As modern technology and technology evolve, we become more and more fat, lazy, and try not to give ourselves any worries. When I was still a child, my father would carry grapes from Qarabag to Kabul in a basket on his back in the early morning, and after selling them, he would return home in the evening. And all on foot. Now there are more cars in Kabul than there are bedbugs in the old city. Sometimes, when you want to get from Maiwand Avenue to Pashtunistan Square, you stand on Maiwand for half an hour waiting for the city bus. Then, swinging on the running board like a carry-on bag, you will pass by Jadi, the Pamir Cinema, the Shahi Dushamshir Mosque, Timur Shah Street and the Pul Buggy Omumi Bridge, and in an hour and a half you will finally reach Pashtunistan Square. While the path from Maiwand Avenue to Pashtunistan Square is slightly longer than the Puli Hishti Bridge. If you walk from Maiwand through the center, you will find yourself in Pashtunistan Square in two minutes, saving you fifty-eight minutes of your precious time. You will also keep your bus fare in your pocket, and even your wallet intact from the clever hands of crooks-masters of talking your teeth.
Things are bad in the house if it is called a desert. Now we need to tell everything in order. What should I hide? Since the mother of my children borrowed a washing machine, laziness in our house has grown to an incredible extent. My wife even started washing carrots and turnips in the washing machine. One spring, she threw mud-smeared boots in there and broke the car. How glad I was that the car broke down! But I wasn't happy for long! My dirty collars almost dug into my neck, and I was forced to repair the car myself and put my wife out of her misery.
And when I tell you the story that happened to Yardil's counting machine last month, the above story will seem one hundred percent true.
The official Yardil was engaged in settlement operations in our office. His job was to calculate salaries, as well as calculate overtime. After receiving his first official position, Yardil gave us a treat in our department. And when it was time to retire, he received his first pension benefit.
* Qarabagh is a suburb of Kabul.
I spent it on a treat for the entire accounting department. And for the past five years, our department has been signing a temporary work contract with him every year.
Counting machines were just beginning to be used in accounting at that time. If another official calculated the salary of employees using a typewriter, Yardil took a pen and made addition and multiplication on a piece of paper, until his data coincided with the results of the typewriter. Only then did he send the statements. Without this, the salary was not issued. No one understood why the typewriter was bad for him: either he was afraid that in the future it would take his place in accounting, or something else.
But since the day his son-in-law had brought him a pocket calculating machine from abroad, Yardil's life had changed dramatically. Not only did he now use the counting machine at work, but it was also second only to his own in life. For example, if the fare on a city bus was one afgani, he did not take a ticket until he was sure with the help of a typewriter that the ticket should really cost one Afgani.
And last month, he didn't go to work for four consecutive days. In all the years of his official service, Yardil had never missed a single day. Colleagues were worried - whether there was any trouble. Several employees went to visit him. They came and saw Yardil sitting there, his forehead plastered in two places. He explained his four-day absence from work as follows::
"We had a party that night. My wife gave me a napkin and told me to bring eleven tortillas from the baker. When it was my turn, the baker wrapped eleven tortillas in a napkin. I multiplied 11 by 6 Afghani on the typewriter, and it showed 17. I multiplied 11 by 6 again and again, and the result was still 17. I gave the baker a 20 afgani bill and waited for 3 Afganis for change. The baker not only refused to give me three Afghani, but demanded more from me, saying that I owed him 66 Afghani in total. I pulled the typewriter out of my pocket again and multiplied 11 by 6 for the fourth time in front of the baker's eyes. I reprimanded the baker and took three Afghans ' change from him. But he blocked my path and shouted in a rage:
"Either give it to Afgani, or put down the tortillas and get lost."
On the baker's side was someone else who had also come to buy tortillas and was waiting for their turn:
"He's right, brother... 11 tortillas are followed by 66 Afghani... If you give me money, give it to me, but if you don't, put down the tortillas, others will take it.
I looked at this man and I didn't like him. It flashed through my mind: "This is, of course, a baker's man of his own. Two crooks are trying to trick me out of my money."
