(The science-fiction novel for teenagers)
In the near future, the English geneticist David Spencer, an employee of the International Organization for the Storage of Nuclear Arsenals in Kazakhstan, is developing the genome of the Edith bacterium, which feeds exclusively on nuclear waste. This discovery can send nuclear power and all the dangers connected with it into oblivion.
Spencer dies, struck by his own creation. Suspicion falls on the head of the organization, a nuclear physicist and astrophysicist Larry Grant, who in his spare time deals with solving the problem of compatibility of the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. After Larry goes further than physicists seeking to discover the Theory of Everything and comes close to the mysteries of science that are more than a hundred years old, it becomes clear for the investigation that Grant’s hobby is directly related to the series of deaths of scientists following the death of Spencer.
What is it? The envy of colleagues from the scientific community? The machinations of terrorists? Intelligence game? Grant's friend, philosopher Gabriel Cortes, is trying to help him, but in search of answers he encounters representatives of an alien civilization that has long and methodically observed the achievements of earthly science. How can we surpass a civilization that escaped into space before us? What attracted their species Homo sapiens, what dangers does this bring to humanity? The philosopher Cortes seeks to answer these difficult questions of being.
Anything that's done is done for the best
the Lord does not only plays dice,
but also sometimes throws them there,
where we cannot not see them.
When it was all over, Kryos lifted a teleportation device over John who was still asleep and pressed the button that John had pointed at in advance. He was supposed to appear on the Antiarth at a specific moment of time, calculated by him, and replace Antijohn, because now they both consist of antiparticles, and antimatter does not tolerate substances from exactly the same antiprotons, antineutrons and positrons. Some of them will disappear. If he John is lucky enough, from a lost timeline he will find a new life. But provided that the hypothesis is true.
Following the bell reminding noisily speaking students of the beginning of the lesson, a long lecture by Professor Gabriel Cortes followed. Everyone sat down at the desks and began to listen. Cortes spoke a lot, with the soul and knowledge of the matter, sometimes peering into the sleepy faces of young people. The lecture of the professor of philosophy concerned the history of the Mesoamerican peoples, or rather, the very sources of their history, whose deliberate move was interrupted by the invasion of foreigners.
Huge windows with blinds hanging on them made the audience spacious and light. The walls, which had a pale-green color, were decorated with portraits of great philosophers in bright frames. On the windowsills and cupboards there were fresh flowers, and in a large pot right on the floor, near the cupboards, there was a sky high palm tree.
“Well, my dear friends, today we will talk about Mayan philosophy. They did not have science in the usual understanding for us. In a whimsy way, it was intertwined with religion and numerology. Out of thousands of Mayan books, only four have reached us, and they all have religious content. “Dresden Code”, “Code of Groglier”, “Madrid Code”, “Paris Code”. Four books written on amatle, the analogue of papyrus and parchment, the material for which was the South American plant Amate. But nevertheless, today we have an approximate, but true idea of their philosophy. To make you understand the depth of Mayan philosophy, it is enough to say that, for example, zero was not the void for them, but the start of the new thing, because it was depicted as a shell. It is known that snails are born with a shell that grows with them. In this regard, it is clear why the outer skeleton of the shellfish was used for the image of zero”.
“Professor, if you let me, I will tell a legend that demonstrates the originality of Mayan ideas”, said a student Paulina raising her hand, whom Gabriel Cortes called “a pearl of the sophomore.”
Paulina, a tall red-haired girl with green eyes, loved to draw attention to herself. When she spoke, everyone who was present nearby fell silent, getting ready to listen to every word of hers.
Cortes made a barely noticeable nod of agreement.
“One Indian all his life wanted to be happy. He came to an eagle-owl for help, that at that hour was visited by an eagle, a jaguar, a pampas deer, a fox, a squirrel, an ocelot, a snake and a nightingale. Animals decided to give a person everything what they themselves possessed. The eagle gave the man beauty, the jaguar — power, the fox — trick, the squirrel — artfulness, the ocelot — keen eyesight. The snake taught a person to distinguish healing herbs from harmful ones. And the nightingale promised to warn about rainfalls and storms with the sounds of its song. The man is gone. He used the gifts of animals, but they did not bring him happiness. The animals soon regretted that they had made the man powerful. For such a combination frightens and strikes with powerful and miserable horror”.
