By Stoyan Valev
the favorite granddaughter of the old Venneta, sat down on the floor by the armchair, and asked:
“And have you loved granddaddy all the
“Certainly, dear, how can it be
otherwise?” the old woman caressed her cheek.
"And you didn’t get tired?" said the girl, amazed,
ensconcing herself in her granny’s feet.
The old Zlati had drifted into his usual
sweet doze on the rocking chair by the window,
his face covered with the unfinished newspaper. At his
side lied stretched Rudi, the Germen shepherd, whether sleeping,
or keeping watch, however, the girl suddenly wasn’t certain.
“Well, he did make me mad sometimes. We
had our quarrels.” the old Venneta became thoughtful for a
moment, giving a peek where her husband snored peacefully, then
laughed quietly. “Can you ever love one man for good fifty
years?” her eyes screwed up cunningly, “I taken some rest. I
have given myself a break.”
the girl felt bewildered and exclaimed, “You must be
kidding me, granny!”
“The marriage is a job, my dear,” the
old woman shook her head. “You need a time off. After the
holiday, you work better, isn’t that right . . . ?” the old
Venetta was smiling cunningly, somehow mischievously and
playfully, but honestly all the same.
“And during the break, what?” the
girl gave her a conspiratorial wink.
me . . . should
people share all their secrets?”
the old woman shook her head and gave the old man the
same mischievous, childish
you are still very little,
the time hasn’t come yet for you to listen to that sort
of things . . .”
“Nonsense! Once women at eighteen already
had already children of their own! Tell me, please!” demanded
the girl and pressed her cheek upon her granny’s knees.
all right, all right!”
the old woman waved her hand,
bowed her head and started her tale,
in a very low voice,
seemingly in the girl’s ear,
but actually her voice was echoing in the room.
“Once, I had got myself, too, a certain
‘friend’, as you call it now, but at the time we used to
call it simply: ‘lover’ and this is the truer word, I think.
His name was Radko, a colleague of your granddad. I hated the
long-drawn unfaithfulness: I wanted to be with the man I liked
one, two, three days and ¡ then everyone on his own path! So,
I breathe the word to my sister over the phone and a wire comes
from her at once and I still can see its preposterous contents:
‘Mother seriously ill. Come immediately.’
“Mother lived with my sister so there was
nothing suspicious it was exactly her to send me such telegram.
So, I leave immediately, the very same night after receiving it.
Your granddaddy harps on coming,
too, but I said to him: no,
no, you shouldn’t leave your work just like that,
you have just been promoted,
you have to prove yourself now!
He complied to let me go alone, and all in all, I didn’t want
him with me, because you understand I have other things on my
mind. There was nothing wrong with my mother, of course, you
understand it was just an excuse for him,” she beckoned
towards her husband who was snoring on and off under the
Now the dog was taking part in the snoring,
too. The old woman pursed her lips and exclaimed: “However,
the moment I showed up, mother got ill! What a wonder! I, of
course, had fixed it so that my new friend was coming, too, and
he stayed at the local hotel. The first day, anyway, — we
spent it locked in the hotel room.”
“A whole day!”
Mila exclaimed, admiringly.
“And a whole night, too!”
the old woman smiled mischievously and suddenly sighed.
“But my mother goes worse and worse! My sister,
frightened out of her senses, runs around, gets the doctor, and
he says: She must be taken to hospital, her life is in danger!
What’s wrong with her, ask I, but he mumbles, one can’t make
anything of his chattering. At the same time, my sister, God
forgive her, pulls me aside and tells me right in my face:
‘God’s punishing Mom because of your unfaithfulness! Go
away, don’t kill mother!’ What could I do? I left. When I
came back, my first job was to phone the doctor – sudden
improving, says he! And again, all over me with his Latin
gibberish! God sees all and punishes us, mark me, dear child . .
. yes, it is true . . . ! Since then I hadn’t taken time off
from your granddad! Here, honest to God!” and the old woman
crossed herself, her gaze fixed on the icon of the Virgin Mary,
placed in the corner of the living room.
