I consider right, more often I do not care what others will say or think, but I myself invent samples with which I check my wrong actions as if with a punched card in a Jacquard. Having shouted to someone or having done something good and let someone know how dear it cost me I feel pangs of conscience and suffer, I carry guilt and am racked: I draw something and being afraid I step aside, I see it is bad and draw it again, get daub and scratch as a result: I am neither an artist nor an embroideress, I have not joined any school and most likely will never do.

Irena Borosova, Russia

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