“Or another example”, a student Adams, a full young man with a head of hair, caught up the stream of conversation. “Professor Cortes must have read the verses of the Aztecs. They somewhat remind of Japanese poetry. I remember this poem:
In the heart are born and sprouted
Flowers of our flesh.
If it is given to others to open,
That is only to fade soon.”
“Tochiuicin Sakatimaltsin, "weaving patterns" as he called himself. That is the kind of soul that Mesoamericans possessed”, said Cortes smiling, “what a tragedy is shown in these short four lines, the eternal tragedy of the human soul, a powerful but unhappy one.”
“Professor, can I have more?” raised his hand Jeremy, a student who came from California. The lank Jeremy, who played basketball well, was not famous for his developed intellect, but Cortes knew that first impressions can be deceiving, and made a lot of effort to make all of Jeremy’s talents flourish with magnificent flowers. “I read the poet Nesaualcoyotl.” He was neither Aztec, nor Maya, I forgot what kind of people he belonged to ...
“Akolhua,” Cortes suggested, “the allies of the Aztecs.”
“Yes, probably ... I don’t know very well the history of the Mesoamerican peoples, Professor Cortes ... But I remember his poems, I really liked them.
Will scatter once,
And the gold will disappear
It will disappear like water.
The quetzal feather is fragile,
So subtle, so airy.
No, heaven, I don't believe
That the world is not forever."
“Great, Jeremy. How glad I am that you appreciated the beauty of Mesoamerican poetry. Western culture is more magnificent, as history has shown. And at the time the emergence of Mesoamerican civilization in Eurasia, there were already Sumerian, Greek, and Egyptian cultures. The Mesoamerican civilization lost the military battle, giving way to the Eurasian one, but even from the fragments of manuscripts of local writers that reached us, particles of squandered diamonds, it is obvious that their culture is deeper than Western one. Appearing three thousand years later than the Sumerians, in the first millennium BC", said Cortes brightly, with sparkling eyes, “the fathers of the Mesoamerican civilization, the Olmecs, the Sumerians of the New World, gave ancient America the origins of writing, urbanization, mythology, astronomy and literature. Just imagine when Jesus was born in Judea, at the same time the first cities were built in Mesoamerica and the early writers of the New World tried to write. Yes, they were lagged behind the Eurasian peoples for a thousand years, and maybe more, because Jericho even at that time was considered an ancient city, and not a single Mesoamerican poet reached Homer. But let us be fair, not having a role model in front of us, the Olmecs moved forward by leaps and bounds. The birth of the Sumerian civilization was favoured by the fertility of the soil, suitable for farming and cattle breeding, rich deposits of copper and drought, in the fight against which the Sumerians acquired a high civilization. The culture of the Olmecs was born under similar conditions. Soil fertility created by the tides of the rivers Coatzacoalcos and Tiger of the Mesoamericans, plants that can give vitamins necessary for life, copper deposits, which were used here less than in the Old World, all these factors led to the emergence of Mesoamerican civilization. Yes, my dear friends, the very civilization that gave us magnificent poetry and philosophical treatises worthy of Aristotle’s pen".
“Professor Cortes,” said Paulina, “I'm sorry to interrupt, but I remembered that the Incas, before Einstein, Minkowski, and Poincaré, came up with the space-time continuum hypothesis. They called it “pacha” and believed that space-time is infinite. When the Spanish priests told them about the imminent end of the world, the Incas replied, "Pacha cannot have an end."
“Great, Paulina”, said Gabriel Cortes, clapping his hands. “And is it possible after all this to say that Mesoamericans have cultural lag?"
Having received enthusiastic applause from second year students in response, Cortes continued to acquaint students with the achievements of the South Americans. Students who were fond of Cortes's live lectures studiously wrote down the most important fragments in their notebooks.
“For today, the lecture is over. For the next lesson, read Diego Lopas Kogolyudo's work “The History of Yucatan”. I am waiting for an essay on Mayan philosophy and poetry, at least five pages. That's all for today”.
