Chapter 8

Veana erased this expedition from her mind as the source of her unfathomable sorrow. Whatever happiness it will bring to humanity in the future, in present it can change nothing. For her, there wasn’t any future at all. The life she imagined it together with Iase and with their future family vanished without beginning.
Her enormous grief was getting even more painful when she, time to time was recalling that no proof of the existence of her beloved remained in this world. No one saw his body and there no his grave somewhere. There is no place where you can put the flowers and can seclude yourself to revere his memory. The work of his hands forever disappeared in the boundless expanses of the Galaxy. The successor of Iase’s flesh and blood didn’t born at all, no one will say: “My father or grand-grandfather sacrificed his life for the road to the stars.”
Meetings with Iase in the dreams were the only Veana’s relief now. They were talking there, joking, looking in the eyes of each other and seeing the love… The dream has become a place of their rendezvous. After such trysts, the light sadness at least was diluting the darkness of woe for a short time.
When they met the first time, Veana said to Iase that she is living with her parents and that was true. But, besides, at that time she signed a contract with Viking, football club from the capital city. Exactly backed by this new job she dared to travel at the expensive resort. When Iase returned from the shift and asked Veana to marry him, for that moment woman almost finished her activity with sports society of her home town Barasen and already had rented the flat in Oslo.
Before Iase’s departing for the last shift, the newly wedded had not time to decide where they would buy their own habitation. The language barrier was impeding them – for Veana Georgian was difficult, for Iase Norwegian appeared not less complicated. Yet they were thinking about America, though, Veana had couple times mentioned that if the Norwegian ambassador did learn Georgian, why she couldn’t?
The barrier didn’t disappear after Iase’s death too. Because of it Veana barely was able to intercourse with Meliton and Taso, due to their invalid English. Despite this she was arranging to talk with them every week, asking how they’re doing.
Now she stood at cozy Stromsvaien Street, on the inner court balcony of her two-room apartment. And she wasn’t just stood, but Veana was doing what she never did after Iase’s death. The widow didn’t do that even in the night when a great number of people was trying to discern the ship, which was assembled by her late husband’s own hands, departed to the stars. The woman wasn’t able to force herself to look at it, what became the reason of her love’s decease.
But today, encouraged by the final agreement with cosmic Project administration and with the signing of all papers, the widow finally looked up to the starred ceiling of Earth. The candidates must be absolutely health and also their near ancestors. They must be between thirty and thirty-five age, with high education, possess family and at least two children to which they gave birth; they and their ancestors must have no problems with the law and the fiscal institutions and many other demands. From those, who were able to meet all these conditions, the computer was randomly selecting the DNA copy which will be dispatched into the Galaxy without revealing the name of the donors. Iase corresponded to all these terms but one – about children.
Veana, her friends, her supporters, addressed to the international community and explained to it in full scale, what tremendous disaster managed to avoid Iase Bilikadze. That, as the scientists suggested with very high probability, the thermonuclear explosion maybe wouldn’t have been limited by the engine and it was able to produce the fusion of nucleus of heavy hydrogen, accumulated in fuel depository. The radiation after such a gigantic blow will have affected the whole population of one hemisphere of Earth and make it ill with radiation sickness, mostly lethal.
Eventually, this information caused a very large number of asks to do an exception for the sake of Iase Bilikadze. In the result, the management board of SQP project became forced to agree with Veana’s permanent, tireless, pertinacious ask and also Iase’s last will. It was decided that according to draw his genotype will be included in one of the next expeditions because by that time the first one has departed already.
Since now the sky has ceased to be just a source of bitter memories for her. Soon, but still before her life would pass, Iase’s dream would become a reality.
Veana was standing on a balcony for some time. After she glanced at the Milky Way once more the widow dared to do one more thing. When Iase’s luggage had been returned from the space, she put the bag in the corner of the room and didn’t touch it since then. It was difficult to touch it. Even more, whenever the widow saw it every time she was losing the wish of life.
Veana knew that there, among these belongings, there was a record intended for her, though until this evening she wasn’t able to bring herself to look at it: video record is quite another thing than a dream, where Iase is alive like in reality and she can to communicate with him.
But today the widow did accomplish the thing that cheered up her and helped to collect the strength to look at this video. She left the balcony and came back to the living-room adjoining it. A stand lamp’s yellowish shining partly illuminated a leather sofa on the left and a big table at the center of the room. Further, at a right corner, to where weak light hardly was stretching, a grey bulky rucksack could be seen in the dusk.
