Lagramyncki ôbsztalunek / Terms of Commerce (cz. 4)

Publikujymy kolejny kōnsek jednej ze siedmiu ôpowiŏstek Tōmasza Kamuselle ze ksiōnżki “Styknie / Limits“. Ôpowiŏstki te we ôryginale bōły pisane po angielsku, a na ślōnski przełożōł jy Marcin Melon, kery tyż po ślōnsku napisoł dō nich stymp.

Dzisiej szworty fragmynt ôpowiŏstki, kerŏ ôpublikujymy we kōnskach całŏ.

Sam trzeci kōnsek.

Wersyjŏ ślōnskŏ: LAGRAMYNCKI ÔBSZTALUNEK

Dalszŏ tajla artykułu niżyj

Boqinowi zdowało sie, co kozali mu czekać wiyncyj jak pōł godziny, beztōż zeszterowany wejzdrzōł na zygarek. Nale niy, ani niy piytnoście minut. Yntliś małe dźwiyrze zazgrzipiały i ôdymkły sie. Wachtyrz wyloz i dźwiyrze zarozki zawarły sie za nim nazod. Psinco pedziōł, ino ôd razu poszōł ku Boqinowi, kery pokozōł mu swōj auzwajs i rajzynformulorz. Wachtyrz wejrzōł na papiōry i kozōł Boqinowi iś przed nim. Pokludziył go bez ajnfart i znodli sie na małym placu. Fōrt, po drugij zajcie, cosik zabuczało i ôdymkły sie inksze dźwiyrze. Wachmajster wloz rajn.

– Kamracie Li – pedziōł bez podowanio rynki – Kamrat Wicedyrechtōr Zhao sōm fertiś, coby z wami pogodać. Pōdźcie zy mnōm.

Boqin niyrod wadziył sie z ôficyrami, nale terozki borok niy miōł inkszego wyńścio, jak ino pedzieć:

– Jo sie musza zoboczyć ze Dyrechtorym, panym Chen.

Terozki dziepiyro spokopiył, ô co rozchodziyło sie Ng. Godka z wojokami to niy ma robota do mamlasōw.

– Niy do sie – ôdpedziōł frechownie wachmajster. Boqinowi zrobiyło sie trocha niypeć, ale prziszōł bliżyj, coby wachtyrze niy poradziyli go posłyszeć.

– Kamracie Wachmajster, prosza wos, musicie spokopić, co mōj dyrechtōr przikozali mi godać ino z panym Chen – pedziōł, a wtynczos zaczōn trić palcami jedyn ô drugi. Wachmajster dōł mu rynka, zaszuszczały piyniōndze.

– Dobre, pōn Chen poradzōm sie z wami trefić, nale dziepiyro zajtry. Pōdźcie sam rajn.

Boqin dychnōł, wiedziōł, co godōł ô takich przileżitościach „Podryncznik wachtyrzy, kere wachujōm strategicznych budowli”. „Dōmniymany intruz, kery wloz na teryn zabudowań, niy śmiy wylyź, aże wachmajster go niy sprawdzi”. Wachmajster, kery prawie godōł z Boqinym, podlegōł wicedyrechtorowi Zhao i dyrechtorowi Chen. Terozki tyn piyrszy miōł psinco do godki z Boqinym.

– Nocka w cyntrum niyma tako zło, przinojmnij uszporuja trocha piyniyndzy. – Boqin po cichu wytuplikowōł cōłko sytuacjo sōm do sia.

Wachmajster pokozōł mu, co mo iś za nim. Ze piyrszego ajnfartplacu przelyźli bez głōwny ajnfart i wlyźli do antryju. Było sam knap, gipsdeka richtiś nisko a małe ôkynka fōrt jedne ôd drugigo. Downo żodyn ich niy pucowōł, beztōż marasu tela sie nazbierało, żeś niy poradziył zoboczyć nic inkszego, jak ino metalowe gitry po drugij zajcie. Naôbkoło schodōw ajzynnec, coby żodyn niy prziszōł ku idyji skokanio bez gelynder. Boqin i wachmajster ślyźli na dōł. Luft zrobiył sie ôroz bardzij wilgły, zarozki szło to wywōniać. Na zicher musieli ślyź do pywnice. Wachmajster zaklupōł do jeszcze jedynych dźwiyrzy, kere zaroz ôdymknōł keryś z wachtyrzy.

