I was deep into a collection of short stories written by Anton Chekhov when I turned the page and was confronted with a story entitled Grief. I briefly considered skipping it, but I am so glad I didn’t. Mr. Chekhov understands a bereaved parent’s compelling need to talk about their loss.
Every public domain site I looked at online uses the title Misery and substitutes the word misery for grief throughout the story. My hardcover copy uses the word grief. I guess the words are interchangeable.
Below are a few excerpts:
“… But my son is dead, mate…. Do you hear? This week in the hospital….It’s a queer business….”
Iona looks to see the effect produced by his words, but he sees nothing. The young man has covered his head over and is already asleep. The old man sighs and scratches himself…. Just as the young man had been thirsty for water, he thirsts for speech. His son will soon have been dead a week, and he has not really talked to anybody yet…. He wants to talk of it properly, with deliberation…. He wants to tell how his son was taken ill, how he suffered, what he said before he died, how he died….He wants to describe the funeral, and how he went to the hospital to get his son’s clothes. He still has his daughter Anisya in the country…. And he wants to talk about her too…. Yes, he has plenty to talk about now. His listener ought to sigh and exclaim and lament…. It would be even better to talk to women. Though they are silly creatures, they blubber at the first word.
Again he is alone and again there is silence for him…. The misery which has been for a brief space eased comes back again and tears his heart more cruelly than ever. With a look of anxiety and suffering Iona’s eyes stray restlessly among the crowds moving to and fro on both sides of the street: can he not find among those thousands someone who will listen to him? But the crowds flit by heedless of him and his misery…. His misery is immense, beyond all bounds. If Iona’s heart were to burst and his misery to flow out, it would flood the whole world, it seems, but yet it is not seen. It has found a hiding-place in such an insignificant shell that one would not have found it with a candle by daylight….