"What's it got to do with you?" I told him. "What's it to you that I owe you sixty-six Afghani?" It's none of your business, but mine and the baker's.
The baker jumped:
"Give it back.".. Give me back my tortillas... Go buy from someone else for that kind of money!
Meanwhile, dusk had fallen. There was no other baker on the street. I thought: "It's a shame to come home empty-handed." I also thought it unfair to give 66 Afghani for 11 tortillas for the baker's pleasure. The last time I multiplied 11 by 6 on the typewriter, it still showed 17. The eyes of those who saw it widened. This time I shoved the typewriter under the baker's nose and said threateningly:
"Look at this... Do you have eyes or are you blind?!.. Is it 17 or 66?
"It's not 17 or 66. Give me my tortillas...
The strangest man I've ever seen! The baker pulled the edge of the napkin from under my arm. I tried to free her, but then the typewriter fell out of my hands and stuck to the batter board. As soon as I reached out for her, she fell to the ground and was under my feet. No matter how careful I tried to be, I stepped on it in my confusion.
My vision went dark. A little girl was standing next to me, holding a stick. I snatched the stick from her and swung it. And when the baker turned to me, I punched him in the neck. Before I could strike again, I was lifted into the air like a feather. Five or six of the baker's henchmen swarmed over me like wasps. At that moment, the man who was taking out the tanur cakes with a hook caught the collar of my jacket with it and dragged me into the shop. They gave me a good beating and hung me up like a sack of flour. But I was lucky, and a few of Tsarandoy's employees showed up from somewhere and let me off the hook.
And then we were all taken to tsarandoy. The policeman who had just come on duty understood all the details of the case and calmly said:
"Your dispute cannot be resolved now, because our accountant has locked his counting machine in the closet. I can't say anything until he comes in and uses the typewriter to figure out how much is 6 by 11, 17, or 66. My brain is not able to solve this problem.
My throat was dry, and I threw myself at the attendant's feet and said imploringly::
"Brother, it's not enough that I got beaten up, damn them. Thank God there were only six of them! But they broke my typewriter! If it had been intact, you would have seen for yourself that 6v11 is 17. I claim damages for my typewriter.
The attendant looked at me-covered in flour, two or three fresh abrasions on my forehead clearly indicated that I had recently been beaten. He ordered a policeman to take me to the pump so that I could wash my face and hands. Finally, the attendant made a decision: the baker gives me eleven tortillas for free. Thus, I freed my women from household chores that day. Then the attendant charged both of us a subscription that we would come back tomorrow so that he could complete the investigation of the incident.
The next day the baker and I went to the police station before the appointed hour. But to our misfortune, the accountant was absent, leaving a note telling us to come back the next day. The baker and I have come again. The accountant multiplied 11 by 6 on his counting machine, and the result matched the baker's reading-66 Afghani. So, our argument about tortillas was won by the baker. And the question of my counting machine is still open; whether I will get compensation from the baker, or he will remain with his money.
I don't know if my typewriter was faulty at the time, or if I added up the numbers instead of multiplying 6 by 11. God knows, the typewriter's gone. They don't talk badly about the dead, and I won't say anything about my ever-memorable typewriter.
Now it is clear that the human mind is the most complex and incomprehensible machine, because everything-from the computer to the meat grinder-is the product of the human mind. If I had been able to rely on my wits back then, would it have turned out this way?!
* Tsarandoy - police.
On the day when this important decision was made, the meeting in our institution lasted from one o'clock in the afternoon to seven o'clock in the evening without interruption. The room was steeped in cigarette smoke, so that the supervisors sitting by the door couldn't see the face of the director, who sat at the head of a long conference table. On that day, very important decisions were made and plans were drawn up for their implementation.
In the courtyard of our institution there was a tiny playground, no more than four square meters. In winter, the fireman chopped wood on it, and employees from neighboring departments also came to this site. But after the historic meeting it was cordoned off and notices were posted in the four corners: "Don't walk on lawns!", " Don't pick flowers!" and so on. What kind of lawn? What flowers? In my memory, and even according to the head of the payment department, who has been working in our institution for the longest time, no one has ever seen a green blade of grass on this site.
