The Lady of the Kaprovana Zone — Manana Dumbadze



Originally published in Georgian in the Georgian monthly literary magazine ახალი საუნჯე (Akhali Saunje ) in November, 2016.

Let me warn you at the outset that this Macbeth has nothing to do with either William Shakespeare’s Macbeth or, more importantly, Nikoloz Leskov’s “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensky District” – she is a far more rectilinear character. Both in terms of the form and content, she looks more like a prison warden or a cheap brothel madame. Towering like a mountain and glaring grimly, she sent tremors through both males and females in Kaprovana by flashing her eyes in rage and clenching her teeth. It is a surprise to discover, after all this, that her name is Lady.

A short man used to follow her everywhere at a distance of half a meter. Whenever Lady was interested in something, she would indicate to the short guy by raising her eyebrows – he was to go and see what was happening and come back and tell her. He would run up and down and know he’d better collect all the information, or else. In time, the short man mastered various methods of obtaining news that even a highly skilled KGB agent hadn’t.

He was doing the same thing now, looking for a huge scandal for his mighty lady. It is extremely difficult to find scandalous stories in abandoned and stagnant Kaprovana. You would have to be a magician to do so, but Tristan, the short guy, was: he could always find something interesting (either by looking for it or making up a story) and then add something of his own to it. Lady guessed he might be making some things up but could do nothing; she had to work in Kaprovana and turn a blind eye to certain things.

Beside Tristan, Lady looked much bigger and taller than she really was. Some said (or rather thought to themselves) that this giant would eventually prove to be a lady by her methods. But because of her devastating appearance and the fear it imparted, no one would even go near her. The whole of Kaprovana was afraid of Lady. And not with an ordinary fear: people would rather try and find shelter amongst monsters than face her, thinking the monsters would show more mercy. Lady had an abundance of terrified people to choose from in Kaprovana. Some just came into her orbit while others she hunted down. Hunting people was her main interest. She was second to none in this respect.

“Hey, Tristan, I don’t like what I see of you today. You do not seem to be in shape; you are getting older and losing your sense of smell. Soon we will have to replace you,” Lady threw at Tristan.

“Why, Lady? This is not the time. The feast of Kaprovana is just starting. Wait a little and we will have fun.”

“No, dear. I can’t wait for you. I can see from here that something is happening on the coast, in Kokaia’s plot, but no one has told me anything. You are just sitting here.”

“I was just about to tell you about it. I know something is happening in Kokaias’ yard and I was just thinking I should go and see what it is,” Tristan replied to justify himself.
“Go, and tell me exactly what is happening. No gossip. Clear?”

Tristan rushed down to Kokaia’s plot and found that some sort of construction had begun. In the middle of the yard a young, golden-haired woman in a black dress was giving orders. She was wearing a necklace of artificial pearls on her long neck. The black dress was cut over her breast at a more than appropriate level to make Tristan crazy, as her extremely beautiful, firm, young breasts were visible. Tristan could hardly swallow the saliva they induced.

He said in a coughing voice, “Hello, new neighbors.”

“Hello,” replied the woman without even looking at him.

“Are you the new owner?”

“No, I don’t own it; we rent this plot of land.”

“This rubble?” said Tristan in a mocking tone, looking at the sediment-covered blocks lying against the fence.

“Yes, we are building a bungalow here and will surround it with Eldorado.”

“Eldorado is great,” Tristan said, awkwardly repeating this foreign word, but since he did not know its meaning he immediately changed the topic of conversation. “Is Robert Kokaia here?”

“No, it is we who are here, we have obtained the right to build a bungalow here. Robert Kokaia has rented the plot to us. Who are you?” the woman in the black dress was interested in him now.

“We are the local population; we also wanted to build a bungalow and a restaurant but could not get Kokaia and the authorities to agree. How are you connected with Robert?”

“I’m not. He was letting the place out so I rented it. I’m just a client.”