“Yea-a . . .” the girl agreed, stunned
by her grandmother’s story.
“That’s why one shouldn’t be
Until that time, I was easy-going, taking my fancy to one man,
then another, I didn’t care a cent that I’ve vowed before
God to be faithful to this here man!” the old woman pointed at
her snoring husband and caressed her granddaughter’s hair,
“However, I understood, you can hide no secret from God! He
sees all!” and the old woman again hastily crossed herself.
what a horror you’ve been through!”
Mila exclaimed, taking both her grandmother’s withered hands
between her palms, kissing them.
How can you fill the child’s head with such drivel?!!” thundered old Zlati sharply removing the newspaper from his
face. “I called your mother and she decided to play that
little nice trick on you! Even your sister took part! He-he!
Aren’t you stupid?”
“Oh! But he’s been eavesdropping!”
said old Venneta, startled.
“Granddaddy! Shame on you!” said Mila
resentfully, but the old man gave her a cheerful wink and said:
“And when you talk behind my back,
doesn’t that, by any chance, make you feel ashamed,
my dear girls?”
Venneta abruptly turned towards the old
man, and snapped, but bewilderment showed in her angry voice:
“Can this be the truth you speak, Zlati?”
“What do you think?” he smiled and slowly folded the newspaper.
“I don’t think,
I ask!” said sternly the old Venneta.
“The marriage is a competition between
two people, Mila!”
explained the old Slavi to his granddaughter,
waving his finger mischievously,
the more ingenious,
is the one who always wins,
as is with life, my dear child!”
are you serious,
or you thought it up while listening in on us?”
asked the old woman suspiciously.
the old Slavi nodded, “I’¯m quite serious. I had decided
never to admit that, but – here – stupid of me! I made a
deal with your mother at the time. For a mother-in-law she
showed much love for me!”
the old woman couldn’t believe her ears.
giggled the old man.
“What a villain!”
the old Venneta half-rose
from the armchair, outraged, then sat down again, grown
extremely weak with the overcoming agitation. Her hands began to
tremble in her lap, and clumsily, she tried to hide them away,
but couldn’t – she didn’t know where to put them.
“Well, all right,” said the old man
“You tell me, Mila, if I had acted like a villain,
hadn’t I been provoked enough by her?”
¨C the case was too difficult to solve. She only
for some reason,
always imagine themselves very sly and smart. But I
won’t have that.” Obviously contented, the old man started
caressing the dog and the dog growled with pleasure.
exclaimed Mila and broke off. Actually, he was right.
“So, be a winner in this competition, my
child! Don’t believe your granny, nobody supervises us, life
is in your own hands but love most of all. Win or somebody will
win instead of you. There’s no equality in marriage –
there’s a winner, or a loser! Take that from me!”
nodded the girl and suddenly,
she saw her granddad in a completely different light:
strong, clever, ingenious. . . .
dear friend . . . Time
for a walk!”
the old man was laughing while the dog scurried towards
the door, then came back with the lead and bent his head. “No,
you don’t need a lead, dear friend, you are a man!”
you hear, old
called the old Venneta after him, mischievously, as always,
though her voice was trembling with agitation.
“I will. I have learned to take care that
half a century I¡¯ve spent with you, sweetheart!¡¯ grinned
the old Zlati. “Would I manage to keep such a beautiful and
loved woman like you, if it were otherwise?”
the old Venneta started shaking her head. She absently caressed
Mila’s neck, after the girl had lain her blond head on her
granny’s lap again, “Well . . .so goes the world, my girl.
So many years have I been with this man and I still don’t know
what goes in his mind.”
“Well, he took you in, what’s so hard
to understand?” Mila smiled.
“No, you are wrong, you are wrong . .
.” uttered the old woman thoughtfully and then exclaimed:
“But I must have loved him for that; for this strangeness and
mystery of his!” a quick smile crept upon her lips and again,
she shook her head ironically, with disbelief “although
– who knows?”
From outside, came the barking of the dog.
“Someone must have come!” said the old woman,
rose with a sudden liveliness; then went up to the window and
looked through it.
