Mikhail Bulgakov the heart of a dog and other stories



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ON HOW TO EAT

Got ill. Through being careless. Had beetroot soup with meat today. Tiny golden discs (fat) floating on top. Three platefuls. Three pounds of white bread in one day. And some pickled cucumbers. When I was full up, made some tea. Drank four glassfuls with sugar. Felt sleepy. Lay down on the divan and dropped off.

Dreamed I was Lev Tolstoy at Yasnaya Polyana. Married to Sofia Andreyevna. Sitting upstairs in the study. Had to write. But didn't know what. People kept coming up and saying:

"Dinner is served."

But I was afraid to go down. I felt stupid, realised there was a big misunderstanding. It wasn't me who wrote War and Peace. Yet I was sitting there. Sofia Andreyevna herself came up the wooden staircase and said:

"Come along. It's a vegetarian dinner."

Suddenly I lost my temper.

"What? Vegetarianism? Get some meat at once! I want a steak. And a glass of vodka."

She burst into tears. Then a dukhobor with a bushy ginger beard rushed up and said to me reproachfully:

"Vodka? Tut-tut-tut! What are you thinking of, Lev Ivanovich?"

"Not Ivanovich! Nikolayevich! Get out of my house! Scram! Away with all those dukhobors!"

There was a great commotion.

I woke up a sick and broken man. It was dusk. An accordion was playing in the next room.

I went to the mirror. What a face. Ginger beard, white cheekbones, red eyelids. But that was nothing compared to the eyes. Glittering again. That was bad.


*
Advice: beware of that glitter. as soon as it appears, borrow some money (not returnable), from a bourgeois, buy some food and have a meal. Only don't eat too much to begin with. Just clear soup and a little white bread on the first day. Take it easy.

I didn't like my dream either. It was a horrid dream.

Drank tea again. Remembered last week. On Monday I ate some potatoes with vegetable oil and quarter of a pound of bread. Drank two glasses of tea with saccharine. On Tuesday I had nothing to eat and drank five glasses of tea. On Wednesday I borrowed two pounds of bread from a plumber. Drank tea, but ran out of saccharine. Had a splendid lunch on Thursday. Went round to see some friends at

2 p. m. The door was opened by a maid in a white apron. Strange sensation. As if it were ten years ago. At

3 p. m. heard the maid begin to set the table. We sat and talked (I had shaved that morning). They cursed the Bolsheviks and told me they were exhausted. I could see they were waiting for me to go. But I sat tight.

Eventually the lady of the house said:

"Would you care to stay for lunch perhaps?"

"Thank you. I should love to."

We had: soup with macaroni and white bread, meatballs and cucumbers for the main course, then rice pudding with jam and tea also with jam.

Must confess something horrid. As I was leaving, I imagined the place being searched. They would come and ransack everything. Find gold coins under the longjohns in the chest of drawers. Flour and ham in the larder. Take the host away...

It was foul to think like that, but I did.

He who sits hungry in an attic over a feuilleton, let him not follow the example of the fastidious Knut Hamsun. Let him visit those who live in seven rooms and lunch with them. On Friday had lunch at the canteen, soup and a potato cake, and today, Saturday, got paid and ate myself sick.







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