19 December 2008
Train Happenings, Always Master & Margarita
I borrowed this book from a Ukrainian. It stirred up a curiosity after a series of dialogues developed over months. Here and there, it'd well up in conversation- a Soviet satire, The Master and Margarita is considered one of the greatest Russian novels of the 20th century. Although Mikhail Bulgakov began the text in 1928, a handful of revisions were put together, and the novel was eventually completed between 1940 and 1941, by Bulgakov's wife, after he passed.
Rather than get into an analysis of the meaning, motif and genre- I'd like to share how this book has coaxed others, oddities, towards me.
The first incident:
Manhattan bound N train.
I stepped off at 42nd Street. A thin man, glasses and winter hat- in black skinny jeans followed off the train,
"I never see anyone reading Russian authors other than- like Tolstoy. How do you like? What do feel?"
-The conversation went on for some time before I needed to jet up to Columbia. He later met me with a Boston Terrier, and an ambition to watch me slip into intoxication. (The latter was not accomplished).
The second incident:
Brooklyn bound D.
A man in 1980's grade sweater steps on at Grand. He takes me in. Considers the book in my hands. He nods, sits next to me. He clears his throat, then nudges me several times and at regular intervals. He inserts a glance to my novel here and there. I put on my IPod with a slightly exaggerated set of movements. He pushes closer to me, nods.
-I stepped off at Atlantic.
The third incident ( Part A):
Brooklyn Bound Q.
After meeting a friend in the Village for lunch, I stepped onto the train at 14th Street. The man next to me smiles as I collect myself. I pull out the book. As the train progresses over the Manhattan bridge he raises his voice in a distinctly Kievian brogue, "Excuse, am I bother you?"
I raise my head.
*Inner monologue* Not yet.
"Are you a student?"
"Why are you reading this book?"
"It seemed like a good idea."
"Oh! I never see someone read this, who is not a student"
He continued to jabber, prodded me for my thoughts, I played along a bit. At Dekalb, I rose.
"Where are you going?"
"Off the train, I'm not going to Coney."
"I will come with you."
"I will come with you. It's not everyday that I see a beautiful girl reading this book who is not in school."
He followed me onto the platform.
"What are you doing? Your train is leaving," I pleaded.
"I will take another one. I wish to speak with you."
I looked down the dark tunnel. Come R train. Please.
His name was Boris. "Of course his name was Boris, Keisha. If you're going to be followed by a Russian man, his name is always Boris," Vadim later clarified to me.
The third incident ( Part B):
Two weeks later, I had another encounter with Boris.
"Would to like go to cultural activity?"
"Would to like to go do cultural activity with me?"
"I don't follow."
"Cultural activity. Tea. A meal. An art show."
--I don't read this novel on the subway anymore. I keep it to the privacy of my home.