It was at the age of eleven that Eddie-baby’s life changed abruptly. That was the day after his fight with Yurka. Yurka was a year older than Eddie-baby, and had the pink, healthy cheeks and the strong healthy torso of a boy born in the Siberian town of Krasnoyarsk. In Eddie-baby’s opinion, Yurka was an absolute fool. Eddie, however – eleven years old and still inexperienced – did not yet realize that a fool can be as strong as a young bullock. Strong and dangerous.
The fuss was about nothing. Eddie-baby had drawn an absolutely inoffensive caricature of Yurka, which showed him asleep during a lesson. This healthy boy, in fact, was always inclined to doze off in the hot classroom. When Eddie-baby and another artist, Vitka Proutorov, pinned up the wall-newspaper, Yurka elbowed his way through to Eddie and said that he wanted to ‘have a knock’ with him. ‘Let’s have a knock, Savekha,’ he said. ‘Savekha’ was a derivative of Savenko, Eddie’s surname. Among the pupils of No. 8 Middle School it was fashionable to call each other by a name that ended in ‘kha’. Sitenko was called Sitekha; Karpenko, Karpekha; and so on.
Yurka the Siberian beat up Eddie-baby until he was unconscious. And he abruptly changed Eddie’s life, just as the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel changed the life of Muhammed and made him a prophet, and the falling apple made Newton Newton.