Olga Gubanova. Essay. Wasps

Olga Gubanova's essay about friendly wasps.

The last two summers before graduating high school I spent a tremendous amount of time trying to get a suntan. An artificial tan wasn't popular.

Now I believe that in certain climate zones in this country only people of specific types and shades of skin are able to get a natural suntan. I had to spend a lot of time beneath the open sun for the lightest hint of a tan. However I used to lie on a beach. We all had to take and pass entrance exams to university and it was my way of preparation. With books from the second year of a medicine school, beneath the summer sun, nearby brown quick muddy water.

I possessed an islet of yellow sand. The single sandy beach in an empty city and a very strange lawn around it. The grass there was higher than human height. After spring rains the ground in its shadow was wet and for this reason for the whole summer the grass was very green. Over a road it was cut and dry.

The sultry season with really hot filled with the dry air days. The straight sun was like melted gold of a very cold colour. The absolutely immovable air. The atmosphere without layers and without streams. Exceptionally concrete lines of landscape. No distortions to a curve of a river.

Idyllic mood. Like in "Breath" by Telepopmusic. With several exceptions. The river was paved by bent ancient slabs. Like a half of a giant pipe. Swimming was dangerous. The buttom was curved and brown, banks were clayey. The dark painting inside the green frame under the brightest sun. Desolate months. Time for solitude. It seemed as if the air in this weather lost its ability to carry things. That every even plane object would fall faster than usual and if it had been perfectly flat, it would have cut this air into two absolutely transparent canvases. Classmates could always find me among these thick grasses and share my rug or rumple a bit more grass nearby, look at the sky through half-closed eyelashes, think about the future. Twelve years ago.

Once my friend asked me, “Are your eyes closed? ” tenderly.
“Yes,” faster than in sleep, “What the strange question,” I can't open my eyes, the sunshine is too bright, can't open them wildly in summer, she knew and I was lying on my back.
“It isn't the question, it is just the introduction.”
“Why did you ask?”
“Don't move, please.”
“ … ”
“Could you promise me that you won't make any sudden or wide gestures?”
“And won't jump.”
“Yes. What is the next?”
“And, could you promise me as well that you won't scream or squeal?”
“Do you think I can squeal? Am I able to scream in such hot weather?”
“If I were you, I would learn to do.”
With the lightest suspicion, “So it isn't a surprise?” I must admit I though briefly about some gift after such an introduction, but recollected that she wore a skirt and it was without pockets.
“I am not sure.”
“Is it bad news?” how could this materialize in the middle of my island of calmness.
“Not news exactly. Maybe yes.”
I already feel that I won't be able to move.
“There is a wasp. Exactly above you.”
“One small hungry wasp with a sharp stinger and striped skin.”
“Right above you.”
“Where exactly?”
“Over you chest.”
“How close to me?!”
“Forty centimeters, I guess.”
Twenty seconds of silence.
“And why shouldn't I open my eyes because of a random wasp which has flown by?!”
“You promised you won't scream. But it isn't important now, it isn't afraid of yells.”
“Why?” whisper.
“It is hanging there.”
I decide to open eyes. Too bright. Then I start making out the silhouette.
She continues, “You aren't afraid of wasps, are you?”
“I guess so.”
“It's good. Because it has been hanging over you for about ten minutes. Motionlessly.”

I realize that I am lying under the wasp whose muzzle is overshadowing my sun, not seriously, but in fact. It hovers over me, its wings are moving but it is keeping its height and the position. Like a mute extra small helicopter. This tiny thing when it soars so steadily looks very heavy, like a small heavy jewelery and it is incomprehensible how it can only hang there and look at you. There exist different species of wasps. This one was narrow and small with bright very contrasting stripes. Funny creature and among all creatures this one certainly was a wasp.

Then my friend added, “It is looking at you.”
“I assure you, it is looking at you.”
After this the creature with a sudden "bdgik" flew away. Of course without any trace in transparent air. But it wasn't the end. It came back. With a friend, another wasp with the same behavior. They hung together above me for five or six minutes, then disappeared with a similar simultaneous "bdgik". And returned after a while with a third friend.
“What do you think, what are they going to do?”
“Perhaps take aim?”
“I think they are having sunbathes.”
“Why among all this grass exactly above me?”

They continued to hover steadily. Despite my first impression there was the slightest movement of air, probably changes of temperature had begotten a wind and blending of layers took the wasps slightly to the right. But they accelerated and came back. It wasn't a straight row, the middle creature and the right one were slightly behind, nevertheless they were at the same height and with equal intervals between them. Very strange.
My friend. She was laying on her side, her elbow under the head. Without any interest from the wasps' side.

“I suppose, you reflect sun light. And their bellies get a suntan.”
“I have to confess, I start being afraid of wasps.”
“And I have another question. It's interesting, what do your books say say about this, are they men or women?”
“I prefer to dress and get away before they come back with a fourth one or with the whole hive.”
Thoughtfully, “They can't be women, rather men, in my view.”

I changed the position around the space of this sandy and grassy beach for the whole summer. It didn't depend on place, company or its absence. Every time they found me and began their game with daylight and the melodic sound of disappearance.
“Bdgik”, when I looked at them severely or, later, fixedly. Then every time they invited their friends, other wasps. Perhaps it's such a wasps' flirt.

“I have to tell you something,” said another classmate.
With delicate intonations, “How many of them?”
“What do you mean?”
“Two, four, maybe eight?”
“... two... so you know about this phenomenon.”
“Yes, wasps, so how many today?”
What I know about wasps precisely is that they can feel embarrassment. Especially when you catch them peeping at you.

My friendly wasps.

original copyright © ∞ Olga Gubanova 2011

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