On The Border


I’ve left the Russian border behind me and now I sit and wait. I sit on a bench of an old train station; its roof squats over a dozen of freezing passengers, me among them. In the bleakness of winter their Asian eyes seem even narrower, and their bent bodies even more crooked in this devilish cold of minus seventeen. The wind blows through cracks between station windows, inflating a film that serves here as a glass. Sleepy daylight seeps into the waiting hall and mixes with the yellow glow of a dusty chandelier, its pendants drooping from the center of the ceiling. An absentminded gaze of an old Chinese man is attracted to it, like a sluggish fly.

More passengers enter and wait for their trains. We sit all together along the painted walls, as if in a limbo or in front of a dentist’s shop. People move to and fro, they sit still with their eyes lost in space or sleep, their necks twisted backwards, their mouths half-shut. My eye catches someone’s gesture, someone’s ugly mien; there is an obsessive nodding here, a slurping of noodles there, a formidable nose of a rare Russian migrant, and a child clutching an apple in his dirty hands.

Everyone in the hall performs his or her act with precision, though I see no props around and no one gives anyone any prompts. The stage is ready for action, an old man paces from wall to wall, glaring at me in expectation, but I don’t know what to do. I just sit and wait.

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