Gabriel finished the lecture with the usual gesture and gathered his textbooks into his bag. They made a noise in the lecture room. One hundred and twenty students, a flow of sophomores, future philosophers, came out of the bright audience with a noise. An hour and a half of classes tired not only the students, but also Gabriel himself. Each lecture became for him more and more difficult. The teacher’s voice no longer had that former energy, with which he fascinated a crowd of young students and made them listen to them in a magical way. That was until the recent incident. Gabriel packed his things and also headed for the exit.
Dark-skinned, dark-haired, big-eyed, with a straight nose, Gabriel Diaz Cortes did not differ from the pure-bred, noble descendants of the distinguished Spaniards, who invaded South America under Cortes and Pizarro, never mixed with the Indians and the Africans and passed on to many modern Mexicans, Colombians, Cubans purely Spanish appearance.
Another boring and monotonous day is behind. Although, the sun was at its zenith, the wind blew from the side of the park, and brought fresh air; all around there were green lawns with neatly trimmed bushes, each corner of the campus was decorated with unusual compositions of bushes and flowers. Life and things were going on at the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Everyone was in a hurry. Some went for a run, someone was warming up on the sports ground. On the landing at the entrance to the library five students were singing songs a la “A cappella”. Everyone seemed so cheerful, everyone except Gabriel. He actually did not notice all this beauty that surrounded him.
The campus was situated in the valley of the Finger Lakes, on East Hill, from there a stunning view of the surroundings, including Lake Keiuge, was opened to the eye. The rivers of two canyons — Fall Creek Gorge and Cascadilla Gorge — were on the border of the campus.
“Good afternoon, Professor Diaz! How did your classes go?” asked student John as he was walking past Gabriel. He looked strange today, and he also skipped a lecture by Cortes.
“Thanks, not bad”, replied Gabriel with a fake smile. “And where were you today, young man? Why didn’t you attend the lectures?”
“I…” John hesitated, a short young man of about twenty with glasses, with a constantly painful look, “I was out yesterday and arrived late. So, I could not wake up in time”.
“Poor one! And did not your parents wake you up?”
John shook his head.
“Well, now, young man. Bring an explanatory note to the dean’s office, otherwise I won’t admit to the examination.”
John thought, "Lord, I didn’t get to that moment of my life." Cortes nodded to the student and walked further down the pavement. He was heading to the coffee house. Gabriel's Thursday is the last working day; after that he did not know what to do. The whole three days of the weekend that he had to spend on something seemed to him a painful burden. And it annoyed him.
“Friday, I will get drunk. So, Saturday, Saturday, I will have headache for a while ... and I will go out into the street ...” Gabriel said aloud.
“And on Sunday?” the female voice that sounded behind, made Gabriel not only to be afraid, but also roughly turn around.
“Oh, Lord, Amanda, you can bring a person to a heart attack!”
“Good day to you too! So, what is there on Sunday?”
Amanda smiled and carefully looked into the rolling eyes of Gabriel, who did not know what to look at. Amanda was middle-aged. Her red curly hair fell to her shoulders. Light summer shirt, white slim jeans, stylish skin-colored shoes; she was a History teacher, which did not stop her from looking like a designer-stylist. And that was confusing for Gabriel. He did not know whether to look at Amanda's breasts, which could be seen from the deep neckline of her shirt, or at her straight legs, pumped up by morning runs, but not into her blue as two oceans eyes that sparked as if drilling through the interlocutor.
“I have not decided yet that on Sunday, in the end, you can go and drown.”
It sounded without any emotion.
“To drown, like on the last Sunday?” This time do not forget to bring your phone. You did not come to the bar last time, we were waiting for you.”
“You were waiting, Amanda, others did not give a damn about me.”
“Really? I forgot, I'm sorry, there was a mess at home, I was cleaning up".
They stopped going. Amanda took his elbow.
Two students passing by giggled when they saw them together.
“Enough! It's time to live on. You will not return her.”
It sounded like a sentence.
“How do you know, Amanda? Let me figure it out by myself.”
“Has she ever called you for the last two years?”
With this question, Amanda penned him in a corner. Cortes's astonished eyes betrayed him. Gabriel did not know how to hide his emotions.
“Are you wiretapping my phone? It is illegal.”
“Why are you avoiding me? You constantly disappear for the weekends. And on Monday, it's just a pity to look at you, you look terrible.”
“Thank you, now I feel better ... And I ...”