– Kamrat bydjōm tukej dzisiej nynać. Dejcie pozōr, coby niczego mu niy chybło – zakōmandyrowōł wachmajster.

– Ja, Kamracie Ôficyrze – ôdpedziōł wachtyrz.

Wachmajster psinco pedziōł, ino ôstawiył Boqina sōm na sōm z wachtyrzym. Bo ôbu zajtach siyni były dźwiyrze do ćmawych izbōw z kuklokami. Jedyn klang, kery Boqin słyszōł, to bōnczyniy ôd byrnōw. Wachtyrz pokozōł Boqinowi izba ze zadku siyni.

– Tukej, Kamracie. – Znod szalter i włōnczył światło.

– Dziynkuja, Kamracie Wojoku – ôdpedziōł Boqin. Żodnego ôkna sam niy było. Dyć byli we pywnicy. Boqin siednōł sie na ajzynlyżu z nojlichszym madracym. „Ani sie niy kali seblykać do nynanio” – pōmyślōł, zgasiył światło i legnōł sie we swojij rubyj zimowyj jakli ze cwistu. Wachtyrz zawar dźwiyrze, Boqin posłyszōł klang kluczōw wele jego poska. Miōł bojōnczka, co zawrōm go tukej na klucz, na szczyńście dźwiyrze ôstawiyli ôdymkniynte. Podryncznik padōł, co żodyn niy śmiy być zawarty we cuchthauzie skuli bele gupoty. A dyć jego przeca żodyn niy wziōn do heresztu. Jeszcze niy. „Tako to bydzie ta ich szczerość, w tych arbajtcyntrach” – pōmyślōł sie Boqin i gibko usnōł. Nigdy niy miōł ciynżko nynać bele kaj. Psinco miōł do roboty, jak ino czekać do rana. Choby jechōł zaś banōm, ino terozki kuryjożnie po cichu i pōmału.

Ôbudziył go klang cingowyj miski z lichymi hawerflokami na śniodaniy, kero ftoś mu wraziył do jego izby bez zawarte dźwiyrze. Mało szpara stykła, coby szajn żōłtyj byrny przecis sie bez ciyma celi do gości. Była piōnto rano a Boqin, kery słońca niy widziōł, miōł gyfil choby durś była nocka. Ôpultōł faca wodōm z plastikowyj kanki, kero miōł stoć w ece podle haźla. Hymn norodowy zaryczōł z głośnikōw na cōłki karpyntel. Robotniki prawie napoczynali wszandy swoja robota. „Dyscyplina to je postymp” – padōł inkszy slogan, kery bele kaj szło trefić.

Trocha niyskorzyj Boqin posłyszōł kogoś po cichu klupać na dźwiyrze.

– Wlyźcie – pedziōł i dźwignōł sie ze swojygo lyża. Tak jak myślōł, do izby wloz pōn Chen. Galantnie przywitōł Boqina we fabryce Kozio Gōra. Uściśli sie rynce i ukłōniyli jedyn drugymu, Boqin niżyj jak pōn Chen.

– Co tam słychać u mojigo Drogigo Kamrata Ng? – spytōł sie Chen.

– Kamrat Ôficyr Dyrechtōr sōm richtiś dobry kerownik i zowdy robiōm, co Partyjo koże. Zdrowe tyż sōm – ôdpedziōł Boqin.

– Dobre, dobre. Mōm nadzieja, żeście sie wyspali.

– Dziynkuja, Kamracie Dyrechtorze, wyspōł żech sie.

– Wiym, co trocha ańfachowy mōmy tukej cusztand, kaj my, a kaj stolica? Postymp tak gibko tukej niy przidzie.

– Zoboczycie, przidzie gibcij, jak zakłodo plan piyńciorokowy.

– Toć, wszysko bydzie tak, jak mo być.

– Dziynki naszymu Przywōdcy. A koôperacyjo waszyj fabryki Kozio Gōra i naszyj Ôriyntalnyj Kōmpanije Maszinowyj na zicher pōmoże wyszpanować kōntyngynty produkcyjne…

– Na zicher tak bydzie – ôdpedziōł pōn Chen i wziōn Boqina, coby mu pokozać sztok produkcyjny, kery bōł w inkszyj tajli kōmpleksu. Kej szli nazod bez plac, naôbkoło kerego stoły sześciosztokowe chałpy, Boqin dōł pozōr na poru heresztantōw, kerych wachtyrze kludziyli do jejich roboty. Pōn Chen galantnie pokazowōł i ôsprawiōł ô korziściach ôstatnich reform. Na kōniec spōmniōł Boqinowi stary partyjny slogan „Wszysko poradzymy” i pokludziył Boqina do hale produkcyjnyj.