“This is the first time I’ve seen you here, that’s why I am asking so many things. Would you kindly let us know your name?” Tristan said, stumbling.

“My name is Buba, Bubusi. I will have the bungalow up and running soon and will invite you to the opening ceremony by all means. One glass of any drink will be free for the locals. I will need them either as cleaners, in the kitchen or in security.”

“Look how well you have cleared everything. You seem to be a skilled woman. May God help you. If you need Tristan in any undertaking, just call, I will appear immediately and solve all your problems,” said Tristan.

“I will indeed need you; I would rather hire locals than bring people from the city. They are always thinking about stealing something,” Bubusi said sweetly to Tristan the local.

“You are right, locals will serve you better, and if you let them earn a couple of pennies, they will value this. Do not forget Tristan!”

“Of course I won’t. It is important that I construct this bungalow, Tristan.” Bubusi said his name with extreme tenderness. “I have to meet some workers from Kobuleti now; they have brought bamboo for the fence.”

“OK. I am gone and will see you again. You never know, I may be of use again!” Tristan bid a friendly farewell to Buba and headed back to his Lady’s fortress.


***


The Lady of Kaprovana let her eyelids droop and was lying in the Mexican hammock in her yard. One could not figure whether she was sleeping or dozing, since she tossed from side to side so much that once or twice she almost fell off the hammock. In short, she was wracked with huge turmoil when Tristan appeared beside the hammock. On seeing Lady like this he trembled for a while but then took control of himself. The sleeping Lady hardly made the stars fall from the sky. She was lofty as a mountain, high hips, long limbs, silver curly hair resting on wide shoulders, big blue eyes . . . nose, mouth, ears, all large but proportional. Only her arms were disproportionately long, so long that they would easily reach Tristan, sitting half a meter away, and pull his ear or pat him on the head.

Tristan placed a small chair carved from a tree trunk the usual distance away and sat still, fearing to wake the Lady. He sat so still he fell asleep himself. Lady was awakened by his snoring. She reached her long arm from the hammock and pushed Tristan off his chair. Tristan rolled on the ground, not knowing what had happened, from one side to another, again and again . . . then he jumped up, saw the Lady and realised where he was. He relaxed, feeling himself safe in Kaprovana, the motherland, amongst relatives. His eyes twinkled with happiness.

“You are so skilled in whistling and sawing, you are indeed a migratory bird.” (Tristan was not a native of Kaprovana; he had no kinsfolk and was a lowly bred “displaced person” from Abkhazia. At 9-years-old, he fled the Leselidze orphanage and followed the Georgian guerrillas in the forest. He and a couple of other boys with him barely survived, but when they had crossed the border he left them and swam along the coast, from one village to another, spending the nights on various beaches . . . then one night, he found himself in Grigoleti. He had squeezed into an empty tent on the Kvavilnari campsite. In the morning the cleaning lady drove him out by threatening him with a broom and swearing at him. He headed for Batumi, begging food from the local militia. Of course, no one refused to help a 9-year-old boy: they gave him food without asking where he came from or was heading. Do not tell me that things like this do not happen in Georgia. If in doubt, read Nugzar Shataidze. If you are too lazy to read, watch the movie The Other Side of the River. This is a true story. Tristan (I am not convinced that Tristan was his real name either; I think he adopted while on the run) neither looked for his father nor cared about the fate of his mother. There is no need to mention his attitude towards of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. It was all the same for him, whether he was in the orphanage or not or which country he belonged to. He just wanted to save himself in any possible way. This is the way he had grown up. The Lady from Kaprovana had been hunting for such people, and Tristan had been caught and skewered. Both had got what they wanted: the queen had an “obedient slave,” the refugee had shelter, a name and employment, which would take him to a new life.)

“You were snoring so well that it would never even be compared to the string orchestra. I was dreaming about a great film, and you woke me up at the most interesting point,” Lady growled at Tristan.

“Why would I do that? I do not even know how I fell asleep looking at you. I was also having a strange dream – a voyage to Africa – it was a real nightmare.”

