July 01, 2006

Village Injustice

Our village drunks are in jail. 

The population of Chukhrai has been reduced from 18 to 16. 

After my husband Igor and me, the two drunks, both about 45 years old, are the village’s youngest residents. Vasily, whose nickname is Khovryach (meaning “swine” in Old Russian), and Nikolai, known as Kiset (a small tobacco box), are virtually inseparable – just like their grandfathers, from whom they inherited their nicknames. Without jobs or families or gardens, their subsistence diets generally consist of booze and bread. They earn money for both by doing odd jobs for the elderly villagers – plowing the gardens in spring, hauling manure in fall, and chopping firewood in winter. Now the elderly residents, mostly women, are unable to manage these arduous chores without their handymen – keystones of village society. 

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