Masziny sztyjc buczały. Presy wystrzigały z blechu formy gynau do metalicznego klangu. Szlajfiyrze wtynczos brusiyli te kōncki, zaczym formowali ś nich nowe krympocze abo kosoki z drzewianymi tylcami. Małowiela szło słyszeć skuli larma. Boqin i pōn Chen musieli ryczeć jedyn przez drugigo. Gitry folowały sie produktami. Boqin wziōn do rynki jedna graca, kero wōniała nowościōm, i rod zoboczył na nij trzi czerwōne gwiozdki, logo Ôriyntalnyj Kōmpanije Maszinowyj. Na spodku zoboczył zachodnie buchsztaby „Zrichtowane we PRC”. Ng, wroz z panym Chenym, dali pozōr, coby produkcyjo już sztartła. „Kamrat Ôficyr Dyrechtōr bydōm rade, co Fabryka Kozio Gōra już zaczła robota” – pōmyślōł Boqin.

Pōn Chen i Boqin smykali sie, coby zoboczyć roztōmajte etapy produkcyje na inkszych arbajtsztelach. Ôficjalno tajla inszpekcyje hned prziszła ku kōńcowi. Kej ciśli weg ze hale, Boqin dōł pozōr na jednego robotnika podle presy. Możno i wyglōndali w tych swojich jednakich cuchthauzowych arbajtancugach blank podane jedyn na drugigo, tym bardzij że kożdy bōł jednako ôstrzigany, nale katać by niy poznōł tego epnego kichola, połōmanego we samyj micie? Boqinowi ôd razu spōmniōł sie chuderlok zowdy zatōmkany we swojim sztaunowaniu, kery zapisōł sie na tyn sōm uniwersytet, kej Boqin bōł już na przedôstatnim roku. Ja, to bōł ôn, Ai. Nigdy ze sobōm niy godali, nale Boqin rod suchōł Ai ôsprowiać ô głasnosti i pieriestrojce we Zwiōnzku Sowieckim. Kożdy rachowōł na lepszo prziszłość. Zdowało sie, co ta prziszłość, na kero tak cichtowali, przidzie za pora tydni, nojdalij na bezrok. Toć, wszysko tak gibko sie miyniało. Ai i Boqin poszli kożdy inkszōm cestōm po incydyńcie Sześ-Sztyry. Ai dokuplowōł do sabotażystōw. Boqin pozornie trzimōł sie linije partyjnyj. Stykły mu reformy Przywōdcy. „Lepsze to je wrōg ôd dobrego” – Boqinowi spōmniało sie, co wtynczos godōł ô cōłkij tyj sprawie.

Kej Ai czekōł, aże wrażōm blech, coby mōg napoczōńć strzigać nowy, dźwignōł gowa, choby chciōł ku nim wejrzeć. Pōn Chen i Boqin już wtynczos ôdwyrtli sie ku ajnfartowi. Ai niy poradziyłby ani zoboczyć jego gymby. Nale pojakymuś Boqinowi zrobiyło sie niypeć, kej pōmyślōł, co Ai poradziyłby go poznać. To by niy było dobre, ani do niego, ani do Ai. Pōn Chen niy dōł pozōr na cōłko ta sytuacyjo i durś ôsprawiōł ô epnych rzeczach, kere jejich kōmpanjie poradzōm szafnōńć wroz na globalnyj binie.

– Koôperacyjo, ko-ô-pe-ra-cy-jo, mody kamracie, to je richtiś cesta postympu – pedziōł Chen.

Boqin i Pōn Chen pociśli weg z Cyntrum Reformy bez Robota „Staro Gōra” w epnym stylu, we staryj limuzynie Hongqi CA770, rzodki widok na ulicach, kaj karusiyły ino japōńske auta. Na placu wachmajster zasalutowōł Chenowi, ale udōł, co Boqina niy widzi. Pociśli do cyntrum. Terozki, kej ôficjalno tajla mieli szafniynto, mogli sie dychnōńć. Bez dwie noce jedzynio, karaoke i hazardu rubo koperta Boqina ôstała sie ciynko choby cwist.