“You’d better tell me what’s going on at the Kokaias. What are they building?”

“A bungalow, as I told you. Kokaia rented out his plot of land and a pretty woman (Tristan made his first irreparable mistake here) is building a bungalow there. She said that when she gets settled she will build “Ildyrim” too.”

“A bungalow? Ildyrim? What woman? Is that what I let you go there for? To come back with these stupid things? Tell me the whole damn thing properly, please, or I will let you see and feel what Ildyrim is,” Lady started to shout. “What is the name of that woman?”

“Buba, Bubusi – you will like her, Lady, she looks like a great woman. She was complaining of the other people there because she did not trust them. She said we were better and would give us employment.”

“So you‘ve got a job at Bubusi’s bungalow?” Lady asked, screwing her eyes at Tristan.

“She wants men for security guards and women for cleaning ladies (another irreparable mistake).”

“I guess I will be hired as a cleaning lady and you as a guard. So, your life will be work round the clock,” said Lady, bursting out laughing. She laughed so loudly that Tristan’s blood froze in his veins. The tramps who were wandering around stopped digging through garbage bins and the dogs started to bark as if they had heard an alarm.


***


Straightened up, with specially combed hair, lipstick on her lips and a red scarf round her shoulder, the Lady from Kaprovana walked quietly to the “untended” plot of land of the Kokaias. She played with the unlit Marlboro in her fingers. Tristan limped behind her. When they drew closer to the plot of land, Tristan soared in front of her and opened the gate for his Lady. A couple of workers were working in the yard. Pressed hay was being loaded and unloaded from an old and damaged minivan and placed in the corner of the yard. The pretty woman was not visible, just these filthy tramps with twisted trousers. In the corner of the yard, on the beach, they had erected a temporary wooden construction.

“I salute you, boys!” Lady entered the Kokaia plot in an unceremonious manner. She was looking for Bubusi. “What is it that you’re up to?”

The men straightened their shoulders on seeing Lady, rolled up their trousers and threw away their cigarette ends.

“Where is the master?” Lady asked.

“You mean the mistress,” stressed the bolder worker.

“Has Robert Kokaia become a mistress already?” smiled Lady.

“Robert is not our mistress, Ms. Lady. It is Buba. She is here in the tent and I will call her if you wish,” said the bold one. The others stood quietly and waited. Lady moved over to the tent but, suddenly, stopped and pointed her finger at Tristan so that he would call her.

Lady lit her red Marlboro in the middle of the yard, looked around and saw a low wooden handmade table with five regular chairs round it. She sat on one of them facing the sun.

No one responded to Tristan’s call apart from a funny pigmy poodle. When Lady let Tristan know he should go inside the tent, the dog started to bark even more intensively, and soon Bubusi emerged from the tent. Bubusi’s long, tanned legs were visible from the cut of her dress and her two firm, full breasts showed from her décolleté.

“Hi. It is a great honour for me to have you as a guest, Lady . . . Ms. Lady. (It seemed that Tristan had advised her to call her Ms. Lady.) Thanks for visiting me.”

“Tristan is well-trained,” thought the lady.

“Hello, hello! I’ve forgotten your name. Tristan told me it but you have a really strange name and I cannot remember it.”

“Bubusi, or Buba if it’s easier for you.

“Let it be Bubusi. It is not hard. I have simply never heard this name. Where are you from?”

“I am from Tbilisi; I live in Sanzona, a settlement on the Tbilisi Sea.”

“From Tbilisi? What is the Tbilisi Sea?” smiled the Lady.

“It is called the sea, but it is a reservoir and we, the inhabitants of Tbilisi, drink its water,” Bubusi explained to the seemingly ignorant Lady.

“Did you already build all the bungalows there?” The first touch of steel fell into the visitor’s voice.

