THE CITY, RUNNING AWAY
I live in a city, running away.
Just now the word “running” seems to me so strange. Am I mistaken? Can words stick as
tight as to make my city run away? I repeated the word for several times, scratched on a paper and realized that when characterizing Yerevan as “running away”, the word began running itself.
Winter is not like summer. Summer and winter are so different in my city that it seems as if I have two different lives, as if two different men live in me, who has never met. In winter my home is far away from the city, in an unknown place, in summer I live in the center, on Abovian Street. And when I come out of my center flat, I have a feeling that I am still inside.
With closed eyes I remembered the summer. The odor of perspiration resembled my mother and getting up, I dropped the black curtains. My mother made curtains of dark fabric in order not to let in summer. The biting summer. I guessed I‟d been late: it was almost afternoon. The second
signal of being late came in a minute. I always forget to switch off the ring of my phone. The
1ostentation of Grigor lighted over the red numbers.
2“Gagik, are you at home?”
“I was dead asleep,” the word “asleep” didn‟t fit to Yerevan in July, “Where are you?”
“Under the Square clock. Hurry up, when will you be?”
“Half an hour”…
3“Half an hour…” the city filled in my phone; the smell of lahmajo bumped against my nose
and made me brush my teeth. I spitted, and then took off my boxers. The photos turned to the wall,
maybe of shame? Hardly…Perhaps our house ran one street far to the right.
Water poured on me like needles. My mother‟s odor was wandering in the flat. I‟ll make a film. I‟ve arranged picture frames continuity; I just have to put in motion. Motion of the odor. The
only thing that is composing my biography in this city-running away.
1 „Grigor‟ is the name of Grigor Lusavoritch (Enlightener) – The Armenian bishop in virtue of which the king Trdat III
was the first to admit the Christianity as the state religion in the year of 301 2 „Gagik‟ is the name of an Armenian King of 989 year
3 Lahmajo - Eastern dish made of pastry, meat and spicery
Being frightened of bull‟s car signal, my flat startled to Sayat-Nova Street. A little more and...
I might have put the head of that blockhead into my cartoon.
Another five minutes and I was under the Square clock.
“Hi,” Grigor – Grig rushed into my car in such a speed that I got astonished. No, he wasn‟t swallowed, he gulped into my car straight off. – I see you in a suit for the first time and in this heat?
“Sit down…You‟d better wear a suit as well.”
“Why, where are we going?”...
“To Paradise…There will be thousands of officials.”
“You father, too?”
“Listen, did you make your cartoon?”...
“They‟ll dismiss you from the institute.”
“You‟re making a cartoon about odor; couldn‟t you find an easier topic?”
“Little Red Riding Hood or the Woodcutter…”
Suddenly Amiryan Street ran away. Turning round my car appeared in Zaqian Street – in
front of a drugstore.
From childhood I imagined that drugstores were pools and people inside were swimming.
The odor reminded me my illness – mumps that I had when I was five and I outlined the woman
washing the windows with pig-looking features.
“What do you want to buy?” Grig‟s look stayed on Amiryan Street.
“Scissors – to cut your hair.”
“Really? You‟d better look at your hair; they deformed you so that you look like an Apache.”
“What do you want?” The vastly made up face of saleswoman was smiling behind the
“Today is my birthday. I am getting twenty-one years of age.”
“Happy birthday,” as a gift the saleswoman‟s smock slightly opened. Something rustled
inside, the base of my skull shuddered. “You didn‟t say what you want.”
“What are we going to take?”
Grig was still under the effect of Square heat.
“Vitamins,” he said and laughed loudly.
“Here they are, please. Pay the cashier.”
“And ten condoms, best ones.”
With wide-open mouth Grigor gazed on the vitamin advertising orange board like “The
Scream” of the Moonk – unaddressed, astonished and frightened of nothing or everything.
“Here they are. Pay the cashier.”
Suddenly the starched hems of the saleswoman smock opened proportionally. A tail, reaching to ankle-bones, came out of her solid, clean shaved off thighs slit. The tail pods were breathing and moving in a strange manner. The tail was beginning from the woman‟s vagina. The scissortail extremity covered her feet.
