To the great satisfaction of people the year has ended. They can sing:
“It’s the end of the year
But it’s not too late.
To start again.”
If they spend time any old how, it will be equally useless in another year. In this manner man can live his life. At the end of the life he or she will recall the past as Yakov did. Yakov Matveyitch from Chekhov’s “Rothild’s Fiddle” was very talented woodworker and violinist. Advanced talents would have given him meaning. He didn’t try harnessing his power. He became an undertaker and made good, solid coffins, and played mournfully on the fiddle.
People often succumb to the temptation to make quick money. And they always waste their talents. Profession of undertaker is connected with pessimism. The famous economist, Keynes, wrote: “A large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than mathematical expectations(…).”
Yakov was never in a good temper. He suffered from terrible losses. They were imaginary losses. He used to build fortress of affliction to avoid becoming connected with happiness. “For instance, it was a sin to work on Sundays or Saints’ days, and Monday was unlucky day, so that in the course of the year there were some two hundred days on which, whether he liked it or not, he had to sit with his hands folded.”
Yakov was impatiently waiting for people to die. When the superintendent of the prison was ill, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that his death will provide the amount of money. But that ill person went away to the chief town, and there died.
Yakov had the book in which he used every day to write down his defeats.
At the end of his life “He wondered how it had happened that for the last forty or fifty years of his life he had never once been to the river, or if he had been by it he had not paid attention to it.”
At the end of his life “He remember again that all his life he had never felt for Marfa, had never been affectionate to her. The fifty-two years they had lived in the same hut had dragged on a long, long time, but it had somehow happened that in all that time he had never once thought of her, as though she had been a cat or a dog (I am a cat and my mistress is thinking of me). And yet , every day, she had lighted the stove, had cooked and baked, had gone for the water, had chopped the wood, had slept with him in the same bed (…).”
People will not go back in time.