“There are so many bungalows and yacht clubs there that no one would let me build anything there. I’ve come here to build a bungalow, but I can create a real Eldorado on this plot of land. Lady, you will be my first honorary visitor . . . Ms. Lady.”

Buba was a being awkwardly coquettish, but Lady did not hear Bubusi’s reply, and was not even interested in it, since she felt herself under pressure and was looking for other questions in the crooked ploughed lands of her upside-down brain.

“Did not you say that Robert Kokaia was building a restaurant at the Tbilisi Sea?”

“I do not know Robert Kokaia at all. A broker helped me buy this plot of land. I have not seen him in person. There are so many restaurants at the Tbilisi Sea, how could I know which one belongs to Kokaia?” Buba began stumbling in a way which clearly indicated that she was lying (or so Lady felt).

“How big is that Tbilisi Sea settlement – Sanzona?”

“Well, it would fit into Kaprovana at least three times,” smiled Buba.

This is exactly what Lady was expecting. She accepted the challenge and would now ask the Sanzona princess anything she wanted.

“Did no one allow you to build a bungalow there? Couldn’t you find a caretaker there? Did you come to Kaprovana hoping to get help from Robert?”

Buba understood the direction Lady was trying to lead the conversation in, and that a couple of minutes ago she had said a stupid thing and tried to repair the situation.

“I am talking so much. It would be better to let you taste the coffee I’ve made – “Po Vorshavski” – Coffee brewed in the Warsaw way,” said Buba, squeezing into the tent.

“Is “Po Vorshavski” similar to what we call “Admiral?” Lady asked the question then looked at Tristan. “Has she ever offered you any?”

“No, Lady. That’s a completely different thing. I have tasted it before, in Leselidze, “Admiralski” is simpler. The coffee boiled by Bubusi should be as sweet as Bubusi, what do you think? The Sanzona princess is boiling coffee with her own hands for the Kaprovana queen, so how do you like it?”

The sun was still high in the sky and Lady was almost blinded by its rays, but stared without blinking an eye until her pupils filled with blood.

“This is my own label coffee boiled in the Warsaw way, take it, please,” Bubusi offered Lady the coffee in a lovely cup and placed it on the small chair next to Lady’s red Marlboro and sunglasses.

Didn’t I say that it was “Admiral?” That’s why I was curious about what kind of coffee they drink at the Tbilisi Sea, which we have never heard of. Tristanchik, drink this tea. You know, I won’t drink it.” Then she stood up, straightened her shoulders and let her hair down and then tied it back up again, lit another Marlboro, stood very close to Buba, took a deep puff and blew small violet rings of smoke right into her face. She turned with the same degree of calmness and slowly went towards the gate.

The cup of Warsaw coffee froze in Tristan’s hands. He could not even manage two sips. In his hurry he spilled hot coffee from his mouth straight onto his green jersey, then put the cup on the small chair and ran after Lady.

“No, Lady. That coffee made in Warsaw style was not the same as the Admiral one. It was really wrong of you not to drink it, it just seemed to you . . .”

“You, idiot. You were lucky that I did not spill it over your head. I will talk to you about it later on. Now listen to me. We are going to organise a bonfire night at Robert Kokaia’s plot,” Lady cast the gaze of her bloody eyes straight at Tristan’s forehead. First his forehead started to ache, then the pain moved to the brain and ran like hot water from the brain to the feet, and he swallowed his tongue.

“Bring here Little Minlow, tell him that we are going to organise a bonfire night there and need pyrotechnics as well. Tell Vaska to let the tramps from the other side come, and tell them that Lady is paying for everything and they should rush.”

Tristan knew very well what a bonfire meant when almost a month was left until the real “bonfire night”. No one had organised such a bonfire night in Kaprovana since those unfortunate ‘90s. The locals did not like to recall those stories. They said they would be in disgrace along the whole coast if they did it, but whenever they needed to scare a “stranger” away they held a “bonfire night.”