Kej gościna była fertiś, stykło mu knap na tyj. Durś ôżarty pōn Chen dōł mu kusika i pedziōł, co ôn go ôdkludzi aże na banhof. Yntliś dōł sie przegodać Boqinowi i zetrwałymu chopowi, kery robiył za jejich szofera, co bydzie lepij, jak pōdzie do hotelu sie lygnōńć, coby zajtry bōł mōnter, kej przidzie nazod do roboty we Kozij Gōrze. Małowiela czasu im ôstało, coby szafnōńć auslynderski ôbsztalunek, dziynki kerymu kożdy ś nich bydzie miōł tela piyniyndzy. W nostympnym tydniu fertryjter Kabugi miōł przifurgać Lufthansōm ze Frankfurtu.

W galantnym faksie Boqin wajōł monsieur Félicienowi Kabudze ze Kabuga ETS, co je mu fest żol, że jejich kraje durś niy sōm skuplowane, jak sie rozchodzi ô fligry, nale możno dziynki tymu kōntraktowi yntliś udo sie to szafnōńć. Ng pozbierōł informacje ôd swojich kamratōw z wojska. „Rube ujki” rade były z kōntraktu, kery miała szafnōńć Ôriyntalno Kōmpanijo Maszinowo. Monsieur Kabuga, krōm tego, co miōł Kabuga ETS, kamraciył sie z jejich prezydyntym Juvenalym Habyarimana. Dwie cery Kabugi wydały sie za dwōch synkōw ôd prezydynta. Na zicher tōm cestōm szło pokludzić jeszcze wiyncyj gyszeftōw. Partyjo była rada.

Niy ino Ng i Boqin trefiyli sie z gościym na flugplacu. Na przileżitość byzuchu wziynli tyż trzi sztudyntki, blank gryfne frele, kere miały robić za dolmeczerki. Dostały geltag do rynki. Żodnych papiōrōw. W dōma monsieur Kabuga zdōnżył już przegodać swojij babie, Josephine, co Pekin mo psinco spōlnego z Paryżym. Ani jij niy spasuje dalekowschodnio zima, ani niy bydzie rada industrialnie utylitarnym ôbrozkōm ze socjalistycznyj stolice. Wiedziōł, ô czym godo. Piyńć lot do zadku rajzowali na urlaub do Ludowyj Republiki Rumunije, kaj monsieur Kabuga badōł teryn, zaczym przijechōł hań jejich prezydynt, i była z tym jedna wielgo sakramyncko ôstuda, coby gorzyj niy pedzieć. We wyciacianym hotelowym badycimrze chybło wody. Złote kurki i klōmki niy spasowały wymyślatyj babie ôd monsieur Kabugi, a kej woda z haźla zaczła sie wylywać, żodyn w hotelu niy poradziył tego wyrichtować. Yntliś prziszōł jakiś macher, kery cosik szwandrōł ôszkliwie a frechownie. Ôd tamtyj pory Jospehine miała za tela ludowych dymokracyjōw.

Trzi dolmeczerki, krōm heksowanio chopōw, grajfnie poradziyły sie tyż z papiōrami, kere poprzekłodōł i podyktowōł im Boqin. Tak jak to było ôbsztalowane, monsieur Kabuga wolōł ôbgodać kōntrakt po angelsku. Coby dokumyntnie przegodać cōłko sprawa, chopy ôstawiyli baby same i poszli do biyra ôd Ng. Ańfachowe dziesiyńć procynt, kere uszporowali, roztajlowali po rōwno miyndzy Kabuga ETS i Ôriyntalno Kōmpanijo Maszinowo. Kej mieli to yntliś szafniynte, prziszli nazod do izby kōnferyncyjnyj, kaj przi dolmeczerkach, kerowniku produkcji i buchaltyrze ôficjalnie szrajbli i podsztymplowali kōntrakt. Żodnyj szpany w lufcie. Boqin bōł rod. Ng sztyjc sie uśmiychōł. Yntliś napoczła sie prziszłość. Jejich prziszłość.

Ober przismyczył francuskigo szampana.

