Book 2. Ringing cedars of Russia (1997)
Unravelling the mystery
Standing in the kitchen of my small Moscow apartment, standing next to the table with the frankfurters getting cold and Lyosha Novichkov’s head resting on the pages containing the text of Anastasia, I made a promise to myself: to find a way of regaining my capital and getting back my ship with a view to taking it on the same journey as last year when I first met Anastasia. But not on a trade mission, as before. I wanted to go there during the ‘white nights’ of summer, so that Lyosha, Anton and Artem — as well as all those who had worked like dogs, in spite of all the setbacks and often to the neglect of their own material well-being, to organise a fellowship of purer-minded entrepreneurs — could enjoy a decent holiday aboard my ship in the most luxurious quarters.
And what was this grand idea all about, in any case? What kind of hold did it have on people? Why was I, too, drawn into it so closely? What kind of mystery did it conceal? I just had to figure this out, in concrete detail, and unravel its mystery and purpose. And why are people so turned on by this dream of a taiga recluse? What lies hidden there? How can I unravel the mystery?
Moskovskaya Pravda correspondent Katya Golovina tried unravelling it by asking the students to explain what moti-vated them, what their personal stake was in all this. But they couldn’t give a definitive answer, saying only that it was something worth doing. In other words, they were working on intuition. But what was behind this intuition?
At Moscow Printshop Number Eleven two thousand copies of the first slim volume about Anastasia were printed at the shop’s own expense. Why did the manager, Gennady Vladimirovich Grutsia, decide to print a book by an unknown author? Why would he do this and, in spite of the printshop’s current financial difficulties, use offset paper instead of the usual newsprint?
The first books I sold myself near the entrance to the Ta- ganskaya metro station. Then I got some help from some of the book’s first readers. An elderly woman would daily stand and sell copies outside the Dobryninskaya metro station. She would take great pains to explain in detail to anyone interested what a wonderful book it was. Why?
Then readers began selling it as well in vacation centres on the outskirts of Moscow. They would print out announcements and organise readers’ gatherings for people holidaying there.
Then the business manager of the Moscow Publishers’ Clearance House, Yuri Anatolievich Nikitin, suddenly de-cided to offer the printshop an advance on an additional two thousand copies. His actions were strange and unexpected.
He drove over to see me in his car and told me:
“My son and I are leaving the country today to go to a tennis tournament. Our plane goes tonight. I need to hurry to get my payment in.”
He paid for the second print-run in full. When the time came for him to pick up his books, Nikitin told me:
“You know, during the summer we don’t do a lot of book-selling. I’ll take several packages, the rest you take care of yourself. When money starts coming your way, you can reimburse me.” Again, why?
Right from the moment I started working on the manu-script there have been many whys? associated with the book, even to this day. It’s almost as though the book were alive, drawing people unto itself and using their help to break through into life. I used to think that the events connected with it were pure coincidence. Only those ‘co-incidences’ started tying themselves together into a pattern. Now I have no idea, in all that has happened, just what is coincidence and what is in conformity with a law. The two have become exceedingly difficult to tell apart.