442. Who Cares? (Part One)

Zhizn was a village in old Russia. The Russian word “zhizn” means “life,” and to the people who lived in Zhizn, the village really did seem to be all of life. From time to time, they heard of other villages. They even heard of a big city called “Moscow.” But none of that seemed real; what seemed real were the huts and shops of Zhizn – the little joys they had that sometimes felt so big, and the little problems, which also had a way of sometimes feeling big. If the village blacksmith made some fancy new tool on his forge, that was big news in Zhizn. And if that fancy new tool broke, that was big news, too.
Fyodor was a thirteen year old boy who lived in Zhizn. There were no children in Zhizn who were Fyodor’s age, so the boy had to spend his time either with people who weren’t really children, with children who were much younger than he was, or alone. He chose to spend his time with children. But he wanted everyone to know that he was older than these children; he wanted people to think of him as what you may call “cool.” And so he often spoke the words “Vsyaw rahvno,” which is like saying “Who cares?”
As you probably know, children often get excited about things. If Anna found a rock that sparkled, she liked to show people that rock. She would even say it was a diamond, and some children would believe her. She wasn’t saying that to be dishonest, exactly – just trying to make her discovery a little more interesting. But she would be careful not to show the rock to Fyodor, because she didn’t want to hear him say, “Who cares?”
I only told you these things so that you would be better able to understand what I really want to tell you about. There lived, in Zhizn, a young boy named Misha who had a doll named Nadyezhda. His grandfather had carved the doll out of some wood, and it was very special to Misha. “Nadyezhda” is the Russian word for “hope,” and somehow, Nadyezhda gave Misha a feeling of hope. When things weren’t going well, Misha liked to sit with Nadyezhda. He knew that Nadyezhda was only a doll, but that didn’t matter; sitting with the doll sometimes made him feel a little better.
One day, as Misha was sitting on a log with Nadyezhda, several children came to play a game. Misha carefully sat Nadyezhda against the log, and went to join the game. Fyodor was there, and so were many other children. They had lots of fun. I can’t tell you what the game was called; they were making it up as they played it. Once in a while, someone would make up a rule, and if most people agreed with the rule, for a while everyone would follow it. But the game kept changing, so I can’t really say what kind of game it was. But I can tell you that it involved lots of running. And it didn’t take long for the children to end up pretty far from the place where Nadyezhda was sitting against the log.

Comments are closed.