– Za kōntrakt! – Ng i monsieur Kabuga pedzieli to wroz, żodyn niy potrzebowōł przekłodanio, kożdy cyknōł sie z kożdym lampusami. Na ścianie wisiała srogo landkarta cōłkij Afryki. We samyj micie epny herb Rwandy, kaj stoło: „Liberté Coopération Progrés”. Boqin już piyrwyj pytōł sie Ng, ô co sie rozchodzi z tym sloganym, kery, zdowało mu sie, blank je podany na slogany ôd jejich partyje. Dyrechtōr dźwignōł rynka, coby sztopnōńć larmo.

– Kamracie Kabuga – pedziōł Ng. Boqin przekłodōł. – Monsieur Kabuga, sōm my dzisiej fest rade, co mogymy ôdymknōńć nowy most miyndzy naszymi krajami. Dziynki tymu kōntraktowi napocznie sie koôperacyjo, skirz keryj bydzie jeszcze wiyncyj postympu – we Rwandzie i w Chinach. Za Postymp i za Koôperacyjo!

Ludzie gibko nafolowali swoje lampusy do drugigo toastu.

(z angielskygo na ślōnski przełożōł Marcin Melon)

English Version:Terms of Commerce

Boqin thought that he must have already waited for well over half an hour, and nervously glanced at his wrist watch. But no, not even a quarter had elapsed. The small door in the gate opened with a metallic creak. A guard stepped out and the door was immediately locked up behind him. Without a word he walked up to the motionless Boqin, who passed his ID and travel form to the guard’s extended hand. After examining the papers closely, he ordered Boqin to walk in front of him. They entered through the small door into a dreary courtyard. At the courtyard’s opposite end, the inner door buzzed and its lock was released. A superior walked in.

‘Mr Li,’ he said without shaking hands, ‘Comrade Deputy Head Zhao will see you. Follow me.’

Boqin hated defying authority, but had no choice and replied,

‘I need to see the head, Mr Chen.’ Now he realized what Ng had meant. Dealing with the army is not for softies.

‘Impossible,’ the superior replied rudely and loudly. Unsure what to do Boqin came closer to him in order to be out of the guards’ earshot.

‘Comrade Officer, please, understand, my company’s director sent me to talk to Mr Chen,’ simultaneously, Boqin was extending his right palm toward the superior, rubbing his thumb and forefinger. The superior shook his hand to a rustling sound of mint banknotes.

‘Fine, Mr Chen will be available to see you tomorrow. Let’s get inside.’

Boqin sighed, resigning himself to the regulations specified in the Rule Book on Suspected Intruders in Security Facilities. ‘A suspected intruder who entered the facility must always undergo security clearance by the superior before allowed to leave.’ And the superior of the superior to whom Boqin was talking was Deputy Head Zhao and Mr Chen. Now the former had no business to talk to Boqin.

‘A night in the center isn’t so bad, at least I’ll spare some money,’ Boqin rationalized the situation to himself.

The superior gestured Boqin to follow him. From the entrance courtyard they crossed the main building’s imposing gate-style two wing door and entered the meandering corridors. They were narrow and low-ceilinged with little windows set wide apart. The dirt accumulating on the long unwashed panes let in little sunlight and didn’t allow any view of the outside world except for the iron bars. The staircases were secured with metal mesh to prevent someone jumping over the banister from one flight of the stairs to another. Boqin and the superior were walking downstairs. The air got musty with a whiff of cold humidity. They must have reached the basement. The superior knocked on the corridor door, which was immediately unlocked by a saluting guard.

‘The comrade will stay overnight. Make him feel at home, soldier!’ the superior ordered the guard.

‘Yes, Comrade Officer!,’ replied the guard.

Without saying goodbye, the superior left Boqin in the guard’s care. Both sides of the corridor were lined with the heavy dark cell doors, each with the peephole covered by the sliding hatch. It was silent but for the buzzing of the light bulbs in the protective wiring. The guard welcomed Boqin to a cell at the corridor’s end by saying,

‘It’s here, Comrade,’ when he switched the light on.

‘Thank you, Comrade Soldier,’ said Boqin.

There was no window. They were in a cellar. Boqin sat on the metal cot with the thinnest of straw mattresses. ‘No need to change clothes for the night,’ he thought, switched off the light, and lay down with his warm winter woolen coat on.

The guard closed the door with a loud metallic clang, the bunch of keys clinking at his belt. But no, the guard didn’t lock the door as Boqin had feared. The rule book provided that no unreasonable treatment should be extended to an intruder under suspicion. He wasn’t an inmate. Not yet. ‘That is what they call hospitality in labor centers,’ sighed Boqin and quickly fell asleep. He was always a good sleeper. There was nothing to do but wait for the next morning. It was like another train ride, though curiously motionless and quiet.

