Anton Antonovich Shaved Off His Beard
Anton Antonovich shaved off his beard and none of his acquaintances could recognize him any longer. “How is that possible,” Anton Antonovich exclaimed. “It’s me, Anton Antonovich. It’s just that I shaved off my beard.”
“Yeah, right!” the acquaintances replied. “Anton Antonovich had a beard, and you don’t.”
“I am telling you, I too had a beard but I shaved it off!” Anton Antonovich insisted.
“All sorts of people had beards!” replied the acquaintances.
“What the hell is this, really,” Anton Antonovich would say, losing his temper. “Who am I supposed to be then, according to you?”
“That we don’t know,” the acquaintances replied. “But you are not Anton Antonovich.”
Stumped, Anton Antonovich could not decide what to do. He went to visit the Naskakovs, but they met him with expressions of astonishment, asking: “Who are you looking for?”
“I am looking for you, Marusia!” said Anton Antonovich. “Don’t you know who I am?”
“No,” said Marusia Naskakov. Her curiosity was piqued. “Wait…Maybe I saw you at Valentina Petrovna’s?”
“What do you mean, Marusia?” said Anton Antonovich. “Look at me carefully. Do you recognize me?”
“Wait, wait…No, I can’t recall who you are,” said Marusia.
“I am Anton Antonovich, obviously!” said Anton Antonovich. “Do you recognize me now?”
“No,” said Marusia. “You are joking.”
1934-37 Translation by Eugene Ostashevsky