Uit: Old Shloyme
“And thus he lived in his corner—he ate and slept, and in the summer he also lay baking in the sun. It seemed that he had long ago lost all ability to comprehend anything. Neither his son’s business nor household matters interested him. He looked blankly at everything that took place around him, and the only fear that would flutter up in him was that his grandson might catch on that he had hidden a dried-up piece of honey cake under his pillow. Nobody ever spoke to Shloyme, asked his advice about anything, or asked him for help. And Shloyme was quite happy, until one day his son came over to him after dinner and shouted loudly into his ear, “Papa, they’re going to evict us from here! Are you listening? Evict us, kick us out!” His son’s voice was shaking, his face twisted as if he were in pain. Shloyme slowly raised his faded eyes, looked around, vaguely comprehending something, wrapped himself tighter in his greasy frock coat, didn’t say a word, and shuffled off to sleep.
From that day on Shloyme began noticing that something strange was going on in the house. His son was crestfallen, wasn’t taking care of his business, and at times would burst into tears and look furtively at his chewing father. His grandson stopped going to high school. His daughter-in-law yelled shrilly, wrung her hands, pressed her son close to her, and cried bitterly and profusely.
Shloyme now had an occupation, he watched and tried to comprehend. Muffled thoughts stirred in his long-torpid brain. “They’re being kicked out of here!” Shloyme knew why they were being kicked out. “But Shloyme can’t leave! He’s eighty-six years old! He wants to stay warm! It’s cold outside, damp …. No! Shloyme isn’t going anywhere!
Isaak Babel (13 juli 1894 – 27 januari 1940)