Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One hundred meters from Trinity Cathedral

[The following is my incomplete translation of the most recent cover article from Asaval-Dasavali. It concerns the recent scandal involving disparaging comments made about Georgian Patriarch Ilia II. The title "One hundred meters from Trinity [Sameba] Cathedral" is a reference to the Presidential Palace located near the Patriarch's primary place of worship. The beginning of this article promises an interesting read... The rest of the translation will come in pieces throughout the week--check back often!--Ryan]

სამების ტაძრიდან ას მეტრში

It’s 11:30 at night in the Avlabari District. Mikheil Saakashvili is pacing back and forth in his office. Both anger and despair are written across his face, and every once in a while he casts a hopeless glance towards his two advisers, Nodar Grigalashvili and Van Bayburt, who are fidgeting in their leather armchairs and casting furtive looks at Saakashvili’s desk. A rather large ashtray sits between them as does a television remote, and like two birds afraid that they will be struck by either object, neither dares to fly away from the leader.

Each time the restless Saakashvili nears his desk, Grigalashvili and Baiburt feel death’s grip tightening, thinking that now’s the moment that he’s going to make a fist or seize the ashtray or remote and come after us. True, these two have nothing to do with Saakashvili’s current rage, but when Saakashvili is angry, does he distinguish the guilty from the innocent?

Only when Saakashvili storms out of his office into his sitting room and stands directly beneath the large chandelier do Nodar and Van breathe a sigh of relief. The advisers’ chests loosen a bit. We saved the ashtray, they think to themselves.

“Did you hear what he said? Oh, why did Ilia II do this to me?! As if the Tagliavini report weren’t enough, now I’ve got to deal with this? Who is this guy, who is Ilia II…? I’ll see to it that he’s put into his place. I must, I must! What am I going on about! I won’t have him…” So distressed is Saakashvili that even his speech fails him.

“What are we going to do now? His words could be serious trouble. The people will pay close attention to what he says, for we all know how these people wait eagerly for each and every one of his words!” says Nodar Grigalashvili, avoiding the eyes of his boss.

“Van, what do you say? What do you think?” Saakashvili asks Bayburt. “How do we silence this man… how do we cover up what he said? How do we make sure that they don’t heed his comments and are instead distracted by something else?”

“What do I know, Misha, sir, what do I know? This man is the Patriarch, not just some nobody, Misha, sir. As for what we should do with him, what do I know?! He’s the Patriarch. He has a lot of authority, and should anything arise, the people will protect him, they will stand by his side! Misha, sir, what should I tell you!” says Bayburt, who also looks away from Saakashvili. He is staring at Nodar’s shoes. On one shoe, the presidential adviser has a loose strap; the other is fine—the strap has broken off entirely and has been replaced by a cord.

The scene is a comic one, but it is no time to laugh when the boss is angry.

“Nodar, what do you say? What should we do? We need to do something, that’s for sure, that way I can’t be stopped! Who does Ilia II think he is? To me, he is nobody. To me, he is not the Patriarch, and no one is. I’ll put him in his plae. Nodar, what should we do?” asks Saakashvili.

“What can I tell you, Misha, what can I tell you, my friend, what do I know? I’m…as Ilia Chavchavadze once wrote, 'I’m simply the man in the middle, sometimes of the earth, sometimes of the sky.'"

“Eh, Nodarik, it’s not 'sometimes of the sky, sometimes of the earth,' but 'I’m neither of the sky nor earth.' Moreover, it wasn’t Ilia Chavchavadze but Akaki Tsereteli!” interrupts Van Bayburt, catching Grigalasvhili’s mistake.

[More to come of this dramatization...]

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