Morning for Sokroshera Chapter Ten

By Timothy Smith, 2020

Morning for Sokroshera Chapter 10

Tim’s novel of Russian America (Kodiak Island area)

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Saturday, November 2, 1963: at the memorial service - Jay-Jay meets a legend: Anicia, the oldest person in town. Edited to minimize plot give-away’s.

Saturday morning dawned with as much light as one could hope for in a place where the days would be getting shorter for another two months. Anicia Novikoff was being helped out of Danny’s truck when Judson arrived, early, at the mess hall. Her long, dark gray coat was set off by a bright pink headscarf. Anicia looked at Danny and said, “Next time we use Howie’s little car. Then you don’t have to hold me like Raggedy Ann to get me out of there!” But she laughed, a quiet little sound that could almost be mistaken for coughing. Anicia noticed him, and called him over, “Jay-Jay, that’s your name, yeah.” It wasn’t quite a question.

Anicia touched him on the shoulder and introduced herself. “I’m old Anicia Novikoff. Someday some company is gonna steal that Novikoff name and use it for a cold medicine you think, yeah.” Anicia had pronounced “company” and “medicine” with slow precision, like a teacher emphasizing the syllables (or like someone who still struggled with English words). She laughed again and withdrew her hand. Judson just smiled, a bit tongue tied at finally meeting the matriarch of the village. Anicia spoke as if she was inhaling on some of the words, not because of age, but because of a pattern of speech that harked back to the old ones, before the Russians came. (Edit)  Judson at this point was certain that some of her words were getting lost in the inhalation. And every “yeah” was inhaled like a sharp breath. She also seemed to be conflating the fight and the fire.

“My boy Norman asked me to sing ‘Memory Eternal’ at the service. Might as well ask a seal to do the singing.” Another fit of laughing, and Judson marveled that the last sentence came out almost like a melody, emphasizing certain words far differently than the younger generations: “Might as well ask a seal to do the singing!” Anicia had now punched Judson in the ribs. “But you can’t say no to Norm. Good to have Norm here even if he is not a Priest, yeah. Gospodi pomilui — (Edit)” In an instant, Anicia had shifted from a warm greeting for the new kid in town to grieving grandmother. Judson realized on some level that her frequent laughter was a cover for a lifetime of dealing with great troubles. Beneath her cheerful exterior, Anicia was again a woman in deep sorrow.

Anicia looked away, and abruptly changed the subject. She turned and pointed. “Look back there, look at the mountain. See, sunshine first at the top, then later sunshine here.” Judson noticed the dome of Mount Sokroshera shining in the morning sun, shadows below it. “This island, the old name Unuaq Ingriq – that means the ‘morning mountain’ in Sugpiak – the old language. Old boss Ardet, he liked my mountain story and he used that name on his salmon cans, but in English. You think that is pretty name, yeah?” Judson leaned close, Anicia’s voice barely rising above the background noises. He couldn’t tell for sure, but guessed that with Anicia’s soft-spoken diction, she was probably not leaving out words. Judson did think “Morning Mountain” was a beautiful name, even as he doubted his tongue could pronounce the words in Anicia’s language.



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