Fakir/Chapter Three: Among the Aerial Gymnasts
Among the Aerial Gymnasts
One day, while walking freely in the city, Tom and Katya went to the marquee of the circus-chapiteau. On the poster, which was not made in a printing house, rather simply drawn on a plywood board by a not very skillful artist, the inscription flaunted: “Air Acrobats of the Thibaut Dynasty”.
Tom paused at the poster for a long time…
“Do you want to see real art?” — he suddenly asked Katya.
… They bought tickets.
The show was uncomplicated. Costumes and the whole entourage were very inferior to what was in the rich and world-famous circus of Mr. Lurie.
… But, when the performance of the aerial gymnasts began, Katya understood what Tom was talking about. It was perfect execution of the most complicated elements of a number. Light, flexible bodies seemed to fly like birds in the air. Incredible coherence and accuracy of movements made imperceptible the extraordinary efforts of the gymnasts and turned the entire area under the dome into a magical space where people — as if were flying, only occasionally touching by hands or feet trapezes or the hands of partners…
“Wow!” — Katya whispered in ecstasy.
… After the performance, when they were already going to the exit, one of the gymnasts suddenly called out:
“Tom? Is it you? Cannot be! How glad I am to see you!”
… Tom shuddered and turned around.
“Is this yours?” — Tonya with a caress in the eyes bent to Katya, stroked her light golden hair. — “What a beautiful girl! And she is already great!”
… And, turning to Katya, she asked:
“Did you like the performance?”
“Yes!” — Katya enthusiastically said and added a few professional words describing those coups and techniques that particularly delighted her.
“Wow! So does the dynasty of Thibaut air gymnasts continue?”
“Yes!” — Tom suddenly happily answered. All the tension that was felt in him this evening suddenly vanished. Some incredibly beautiful and calm tenderness blossomed, which usually was hid somewhere in the depths of him, under a lot of jesting masks.
“Will you go to your father?” — Tonya asked.
Tom shook his head:
“No, better not… Better you come all, if you decide.” — Tom handed out invitations to the circus of Mr. Lurie.
Tonya frowned slightly…
“I do not know if it will turn out… You do know your father: he criticizes everyone for being untalented and he probably would not like to watch. I myself will try: I will come, if he lets me go…”
“In any case, you now know where to find me… Well, in general, if that… And if you need my help…”
“Yes thank you!”
… They warmly said goodbye.
* * *
Tom walked, immersed in his thoughts.
Katya pulled him by the sleeve:
“Did she say ‘father’? Did your dad perform there?”
“No, Katya, he does not perform… He is the owner of this circus. Do you remember, I said that I was an aerial gymnast? And then — I had to leave… It happened so…”
… Tom never forgot what happened then…
He was young, in love with Tonya, brought her to their circus.
Here — they make the number…
The father is unhappy: the girl — though she is capable — but to include in a number the “not-circus” — it is very difficult!
… Then Tonya fell in love with Serzh-juggler…
And then Tom had broken…
Then the old wooden construction of suspension under the dome had broken, on which the ropes and trapezes were fastened. Tom held all others by his body for a long time, connecting the place of the fault with his hands. Moments, while all the gymnasts descended, seemed to him to be slow in time…
… And then he could not save himself: the forces were over, he had fallen down. Arm muscles were broken, plus a fracture of the spine…
… Tom dreamed of performing again. And this dream gave him strength. He learned to walk anew, to move his hands… Overcoming pain, he forced the body to obey…
But, when he had more or less recovered, the father said:
“You will never be able to work really well under the dome again. And to be a burden to others — it’s not for you!”
… Father did not have any pity to anyone, including himself. If their positions were reversed, he would have done the same with himself. Tom knew this and tried to drive out the insult: “Yes, a cripple, a disabled person cannot be their companion… But I almost have recovered in just one and a half years!… I hoped that a little more — and I can perform!…”
His father’s words sounded like a verdict: “You will never be able to!… Do not torture yourself and us! Go away and make your own life! Go away without saying goodbye to anyone: it will be better! Do not have sentimental scenes! Good luck to you!”
The father had turned and walked away… Tom did not see him again.
Tom was not there already the next day…
Father was always ruthless in such matters. He never compromised, did not forgive someone who allowed oneself to deceive at least once, in some way failed or for other reasons did not meet his requirements for a real artist. He expelled those whom he considered incapable or unworthy, as if he had erased them from his life forever. And a return to the past could not be!
Tom then realized that his father was right, and that, despite all efforts, he could no longer perform as before. And to engage in all sorts of ancillary activities and look with pain or envy there — under the dome of the circus, where he would like to be… Spending his life on this sadness — it is unworthy!…
For several years, Tom worked different jobs. He easily mastered new ways of applying his forces in various matters, earned a good salary. But the circus… remained an “unhealed wound”.
Once he visited the circus performance of Mr. Lurie — and there he realized that he must return to the circus! Whatever you like, but come back!
He decided to become a clown and composed several funny numbers.
His first acts were not very good, but Mr. Lurie could discern in people. He had a kind of “flair”. This young man with incredibly sad eyes had liked him — and he took Tom to the troupe. Mr. Lurie was not mistaken: Tom became a kind of a “star”. His numbers were better as time passed. Clever irony and incredible ingenuity, a willingness to laugh at himself… Mr. Lurie rightly believed that he helped Tom become one of the best clowns in the world!
Tom for a long time with all his might tried to forget the offence, to erase it from memory… But… only drove it very deeply…. Only today, he happily realized that he had forgiven his father and all of them… He simply loves them all now! He loves Tonya — without jealousy, without pain and sorrow for the past, loves the whole of their team, loves his father!…
He put his arm around Katya’s shoulders. Without this, his beloved little Katya — it would probably not have happened.
That’s it — as Tonya said — “the continuation of the dynasty”!
And what is a dynasty?! It does not matter! Katya became for him the main joy and meaning in life! He needed her! He is for her — both friend, and teacher, and father! She, in fact, has become to him like a daughter!
* * *
The next day Tom, nevertheless, hoped a little that Tonya would come to their show, he thought over the idea of how to make fun of himself that he was now — not a gymnast, but a clown…
He watched from behind the scenes the public after the show.
Katya walked over and touched his sleeve.
“Don’t be sad! Probably, they’ve gone. You know: it happens…”