“You know what do I want?”
“Give me one...”
“Would you like to have an interview with anyone?”
“What interview? I‟m not going abroad.”
“Just a talk, but as if taking an interview...”
“I don‟t know. You lied to her, didn‟t you? Your birthday is on November.”
We left the drugstore on the turn, drown in water.
Lili‟s catlike face appeared everywhere in and of itself: on signboards, in mobile phones, on new-built building walls. She was a real cartoon heroine – a princess, a made-up image that you try
to turn into real. Just give motion to her body as such, reshape, and stick angel wings, without forgetting to bind her leg to the table beforehand and you‟ll get what you want. Then close your
eyes and... She is flying in detergent powders, rolling over ice-cream brim and...It is just a nocturnal emission, a dream.
Grig introduced us to each other.
Lili had had an eager desire to become an actress. Grig presented her to a young stage-manager as though he was my relative. The stage-manager didn‟t say anything particularly, just
suggested being present at the rehearsals.
On the third day of the rehearsals the theatre doors opened and the witch mother of the princess began turning round me on her broom. I hadn‟t fully seen her face; she always appeared close-up and I could catch just parts of her look as if she was zoomed in. However the close-up and partial appearance of the witch-mother face prevented to look straight into her eyes.
But once I was horribly scared. It was our first night, to be precise - our first evening and at ten o‟clock Lili should have been at home. So, after that night the witch fully showed herself, without the broom and even a little made-up.
Lili had scarcely got in my car when the city had suddenly stumbled. I pulled up the car. Baghramian Avenue assumed a very strange position: no beginning, no end.
There was a rally in front of the President residence. The mass-meeting participants, holding yellowed with the hot weather posters on their hands, were demanding either a murder disclosing or a death penalty? My car was trying to pass by the crowd quietly, on toes, when an old woman with
4wire-hair, throwing over us the bottle of “Noy” water, cried out:
“Damn you! You are the youth of this country, aren‟t you?”
Some policemen, looking like Ivan the Terrible, immediately put out their batons, but
5Baghramian (not the Marshal, the avenue), reverting to his usual form, took us across two streets.
“We were lucky,” Grig released his tail, “What a heat....Let‟s stop and have a cup of coffee before getting to paradise, ok?”
Lili was silent.
I don‟t like the red cafes. Nevertheless, I stopped.
Grig went somewhere, maybe to men‟s room, I don‟t know. Lili sat in front of me, opened
her handbag, took off an old dictaphone and switched:
“Gagik, tell me a little about your family. How are your interrelations with parents?”
“I love my parents very much but we are quite different people. I remember that once, when I was studying in the fifth form, we had a lesson “The Ancient India” from “The History of the Ancient World”. I learned it, gave the manual to my mother and asked to check up. My mother
listened carefully and said that I knew the lesson. I went to school and got the mark two. From that day I realized that I must rely only on myself.
4 “Noy” drinking water 5 Hovhannes Baghramyan /1897-1982/ Armenian-Soviet Marshal
“What interrelations did you have with your father, when you were a child? Did you often
play together or speak to each other?”
“No we didn‟t play. Probably very little. But I remember quite well that every evening, nearly at nine o‟clock, I pretended to be asleep as I wanted my father to come and take me to my bed.
“Did you ever want to be alike him after growing up?”
“Did you have any inferiority complexes when you were a child?”
“I‟ve got them now. From childhood I had no doubt that I would become a person of authority.”
“At what age was the year of great changes in your life?”
“Five years old...And probably the year that isn‟t over yet.”
“Did you remember your grandfathers?”
“One of them died two months later after my birth, the other one much earlier.”
“What about your grandmas?”
My lips nearly touched Lili‟s lips. Grig put his head between our lips.
“Did you finish the interview?” He swallowed the coffee. “Let‟s go.”
Covered with black glasses and holding walkie-talkies in their noses and ears, the bodyguards were all round the pool. A few officials, pale as lords, were playing golf.
We took wineglasses. In and of itself Lili‟s catlike face began to have her own pictures to appear on the cover of an elite magazine.