“Gabriel! I want to help. Life goes on…”
“I have to go, Amanda, I'm sorry.”
Gabriel changed his mind about going to the coffee shop and hurried home where no one was waiting for him. Entering home, he took a shower. He changed clothes and, taking a bottle of beer from the refrigerator, stood at the window for a while. I was watching the clouds going somewhere to the East. "East! It’s probably incredibly beautiful there!” He didn’t notice how it got dark.
Suddenly his gaze fell on the picture of the surrealist Salvador Dali “Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)”, which was hanging on the wall. Jesus hung on a polyhedron net of a tesseract or, as it is also called, a hypercubic body. His head was thrown back, his legs were stretched like strings, his chest was bent, all the muscles of his body were extremely tense. He is nailed to a polyhedron net by small three-dimensional cubes. “Why not a cross, namely a polyhedron net of a four-dimensional figure?” thought Cortes. Probably because Jesus was not just crucified at a certain point in human history on a piece of wood that has the property of rotting, crucified in the form of a person who sooner or later turns to dust and then serves as fertilizer for flowers and trees. Jesus was crucified out of time and space, he was crucified, is crucified and will be crucified forever. He was crucified on the surface of substance of the space-time continuum. The cross, or rather the crossbar, made in the month of Nisan in Jerusalem in 33 year A.D. was three-dimensional, and included three dimensions — length, width, height. The cross of Jesus in the interpretation of Salvador Dali is a polyhedron net of a four-dimensional tesseract, here a fourth is added to the three dimensions — time. Jesus is not just a man. And not because he is a prophet, as the Muslims would say, not because he is God, as Christians believe, or the Messiah, not accepted and not recognized by Jews, but because Christ embodies the endless suffering of humanity. Mankind continues to crucify itself. Dividing people into nations, faiths, social classes, establishing false differences, creating the illusion of superiority of some over others, humanity has for centuries provoked religious wars, crusades, jihads, ethnic conflicts, revolutions directed against themselves. Actually, it doesn’t matter what faith, color, political preferences the person standing in front of you has, whether he eats pork for breakfast, whether he has savings on deposit, whether he listens to Yusuf, whether he speaks Hebrew, another thing is important — if this person lives in accordance with a categorical imperative? Because if one acts with others as one would like to be treated with them, then one’s actions are framed by light, because no one wants to be treated badly. Jesus earlier than Kant, but later than Socrates brought a categorical imperative to humanity. His whole commandment is leading to the formula of Kant. Everything that was done by the followers of Jesus on behalf of Jesus had nothing to do with his worldview.
“Gabriel! I want to help. Life goes on ...” Amanda's words still rang in his ears. She was right, but Cortes did not know what to do. He was already tired of everything. “Today I will put an end.” He finished with beer and checked his bills, purchases, and credit cards.
“I don’t want to owe someone money!” He had no problems with money. The house was clean. Even in the washing machine there was no dirty laundry. In the room, surprisingly for Gabriel himself, it was comfortable and clean.
Gabriel played on his laptop the choral prelude in F minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, which he first heard in Tarkovsky’s film “Solaris”. The prelude was part of Bach's most perfect composition, “Passion for Matthew”. Bach was a convinced Christian and wrote dedicatedly, for a long time, and with passion. “It’s interesting”, Cortes thought, if Jesus were God, he would surely be Solaris, God in infancy. Thinking so, Cortes looked at his watch. It’s 12:30 at night. He did not drink and could not fall asleep. Gabriel picked up the phone and wanted to call Amanda to finally hear her voice.
Salvador Dali. Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus). 1954 year. Catalonia.
“At least I care about someone. She always danced attendance on me.” He dialed her phone number and his heart was pounding.
“Hello!” only now Gabriel paid attention to her clear and beautiful voice. He breathed into the phone and was silent in indecision.
“Hello? Who is it?”
“Why were we with her only once? She probably wouldn’t mind if we again ...”
“Amanda, it's me”, he finally managed to say in a trembling voice.
“Gabriel? Hey. How do you do? Did something happen?” in Amanda’s voice care and love were felt.
Gabriel was standing by the window in front of the coffee table. He was embarrassed for waking her up.
“No, everything is fine, just ...” On the table there were a pen, a white blank sheet of paper and a gun. “I just wanted to thank you, yesterday you wanted to help me.”
