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Aleksandr Vampilov's Characters Live to This Date

For each who has seen performances and films based on Vampilov's plays, for those who experienced them deeply and kept them in their soul forever, the dates connected to Vampilov are not dry marks on a literary calendar. They are notches on the heart of a generation. An occasion for sad and anxious reflections.

"Farewell in June", "The Elder Son", "Duck Hunting", "Last Summer in Chulimsk" ... - these plays, written many years ago by a very young playwright, are still performed in the capital and provincial theaters. Without them, the Russian theater is as unthinkable as without Ostrovsky and Chekhov.

But this is not where the mystery lies. The mystery is that Vampilov did not grasp only the life of the people, but its being, something so deep and latent, beyond the changes of a system. The mystery is that Vampilov's plays are on the stage of our lives. As an endlessly patient director, life keeps on staging his plays, and we, according to our abilities, play sometimes supporting, and sometimes main roles. By the way, all Vampilov's roles are main roles. There are no passing heroes, there are no fleeting lines.

In "The Elder Son", its finale, when the deception of Busygin and Silva was revealed, (remember, what a sophisticated spoof they arranged simply because they had nowhere to spend the night in a strange town), the vilely deceived Andrei Grigorievich Sarafanov suddenly says: "Whatever happened does not change anything ... "

In Vampilov's notebooks there is a thought - as if from the Optina elders. But this is his, Vampilov's, long-suffering thought: "If you are going to love someone, learn to forgive first."

Only now, when around us and with us thousands of deceptions have occurred, we can evaluate the spiritual height of the unsuccessful clarinetist Andrei G. Sarafanov. You were deceived - nay, trampled! - and you answer: it does not change anything. I, as before, believe in people, believe in love, I believe that we are all brothers and sisters ...

Who is now Andrei Grigorievich Sarafanov for us, after all? Venerable, holy? Where, with what heroes of Russian literature should he be placed?

"At first I played at dances, then at a restaurant, then rose up to parks and cinemas ..."

In parks and cinemas they no longer play nowadays. Yes, and he is much older now. Maybe he went to a monastery and ended his days there? And if not, then who remained with him - Nina? Vassenka?

With Silva and Kudimov it is clear, they were not lost, and, obviously, they've been very successful, but what, I'm curious, Busygin does? ..

Is the meek Valentina from Last Summer in Chulimsk bringing up her grandchildren now? Do you remember the thin, fragile girl in the cotton dress who worked in the tea-room in the summer and lifted up the plaques knocked out by passers-by in the front garden?

About all this I was involuntarily thinking on an autumn evening, working by an open window and listening to the outskirts of a small regional town come to life with the passing of the sun.

Here everything is like everywhere else in Russia. Some houses are sturdier, higher, they are not called cottages here, but "mansions". Others are darkened by old age and skewed to one side.

Inhabitants of cottages have no time, they "are managing". When not managing, they turn on the loud music and make barbecues behind their fences. But the former people, who have not succeeded in anything and were always late, go out on the street in the evenings, to the remaining shop, and for a long time, until the first stars, tattle about the past day.

"... I went to find mushrooms, I ruined my legs. Looked in every corner, both mine and other people's, and it's empty. A rosemary smells - it's making me sick. I was already thinking about turning back home, when suddenly I see a meadow full of whites. Well, forty pieces, not less. I was so happy, brought them home: all forty with worms! Why am I so unlucky? In love as much as in mushrooms ..."

"And why did we sit down to watch TV yesterday, you don't know? .. I don't know either. We thought about love, and there is just terror. Turn it off! Sitting there and watching like you're tied up - pah!"

An old man with a bicycle rides up, announces: "Do not drink Vlasova's ale, it's a poison. Last week I had some, went to the woods. Came to my senses after two days, I hear - roosters. I followed the roosters back home. And if it weren't for the roosters ... "

"Vova - who's that?" - Uncle Sasha asks confused.

"Who is who? We have only one Vova - Putin."

Uncle Sasha croaks admiringly: look how today's youth treats the leaders - on a friendly foot. He asks further: "Well, can we rely on you? If there's an attack tomorrow, if tomorrow there is a war, God forgive me ... "

The women curses Uncle Sasha, but he just sniffs: "Be silent, let the boy answer. We are having a male conversation ... "

Anton begins to estimate out loud: "Well, who can you rely on? "Admiral Kuznetsov. The submarine. If the entire American fleet attacks our Northern Fleet, then we will hold on for two hours ..."

"What do you mean - two ?! What are you talking about, sonny ... " The astonished uncle Sasha is trying to peer into the interlocutor's eyes through the thick lenses of his cloudy glasses.

"So in two hours we will also launch something." It will not seem like nothing to them, do not worry.

A girl's voice crashes into the conversation: "Whose is this kitten at the store? .. No one's? And see the redhead and the ears - just like radars, not ears. Uncle Sasha, didn't you lose yours? You see badly ... "

"Well, I do not have kittens, honey. I am no one's."

It's getting dark quickly, everyone is leaving, and Uncle Sasha is left on the bench. I go outside to take him home, he lives across the road. Uncle Sasha does not immediately recognize me: 

"Who are you, I do not see you ... Ah, you Lyuba's son-in-law? And I'm Sasha ... Patronymic? I'm just Sasha the Blind. Were you, by any chance, told about my misfortune? They took me twice to Kalinin, they changed the lenses, it didn't help. Recently, my wife died, heard about it? .. Left by myself, blind - what? .. "

He takes my arm, and we enter the dusk. A red kitten runs behind us.

Dmitry Shevarov

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