Daniil Kharms

A Story

Abram Demyanovich Pantopasov loudly cried out and pressed a handkerchief to his eyes. But it was too late. The ashes and soft dust clung to Abram Demyanovich's eyes. From then on Abram Demyanovich's eyes started to hurt, they were gradually covered over with repulsive sores, and Abram Demyanovich went blind.

They took away the blind invalid Abram Demyanovich's job and started him on a miserly pension of thirty-six rubles a month.

It's perfectly understandable that this money wasn't enough for Abram Demyanovich to live on. A kilo of bread cost ten kopecks, and a leek cost forty-eight kopecks at the market.

And so this invalid, unable to work, started more and more often visiting rubbish heaps.

It was difficult for a blind man to find edible refuse among all the peels and dirt.

And in an unfamiliar courtyard, even finding the garbage heap isn't easy. He can't see it with his eyes, and asking "where's the cesspool here?"—that's somehow awkward.

All that was left was to sniff.

Some garbage heaps smell so bad that you can hear them a mile off, and others, the ones with lids, are absolutely impossible to find.

It's good if a nice doorman turns up, but another one can chase you away so that you lose your appetite completely.

Once Abram Demyanovich climbed into an unfamiliar garbage heap, and a rat bit him there, so he climbed back out. And that day he didn't eat anything at all.

Then one morning something came flying out of Abram Demyanovich's right eye. Abram Demyanovich wiped his eye and suddenly saw the light. And then something flew out of his left eye, and Abram Demyanovich could see again. And from that day forward, Abram Demyanovich moved up in the world.

Everywhere Abram Demyanovich was in great demand.

At the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry, they practically carried him on their shoulders. And Abram Demyanovich became a great man.

—Translated from the Russian by Deirdre Wampler