“Gabriel, are you okay?” Do you want me to come?”
“I, I just noticed that you, you are so ...” he did not say about her beautiful voice, he was afraid of her reaction, and his eyes fell on the already loaded pistol, which cost him a lot. “Sorry, I just needed time to think it over.”
“I understand, I understand. Gabriel, I can come, we will have a great time: we will drink wine and have breakfast together. Of course, if you want.”
“Not a bad idea, and what then? Damn it, Amanda! What are you doing with me?! I have to hang up before I change my mind.”
“Um ... I'll call you back.”
Cortes hung up. He sat on a chair, took a pen and wrote a farewell letter, it took him about five minutes to do all that. But the last lines were the most difficult ones and took about ten minutes:
“Goodbye, Susie, be happy with your new friend, a miserable creature! I am who I am and I cannot do anything about it. You stole my life! See you in hell!” He finished with a letter. He picked up a gun and set the barrel to his temple. “I’m sorry for Amanda, I had to get closer to her, at least I would have done something nice for her.”
One. “I will be with my parents, and we will be together.” Two. “Get lost, Susie. You will regret leaving me.” Three ... There was a phone call. Gabriel turned to the phone. “Probably, Amanda. I’ll go to her and say goodbye. In the end, what am I losing?”
But it was not Amanda. The voice heard after the answering machine was masculine.
“Gabriel, buddy! How are you doing? That is Larry! You have not rotted in this hole, in Ithaca yet? I heard that Susie left you, I always told you that this woman is not worthy of you. Let me guess, you only go to classes and go home, drink cheap beer, as usual, and clean your patent leather shoes in the evening. And at the weekends do you think of suicide, am I right?”
“Am I really so predictable and everyone reads me like an open book?” Under the influence of these thoughts, Gabriel felt miserable and hated his being even more.
“If you take a decision, I won’t stop you.” Do this and say hello to Jesus. I know that you are as stubborn as a donkey, but I also know that you always wanted to the East, strived to see Asia with your own eyes. I know that you always loved your job. So, if you are still alive, I want to tell you that I am in Kazakhstan, in the heart of Central Asia, and there is work for you. Here you must like it, and yet, the beer here is much better than in your refrigerator. You know my phone, I have the roaming on, so I'm waiting for your call. I need you here, Gabriel. Bye.”
The honk sounded and the telephone fell silent.
“I need you here, Gabriel.” These words impressed Gabriel.
He lowered the gun. And he was sitting motionless on a chair for a while. It was night outside. Time is 1 o’clock in the morning. “What the hell is Larry calling me so late?” thought Gabriel. The words spoken by Larry were in his head: “work”, “good beer”, “Central Asia”, “Kazakhstan”. Where is it?
He turned on his laptop. Having learned which country Larry is now in Cortes realized that the time difference with Kazakhstan is twelve hours. And Larry's day was in full swing.
Gabriel, tired of his wild and monotonous life, looked at the photos in Google depicting Kazakhstan for long.
“How did you get there, Larry?” After a little thought, he dialed Amanda's phone.
“This is Gabriel, I'm sorry to bother you for the second time at night.”
“It's okay, I'm still not sleeping. Will you come or should I come?”
“Come. We’ll have a great time, as you suggested, if it’s still valid ... ” Gabriel said carefully.
“Valid ...” Amanda obviously got mad and answered playfully.
“We will finally be together.”
“Finally? In what sense?” Amanda was seriously surprised.
“I'm leaving for Kazakhstan ...”
Over the Tenochtitlan rose a crimson, like a bloodied sun. It was blood from sacrificial fires that buried the souls of Tlaskalan slaves in their flames, mixed with the blood of the Aztecs killed by the Spaniards. Royal Cortes, breathing in the air which smelled the pungent smoke, idly inspected the bodies of Montezuma’s associates shot yesterday and whistling faintly a song that he had heard as a child in Medellin, went towards the terrible dawn filled with frightening colors.
He was walking past lifeless bodies covered in caked blood, going along the gallows, on which the rebellious Aztecs condemned to death helplessly hung.
Suddenly, armed with an ax Indian climbed out of a pile of dead bodies. With wild cries, he attacked Cortes, who was standing with his back to him, but he managed to turn around and launch a warning blow. The Indian fell as if knocked down.