Boqin woke up with a start at the loud sound of a tin bowl of breakfast coarse rice porridge being placed in the cell door’s tray-slot. Through this small opening, dull yellow electric light penetrated the darkness of the guest cell. It was five in the morning but for Boqin it felt as if in the middle of the night as there was no sunrise to be seen. He splashed his face with water from the plastic drum in the corner with the squat toilet. The national anthem blasted out from the loudspeaker at six sharp. Laborers reported to their work stations in the center and all around the country. ‘Discipline is Progress,’ the oft-repeated slogan declared.

Shortly afterward, Boqin heard a polite knock on the door and said:

‘Come in,’ while standing up from the cot. As he expected, it was Mr Chen. He welcomed Boqin warmly to the Mountain Goat Plant. They shook hands and bowed, Boqin lower than Mr Chen.

‘How is my dear friend, Comrade Ng, doing?’ asked Chen.

‘Comrade Officer Director is an excellent manager and follows the party’s line. He’s in good health,’ Boqin assured him.

‘Good, good. I hope you’ve had a comfortable night.’

‘Thank you, Comrade Head, I slept well.’

‘I know the conditions are simple, but we are far from the capital. Progress takes time to arrive here.’

‘It is faster than any five-year plan’s targets.’

‘Indeed, everything works as it should.’

‘Thanks to our Leader. And the cooperation of your Mountain Goat Plant with our Oriental Machinery Company is sure to contribute to surpassing the current plan’s production quotas.’

‘It surely will,’ replied Mr Chen and invited Boqin to inspect the production floor, which was located in another building. Walking across the center’s extensive inner courtyard completely surrounded by the six-store buildings, Boqin saw the last groups of inmates led – after the morning rollcall – by guards to their labor venues. Mr Chen gesticulated in an elegant minimalist manner, while animatedly discussing the rich fruits generated by the leader’s economic reforms. He concluded by citing the party’s old slogan ‘The Sky is the Limit, Much Can be Accomplished,’ and let Boqin into a production hall.

The machines were buzzing. The hissing presses cut out the required shapes from metal sheets, each with a brief strong metallic pop. Workers were efficiently taking cut-out elements for tempering and polishing before fitting newly turned out pickaxes or scythes with wooden handles. The din was deafening. Boqin and Mr Chen had to resort to yelling. Crates were filling up with produce. Boqin took out a hoe that smelled of newness, and beamed with delight when he recognized the Oriental Machinery Company’s distinctly arched logo of three red stars. Below it the small note in Western letters announced ‘Made in PRC.’ Ng, together with Mr Chen, had already seen to getting the production rolling. ‘Comrade Officer Director will be pleased to hear that the Mountain Goat Plant has already started work on the order,’ thought Boqin.

Mr Chen and Boqin were striding purposefully to observe the different stages of production and other workstations in the hall. Soon the official part of the inspection was over. Taking leave of the hall, Boqin recognized a worker operating one of the cutting presses. In their reform-through-labor identical uniforms all appeared to be alike, especially with their uniform crew haircuts. However, the worker’s protruding and broken in the middle nose was unmistakable. Boqin remembered well this lanky thoughtful student. He had enrolled at the same university where Boqin had been doing his penultimate year. It was him, Ai. They had never talked, but Boqin had liked listening to Ai’s impromptu speeches about the glasnost and perestroika reforms in the Soviet Union. Everyone had then been so full of hope for a better future. It had seemed that this future they had been so impatiently waiting for would come next month, or at the most in a year. Yes, things had changed rapidly. Ai’s and Boqin’s paths had diverged after the Six-Four Incident. Ai had joined the wreckers. Boqin, cautiously, had stuck to the party’s line. The Leader’s reforms had been good enough. ‘The better is an enemy of the good,’ Boqin recollected what he’d thought at the time about the whole matter.

Waiting for a sheet of metal to be put in place, and before starting a new cutting cycle, Ai raised up his head briefly, as though looking in their direction. Mr Chen and Boqin had already been turning away toward the hall entrance. Ai could have hardly seen his face. But for some reason Boqin felt dread and disgust at being recognized by Ai. It wouldn’t be right, for himself or for Ai. Mr Chen didn’t notice anything and carried on with a well-practiced monolog on how together their companies were destined for great things in the field of global commerce.