“Don‟t forget to give one to me,” Grig had in mind the condoms. “I marked a pretty
The seconds passed slowly. I slipped my hand in my pocket and took out one condom and...The seconds flew five times faster. My father‟s hand and partly grey beard, looking like the
6thawing peak of Ararat, rose between the wineglass and condom.
“What are you drinking?” He took the glass, drank a sip. “How are you doing?”
The condom, staying in the air for two-three seconds, fell into Grigor‟s hand
“Is your mother here?”
6 Ararat – the Holy mountain of Armenians /5165m), on which according to the legend Noah's Ark stood on Ararat
“She left two days ago.”
“I see. You‟ve disappeared. Your sister is all the time asking about you. You could at least
“Take care of your mother,” he said, squeezing his fore and middle fingers into my belt.
“You lost flesh...The President liked the pool very much. But he can‟t stay more than half an
hour, he has a meeting. Be careful, ok? Don‟t drink much...”
He went away, cleaning his beard.
I was five years old when my parents had divorced. My father had been dating a woman, who was pregnant. A month after the divorce she gave birth to a girl. Both his wife and daughter treated me very well. I love my sister very much. When we were children, we used to meet once in two days and play together. Because of her work my mother often was out of the city, leaving me on grandma‟s care.
I remember that day. She was going to leave for two months. I embraced her so that she wasn‟t able to step, move or speak. She went away. The only consolation I had was her odor that engraved on my memory. During a whole week I couldn‟t smell other odors.
It was Sunday. Father came and took me to their home. My sister, jumping of joy, run to me, put her arms round me and at that moment mother‟s odor vanished. Crying in offence, I took her to the balcony and strapped with a besom. Father reached me and gave a slap in my face. He had never stricken me before. His fingers printed on my chin like the three-color flag...
The President left in an hour.
Approximately at four o‟clock the people round there, wasting the drinks, plunged into the pool. Men and women were having sun-bath and their bikinis and bathing slips were flying from one body to another like butterflies. At six o‟clock the jazz, rising from coffee cups, gathered us round the table.
“Let me introduce Edit,” taking the arm of an octopus (eight-legged) woman, who had
nothing common with “Edit”, Grig appeared beside me. “She knows English. Has come with the
Lili‟s catlike face scowled and pouted. She realized at once that she didn‟t understand English.
“Can you imagine?” For a moment I saw Grig in the cage of eight legs," She says there is a
place named “The Door of Paradise” in Armenia. She arrived to see it. So I‟ve told her I know where it is. Say something?”
“How sad. Do you have glue?”
“Why, did your shoes tear off?”
7Vahag arrived to everybody‟s delight. Even me that don‟t like him, felt content. Vahag has two moods in all: planned and not planned. He gloated with a wolf‟s smile. It became clear: we
8could just put what he had brought under Baku and explode.
Four months ago, during one of such parties Vahag had such a good mood that the club almost turned into an airport. But Grig and I were lucky to break away. Someone told one of the private TV channels about our plan. Thank God, Grig‟s ex-girlfriend was working there. Closed in
the ladies‟ room for an hour, we were waiting for the Doomsday end. If one of the officials‟ sons
hadn‟t used his weapon, finally we would have come to an agreement with the journalists.
The next day the prime-minister made a request to the government and their families asking to keep restraint and temperance. My father looked happy for a week.
“You see now that my son is not involved in these actions; he is an intellectual person, an artist.”
Lili wanted to go.
“Mother rang up. She feels bad. I don‟t want you to come with me. I‟d better stay alone and think a little. I‟m going to meet my father in two days. He doesn‟t know I am a grown-up girl, more
precisely...It‟s already five years he hasn‟t seen me. Bye...”
Grigor didn‟t want to stay as well.
“I‟ll get that pretty one to the hotel, and then will see. Call me up, will you?”
I called a cab. On the sidewalk, across the street, a benefactress built her own Versailles. The Greek divinities and tripterous angels failed to put obstacles in the way of the evil. The close-up nose of the witch-mother entered between Lili‟s and my lips; and the cab chased to the Fifteenth
block after the city-running away.
The pool was filled in with needles.
7 Vahagn – the name of an Armenian divinity of pagan period 8 Baku - the capital city of Azerbaijan
For a moment I remembered the wall photos and Lili‟s pretty face lighted on my phone
“Almost at home.”
