Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Agreement/Disagreement (01/19/12)
TITLE: Rough Times for Rudolph
By Noel Mitaxa
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All the promise of their world order had crumbled to dust; just when it was within their reach.
The fading coals in their fireplace matched the disappearance of their hopes, as numb disbelief drove Rudolph’s desire to make sense of all that had gone wrong.
They had been models of Party loyalty all their lives, and their exemplary commitment to continuing the workers’ struggle had ensured their rise to elite-level membership of the Party.
Membership of the Politburo, the Supreme Soviet’s Central Committee, offered them full access into the Kremlin.
Recognised world-wide for the onion domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin compound also contains three other cathedrals and four extravagant palaces within its compound.
The <i>hoi polloi</i> would never suspect the lavishly extravagant treasures within the Kremlin, as they gathered outside it on the vast expanse of Red Square to be enthralled by frequent demonstrations of Soviet military muscle.
The treasures testified to the excess and self-aggrandisement of both the bourgeoisie and the church. How succinctly had the great Karl Marx dismissed religion as the opiate of the people!
Rudolph and Natasha had enjoyed their allocated privileges, most obviously this relaxing <i>dacha</i> in which they could spend vacations on the temperate western shoreline of the Caspian Sea – far from the freezing months of a Moscow winter.
Yet Glasnost and Perestroika had stopped any further progress; striking down the nation’s vision from within! Rudolph was unable to convince his honoured mentors of the transparent logic within his fervent disagreement and his protests. None of his students had listened to him either.
Daily headlines in <i>Pravda</i>, the official newspaper, boasted of Comrade Gorbachev’s international diplomatic successes. Oh, the whole world had feted Mikhail Gorbachev for his reforms – and Raisa Gorbachev for her glamor.
The world was welcome to them!
Even now, the peaceful seclusion of their <i>dacha</i> on the Caspian was also under threat. This small holiday cottage was just two hours west of Ukraine, the agricultural powerhouse which had become a separate nation, and Belarus to its north had also broken away. Immediately south of them, Chechen rebels were creating havoc, having seen other Caucasian Mountain provinces like Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia gain their independence!
Even the church was being revived, with young people discarding the secular atheism that had empowered the relentless sweep of the revolution. Just yesterday Rudolph had heard people in the street singing songs about some primitive myth of Christmas. Plus another awful dirge that literally flew in the face of the heroic achievements of every Soviet cosmonauts – somebody supposedly had a flying sleigh – with the kind of tune that clings to your brain like a limpet and refuses to let go!
Once, his opinions and insights were highly sought, but now everyone disagreed with him or ignored him completely.
He tossed a pine log onto the fire, to watch the fire flare into fresh passionate combustion. If only our hopes could flare as easily, he thought, for those hopes matched the brooding clouds that stretched their drab, menacing monochrome across the December sky.
Natasha’s happy cry burst in on his gloom: “Look Rudi, it’s snowing outside!”
“Snow?” he asked, “down this far south?” He had to see for himself. Drawing the curtains back, he leaned over towards the window and peered through its streaky panes. “No, Natasha,” he replied, “It’s raining!”
“Take another look. You’ll see that it’s snowing,” she protested.
“No, that’s just heavy rain,” he insisted, “It might snow later, but it’s only raining out right now.”
“But I can see it snowing,” insisted Natasha.
It was all getting too much. Communism’s collapse; his life-work in tatters; the carve-up of the Soviet empire to appease petty-minded pressure groups; masses of people retreating into religion – and now his own wife Natasha was also challenging his long-respected wisdom!
Should he slam her with the same withering logic that had put rival debaters to flight?
No – she was sharing his disillusionment; what was to gain by trying to score points off her?
Instead, from out of nowhere, he suddenly found himself humming that infernal, mind-rotting tune from just yesterday…
“Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear!”
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