‘Cooperation, co-op-er-a-tion, my young friend, is the way of progress,’ Mr Chen said emphatically.

Boqin and Mr Chen left the Old Mountain Family Reform Through Labor Center in style, driven in a vintage Hongqi CA770 limo, a rare sight these days on the streets inundated with imported Japanese cars. In the center’s inner courtyard the superior saluted Mr Chen, but feigned not to notice Boqin. Off they went to downtown. Official duties positively concluded, it was time to unwind. The subsequent two nights of feasting, karaoking and gambling in company of quickly changing escorts quickly transformed the once fat envelope of good relationships money into a skeletal shadow of its former self.

A sum barely enough to cover the train ride home was left in the envelope. The still tipsy Mr Chen goodheartedly kissed Boqin on both cheeks and insisted that he see him to the railway station. But Boqin and the center’s patient chauffer convinced him to snatch some sleep in a nearby hotel because important duties awaited him back at the Mountain Goat Plant. Not much time was left to fulfill the foreign order that would make all of them rich. In less than a week’s time a Kabuga representative was scheduled to arrive on a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt.

In a courteous fax Boqin commiserated with Monsieur Félicien Kabuga from Kabuga ETS what a pity it was that there wasn’t yet a direct air link between their countries, adding that the contract might be a first step in this direction. Ng used his army contacts to gather necessary background intelligence. The powers that be were pleased with the information and the contract that the Oriental Machinery Company was about to land. Apart from owning Kabuga ETS, Monsieur Kabuga was close to President Juvénal Habyarimana. The president’s two sons were married to Kabuga’s daughters. It was certain that with some careful tending more business was to follow down this lane. The party approved.

Not only did Ng and Boqin meet the guest at the airport. For this occasion they hired three ambitious graduates from the provinces as French interpreters; obviously shapely girls. They were paid cash. No paperwork changed hands. Back at home Monsieur Kabuga had made sure to dissuade his wife, Josephine, that Beijing might be like Paris. Neither freezing temperatures of the Far Eastern country’s winter would agree with her, nor would Josephine enjoy the drab and industrially utilitarian look of the socialist capital. He knew what he had been talking about. The vacation Josephine and Kabuga had had half a decade earlier in the People’s Republic of Romania – when Monsieur Kabuga had been sounding out the ground for business during the president’s state visit to that country – had been a disaster, to say the least. No running water in the opulent hotel suite’s bathroom of white marble finish. The golden faucets and handles had failed to charm Monsieur Kabuga’s demanding wife, and when the toilet had begun to overflow the staff had been unresponsive. At long last a repairman had turned up, but his native jabbering had sounded almost abusive. For now Josephine had had more than her fill of people’s democracies.

Apart from gracing the business talks with their feminine charm, the three interpreters proved efficient at paperwork, which was translated and dictated by Boqin. As agreed Monsieur Kabuga preferred to discuss the contract in English. In order to resolve the fine details, the three men retired to Ng’s office, leaving the ladies to their own resorts. The usual ten per cent cut was split equally between Kabuga EST and the Oriental Machinery Company. This hurdle out of the way, they returned to the conference room where the contract was officially signed and stamped in the presence of the company’s bookkeeper and production manager, alongside the three interpreters. The atmosphere was light. Boqin felt elation. Ng was beaming. At long last the future had commenced. Their future.

The waiters brought in French champagne.

‘To the contract!,’ Ng and Monsieeur Kabuga exclaimed, no translation needed, and everyone gingerly clinked their flutes with one another. The wall was graced with a classroom-size map of Africa. Much of its center was taken by the large Rwandan coat-of-arms that proudly announced, ‘Liberté Coopération Progrés.’ Boqin had briefed Ng on the meaning of this slogan, which to their ears sounded reassuringly like one of their party’s. The director raised his hand to hush the hubbub. His speech was short as befitted a former soldier. ‘Comrade Kabuga…,’ said Ng. Boqin translated, ‘Monsieur Kabuga. It is our pleasure that today we are opening a new bridge between our countries. This contract starts a cooperation that will bring more progress to Rwanda and China. To Progress and Cooperation!’

The flutes were hastily refilled for another toast.

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Tomasz Kamusella “Styknie / Limits, Silesia Progress 2019

Cena: 34 złote, obecnie u wydawcy w promocji za 22 złote.

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