I still recall my district draft: "Unfit for airborne, sorry, lad. Your type will hardly make the cut." They laugh and jest: "What kind of men we draft today? Iíd sent you straight to the sick bay..." But Iím as good a fighting soldier as the rest. But when at war, it is like war. And as for me, the toll is more, My shirt is held onto my body from the heat. I lagged behind, I failed in ranks. But once, in one of our attacks, I donít know why but I received my sergeantís heed. Inside the trench our resting troops: "Hey, student! What is two times two? Tell, bachelor! I want to know of Tolstoyís wife! And is it true he was a count?" But here my sergeant stops this bout: "Youíre not a saint, go grab some sleep before the fight." But once, when I stood up to see, To my full height, he said to me: "Get down!" and then a phrase without a case at all. "You donít need boreholes in your head," But then he asked me this instead: "And is it true that Moscow homes five-stories tall? I heard a storm, he fell and groaned, Inside him shrapnelís getting cold. And to his question my reply was incomplete. Below the ground he lay to rest: For five long nights, for five short steps, Still facing westwards, with his legs towards the East.
© Kirill Tolmachev. Translation, 2022