It was just a dream of Gabriel Cortes, the namesake of the famous conquistador. This dream bothered him for as many years as he remembered himself. The similarity of surnames and the presence in the pedigree of the persecutors of the Indians poisoned Gabriel's life, put pressure on his subconsciousness.
Now, when he woke up in a cold sweat, he looked around and saw in the next seat of the plane a passenger sleeping peacefully with a large and wide of yellow-brown color face. It was his friend Ramon Saavedra. He was also heading to Astana.
“Ramon, by the way, is an Indian”, Gabriel thought, and shuddered involuntarily.
No, he was not a racist, on the contrary, Cortes considered himself a citizen of the Earth and treated all nations and races equally well. His whole life has been haunted by a complex of guilt against the indigenous people of America. The same dream, in which the cruel Cortes walks along the bloodied Tenochtitlan and is attacked by a native, periodically visited Gabriel, intruding into the depths of the hidden.
Gabriel thought about the duty of the Latin American and North American civilizations to the Mayans, Incas, Aztecs, peoples who in many ways surpassed the Europeans who invaded the continent. While the cities of medieval Europe were buried in mud and unsanitary conditions, and millions of people, noble and common ones, were dying of the plague and smallpox, at the same time, the Aztec cities could surprise any enlightened Spaniard or Frenchman with a developed infrastructure, a network of parks and gardens, canalization and established bureaucratic system. The Aztec tax collectors performed accurate calculations with extraordinary thoroughness, and the managers of the local emperor Tlothoani documented every detail with the same meticulousness: historical events, the number of slaves, orders of the ruler.
Mankind has been destroying itself for centuries, falling into an abyss dug by itself. If the Earth was visited by representatives of alien civilizations, they would be horrified to see the level of humanity — possessing technology and developed thinking, we continue to remain savages in the moral sense. The Earth is shaken by the shots in Syria, Afghanistan, Libya. Rivers of lies are pouring from the UN stands, and the majority of the world's population is suffocating in poverty and ignorance. And the world continues to die, destroying all living and thinking, not giving itself a chance for tomorrow.
Gabriel's thoughts were interrupted by the cry of an awakened Indian:
“Madonna, we are already over the Atlantic!”
Ramon Saavedra lived in Mexico City, and worked as a psychologist in Ithaca. He traveled to Nur-Sultan on a business trip. In his family tree there were approximately the same number of Indian and Spanish names, but he considered himself to be an Indian, a descendant of the Tlaskalans. These people made an agreement with Cortes and helped him conquer Tenochtitlan. Cortes did not forget about the service of the Tlaskalans and made them the most privileged nation in South America. Mexico still has a huge number of descendants of the Tlascalans.
Talking with Ramon, Gabriel tried not to touch on the Indian theme, but Ramon constantly remembered his ancestors, retelling the historical information known to Gabriel about the conquest of America. Ramon gestured in a funny way and smiled, as if telling a joke. His fascination with history was felt.
Gabriel was a little shorter than Ramon, about one hundred and sixty centimeters. In his movements one could feel a slowness inherent in people with a phlegmatic temperament, sometimes reaching distraction. As it turned out during the conversation, it was natural slowness that played a fatal role in Gabriel's family life.
Ramon knew that Gabriel divorced his wife three years ago. He asked a friend to tell us more about this.
“Both of us were thirty years old then”, Cortes said slowly. “She was the exact opposite of my being. I am always focused on my work — I have been teaching Philosophy at Cornell University since I was twenty-five. And I'm not used to being distracted by extraneous things. Because of this, I am considered absent-minded and incapable of life, and some even believe that Mr. Gabriel Cortes is out of this world. But I'm just a passionate man. However, my wife did not think so. In the end, we had to leave. She did not accept my views, she was never interested in my philosophical concept. As a result, not having found common ground, we parted in different directions”.
“They don’t talk about feelings and breaches”, Ramon thought, “dryly, without emotions. He got over, it’s obvious. That's why he speaks impartially, as if he is not talking about himself”.
“You are an extremely interesting person who cannot be denied in intelligence, wide reading and independent thinking”, said Ramon aloud.