The day of the threat came. Whatever Lady would say would be done. She said:

“You, whore from Sanzona, I will let you see the type of bonfire night you have never seen. You want to have a Bungalow and “Evdoria” (she meant Eldorado) here in Kaprovana, you whore,. . . you, Kokaia’s slut! You think Robert is a gentleman? You will see this night who is master of the Evdoria you dreamt about,” Lady was swearing, “if I do not shake up those goons, they forget who is who in this place, whose bread they are eating . . . whether you are Bubusi or Mumusi, you will be entertained in my playground for the last time and then get out of here. Splash your coffee boiled the Warsaw way in the ass of Robert Kokaia at your Tbilisi Sea.”

Lady’s blood-stained eyes hurt, her brain boiled from thinking a lot, and rage inflamed her Adam’s apple. She lit another red Marlboro. Then Tristan caught up with her.

“Lady, I’ve told everyone, I’ve warned everybody, I’ve distributed responsibilities. At nine sharp we be at Kokaia’s plot. Little Minlow’s hands are itchy,” he says he will make such an explosion that the whole Earth shakes.

“We will see that at midnight,” Lady said without addressing anyone. “Yes, you will see that at midnight, you Sanzona queen. What’s your name? Bubusi, right? Fuck you and your Godfather . . . It is Lady who gives the names here. Everyone should remember this day extremely well, especially, you,” Lady raised her voice to make sure Tristan heard it. “You liked that Buba, didn’t you? You, the poor admirer of coffee “Po Vorshavski”! If you are not careful, I will let you follow her and you can go and drink that “Warsaw Coffee” in Sanzona with Kokaia.”

The moon was so round and white that even stupid Tristan could count every hill, lake and waterfall on its puffy and milky surface.

“I am afraid. There will not be a great witch-driving-off bonfire on this moonlit night, the sky and Earth are very bright,” said Tristan.

“If you do not make it happen, watch out! We should make sure this supersedes all the other Kaprovana witch-driving-off bonfires,” said Lady, squashing the Marlboro cigarette end into the sand with her foot and kicking the sand in Tristan’s face with her shoe. Tristan closed his eyes and shook his head to remove the sand from his face, and the tramps hanging around nearby timidly whimpered.

Everything should happen unexpectedly, quickly and vaguely so that Buba would not even realise it. When she did, she should not suspect Lady. But the rest of Kaprovana, especially the local population, would know very well where the tsunami had come from. This bore a special significance for Lady – everyone should understand everything, but deep in their hearts, without uttering a word.

“Lady, what if Robert objects? And does not forgive? There will be war, Lady. A tough war. Everything will be burned down. Robert wants to avoid war, that’s why he is not coming back to Kaprovana . . .”

“Who doesn’t want war? Robert? Who then is this Bubusi, you stupid man? Don’t you know why she was sent to us? Why should I chew up everything for you? They do not just want war. They are gasping for it – with white gloves and domestic harmony. First, Buba has been thrown at us, like a parcel, to taste. And then he will come. And you, stupid idiots, hang out your ears and drink the Warsaw coffee with Robert in Evdoria.”

Tristan would set off each brigade as required.

That night a very full, milk-coloured moon hung above Kaprovana. To be more specific, it hung above the Kokaia’s plot, while on the riverbank stood a pack of dogs. The dogs in all the yards began to howl at the moon. Each was reflected one by one on the milky coloured sheet and reflected so clearly that one would think they were sending a terribly long message to those there. The dogs lined up in front of Kokaia’s plot caught the messages of their spitting images and strained their necks to growl in response. In a second a magic circle appeared messages clashed and the whole thing turned into a cosmic symphony and went into orbit. Lady’s prayer clashed with this “prayer” too, and also sped round the circle, sped up and merged with the cosmos.

Then a mysterious silence hung in the air. The dogs lay along Kokaia’s fence. They waited there mutely. The milky moon turned grey and faded away, as if wanting a nap for a second.

