Ahatanhel Krymskyi, Andrii Lahovskyi

trans. by Liubov Kukharenko
Ahatanhel KrymskyiLiubov KukharenkoTranslation

Due to his natural meekness vis-à-vis womankind, the professor once again did not believe for long that Zoe truly loved him. That same evening, during the walk, he abandoned the thought altogether. That change occurred in him quite easily.

He and the three younger Schmidts walked rather far out from Tuapse, all the way to the Kadosh lighthouse, and, tired from walking, they settled to rest by the seaside. Right then, a young moon rose up and cast a pale, fantastical light onto their half-sitting, half-lying group, huddled together on top of a tall sea cliff. Under that magical moonlight, the professor gazed upon his young friends, and never before had they appeared to him as beautiful as they did then; even Volodymyr looked impressive, or at least elegant, which the professor could not say of his own drab attire. Apollon and Kostiantyn, though, appeared to have godlike beauty, poetic and ethereal — a vision of medieval knights of old.

‘No!’ proclaimed Lahovskyi to himself. ‘It would be a condemnation of Zoe’s taste if she, whilst having these wonderful, poetic, brilliantly talented boys before her, would focus her attention on my poorly, insignificant, bland, and unassuming figure. Quite simply, she is seeing that they treat me kindly, and, in her pity, also took notice of me — she just wants to play a friendly joke so I stop scowling at her, as I have been… Look at me: making such silly assumptions of her trickery; me, a troubadour, or Abelard, and her — Heloise..!’

With such thoughts, he smiled as his heart lightened, a weight lifted off his shoulders. It’s true: Zoe’s face and her sweet ‘in Turkish, I am saying that I love you’ continually surfaced in his memory as he sat under the magical moonlight, and that ghost was welcomed, and that ‘I love you’ rang in his ears like heavenly music. But all of that was far removed from any amorous illusions and did not awaken any personal desires in Lahovskyi.

‘Zoe was just joking’, he kept thinking. ‘Zoe was merely playing. But not to cause any malice or humiliation: no, her prankery was nice and well-meaning, and what a wonderful, lovely person she is, the little joker! Building up hopes out of such jokes,’ he thought, ‘would be funny and unwise — I should be so lucky that due to her affection for the Schmidts, Zoe throws a crumblet of affection my way… Well then! A crumblet is all that I need! For a mere crumb of Zoe’s favour, he is ready to perform whatever service she devises.’

Lahovskyi and the Schmidts lounged on the rocks in silence. The darker the night, the more defined and brighter was the moonlight, illuminating the statuesque Germanic profiles of Apollon and Kostiantyn, and the more acutely the professor felt how far out of reach of them was he, a shrivelled bookworm.

‘My dearest friends!’ he mused internally in adoration, happy that he felt no jealousy towards them.

‘My dearest!!’ overcome, he whispered.

‘What are you whispering over there, Andrii Ivanovych, magic spells?’ asked Volodymyr.

‘Just whispering to myself about how much I love your entire family,’ replied the professor simply and entirely sincerely; moving closer to Volodymyr, he caressed his head like one would a beloved younger brother’s. Then he moved towards Apollon and Kostiantyn and caressed them similarly, even putting his arm around Kostiantyn. And if anyone were to ask him at that moment whom he loved more — these boys, his trusted friends, or Zoe — he, without hesitation, would reply that he loved them all equally or even that he loved Kostiantyn the most.

 


Translated by Liubov Kukharenko from: Ahatanhel Krymskyi, Андрій Лаговський (Andrii Lahovskyi) (Kyiv: Vikhola, 2023), pp. 181–183.

 

The UIL Literary Translation workshop was funded by the Embassy of Ukraine to the United Kingdom and coordinated by UIL Kultura Fellow Maryna Dubyna.

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