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PlayBack, 2013

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15min

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text translated from Russian that was used for the audio:

Well then, that´s how I started working, I was so young, only 14 years old. The revolutionary communists gave me a hack and a scrap to dig channels and holes for the water. There was a river at the farm. And then they sent me… to do the hardest work, since I was considered as the enemy of the people [as they owned some animals, they were considered ‘rich’]. In winter my female friends were sent to sort out potatoes in the grocery store, and I was sent to the forest to get the hay. They gave us one or two horses with a cart to transport the hay. And, sometimes, they also sent an old man with me, usually a weak grandpa. Two horses for the old man and two horses for me. I was not able to do the job on the cart, so I had to load the hay lifting it from the ground with a pitchfork, until I filled the 4 carts attached to the horses. It was very hard, also because of the winter. Sometimes I had a little old coat on, sometimes boots, sometimes nothing. There weren’t any felt boots. My father was forced to join the labor army. Then he left, there were five of us. I was the oldest, 14, the youngest child was only a month old. My mother gave birth to him recently. Before leaving he lined us all up: Pasha, Nina, Marusja and me. He held the little child on his arm. He is sitting on a stool and tells me: ‘Pol´ka, help your mother with everything, and try to keep the cow alive…’ He believed that the cow was as important as our mother. Yes we had a cow but we could keep only low-fat milk. Mom made for us sour milk or cottage cheese. We had to give them the butter. They did not care if we had a lamb and chickens or not, we had to give them some wool and eggs in any case. You see how we lived, our life was like that. I tell you we only drank low-fat milkThe good milk… My mother used to make butter but she had to give it away… In the farm it was like that, anyone had a hut to live in, a small apartment. They did the same for every family living in the farm. With a shared toilet. My father hated it… He used to say: ‘You have to go there… and then wait in the line.’ Not all the people used to do their business where they should. There were piles of shit everywhere. He really hated it. In the farm, there was also a milk plant. This was a little plant; after some time they built another, bigger one. There were also animals: many horses and cows. They gave our father a small room. Our father was a worker, he had to do everything: he was a woodworker, he made also the wheels and the wagon by himself, he did everything by himself. The wagon is something like cart, but bigger, and it was used to transport the hay. It is very high, made with big sticks on its sides and inside there are some thin sticks to hold the hay. Yes, our father could do everything… So, after he got a room he began to build an additional room. In that room we were 4 or 5… There were me, Marusja, Pasha, Nina, Ljubochka – she died then during the war. So we were five, six with mum, seven with my grandma – and my father’s two sisters. We were nine persons living in that little room. Then when our father returned from the labor army… Another baby was born, we named her Ljubochka as one who died during the war. Our father was disparate, he waited all the time for a son. We had a boy, that was born after me, but he also died. When my mother was pregnant with Ljubochka, he was waiting for a son. So he began to build an additional room, and neighbours laughed: ‘Uncle Ivan, the winter began already, and you are still building!’ He said: ‘My wife is going to have a son, we need more space.’ But she had again a girl, Ljuba, Ljubochka. I always told her: ‘Ljub, I am the first child, our father loved me and waited for me, because I am the first.’ When our parents waited for the first child, our father said to our mother: ‘If it will be a girl then we give her the name Polja, if – a boy, his name will be Ljonen’ka.’ So we had Ljonja after me. ‘And you, Ljuba, were born as the last baby, and he waited for a boy, but you were born instead.’ And then he said to the mother: ‘Take and bring her in Cedaluk, in the river.’ But he loved her also a lot, she was the last one.
