January 25, 2023

Sisters in Sorrow

Sisters in Sorrow

On Saturdays, Polina fires up the banya, washes down her hut, and beats the rugs. For her, this is party time. Her husband took off long ago, but Polina wasn’t too broken up about that: he never brought in much money, he drank, was quick with his fists, so what fun was he? Polina has wangled herself a pension on account of having been employed at the timber company, her older son tosses a bit of cash her way now and again (pretty good to his mother, he is), so she’s living happily ever after. She has it all, and the village isn’t a village anymore. It’s a proper town.

She has a washing machine and a vacuum cleaner and a new television that takes up a whole wall. The television is Polina’s pride and joy. The colors are turned way up, painfully bright – so lovely, just like at the movies, Polina would sigh. The only pity is that the television being on the wall means you can’t put a doily on top.

The television is her only confidant, her only friend and advisor. Recently, mind you, it’s been all politics, with the men yelling and arguing and the women shrieking and saying scary things. But Polina has learned to get along with them. “Come on, now,” she’d say. “Shush, or I’ll turn you off!” She argues with them, or perhaps she agrees. The noisiest of the lot, the one with a fat, meaty face, makes good points, says it right every time. When Polina listens to him, she always thinks of the peddler from the district center who used to sell all sorts of Chinese-made junk door-to-door, and the way he talked, you’d stand there and listen and end up buying something.

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