“Do you know who’s here?” she asked excited her granddaughter “Radko, the same I told
you . . .”
from the hotel?”
asked the girl, surprised and quickly joined her granny at the
“The very same!”
nodded the grandmother fervently and her hot breath dimmed the
glass in front of her eyes.
“But how come . . . how come they are
still friends? I thought granddaddy knew!” Mila stared
astonished at her grandmother’s face.
“He knew, of course, and I didn’t have
the slightest suspicion! Radko – least of all! But, who knows,
they might have settled the things between them . . . who can
ever understand these cursed men . . .” the old Venetta
crossed herself while she kept watching the two old men, who
strolled down the wide lawn spread before them. Against the dim
light of the sunset, Radko and Zlati merged into one great
single figure, while the dog was racing along before them.
the two men parted,
withdrew from one another and stood exactly opposite each
“As if they are going to fight a duel for
their lady of the heart!”
Mila whispered, pressing her forehead on the glass.
The old Venneta only sighed and laid both
her hands on the sill.
The two men started throwing the flying
declared Mila ironically,
surprised.” Look at them, old men, what a game they have decided to play!”
The dog was running across the men,
shuttling between them,
barking in exaltation,
following the disk that was flying over his head. And the
men seemed completely absorbed in throwing the plastic disk.
Is it possible that I, like the dog, have
been running across the two of them all my life, asked herself the old woman, terrified and weakened and started trembling with agitation again,
this time feeling a sudden rage rising inside her, totally
confused and helpless.
She made two uncertain steps and slumped in
the armchair, sobbing with terror, her face hidden in her arms.
Her granddaughter Mila was watching her as
much with pain, as
with some unsuspected contempt, felt for that old woman in front
of her that suddenly had become a stranger to her. The girl
half-closed her eyes and one could read on her lips the vow she
took: that in love and marriage she will always be the winner,
just like her grandfather Zlati!
Bulgarian by: Nevena Pascaleva
* * * *
Stojan Valev was born and live in
Bulgaria, Eastern Europe. He is specialist in Bulgarian language
and literature. He graduated Paisii Hilendarski University in
Plovdiv in 1982 and taught there 5 years as an assistant in
Russian literature of XX century. He used to work as a
journalist in radios, weekly papers and daily papers. He used to
be chief editor of the weekly “Freedom,” the daily press
“Maritza” and “Twenty-four-hour news maker.”
He published his stories in the Collection of stories “A
Murder on Christmas” and “A Murder of Love,” in the
following editions “Paper for the Woman,” “Woman’s
Kingdom,” “Review,” and “For the Woman.” In 1999
Hermes Publishing House published his first book “When God Was
On Leave.” In 2000 two Bulgarian theatres put on scene his
play for teenagers “An United Class.” His second book is The
Bulgarian Decameron,” in two volumes published in 2002 and
2003 by Golden Apple Publishing House. The two volumes include
30 stories about the love life of the Bulgarian in the past.
His screen script on his story “Unfaithfulness – one time
and a half” won a competition of the Bulgarian National TV in
November 2002. In 2003 Golden Apple Publishing House published a
story collection of 40 stories named “Time for Infidelities.” Some of his stories have been published in many issues in
USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, Italy, Poland, Kingdom
of Nepal, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland and some are going to be
* * *
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * *
The Persistence of the Color Line
Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency
By Randall Kennedy
Among the best things about
The Persistence of the Color Line
is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the
positions about Mr. Obama staked out by
black commentators on the left and
right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel
West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley.
He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr.
Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism
regarding whether blacks should back
Obama” . . .
finest chapter in
The Persistence of the Color Line
is so resonant, and so personal, it
could nearly be the basis for a book of
its own. That chapter is titled
“Reverend Wright and My Father:
Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”
Recalling some of the criticisms of
America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s
former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with
feeling about his own father, who put
each of his three of his children
through Princeton but who “never forgave
American society for its racist
mistreatment of him and those whom he
most loved.” His father distrusted
the police, who had frequently called
him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr.
Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad
Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never
called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places
his father, and Mr. Wright, in
sympathetic historical light.
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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posted 17 February 2005