Мади Кажикарим

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Madi Kazhykarim (Kazakhstan)

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A little from the life of Joseph Smith

“Got a job, – said Joseph Smith to his wife. He tried to put heart into his voice, but his dimmed eyes betrayed him. The job was to translate a couple of poems into Spanish; he’d get paid $200. Then he can get down to his main business. She did not even give him a look, tiredly nodding her head and entering a cramped little room which was their bedroom, their study and their sitting room. It’s been 4 days since the hot water was turned off. It looked like Emma Smith began to despair. Emma, who has always given a hope, who was around during the most desperate moments of his life. She refuted to build a career at her father’s office, to live with Joe, believing one day he will become famous. Joseph possessed indubitable talent, and she being an English literature post graduate could clearly see that. She believed in him the same she did the first two years of their life together, but something began to breakdown within her. It started when it became hard to support her husband, to encourage him with a sweet smile, and now she needed support. Previously fresh, full of health Emma has become faded and got pinched. The day she left home her infuriated father said she ceased to exist for him. She became a charwoman, looking for the day-labor and gigs. Before she attracted clients with her charm and warm-heartedness, now even bumpkins would scorn her assistance, so different she looked.

Her plain dress became greasy, her holiday shoes substituted her daily shoes which were shapeless from wear. Joe gave her a guilty look and buried himself in his writings, anxiously and with disheveled hair. Emma proceeded to make a plain supper, arranging food-stuffs: a slice of ham, canned food and a bottle of milk. Soon the teapot howled despondently and Emma came from an extension room which was used as the kitchen. She slowly set the table and sat down with a sight, folding her arms on her knees. “Supper is ready”, – was heard by Joseph and he wrote it down, putting it in his heroine’s mouth.
– The whole thing is that every author – is a gambler. He sends his perception of how people feel to the book market, a calque from his own feelings. But how should he know things appropriate for him are not idle fancy for others? Author is a gambler, who never dares to cease, – strained briskly said Joseph. – Emma kept silence, so Joe ran up to her as if he broke out from torpidity. – Honey, once I lost my way, but I’m on the right track now. I know for sure now that I dare to expose human’s sins! A writer is some sort of a judge and any writer to deny that is a hypocrite, for he would do that for false shame. – Emma gave him a vacant stare, and then asked, – Where should we take a bath?
– A bath…, – Joe looked at her pensively and finished – but exposing people’s weaknesses is never an end in itself! Exposing people’s shabby qualities is only aimed to learn more about oneself!
They started their supper. Emma ate slowly, rather mechanically swallowing food, and Joseph, on the contrary, ate heartily. He wanted to continue talking on and on, but the full mouth didn’t let him to. How come these two, who used to be madly in love, sat side by side and yet were far away from each other now? This was what Emma apparently thought about. May be, not, and she was thinking how to enrich her ration. However, she said something completely different.
– Joe, ain’t you scared to try too hard on exposing people’s weaknesses? Coz’ I know you write about people you’re acquainted with. Ain’t you scared to tempt your fate and become second Thomas Wolfe?

– Ha! Old Thomas Wolfe… A day or two ago I had a conversation with Williams, you saw the guy. What a lout, I tell you! He spoke so nice of art and writes such scabrous things. Where are the true values? Ah, Emma, sometimes I feel like I’m the last stronghold of American literature. That’s why they don’t publish me – they want dirty things, and I’m not the guy to serve them with it.

Leisurely eating, Emma kept listening to enthusiastic speech on his new ideas. He shared the most cherished beliefs of his, and somewhere deep inside Emma would become proud for him. But the tummy-rumbling she had because of meager meals would suppress it. When they finished their supper, they were ready to go to bed.
…In the moonlight one could see them dragging along to the bed. Joseph made a couple of attempts to proceed writing, but Emma dissuaded him taking him back to the bed. Thus they lay motionless for some minutes when a mouse scraped. Emma broke the silence.

– Joe, what will we do if you don’t get published..?

A writer Joseph Smith responded immediately. He heard every single word. – I will get published, baby. Nothing to worry about. Just have some patience. – She sighted what gave him to understand she has waited very long already.

Gradually, their heavy breathing became calm and quiet, so even homeless people yelling outside could not bother their sleep. Emma Smith was just entering a bright audience chamber, full of cream of society, and everyone greeted her, but she looked at the long table with splendid viands on it. All of a sudden she would awake: Joseph Smith tossed and turned, mumbling something about writer’s fame.