The half-asleep tramps moved slowly. Little Minlow was almost sober, and dragged the equipment with him ready for the promised shooting. Bubusi’s poodle emerged from the tent at the sound of hay being thrown near the plot, and lacked confidence but barked a warning. Then it saw two shadows, growled at them and began barking more boldly.

One of the shadows threw a stone at the poodle, as he had prepared in advance. The dog began to whimper. Buba woke up at the sound and poked her head out of the tent.

Tristan, who was hiding in the fir forest, put two fingers in his mouth and quietly whistled. On hearing this, the canine bastards lying near the plot jumped up and ran into the fence. Some of the bigger ones ran into the fence, some squeezed between the holes in it and the more skillful ones jumped over it. In a second, six dogs surrounded Buba’s poodle, barking, growling and going for him, but Tango fought courageously and would not surrender. Despite the blood running into its mouth it barked tirelessly, growling and rushing at the “stack of wolves”. Then the biggest dog – a gray one, a hybrid Caucasian dog – separated itself from the rest and grabbed Tango by the neck, like he was a chicken.

Buba ran out of the tent on hearing Tango’s desperate growling and the deafening barking of the dogs. She picked up a stick resting there and started to scream.

She could see nothing, but felt in her wrist that she had hit something very hard. She shook the stick a second time and again it hit something hard. She did not think for a minute what this hard object could be and what would happen next. It all meant the same to her, whether she was shouting, crying, screaming, speaking hoarsely or shaking the stick. She could hear nothing but the whimpering of poor Tango. When she was able to see something, she noticed a huge cow-like dog lumbering over from the yard with its tail between its legs and the rest of the dogs following it.

Dark thoughts did not leave her. She was full of fear, and this was not strange. She could not have imagined that this was merely a prelude and the main event was yet to start.
There was a terrible explosion outside. Buba fled to a corner of the tent, taking Tango with her and hugging him. The explosion repeated a couple of times. Buba’s tent leaned over and they got caught up in it. Buba could not free herself. She finally managed to get out by crawling on her knees but then froze on the spot when she stood up. The whole world was burning in front of her. Finally, she reached the seashore and banged into the wet sand.

Tango was wounded and exhausted and Buba covered with sand. She stood up and looked towards the yard.

The fir tree forest was flaming especially nicely in the full moon. The bamboo fence material was also flaming. Undoubtedly, the fire had been started with it. She could see from the shore how people were running towards the fire shouting and yelling, some with nothing in their hands and others with buckets full of water. No one could hear Buba’s shouting and everyone had been woken by the fire.

Buba and Tango did not move from the shore. People thought they had both been burnt alive in the tent. No one dared get closer to the fire – they just splashed water on it from a distance to make sure they were doing the right thing. Only a thousand buckets of water would help here. This was a huge witch-hunting ceremony!

The fire managed to swallow whatever it could burn and then began creeping down to the lower part. In just a couple of minutes the kids’ playground would be part of the witch-hunt.

It would have been better if she had died. Robert will ask her to reimburse all the losses.

About ten people stayed to deal with the flames while the spectacle-watching “mass” dispersed and went home to sleep.


***


“The villagers could do nothing, they could not save anything . . . nothing was left of Kokaia’s plot of land, now it is worth just a penny,” Tristan told Lady, who was sitting in the armchair.

“Was Bubusi saved?” asked Lady.

“Poor her, she was crying bitterly, the neighbours calmed her down. But they also hinted that Kokaia would make her reimburse him for the loss. It was her fault, so of course.”

“Should this stupid girl reimburse that damned Robert? Where is the justice here? Don’t you think the fire was organised by Robert? I bet that’s true. I’m 100 % sure – that’s his job. Did not you say that the dogs had fought and spilled a can of petrol? That dog like a cow which tore Buba’s dog apart, did not it belong to Robert?”

“And his people let those dogs get at it I bet. Then they threw the cigarette ends onto the stack of hay and that’s the story,” Lady presented this detailed scenario of the fire to Tristan, who was left to present it to the whole of Kaprovana as if it was the truth.

