Vasily was just going to lie down in the gazebo after lunch when he heard a car stop at the gate.
“Who else has it brought? – he thought. – And why the dog doesn’t bark.”
I didn’t want to open my eyes, but then the gate creaked and Dasha’s ringing voice rang out:
– Grandpa, it’s us! Where are you?
Little Irinka was about to cry, when her son gave his voice:
– Dad, are you at home?
– And where else would I be, – Vasily answered, getting up from the bench and pulling on his hat. – At home, at home! Come in! Why did you remember about your father?
– Dad, we need to go to the city, – the son nodded towards the car, where his daughter-in-law was sitting in the driver’s seat. – Will you stay with the girls so that you don’t drag them around the bazaars?
– You shouldn’t have asked, – Vasily was already catching his eldest granddaughter in his arms, before nodding in response to his daughter-in-law, who was the first to greet him.
– Of course I’ll sit and read a book, right?
The granddaughter said nothing, but hugged her grandfather harder by the neck. Vasily tried to lower her to the ground to allocate a share of hugs to his youngest granddaughter, but Dasha did not want to let go. I had to lift Irinka with my free hand and try to hold her to me. But the eldest began to push her sister away, who this time began to cry.
– Hey, hey! What are you doing, Dasha? – Vasily lowered the girls to the ground. “You know I don’t like it when you start bullying.” Grandpa is so big, there’s enough of him for everyone. Run to the gazebo, there are grapes on the table, and I’ll talk to Dad again.
The granddaughters raced to the gazebo, but collided with each other at the entrance. Irinka roared again, and Dasha was already stretching out her hand to the dark blue bunch. Vasily shook his head and turned to the gate to ask his son about life. But before he could, he was already getting into the car.
– Can I bring you something? – the son barely had time to sit down, as the car buzzed.
– Yes, I seem to have everything, if only bones for a dog.
The door slammed shut and the car quickly disappeared around the corner.
– So, girls, – Vasily went into the gazebo, – are we going to read a book, or are you going to the swing?
– And I don’t want a book, and the rocking chair is not interesting, – the eldest granddaughter answered for both. – Grandfather, do you have ice cream? Because Mom promised to bring it, but that’s when it will be!
– Now I’ll look in the refrigerator, – Vasily wandered to the house, noticing on the way that Irinka still went to the swing.
There were two waffle cups of ice cream in the freezer. In the yard, he saw Dasha swinging on a swing, and Irinka was wiping her eyes next to him and was already looking at a pile of sand near the barn.
“Oh, girls, girls,” Vasily whispered to himself, and called his granddaughters out loud:
– Come into the gazebo. There is ice cream, but to eat slowly, otherwise mom will be angry with me. Do I need it?
Vasily put the ice cream in mugs, stuck spoons in it and put it on the table:
– Here! You can wait until it melts, or take a little bit with spoons, do you understand?
– Of course you understand, – Dasha, who was already standing next to her, pulled out her spoon from the ice cream and put it on the table.
Then the girl settled down on a bench and began to lick her portion of treats.
Irinka, as if she hadn’t heard her grandfather, found an old aluminum saucepan somewhere and with its help was already sculpting cakes in the sand. Vasily wanted to call his granddaughter, but then decided that it was even better.
The ice cream will melt a little and the daughter-in-law will not swear that the girls’ throat is red in the middle of summer.
– So, Dasha, do you want to go to school already?
– Vasily sat down next to his granddaughter. – Which class are you going to? The second one?
– Yes, – the girl continued to lick the barely melted top of the ice cream. – My friends are at school, it’s interesting there, not like at home, – she looked back at her sister, who was putting sand in an empty dog bowl. Monka, Vasily’s dog, only opened one eye at this and turned over on the other side.
– Do you have many girlfriends? – Vasily took a bunch of grapes, and began to put one in his mouth.
Dasha looked up and silently moved her lips.
“Four,” she finally answered, and turned back to the ice cream. After a moment, the girl, as if remembering something important, added:
– Almost five. Pebble wants to join us. But she’s so dirty, so we’ll think about it.
It was quiet in the gazebo for a while. Vasily was chewing grapes, Irinka was snuffling near a pile of sand that didn’t really want to stick, and Dasha was licking her ice cream in a circle. Suddenly the girl froze, narrowed her eyes and looked at her grandfather, assessing. Then she chuckled and asked Vasily:
– Grandfather, are you very old?
Vasily almost choked on a grape, cleared his throat and then asked again:
– What are you suddenly interested in, huh? What are you up to?
– Yes, I remembered about the Pebbles, but her grandfather is very, very decrepit.
– It’s like I’m not young either. See, the head is all white. And what does this “quite, quite” of yours mean?
– Pebble says about his grandfather that he remembers the most delicious ice cream for twenty kopecks. Like, it was a long time ago. I asked Dad, he doesn’t remember about this. Have you eaten this ice cream, what is it? Or did the Pebble invent everything?
– That’s what you mean, – Vasily wiped his lips.– To be honest, I don’t remember how much ice cream cost when I was young. I ate, but I forgot what it tasted like. I’m probably older than your Pebble’s grandfather.
– Can’t you remember anything at all? What other goodies were there then? Pebble says that her grandfather even shines when he talks about those times. Then, he says, everything was delicious.
– I won’t speak for someone, do you know what I remember?
– And what? Dasha looked at her grandfather with interest.
– I remember well how I cooked borscht on my own for the first time, – Vasily picked up Irinka, who just walked into the gazebo, wiped her palms with a hat and handed his youngest granddaughter a cup of ice cream.