Another important decision that was implemented was to install spittoons in the corridors and staircases to spit the stuff into them. Our director, who has never put a pinch of naswar in his mouth in his life, did this to introduce us to a new culture of behavior in public places and show us where to spit out naswar. The director led the chief of Control Shirindil out of the office and, standing in front of him, put naswar in his mouth, then spat it out into the sand of a spittoon placed in the corridor. He did this because he repeatedly caught the head of the control department spitting us out everywhere. Since that day, the use of naswara in our institution has become unofficially mandatory. The smokers gave up their cigarettes and switched to naswar only because they witnessed the scene described.
An important topic of discussion at the same meeting was the proposal to create a complaint box. Most of the time was devoted to this particular item. There is a very interesting situation with the complaint box in our institution. Every day, employees stood in pairs in the corridors along the walls and looked for someone to complain about or criticize. The affairs of the institution were abandoned, they accumulated mountains. The institution was shaken by unrest, and the project of setting up a complaint box was moving very vigorously forward. The carpenter demanded a multi-dimensional drawing. The project of the box and its design were developed by the director personally, and he also considered it an honorary duty to monitor the progress of work. In short, the day arrived when all the employees gathered in impatient anticipation. The box was ready and solemnly attached to the facade of the institution by the director himself.
The director put the keys to the mailbox in his pocket so that the essence of the complaint would not become public. The next day, the employees left work again and began to monitor each other.
Some people came out of the department to spit out their broth, some to drink water, or some other excuse, and surreptitiously watched the box - who would throw a complaint at it?
As a result, everyone in the institution began to suspect each other and even people outside the institution.
Once his mother-in-law came to the institution for the head of transport and made the poor man tremble in front of everyone like a mulberry leaf. Someone told her: "The transport manager put a complaint in the mailbox about you." Then it turned out that the driver Ramdad had played a devilish trick, because there was some misunderstanding between him and the transport manager about filling out a waybill for his car.
The hearts of all the employees of the institution burned with a passionate desire to throw a complaint in the box, but, fearing each other, none of them dared to do so. The head of the service department, who had filed a complaint against the head of the control department ten days ago, was waiting for the moment when he could secretly, without witnesses, throw it in the box. But there was no such happy moment, because the head of the control department was not such a simpleton. He sent several people to monitor the head of the service department, and all the time he watched the complaint box from the window.
One night, the head of the service department, who had finally decided to drop his complaint in the box under cover of darkness, entered the courtyard of the institution stealthily like a thief. But he failed, was caught by a watchman, and that night, with his hands tied, was taken to the police station. The head of the service department, who had a snout in the gun, did not want to expose himself out of fear of the head of the control department, since last year's purchase and sale documents were not ready yet and were waiting for the visa of the head of the control department in the drawer of his desk. To prevent something worse from happening, the head of the service department decided to pretend to be crazy. After ten days in the madhouse, his sanity returned.
This incident ended the history of the complaint box. The time came when he was completely forgotten by all employees. Over time, the castle rusted, and spiders spun webs in the corners, and wasps settled in it because of the desolation.
After some time, the former head of the service department was removed from his post, and a new one took his place. The new head first of all, together with the caretaker, conducted an inventory of all real estate. When the turn came to the complaint box, the caretaker refused to accept it, and the new boss was forced to send an official report on this matter to the director.
The director had completely forgotten about the complaint box by then, but when he heard about it, as if he had woken up from a dream, he quickly got up and demanded the box to himself. He intended to consider complaints from employees of the institution. But when he tried to open the box, the wasps attacked him, biting him so hard that the poor man's face turned eggplant blue. He even went to the hospital then and couldn't go to work for six whole days afterwards. His face was swollen beyond recognition.
When he arrived at the facility on the sixth day, before entering the office, the first thing he did was call the head of the service department and together with the carpenter removed the complaint box from the wall.
By order of the director, the box was sent to the warehouse. That ended the conflict between the caretaker and the head of the service department.
Translated from Pashto by A. GERASIMOVA
* Nasvar - chewing tobacco.
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