So, something more on my work there: My mother used to tell me always : ‘Be quite, don’t say anything on the work.’ Well that’s what I did. Wherever I worked I was never kicked out. I often say that we should be grateful to our parents, they taught us to do many useful things: for example to score a nail in the wall or to nail a stick… there are many things, that we have been taught. That’s it… but now I am an old woman. There is no health any more, I get tired quickly. For example I do something in the kitchen, I cook something for myself, a soup or something else, and then I am already tired and have to rest. After my house burned some years ago, I can not leave my garden. And I think, ‘why do I need it, why?’ It is such a long time that I have something grown out there. I already buy tomatoes and also cucumbers. I ate the cucumbers that I bought, and now I don’t want to plant any by myself. Also my sons ask me ‘Mom, do you need it?’ If I had no garden any more, I would just go crazy, I guess. Usually, I spend days at home, in that flat, and I do not go out. Only in the evening I go to Kusyapkulovo, to care the garden. This year we had big problems with a kind of plague. Who has the big expensive greenhouses could save the plants… But there aren’t many greenhouses, so all people are complaining. A kind of plague arrived, all eat, all eat. Every year I had such big heads of cabbage. There are neighbours asking me: ‘Aunt Pol, what are you doing with your cabbage?’ I say ‘I stir up, turn over the earth … I plant, water, loose, somewhere I put some ash. I don’t do anything any more.” “You have so good, big heads of cabbage!’ And this year we suffer a lot, we are all treated… Aunt Pasha bought some product to kill the plague, insects that fly over the cabbage, and then eat the vegetables. We already put ashes and water, now we go there every two days, but some time ago we watered the garden every day. Tomato plants are in bloom, but there are no fruits. We never had an year like this one, in the last years we started to drag red tomatoes already in July. We suffered a lot, my mother and I… Yes, we had a cow… We worked during the day and in the evening we went to cut the hay for the cow. We did a haystack, but nobody gave us a bull or a horse to collect the hay. We had to pile up the hay in a big stack. Then Mom and I took two sticks and slip them under the hay as a stretcher and drag the heaps of hay in one single place. Then, we made a really big hill of hay. So, little by little, we add up all the hay… So this is the way we lived… in pain. After the work, when we came back at home, there was nothing to eat. “Mom, I want to eat”, I said She said: ‘I would be glad to cook for you something, I would be really glad …’ My grandmother lived with us, my father’s mother. Mom and Grandma said: ‘We would be glad to cook, but we have nothing to cook to feed you…’ In this period of our life we were hungry, there was nothing to cook. But when my father came home from the labor camp, the situation became a little bit better. Then I went to work as a milkmaid. For each milkmaid – 18 cows. Three of them were old cows, and other 15 were young heifers. They gradually began to calve, and that’s the place where I was working… as a milkmaid. And then when I was 20 years old, I married. I quit my job as milkmaid. I worked like that, wherever I was sent, I went. I tell you a little bit more about my work: we drove to the field with the cows for the entire summer. There we did a barrack for ourselves and we fix it. All milkers spent the summer there, until the winter came and then we were sent to the farm. I did any kind of work, I worked a lot, where they told me to go to work, I went. And now I often lie down and think: ‘I have something to do, something more…’ If I had my house now, I would whitewash wherever, where I would bedaub over there… I plastered the basement of the house every year, I whitewashed, I climbed to paint. I wanted to do all these things. And now I go to my garden and I put the garlic for the winter, as every year, and also onions. Onions, I never planted here, but this year I planted them. In the spring I come and the onions rise, and then, at least one time, my heart rejoices. Let’s dig again, let’s plant something little by little. I say to Pasha: ‘Come here to dig, let’s plant what you need.’ Well, she came and planted something for herself. That’s how we go there and back… And when I have really enough from the garden… There all the people know me. Tatars, and Bashkirs, and Russians: ‘Pol’, Aunt Pol’, when you walk in the garden, you’re holding back. And on the way back you are bowed.’ I began to notice it also by myself. I do not want to be a hunchback, you know. But little by little I am pulled down. I quickly become tired, I walk slowly. Pasha walks, and I follow her so slowly. When I come home I don’t want anything any more. Yes, I become tired. I don’t want neither to eat nor to drink, nothing more….

  • Filed under: 2013