– Tell me, grandfather, – Dasha moved closer to Vasily, glancing sideways at her sister, who was spooning melted ice cream from a cup. – Mom doesn’t cook borscht for us, she only knows how to cook porridge. And pasta.
– And you ask her well. Now there is everything for this. What’s in the garden, what’s from the bazaar, or in the store – everything is there. And in those days…
– I was working at the factory then. One day I came from the night shift, got some sleep, and then suddenly I wanted borscht. And such that not from the dining room, where one and a half potatoes and a little cabbage with beets are floating among the water, but real, like your mother, your great-grandmother. Even in bed, I began to remember what is needed for borscht. That is, I ate it, even smacked my lips, but somehow I didn’t think about what they put there. I remembered potatoes, cabbage, beets and carrots with onions. Everything could be found in a nearby vegetable store. I didn’t even remember about the oil, there was lard, so I decided to fry onions on it. But what else was needed, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember. And there was no one to ask, we communicated then mainly through letters. And that’s a long time! To ask my mother and get an answer, I would have to wait ten days. During this time, the borscht will be rehoused.
“Why didn’t you call her?” Isn’t it faster? – Dasha’s ice cream floated, and the girl took a spoon.
– Then they didn’t even hear about mobile phones. And not everyone had a regular phone either. Great-grandmother didn’t even dream of him. So I couldn’t ask her. And there was no one in the hostel where he lived then, too, everyone was at work.
– And what is a hostel? – Dasha kneaded the remnants of ice cream and now tried to drink it, but the waffle cup did not give, fell out of the cup right on the girl’s nose.
– A dormitory is a house, a high–rise building, in which there is a long, long corridor. As from the gate and to the edge of the garden, – said Vasily.
– On both sides of the corridor are rooms where guys or girls live. There is a toilet at one end of the dormitory, and a shared kitchen with a refrigerator and gas stoves at the other. Introduced?
Dasha slowly looked across the yard, got up to look behind the barn, there was a vegetable garden behind it, but she didn’t see anything, so she sat down and sniffed:
– Wow! Very long.
– So, – Vasily put down the cup of Irinka on the table
. The granddaughter did not want to eat anymore, got off her knees and, looking back at her sister, went to the swing.
– Only guys lived in our dorm. They rarely cooked, mostly fried eggs or fried potatoes. It happened that semi-finished products were taken from the store. Dumplings there, or dumplings. And cooked, but not often. Because the semi-finished products were such that I didn’t want to take them a second time. My friend and I once tried to cook dumplings with cottage cheese, the result was putty for windows. Because the dumplings boiled, the cheese fell out and I had to scoop this ear together with lumps of dough with spoons, not to waste the good! So, I quickly ran to the vegetable store, skimped there, took a large pot and began to cook the first borscht in my life. I threw potatoes and beets into the water, fried onions and carrots in lard, chopped cabbage, and salted. It was as if I had done everything I remembered, and my brew did not look at all like borscht, even the one that is offered in canteens.
– Grandfather, why didn’t you search the Internet for how to cook? Mom, when she doesn’t know something, always does it,” Dasha cleaned her cup with her finger and now looked at her sister.
– If only, – Vasily laughed and pushed the younger one’s mug closer to Dasha. – Then, granddaughter, not only there were no mobile phones, but no one knew about the Internet at all. Recipes were searched in books.
– So I would take a book!
– There was no place to get books on cooking, too, just like that. Therefore, your grandfather had to strain his memory, what made borscht borscht?
– And what? – Dasha finished her ice cream, and now, savoring, carefully chewed a waffle cup.
– I thought for a long time then, until I remembered. Borscht – it’s sour! But I couldn’t remember how to acidify it, for the life of me. In the end, I decided that vinegar would be the very thing. While my borscht was slowly boiling, I ran to the deli. But, unfortunately, there was no vinegar. I had to look in another store, then another, and another, and another, until I came across him in a vegetable store, which was three stops away. I took that glass bottle and quickly ran to the dorm. I splashed a little vinegar into a pot with borscht, it hadn’t had time to boil off yet, I tried it.
– And how did it turn out delicious? – Dasha was picking up the remnants of ice cream on the walls of the cup with her finger.
– Khgm! Vasily grinned. – I wouldn’t say that. It seems like that, but still not that. I splashed some more vinegar, tried it. No, not borscht. Then he added more, stirred, and took a sip. And I realized that I had overdone the vinegar. I don’t remember if I ate this concoction? It seems to me that I caught potatoes with cabbage, and had lunch with them. But I’m not sure, maybe I ate everything.
– And how to cook borscht correctly? Dasha pushed the empty cup away and now sat looking at her grandfather, then at her sister, who was happily swinging on the swing.
– I wrote to my mom later and found out that you can use tomatoes or juice, or paste from them. That’s how I had my first borscht. I remember him because I ran around half the city for vinegar. And you say ice cream!
– By the way, – Vasily got up from the bench, touched his hand in his pocket, – and let’s go to the store, girls! Choose the ice cream you like. If you don’t eat, your grandfather will put it in the freezer until your next arrival. And also – remember its taste. Suddenly your grandchildren will want to know what it was – the ice cream of your childhood. And you, like me, will wrinkle your forehead, trying to remember. And you will tell the kids who knows what, like I am about this borscht. But will your grandchildren listen to such stories?
Vasily took Irinka off the swing, took her by the hand, and handed the other to Dasha. So the three of them went out into the street and slowly walked along it to the store, for ice cream.