Veana switched on the skylight and brightly lightened up the room. She dragged the bag to the sofa, sat on it and unfastened the zipper. She moved aside the edges of the bag by both hands and then started taking its contents and putting it on the floor. Veana paid no attention to anything rest, she was looking for a computer. In the memory of that device, there should be an explanation of why Iase became the cosmonaut.
Eventually, Veana found the folded tablet. The woman took it and leaned against the sofa’s back. Having sat comfortably she unfolded the device, switched it on and connected to a big screen at the opposite wall. After a little bit wandering among electronic files, she found a record entitled: “For Veana about the stars”. The widow deeply inhaled and pressed “play”.
On the big screen, a picture with a little bit breathless Iase appeared. He sat immediately in air, at the background of a porthole in which Veana saw a part of the interstellar machine. This fragment looked like it was cut from darkness by light falling on him from the cabin.
Iase spoke with a mischievous smile:
“Hi, Veana, are you ready to watch the work of great director? I see yes, you are prepared, let’s begin, then.” He spoke as if merrily and relaxed, though the slightest confusion reflected on his face due to he was going to show unusual work.
In response, the young widow sadly smiled to screen.
“I was making fitness… my breath didn’t fully recover yet… but it’s nothing, the artistic level of the movie wouldn’t suffer because of this…”
Iase draw near to the camera, said: “Uh, I’m starting,” and continued:
“So, it was at the time when I was seventh grade and spent holidays in the village where my father’s ancestors lived. You’ll certainly like that place.”
The widow concentrated all her thoughts at the contents of the tale, trying not to cry.
“At that time I was already infatuated with books and movies about space travels. I was trying not to omit anything concerning this topic. I had even interested in that ad, which invited volunteers at cosmodrome build or to the stars, though, at that time I didn’t fully understand the essence of that commercial.”
Iase took a breath and continued:
“Exactly want I’m going to tell you now, helped me to comprehend that. Let’s go.”
He dramatically waved his hand as if really was calling his wife somewhere. Veana vanquished the tears arrived on her eyes.
“That summer at Binadauri, maybe you remember the name of my father’s home village, also on vacations, a former its dweller came from the Ocean.” Iase has rose forefinger, underlined the last word. “He has been and he is the object of pride not only for his close relatives but for the whole district.”
Iase deeply inhaled, finally calmed his organism and resumed to talk:
“There is a serious reason for it – a man from a forlorn village in the mountains has become a scientist of such level that he was asked to work in Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”
Before the next phrase, as if he is collecting his thoughts, Iase paused for a second:
“His coming always was a big event for the hamlet. The villagers learned from him the latest news about science and generally about world life, firsthand, and not from TV or network, where, as they think, everything is told very short and embroidery, or as gossip at all.
Meliton’s home country situated at one of those foothills, which engirdled my native Colchis Valley from the south. At its very steep slopes, agricultural machinery can’t be applied– the villagers cultivate their land in an old way. Later on, you’ll see.”
Veana suppressed tears one more time. The record went on.
“At that day there was corn weeding. In the summer the neighbors usually work till noon, while heat allows it. Then peasants are hiding in the shadow of trees and sit on the grass near a stream with cold water. They have lunch, chatting leisurely about something or sleep. In one word, they’re waiting for the blaze of the sun to weaken and of course, in such a period they’re ready to talk about any subject, he-he-he!”
Iase, as if checked something, nodded to his own thoughts.
“At that day I joined them during such fiesta. I can’t surely remember why, maybe because of heat I didn’t want to go to the river till evening, or maybe the guest’s arriving attracted me. I came into the tree shadow, said “Hello” to everybody and began to listen. The conversation was about space flight. Exactly that one, I catch a glimpse before departure to the countryside. It seemed the villagers have heard about it too, but didn’t understand exactly how that light differed from the others.”
Here Iase stopped and get closer to webcam. He bent more and somewhere from the right had attracted the transparent tube.
“I’m not accustomed to such long speech, my throat went dry,” he explained.
As soon as the man slaked his thirst, he continued:
“I had barely sat down on the grass when I switch on camera on my cell-phone. I remember I got, huh, the witty idea in my mind to film my neighbors. I decided to show them afterward, how they listened to the conversation about the rockets instead of working.”
Here Iase indulgently smiled as if inviting Veana to regard his childish spree with understanding.
“Though, it happened in such way that the record, yet shortened with omitting of some futile dialogues, stayed with me for all my life. I was rewriting it in every new phone or PC and every time looking at it, step by step I learned it by heart. I could continue this telling myself, but I think it would be more interesting and understandable if you see everything on your own. So, from this moment you’ll see the record and I would only gradually explain who is who and, of course, I’ll translate their talking.”