I haven’t used my birth name for a long time, now. A new baby with my name was born on 4 February 1900, thirty-five days into a new century. What did anyone now at that time about the whirlwinds of change that era would bring?
My name is Slavsky Pavel, my Patronymic, Ivanovich. My friends, hah, called me Pasha. I haven’t had any friends for years, but I had a lover once. We were both 17, seizing intimacy whenever we could. Her nickname for me was 'Pashy'. She was the only one who called me that.
I was born "on the other side of the mountains," our Russian version of what your Americans call the wrong side of the tracks.
My first breath was celebrated in a small village called Odilsk, not far from Kalya. From the beginning, The celebration didn't last long, however. I’ve lived with guilt. I can draw from the wellspring of our Russian entrenched melancholia, knowing that I killed my mother. She died three days after I was born. I grew up hearing the whispers, blaming me. What a heavy burden for a young boy to carry, eh?
But I remember well. There was another life-changing event. It was January, around the eighteenth. I was fifteen, just a few days away from my birthday. It might have started when a neighbor coveted our backyard for a vegetable garden. It could have been someone with a grudge, angry at my father for some reason. My Papokcha was an unpleasant man when he was drunk, which was most of the time.
It didn’t matter, the who. What mattered was the what, the outcome.
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