GoodnessPenka Bangova



     EACH JOB HAS its own exotic vales. In my job it is the endless stream of people. When it is full, the blood in my ears murmurs lousily. But once it is quiet and slow, I have the pleasant feeling like the experience in the theater. I am the audience; the customers are the actors.
    The action takes place in a bank, a modern private bank. I spend eight hours behind a computer situated opposite the door. A vantage ground, because I see the visitor at the moment the door flies open and start unconsciously guessing whether he or she will be pouring some more to or sucking out of his or her deposit. I make up stories about his or her life. I am pleased when I guess if he or she has raised a family or is single. Well, maybe I am instinctively looking for a garden, somewhat different than the daily round, which I tramp in, for if I surround myself solely with thoughts about my egoist-husband and my favorite little bawler of a son or about the early emotions of my somewhat grown up little daughter, whose birthday marks the consecutive anniversary of my death as a painter; add to all this the endless army of figures, and perhaps I would have long ago been reported nuts, had I not had this buffer. Naturally, not every day and not every visitor invokes clairvoyant passions in me. The morning when I first saw the woman, I was already in full sail over such waves and she drew my attention as soon as she appeared. I closed my eyelids but instead of imaginary scenes of her acting as chief character emerging in my conscience, I had the feeling that I was bathed in light. The rays kept coming not only from the live black eyes, not only from the expressive face but also from her entire stately figure. She was humbly dressed but other eyes also followed her with delight. I watched her well kept but already started to wear out at the edges overcoat and realized how insignificant the price of clothing was in regard to the natural sympathy some people breed.
    The woman stood quietly in line, careless of her charm. She explained to me quietly that she wanted to check her balance and open a new account. And at, you know how much? At the amount of 10 kilos of cherries. Each word was accompanied by a smile, which melted my irritation from the strange act: two lean savings at the same bank and in the same name, for god knows what reason! However, her smile was convincing me that there was a reason, yet a good one. And it is my obligation to obey the customer's will, even if it is next to whim.
    A month later she appeared again and told me again with a smile that she wanted to add to the ten kilos of cherries five more, as I thought while listening to her. The more miserable a saving deposit is, the more insignificant the following deposits are, I have long ago established it.
    On the thirty-first day she came again. I hardly restrained myself from pecking her with the question why was she bringing the money - no one would break her door for such an amount. But instead of nagging at her, something I often did, I smiled - not for nothing peoples say: tit for tat.
    On her sixth visit I was alone and, obviously sensing my bewilderment, she spoke out smiling:
    "I'm sorry, I'm causing you to make a useless effort. But this is my mom's money. She asked me to transfer it in my name to make it easier for me to use it."
    "It is good that she can save even that much", I said stretching wryly my lips.
    "Oh, her pension is of the lowest but she lives with me."
    "There's no other way she can make it. But at least, why don't you come once in four months?"
    She smiled charmingly.
    "My mom is eighty-six. She hasn't been shopping for long now and she doesn't know how insignificant the sum is. You see? She thinks levs are as worth as before. And I don't explain to her, because… Because I don't want to make her feel miserable…" Her eyes glittered. "I am delighted to see her after I go back home from the bank. She opens the contract. She dreams aloud how I will be able to bury her uneventfully and how her grandchildren will buy themselves something substantial for a keepsake. She strokes the sheets of paper and looks as happy as a little child."
    The smile never faded from the face of the woman. And I saw, as if mirrored, my own filial love and I felt my blood rustling in my ears. I love my mother and I keep constantly explaining to her that she would have perished were she not close by me. And what do I gain, am I going to raise the value of banknotes by doing so. And in case a government, which has caused the pensioners to be facing real death is a gang of killers, than what am I? Am I not a ruthlessly slow executioner…?
    The woman left the hall smiling.
    No one entered after her but I did not have any need of the stream of people anyway. The exotic valleys, which it used to lead me to, helped me run away from my own self. However, right now I desired to be alone. I closed my eyes and courageously peered into my soul, where lurked the disappointment from my being bent over figures instead of standing in front of the white canvas. And it was the first time that I saw the one to blame! It was neither my husband, nor our children, but Me. Yes, Me, because I had been too impatient about the reward…
    I bent down my head. Then I stayed for long in the niches of my world. And after work, instead of taking the shortest way home, I dropped in at "The Old Dogwood". And although the figures on the labels caused my legs to fail me, I bought some of my mother's favourite pastries, promising myself to lie that it was dirt-cheap.

Translated by: Valentin Krustev


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