Changing Roles

Dorottya Turza

As a nose I didn’t have much to do. I was just a part of a face. With or without me, a person could go about his life. I had plenty of time to think about my importance. As Kovalev’s nose, I could experience upper-class life and all its glory first-hand. Apart from that, I didn’t feel like I was really enjoying that life, that inertia. I wanted a life that was mine. Really mine. So one day I left him.

My new life didn’t start as I expected. To my unluckiness, a familiar figure desperately tried to get rid of me. So he threw me into the river. As soon as I got out of this unfortunate situation, I started thinking about how I was supposed to go on. That’s when I got an idea. Over the years, I had watched Kovalev closely. I had witnessed his arrogant and uppish personality and also his obsession with social status. I hated how he considered himself better than anybody else. In addition, Kovalev unwittingly showed me the path that leads to success.

So I disguised myself as a senior government official. Who would think that people would look up to me just because of my appearance? I hadn’t done anything yet, but despite that, I found myself in a carriage. At that moment I felt free. I could do whatever I wanted. I had gathered quite a lot of knowledge in the past, but there was much that I had still never seen. And then something caught my eye. It was a church. I had never prayed before. At least not by myself. So it was decided. I walked in. It wasn’t long before a familiar voice disturbed me. It was Kovalev. When he first accosted me, I reacted automatically with a rude question. After the words left my mouth, I realized I almost fell out of my role. So I tried to be as polite as I could. That fool wanted me back, but I pretended to know nothing and left quickly.

I really enjoyed being on my own. But we all know that nothing lasts forever. A police officer recognised me. In the blink of an eye, I found myself again in Kovalev’s hands. I felt awful. My intention and ambition were all in vain. This new life was quickly over before it had even begun. Kovalev raised me to his face and was about to put me back where I used to belong. So it was the end of the story. But not for me. At that very moment I didn’t want this to be my first and last adventure. I wanted to experience more of life. So I fought. I stubbornly left his face again and again. My stubbornness seemed to succeed. He gave it up.

After I won the battle, he stopped trying. He just avoided me. Several days passed this way. I was relieved, but as I watched Kovalev I became uncertain. He looked so sad and pitiful that I unintentionally felt sorry for him. At first I attempted to avoid this feeling, but it became greater and greater. I tried to imagine myself in his position. No matter how I considered it, I just didn’t understand why he was so broken. He could live his life just as before. I was just a part of his face, so why? Than I realized it didn’t matter why. He really needed me. So maybe it was the purpose of my existence from the very beginning. It wasn’t a significant role, but it was of enormous importance to someone. From that day on I became Kovalev’s nose again, and I haven’t regretted it ever since.

At least that’s what everyone would think. Unfortunately it isn’t the case. When I returned to his face, he was so happy. He even tried to be a little nicer to others. Just the thought of this warmed my heart. But after that week, he returned to his normal self. Once again he became the same arrogant and stuck-up person he had been before this ‘incident.’ Maybe I had overestimated him. Nothing has changed. It seems no one is really able to overcome his true nature. But now I think it doesn’t bother me as much as before. Even though I don’t always go along with his conduct and actions, it’s still my job, which someone has to do anyway.

This is an interior monologue based on Nikolai Gogol’s story “The Nose” and told from the nose’s point of view.