What if ?

Six countries and 15 authors discovered something very special . . . together. 


                               Photo: Bahag

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IT WAS December 31st. The wind had just begun to blow in the New Year. The Old would soon roll off the earth as lightly as a coat slipped off your back. 

     The sun was waiting by the shore when suddenly he heard the Old Year say, “Give me just one more day to learn what it means to be old or be new. Just one more day is all I ask of you.” We promise none of this is false; it’s all true. For we went along and carefully wrote down every word the Old Year heard:

    In Cherkassy, we saw a man looking at the moon: “What is old” he asked, “and what is new?”
     “New is like a star that appears in the sky, but doesn’t last. It disappears just as fast as it came!”
1  And in that same town we saw a mother at home making a tasty new dish. When she saw us she said, “I’ve never tried this!2  Just then in a shop there on the street, a woman put a rose in a vase.  It was really very sweet. She, too, looked up as we went by and to our question kindly replied, “Why new, of course, is the flower in the bud.”3
     And suddenly, we were in the city of Kiev, where as far as we could see thousands of people were standing in the streets. “New,” they cried, standing there in the cold, “will be when we truly forget the old!”
4  But those whose lives had known sorrow and fear said, “New is only what will come with years.”5

    “No,” said a writer in a Moscow café, “new won’t wait. New means ‘every day’. Don’t you see? Every day we write a new story!”6
     But in a place called Urzhum, later that night, just as a grandmother switched off the light, “New” she said, “is no more than a style! It’s no more than a dress, however fine. It’s a fickle thing that changes all the time.”

    And there in a village, two time zones away, as Father Frost gave out presents, we heard him say, “Rejoice each year in what lies ahead. That is what new means.”
8  Yes, that’s just what he said.    
    And then in a market three latitudes below, a man stacked his Afghan fruits in a neat, careful row. “New” he said “is what is fresh, sweet and ripe. New are my customers, my days, and my nights. New is the adventure we’re given in this life.”
9  But a shy young woman wrapped in thought from head to toe, bowed her head and started to go, but turned back as if there was something more to say, “New, I’m afraid, is not always good. Should it be called ‘new’ when the trees grew strange leaves on their heads, became black and angry, and gave us winter instead of spring? New is a thing that must give life; it must be better and cause no strife.”10  And a girl at a desk in a school the first time said, “To learn, that is new, and such a right is mine.”11 And in a world far, far away, on that very same day, another school girl agreed, “Yes, new means to see things you’ve never seen.”12

      The Old Year laughed and went off at a run, pointing to a kite maker sailing kites in the sun. And there high above the city of Changchun, high above the streets where the cars and buses run, high above the buildings where the sky is bluest blue, the kite maker answered, “What is new? New is to have dreams and make them come true.”13

      But then we saw a man sweeping dust from his door. The man was a stranger and kept his eyes to the floor. A boy ran to speak to him as little boys do, he said to the man, “I think you are new!” The stranger smiled and nodded his head. And finally, with great effort the lonely man said, “I - new. Yes, I leave all behind; I leave all—all that was mine.”14

     And then to my shock the Old Year’s step slowed. “There’s only one more place we’re destined to go.” Off we went to an island in the sea, the smallest of all places, yet great in charity. The people who lived there came from all over the earth, but the Old Year pointed to one scene of great worth. A little boy leaned on his grandfather’s chest. “I promise, grandfather, I’ll do my best.” / “Then repeat what I’ve taught you and write it down, too.” / “Follow Truth,” the boy wrote, “and you yourself will be new.”15  

“Might it be true?” the Old Year mused. “What if we were all being made new?”  I turned and looked and began to reply, but the Old Year was gone. The first soft light filled the sky. 

 Authors: 1 Andrei, 2 Alona, 3 Tonya, 4 Larisa, 5 Vanya, 6 Zhenya, 7 Ilnara, Polina, 9 Aysha, 10 Frozan, 11 Fatima — 12 Marina, 13 Victor, 14 Yu Qi, 15 Bahag, with a little help from the Editor.  Our authors are from Changchun, Cherkassy, Kabul, Kiev, London, Moscow, Nanning, Ossippe, Pervouralsk, and Urzhum. 

 ©preInterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com