“This bloody bastard now wants to raise money from Bubusi, right? No way. Then what are we, strong women, doing here? We will see who will be able to rip off whom and in what amount,” Lady said, a quiver of happiness running through her.

“We should go and see Buba. Let’s see how I can help,” said Lady suddenly. Tristan’s eyes widened (he had not expected such a turnaround), then he moved his head a little, as if shaking his brain, and recited this like a poem:

“Well, lady, you are great, extremely great. You are second to none in the world. Hardly anyone in the universe can be so considerate and kind. You are justice of Kaprovana, you are . . .”

“Let’s go, I say, do not become so much versed, it is not the first time I have helped those in need. If I do not look after that woman now, the whales will swallow her from top to bottom (even Tristan could not figure out who she meant here).”


***


Soon they got to the torched remains of Kokaia’s plot, and Lady headed towards that tent. Buba and her Tango were sitting at the tent door. She was putting ointment on the dog with the aid of the car lights. She was wearing the same black dress, still young and still with those pretty breasts, but all this did not make Lady irritated, as she neither remembered her youth nor being passionate. Now she was grieving for the sorrow in Buba’s eyes, the despair and hopelessness. Bubusi seemed even more beautiful, as kind as Mother Mary, and she wanted to admire her.

“Buba, tell me how I can help you.”

“Well, Lady. Nothing will help me. How can I reimburse so much?” Bubusia started to cry.

“Forget about Robert. It’s not your fault if his dog overturned a petrol can and someone added a cigarette end to it. After all, wasn’t it your dog that was torn apart? You had absolutely no connection with all this. Let Robert talk to me if he dares! He would have insured this plot of land a thousand times over. He may even get a good return from this fire. Don’t tell me who Robert is, I know him inside out.”

“I had wonderful plans; I had sold my small business hoping to gain more through this land. Even if Robert takes nothing from me, I have nowhere to settle down. Even my pretty Tango was hurt,” cried Bubusia again.

“Wait a minute. No dog has died of being lame. Think about yourself, and if you can’t, listen to me. Come to my place for a while, take a breather. I do not want any rent and I will not grudge you a favour either. Come to me, and if you become motivated again, I will help you begin your work. Let these beasts see how much female solidarity can do.”

“I am amazed where she has squeezed this solidarity from,” Tristan was thinking.

“I have a much better place than Robert at the seaside, in the first zone, go and build your “Erdogan” there,” Lady told Buba.

“Eldorado,” Buba corrected her. “Eldorado is the garden of dreams, a paradise on Earth.”

“Really? I will create that paradise and then you will decide whether you put a bungalow or a demons’ fortress there. Buba’s bungalow in Lady’s Eldorado! “Lady – Buba Land” – how do you like that combination? For God’s sake, do not mention Robert’s bog, please!” Lady drew herself up, and thought herself the Empress of Kaprovana.

The next week Tristan’s brigade brought pressed sedge of the finest quality to cover Buba’s bungalow in Lady’s coastal plot. Tango lamely trotted around in the yard. Large shaggy dogs no longer attacked it. On the contrary, they approached this place from a distance. No one wanted to create problems. Several times a day Lady visited the construction site, lay on the chaise longue, smoked red Marlboro and watched the horizon until Bubusi prepared for her messiah “Po Vorshavski.” Paradise was being built, the bungalow was covered with sedge, Lady was watching the sunset . . .

“And this is my last hunting tour in Kaprovana,” she whispered, satisfied, letting the violet smoke rings follow the words out of her mouth.


***

Manana Dumbadze is a writer, translator, journalist and a literary scholar with a Ph.D. in literature and more than 20 years of professional experience. She is an author of 11 books including a collection of essays, text books in journalism, the monograph on Mark Twain’s Literary Heritage and translations of American and English prose and poetry. Since 1983 she has been a senior scholar of the Institute of Georgian Literature Department of Comparative Literature.