He spoke carefully, with the tact of a professional psychologist. “But I dare to note that your detachment from everyday life, from people in general, over time will further immerse you in the web created by your passion for philosophy. Even the great Einstein managed to take care of a host of ladies and make progress in music, in addition to working on the Theory of Relativity. From six years old he played the violin and remained faithful to it until the end of his life.
“Philosophy is not my only occupation. On Sundays, I swim in the pool.”
“But this, sorry for my involuntary interference in your personal life, is directly related to your love of philosophy.”
In the pool, you relax, meditate, which means that you unconsciously continue to think on the Universe, harmony, concepts and categories. Remember Archimedes, because he discovered his famous law in the bath. I’m talking about something completely different. A man must be multifaceted, like Platonic solid. In addition to the narrowness of interests, I see in you dislike for humanity.
“No, not quite right. I look at the path of humanity with pessimism. Throughout his history, man has been engaged in the destruction and enslavement of his own kind, as well as in serving the yellow metal, for the sake of which rivers of blood were shed. Alas, we are unlikely to ever become perfect and equal beings to each other, as Tommaso Campanella and Thomas More, Ivan Efremov and Che Guevara, Erich Fromm and mother Teresa dreamed of. This is because we do not strive for this, do not develop spiritually, do not reach for the light, do not make an effort, do not overcome the power of the nafs, who has possessed the being of each of us.
I see that I was right: you really underestimate humanity. In fact, everything is not so bad. We have changed, stopped burning heretics at the stake and eating people for ritual purposes, as your noble Aztecs did. The world has changed. Look around, look at the passengers, the descendants of the inquisitors and savages, and you will see how different they are from those with whom they are related. There, in Nur-Sultan, I will show you the Palace of Peace and Concord, built in the form of a pyramid.
There, and nowhere else, you would see how people of different nations and races come together, in galleries, in conference rooms, to see the true unity of people of all confessions, nationalities, races and views, sometimes diametrically opposed, but with one heart, with twinkle in his eyes that unites them. There, in the Cradle Hall, you will see one hundred and thirty pigeons symbolizing all the peoples living in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is a young state. Such countries are able to show to the greedy, mired in pursuit of profit Western world, which way to go, in which direction should mature, grown-up humanity move.”
“I know a lot about Kazakhstan, according to the stories of my friend Larry Grant. This is truly an original and developed country, young but promising. My friend works at the International Organization for the Storage of Nuclear Arsenals in Kazakhstan. He is a well-known physicist and your phrase about Einstein’s versatility is also true of Larry. Unlike me, he manages everything. And Larry speaks enthusiastically about Kazakhstan ...”
“I'm sorry to interrupt. Organization for the Storage of Nuclear Arsenals? Did I hear right? Are you talking about a nuclear weapons bank in Ust-Kamenogorsk? I heard about it. They wanted to create it at the beginning of 2000, and now, finally, judging by your words, they opened it. I have not followed the news for a long time. Go on.”
“Larry suggested me to come to Kazakhstan for permanent residence, due to the fact that there is a vacant position at Nazarbayev University. He called me for a long time. Larry likes Kazakhstan, but he feels lonely in a new country for him, and he also lacks a loved one, because Larry and I are friends since childhood. I easily agreed, concluded a contract with the university and flew towards the Unknown.”
“A close friend is not a reason for fundamental changes in life. What inspired you to change the established order of things? You have been teaching at Cornell University for a very long time. You have favorite students, within the walls of alma mater you are quite comfortable. And so, you decide to leave for an unfamiliar country. There must be a good reason for such an extraordinary act.”
“It certainly exists. Recently, after separation from my wife and frequent sessions of the same dream, which has been haunting me almost from the cradle, I have experienced a spiritual crisis. As a philosopher, I am interested in the culture and mythology of the South American Indians. I feel remorse over our bloody history, the history of enslavers and murderers. I almost lost my mind analyzing the sinful chronology of humanity, unable to come to atonement. And when Larry invited me to Kazakhstan, I grabbed at his offer, like a drowning man clutching at a straw, as if this could save him. A trip to Kazakhstan is a breath of air, search for the answer to the main question of my life. Intuitively, I feel that only in Kazakhstan I will find myself, go out on the right path, and find the right path.”