Vahag started his dull and stupid actions. The cigars were quickly emptying, filling, lighting, spitting out and passing from one mouth to another.
The smoke filled inside me. A little more and a tail could grow out of my ramrod.
Grig was fluttering in the octopus cage. I laughed so loudly that all the bras and panties on the clothesline blew up, whirled and wrapped in the air.
“How is your mother? Kitty.”
I didn‟t manage to say the name of the witch-mother. It stuck to my brain like a leech, wrung my pleasure. Thank God, for a moment I saw her face, and then her zoom-in nose, shaking the nostrils, rose up and smelt the panties.
With the choking rustle in my throat I saw how the faces of the people were wiping off. Only the Moonk lips were staying open-painted on the sun orange. The cigar, entering one mouth and coming out of another, was putting the lips on the smoke line.
My mother‟s odor was still inside me. I sank into it.
The water blades outlined the old woman‟s biblical face. For a moment the ruffled mouth petrified on the three-color flag.
“Damn you! You are the youth of this country, aren‟t you?”
My city was running away again. The first block of Nork was raiding into the Centre, holding
9on top the monument to Gai. Pictures of various election campaigns, candidates and bull heads were promptly plastering on the building walls.
The wolf smile of Vahag was rotating and kissing the walls. Finally it cooled down and whispered:
9 Gai - Hayk Bzhshkyan /1887-1937/, an Armenian revolutionary
“Did you see her teats? They look like pimples.”
I didn‟t even understand whom he was talking about but the fish tail made itself felt.
I stopped laughing. The sun orange was in the glass with a Moonk lipstick trace on it. I drank.
I felt bad in the pimpled pool. The air was floating from the one end of my lungs to another. I made a few turns without paying attention to my tail flutters.
A cigarette holding mouth approached.
“You have a breath shortage,” she said. “You‟re not able to dive.”
I didn‟t know why but I kissed her and the cigarette as well.
My phone calculator began functioning. The numbers were instantly changing, enlarging and getting small. The father‟s number changed under mother‟s name. The numbers were changing so rapidly that I could have hardly distinguishing them.
Taking a breath, my phone warned me that I‟d got new messages.
Don‟t send anymore
if you are to write such words.
You love me and want me?
Go home and have a sleep. Grig>
Faces cleared up at once. I just came out of the pool, when Vahag, smearing his chest, no pimpled voice on the walls, cried out:
“Rush...Rush...That Gai...gay...the gays will be here any time now...
So, the first block of Nork was returning after its successful raid on the Center. Wearing my suit I hurried into the car. The city ran away, rising me through clouds and dishwashing powders.
There were red spots on the morning.
My grandma was proud, saying that first of all raspberry ripened in their village. There were red spots on the morning scope. I flew and gathered the raspberries from the white.
My grandma sat on the stone in front of the door with her five meters long hair flowing. Noting me, she embraced my hand with her arm-hair:
“Is your mother rambling through foreign countries over and over again?”
Driving out the pigs away from the gate, we got inside.
Day after day shattering, the stairs uncovered the old house feet. As if it was a walking Russian fairy-tale hut. But during all those years I‟d never observed my grandma‟s hut running away.
“Grandma, enough, come here, have a sit and tell me how are you?”
Grandma‟s hair, rolling over the stones, vines and gate handles, sweeping the floor and
stroking the foundation, touched and loved me.
“Fine. Will your father come?”
“I saw him yesterday...He said nothing. Come with me...Your daughters-in-law and
grandchildren love you so much
“Take care of that child,” the hair dropped two or three firewood in the stove, inflaming the fire. “What do you want me to prepare for you?”
“Grandma, aren‟t you tired of this firewood? Look, how much firewood you chop for cooking all round the year.”
“Stop talking, you better cut your hair, you‟re not a girl.”
“Your neighbors‟ nonsense? Don‟t take into your head.”
“No, dear, what neighbors? Besides I don‟t pay attention to that retrogrades.
“Did the swallows arrive again?”
In the spring grandma always lets the windows open so that the swallows can come and build a nest.
“They arrived and hatched out their young.”
“Where are they?”