— You’re always so good. So everything is in place and smells like home,» Igor said, sadly looking around the kitchen with his eyes.
He was always incredibly unlucky with women. There were those with whom, after the first night, I did not want to meet anymore. No, everything was fine, and beautiful, and cultured, but there was no such feeling, which is called comfort or something.
He was raised by his grandmother. Igor had a mother, but she was engaged in a career all her life. Therefore, he saw her only on weekends and then not always. She came to Grandma’s and his house and brought sadness with her. Mom always had such a detached and thoughtful look that Igor, who was already in his tenth year, once asked:
— You don’t want to come here? Is it because of me?
— Well, what are you talking nonsense, — mom answered irritably, and pulled him to her. — Of course I love you, but I have a lot of work to do. But you don’t come home at all. Don’t you love me?
His mother stroked his back, but he did not feel the warmth. It’s like stroking an annoying dog that walks on your heels and puts his head under your arm. And you automatically stroke her, if only she would fall behind. And because of this automatic affection, Igor could not call his mother’s house his Home. He wasn’t drawn there. There was nothing warm and familiar there, and it smelled of loneliness and career.
But grandma’s house was the place they call Home, and in books they write so warmly and always return to it.
«Igor, my boy, don’t take offense at your mother,» grandma said after her mother’s rare visits ended with her hurried departure. — She loves you, but in her own way. And she’s your mom, who’s the only one you have.
And for him, his grandmother was his mother.
It was her cool hands that brought relief to his hot forehead when he had bronchitis and the temperature crept up, reaching forty degrees. The doctor with the ambulance insisted on hospitalization, but she refused. She said she could handle it herself. Although later, when he was already grown up, his grandmother talked about it and said that she scolded herself all night. She sat beside his bed and prayed incessantly. She said that if something happened to him, she would immediately die with him.
It was she who smeared his bruised knees with green paint and allowed him to cry in pain. And she scolded her grandfather, who grumbled:
— Men shouldn’t cry.
And Grandma answered:
— Men are the same people as women. And they get hurt, too. And little men are not quite men yet and have the right to weakness.
It was she who baked a huge Napoleon for his birthday and invited his friends to visit. She covered a large table in the hall with a snow-white tablecloth, put a cake dish and two jugs of cherry compote in the center. And Igor dressed up in a white shirt and bow tie. By the end of the holiday, the white tablecloth was stained with cherry juice. And grandma smiled and said that these are such trifles, and a birthday happens once a year.
It was she who took him to school for the first time, and stood behind him on the ruler. He was holding a huge bouquet of gladioli that were taller than him, and for some reason he was scared. He turned back, and Grandma winked at him. And the fear disappeared, because she was his rear.
His grandmother was everything to him. There was that universe that is one and forever.
They always smelled of pies. She said that a house without pies is not a house, but just a place where you live.
So the grandmother’s house was for Igor the House to which he wanted to return.
When his grandmother died, he could not enter this house for a long time. For a year, or maybe a little more, he rented an apartment. Sometimes I visited home, but not for more than half an hour. I couldn’t do it without my grandmother. Everywhere I saw her and the smell of pies.
And Dimka’s friend was just as cozy as at home. Lena’s wife was as warm as her grandmother and baked pies.
Now Igor has returned to his House, because he could not live without him. But the feeling of loneliness did not give the same security as in childhood. His house was his, but empty.
— You know, but Masha and I can do something, — he said thoughtfully. — She is warm and her voice is so soft, homely.
— Have you brought her home yet? Dima asked, knowing that his friend did not take any woman to his House. He was afraid that she would leave her scent there, which would interrupt the smell of his universe.
— yes. She cooked cheesecakes for breakfast,» Igor smiled.
And Dimka smiled back. Now he was calm for his friend. His House has found a mistress who can drive away loneliness.