The action takes place the first postwar spring, at the end of March, on the Upper Don. The narrator goes with the comrade to the village of Bukanovskaya. On the way, he meets Andrei Sokolov, who leads a boy of five or six years by the hand. While the narrator is waiting for the boat, a new friend tells him about his life.
Born in Voronezh province, during the Civil War, he fought in the Red Army, then in 1912 he went to work for the Kuban, so he survived, and his father, with his mother and sister, died of starvation. A year later he returned to Voronezh, went to the factory as a mechanic. Soon I married an orphan Irina, who was brought up in an orphanage. In the family they had full mutual understanding. First a son was born, then two girls. Next, the hero was carried away by cars,
The war began. On the second day, a summons came from the military registration and enlistment office, and the third one had to go to the front. The whole family saw off Andrei. Wife, crying, said that they will not see more in this world. Then Sokolov was even angry with her.
But he did not have to fight for a year. In May of 1942 he was taken prisoner. The Germans were advancing at the time. Sokolov drove the shells to his car, but did not reach, and when he came to himself after the explosion, he was surrounded. Together with a column of other prisoners from his division they were driven to the camp.
At midnight they came to some half-burnt village. They spent the night in a ruined church. Andrei heard a quiet conversation next to him. One soldier was going to give out his platoon commander in the morning, indicating that he was a communist. At dawn Sokolov strangled the traitor, indignant at his meanness.
For two years of captivity, Andrew traveled half of Germany. Once, together with other Soviet prisoners of war, he was transferred
Then he, together with the other prisoners, was transferred to the drying of the marshes, then to the Ruhr area to the mines. Further to the city of Potsdam, where the Germans had an office for the construction of roads and defensive structures. There, Andrew drove a German engineer in the rank of army major from Potsdam to Berlin and back, and then he was sent to the front line to build defensive structures against the Soviet Army. In Polotsk, he carefully considered the escape plan and, having prepared for him, deafened the major and brought him to his. From there he was sent to the hospital to receive medical treatment. Immediately he wrote the letter home, but the answer was not from his wife, but from the neighbor-carpenter Ivan Timofeevich, who reported that in June 1942 the Germans bombed the aircraft factory, and one bomb hit right into his hut. At this time, his wife and daughters were in the hut – they did not find a trace.
Then Sokolov got a vacation for a month and went to Voronezh. I walked to the place where I once lived with my family, but I could not stay there for an hour and went back to the division.
Three months later his son Anatoly wrote a letter to Andrei at the front, having learned the address from his neighbor. It turns out that first he got into the artillery school, a year later he graduated with honors, went to the front, now has already received the title of captain, commands the battery, has six orders and medals.
Andrei had already dreamed of ending the war, how he would marry his son, carpenter and nurse his grandchildren. But on the morning of the ninth of May, on Victory Day, Anatoly killed a German sniper.
When the war was over, Sokolov went to his friend in Uryupinsk, got a job as a chauffeur in an autoroute, drove various cargo through the districts. Returning to the city, the first thing I did was go to the tea-room, where I saw a little boy, a ragamuffin, who was feeding near the tea-room. Sokolov took him with him, telling him that he was his father.
One day in November Andrei rode the mud, the car skidded, and he accidentally knocked down a cow. And although she rose and ran on, he was deprived of a driver’s book. He worked as a carpenter for winter, and now he signed up with one of his fellow co-workers, who invited him to his place in Koshar district, where he now should walk with his son.
Then the comrade of the narrator appeared, and they parted with Sokolov.