Arkady Who Couldn't See and Artem Who Couldn't Hear

Arkady Who Couldn't See and Artem Who Couldn't Hear by C.D. Rose Read Free Book Online

Book: Arkady Who Couldn't See and Artem Who Couldn't Hear by C.D. Rose Read Free Book Online
Authors: C.D. Rose
Tags: Arts & Entertainment
    C.D. ROSE
    Ebook version published in 2015 by
    Galley Beggar Press Ltd
    Typeset by Galley Beggar Press Ltd
    All rights reserved© C.D. ROSE, 2014
    The right of C.D. Rose to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988
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    Some years ago, attempting to collect material for a still-unwritten book, I was travelling through Russia by train. The trains were long and overheated and smelled of pickles and unwashed clothes. It was difficult to find a seat where I could read or sleep undisturbed, but on leaving a city whose name I no longer remember I found a compartment. There two men were spending the long journey building a wooden house from matchsticks.
    I didn’t introduce myself, but watched as they carefully placed one match on top of another, using the tiniest bit of paste to hold their model together. The train ride was far from smooth and I was amazed by the skill with which they kept their work standing. They spoke to each other in quiet, low voices and I struggled to overhear what they were saying. Despite my reasonable knowledge of Russian, I could understand nothing of their conversation and when I finally asked found they were not speaking Russian at all, but Komi. This language, they told me, still spoken by a few thousand people in central Russia, was the language they had been born into and the one used in the town to which they were now returning. They hadn’t been back for many years, they said, and were trying to remember their birthplace by constructing a model of it.
    As they spoke, each weighing the other’s words as carefully and intently while they placed the matchsticks alongside each other, I couldn’t help but notice the marked physical similarity between them. They were twins, they told me, the more talkative Arkady three minutes older than his quiet brother, Artem.
    They were thin men, curiously built, with long square bodies and short legs, but both moved with a careful grace, their slow and deliberate gestures reminding me of mime artists or expert craftsmen. When I asked how long they had been building their model, they looked at each other and smiled. All our lives, said Arkady, all our lives.
    The house we grew up in, he continued, was made of wood. So we build from wood, added his brother. They had a supply of matchsticks (still plentiful in an era in which smoking on trains was commonplace), but nevertheless worried they would one day run out before their work had been completed. Though the house was wood, it was a fine one, they insisted. Many of our neighbours looked down on us from the heights of their new tower blocks but our parents would have nothing of this living in the sky. They were not modern people, our parents, said Artem.
    Their skill with modelling was obvious. Each match could be bent or split and placed in such a position so that, once named, it became exactly the thing it represented. They used their long fingers to indicate completed parts of their work to me, and as they spoke each simple coupling of

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