by Raji Singh (archeo-apologist, Fiction House Publishing)
PART I. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY KOOKY UNCLE VANYA
Just unearthed; Shelva’s young girl writings as she anxiously waits, from her home in Moscow, the trip to the Czar’s Winter Palace in St. Petersburg for the International Cat Boxing Championships. It is the 1870’s. She writes…
Oh how I yearn for the good old days the 50’s and 60’s must have been. I have heard so much about them from mine Uncle Vaters at Ternya. He was then, and still is an adventurer. One day, I hope, he will invite me along for one of those grand voyages.
Kind of a rubbery-face Chameleon: Uncle changes his look at whim. Suave, debonaire, statuesque but limber, he can be a swaggering be-medalled Italian Count one day. He’s a raggedy, hunching, no- account Mongolian Falconer the next. So many languages he knows. He seems to learn one fast as I eat a bowl of Mama’s wonderful Borscht.
As does Mama, he despises the Czar. Unlike Mama, he doesn’t bother cursing him. Uncle Vanya uses his Chameleon ways to steal priceless objects from The Winter Palace. He befriends the Czar’s curators, carefully gaining their confidence while posing as an art historian, or expert in antiquities. On another occasion, he was the Czar’s trusted servant. A few times, he cozied up to the Czar himself; mimicking, perfectly, foreign dignitaries the Czar had even met.
Uncle replaces the priceless items he pilfers – paintings, jewels, and ancient figurines – with replicas he meticulously creates. For the longest time the Czar’s curators do not realize they’ve been duped. Sometimes they never find out. “He is a great artist,” I often tell Papa.
“Ach!” Replies Papa. “He is a con artist, a counterfeiter. “One day Vanya’s kooky ways will be his undoing.”
“Maybe I’ll see some of Uncle Vanya’s artwork when I travel to St. Petersberg,” I tell myself. “Maybe I’ll see Uncle Vanya. Hmm!” Maybe he’ll be a Sultan? Maybe a Swami? I imagine.
When we drop him at the station and he boards the train for St. Petersberg, he kisses my forehead and says. “Dear Niece. It is imperative! If you by chance to recognize me when you arrive at the Palace, do not say or do a single thing that may give me away.”
“I shant, Uncle.”
I shall hide this writing. Where only I can find it. Not want some Cossack to find it.
That would be end of Uncle Vanya.
Uncle Vanya doesn’t sell the nation’s treasures for a vast profit, only a medium one. The money is for the cause – Revolution – or to help country peasants. He smuggles the items, across the sea, to America, to Muscovites who moved there. They preserve the treasures, so the Czar doesn’t sell or give them away. When the Czar is deposed they’ll be returned so all Russians may enjoy them.
So intentional is Uncle’s good deeds. So intent is he on doing them. When does Uncle Vanya’s kookiness take over? It is when the gaming fever afflicts him. Then, his entire life becomes – Chance. This is what I am afraid may occur ringside at the Cat Boxing Championships.
That is why it is good that I will be there. ‘But remember, Shelva,’ you must keep reminding yourself. ‘You must do nothing to give Uncle Vanya away.’
NEXT WEEK: PART II. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY WONDERFULLY ECCENTRENTRIC FUTURE UNCLE – WILLIAM-WILLAMINA.
(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE. They are completely different stories. My novel is available at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.)
©2013 Raji Singh