“If you do not believe in humanity, no trip can put an end to your wandering. You need to believe in that very person who can completely destroy the smallpox virus, leaving his strains in only two laboratories in the world, in the very person who can defeat Hitler and save the world from the dominance of monsters experimenting with people through gas chambers, in that very person who is able to write “The Little Prince” and “Picnic at the Curb” to film “Hachiko” and “Solaris”, a person who is able to love his neighbor as himself or herself and calls for freedom and equality. When you can see humanity just like that, only then you will be able to find the right path. Think about it at your leisure time."
Gabriel did not answer. The friend's words sank deep into Gabriel's soul. But he preferred to remain silent, to withdraw into himself. Hiding in a warm blanket — it was noticeably colder on the plane — Gabriel fell asleep again. An open notebook froze in his hands, in which Gabriel managed to sketch a few lines of impromptu. He was an amateur poet. On the page in small, slimy handwriting was written:
You and I are responsible for everything and for everyone,
And for the cry of the Huguenots, the Catholics laugh,
And for the ashes of the bonfire where Giordano was burned,
For a Jewish child, shouting: "Mom!".
We are responsible for the pain and wounds of people
The animals in Stalingrad that have broken dominance,
We are responsible for the blood of Montezuma and King,
And for the death of slaves in the Coliseum in the ring.
You and I are responsible for everything and for everyone,
For shedding blood — the sin
And for the pain of the Holocaust, for the pain of genocide,
And for the fact that sometimes it goes numb ... Themis.
Meanwhile, Ramon looked around. Along the narrow passage separating the passengers of the left and right wing of the aircraft, stewards were going with carts. Ramon did not like to dine on the plane. He got used to the home food that his wife was preparing for him, and even on working trips he took his wife's foil-pack lunches.
Round, reminding the windows in the hobbit’s house, Ramon’s beloved character, the plane windows were quite foggy and very poorly reflected the picture that developed outside the windows of the plane. Ramon ran his hands through the air to feel the cold that reigned now in the liner.
He remembered his first meeting with Gabriel. Then, Gabriel was still married. He and his wife often quarreled, but did not show it in public, so Ramon did not notice anything. Gabriel and Ramon met in the pool, where Cortes went on Sundays. But, unlike Gabriel, Ramon was liked not only swimming. On Tuesdays he worked out, on Thursdays he played in an amateur football team, and on Saturdays he spent his free time at the hippodrome. They met and found a common language very quickly, although, taking into account Cortes' misanthropy, it was curious that Gabriel became friends with a stranger so fast. On weekends, they went out into the countryside with their families and had lunch. Ramon loved cooking traditional Mexican dishes, especially, chili con carne with stout. He cut the beef into small pieces, chopped carrots into fine strips, and celery and red onions into small cubes. Ramon bought beef in advance. Merchants often cheat by selling stale meat. That’s why Ramon preferred to go to the market himself. Onions, carrots and celery had to be thoroughly fried in sunflower oil until a light golden color. When vegetables were already fried, beef had to be added to the vegetables. Then Ramon put the finishing touch: slices of tomato fell into the camping pan. All that was stewed for about ten minutes, poured with beer and served on a blanket spread on the grass — an impromptu table. Who would have thought that these days of serene happiness would ever end? Isn't this the happiness? In family meals, in intimate conversations with friends, in the belief that tomorrow will be the same as today.
“Yes, it was a fine time”, Ramon thought. “Will we see Gabriel in Nur Sultan?”
Ramon closed his eyes, but could not sleep and tried to distract. For some reason, he recalled a joke about Hodja Nasreddin, a Central Asian joker, an analogue of the European joker Eulenspiegel. Once Hodja Nasreddin saw a grave on the tombstone of which it was written that a certain gentleman had lived on sinful earth for three years and achieved glory and honor. “How could this respected decedent gain glory if he lived so insignificantly little?” asked surprised Nasreddin out loud.
A passing man answered Nasreddin, “This great nobleman lived for seventy long years, but only three of them could live in serene happiness.” Nasreddin smiled and said, “Then on my tombstone I will order to write in golden letters, “Hodja Nasreddin, a man who fell into the grave immediately from his mother’s womb.” Few people can call themselves happy people, and if they can, then there will be fewer happy days than he would like to remember.
Translated by Malika Mursalimova
Cover picture: Zhamilya Krykbay
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