All the same, having parents is disgusting, isn't it?
Mother's letter is all sheer nonsense, useless in life; there's a stifling atmosphere, nagging, pathetic information about maladies and depressions; miserably boring emotions, dissatisfaction and the sense of life wasted – these stare at you from every line, naked, like a face without skin. There's fear, the old age that came too soon (they've thought themselves old since their thirties!), the absence of one's own occupation in life – I don't mean something general, like father's military service – I mean one's own work which absorbs you entirely, and you belong to it from head to toe. And so now I've become the focus of it all – they think that had I stayed there, in that country with them, their life would be different.
No, it wouldn't be, I wouldn't have saved them.
Who's to blame? Father was terribly weak – he loved music but stayed in the military, he didn't have enough guts to take that step and leave. He was also gifted in mechanics – but he never developed that talent. He ended up being what his fate pushed him into.
Mother spent her entire life staying home when she loved being with people, loved theater.
This is how day by day their boring lives have wound down and left them, one on one, on some rocky island as it were, and the wind is blowing, and it's cold, and they nestle up to one another to get warm, and they cry out to me – who's far, far away – to save them.
But I don't feel sorry for them. And I'm happy that God took me away from them, from their old age (which I wouldn't comfort anyway), from their desperation, which can't be helped.
A bad son? No. Intelligent and therefore ruthless, strong and sad, I look at them from afar and I make a helpless gesture in dismay. What can I do when every one in this life has to fight the almighty Fate alone. And woe unto him who is weak.
Having written all this, I happened to look at the last letter they sent me, and oh horror and confirmation of my thoughts and feelings about them – the stamp on the envelope turned out to be a reproduction of Fedotov's painting, a hunchback kneeling down before his bride. Precisely. The letter arrived from the hunchbacked life.