Татьяна Шпартова

Не так уж много пишется документальной прозы для детей, а чтение это увлекательное и полезное. Я ценю этот жанр особо, потому что сама имею отношение к кинодокументалистике. В свое время мне посчастливилось приложить руку к книжке Нины Мацевило «Невыдуманные рассказы о природе и животных» в качестве редактора и оформителя. Посчастливилось – потому что «детская» проза Нины Мацевило – это великолепный образец классического письма. И я волнуюсь, удалось ли мне в переводе передать всю прелесть ее манеры письма. Вообще трудно судить о достоинствах всей книжки «Жили-были два кота» по одному или двум выставленным для ознакомления рассказам. Рассказы эти вплетены в общую канву и представляют собой цельную историю, которая развивалась во времени. Я знаю, что эта небольшая книжица собиралась долго, пять лет. В этом-то и суть документальной прозы. Там нет ничего, высосанного из пальца. Только живые наблюдения. И много-много теплоты.

Documentary prose for children is a rare genre. I particulary value it, because I am relevant to documentary script-writing. At one time I was lucky to have a hand in Nina Matsevil’s book «True stories of nature and animals» as an editor and designer. I was lucky — because Nina Matsevilo’s «children’s» prose is a great sample of a writing class. And I’m worried whether I could express in my translation all the charm of her manner of writing. In general, the entire book «There were two cats» cannot be judged by one or two stories. These stories have common thread. I know that stories for this little book had been collected within a period of five years. And this is the essence of documentary prose. There’s nothing created of thin air. Only keeping a continued focus on what is happening. And a great deal of warmth.

книга для детей «Жили-были два кота» (рассказ «Бориска)»


Once upon a time there was a ginger tomcat Boriskawho lived in a village. He had a hard life.The family from his house moved to the city. Nobody wanted to take him to a new place. He lived for some time with an old grandmother, but she died and he was left alone.So Boriska had to forage for food, wandering into other people’s gardens and scavenging anything left lying around.In the summer doors were often left open and when people sometimes stepped out into their gardens, or went to fetch water, Boriska slipped quickly inside and grabbed everything he could. Sometimes he even came across delicious things. One day, when Boriska had swiped a great ring of home-made sausage and was dragging it back to his lair, a man saw him and chased him down the street. Another time he managed to steal some succulent liver. All sorts of things happened to him, and sometimes people even gave him food.Often he found leftover food given to other cats that thad been brought out of the city for the summer by their owners. On these occassions he made sure he licked the plates clean.

Thehardest time was in winter. Boriska’sold house was locked and then he lived in the lair he had created in the garden shed.  At that time we used to come to the villageoccasionally  to check that everything was in order at our country-house. Sometimes we stayed there for several days. We took it upon ourselves to take different food to feed wild birds and ferrel cats.

We broughtBoriska a special bag filled with all manner of bits and pieces. It’s a pity he didn’t know how to conserve this food as a person would; if he had then he would have had enough to last him a long while. Whenever we arrived to stay at the house we lit a stove and cooked food. Boriska used to come inside, and lie, blissfully in the warmth.He drank warm soup and we always gave him a lot of care; and he liked the factthat he was the only cat there to enjoy it.

When spring came, Boriska could never come to terms with the fact that fat city cats arrived in large numbers and occupied the whole house and garden. He thought of himself as the owner of the garden and defended his property with his «fists»—that is, his claws and teeth.

During the whole summer season our own cats were walking around with wounds. Once, after a fight with Boriska, my cat Bublik, also ginger, hobbled for two weeks on three paws. To avoid unnecessary conflicts I had to carry Boriska’s food to his own yard.

Beyond our garden fence, was a hollow. Once, after a heavy rainstorm, a huge puddle resembling a pond formed there. After a while it gradually began to dry out, leaving a ring of liquid mud framing the edges.One day, when Bublik and Boriska were yet again fighting over their relationshiph, they were so absorbed that they failed to notice how they had ended up right in the centre of this puddle. But the water did not cool their aggressive zeal. They fought on vehemently, grappling in the tight ring, and then rolled into the mud.I tried but couldn’t even break them up with a stick. In the end, I stepped into the puddle, grabbed my cat and threw him onto the grass.

Spacey Bublik looked around, trying to figure out what was happening. He got up and rushed to the fence to seek out the offender. At the same time, Boriska managed to run back into his yard, and Bublikstopped in his tracks, fearful of entering the territory of other.

Both the rivals, covered in thick mud, faced each other off. It was a striking sight, but at the same time, they looked so comical that I couldn’t help laughing out.

It’s good that we had a barrel in the garden filled with water heated by the summer sun. The children caught Bublik and began washing him clean. Even later that evening, Bublik was still licking his wet coat in the warm sun.Boriska stayed hiding in the shed and we didn’t see him for two days. Finally, he appeared. I pictured him to myself encrusted in dried mud.I thought that even then it might not be too late to wash him. Nothing like this! Though that bully had a bit sleazy appearance, but he looked just like always. And trying to washanother’s cat who never in his life had taken a bath,couldgoing to end badly. Apparentlyit took Boriska quite a bit of work with his tongue to get back to how hehad been before. But he was a wild cat— he knew how to take care of himself.

Since that event our ginger cats have stopped fighting, although it cannot be said, that they became friends.These days, whenever they meet, they draw close in, nose to nose and hum long, intimidating meows at each other. But it never goes further, and after a long, staring pause, they always turn and walk their separate ways.


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