Book 1. Anastasia (1996)
Who lights a new star?
On the second night, fearing that Anastasia would once again assign me her she-bear or concoct up some new device to keep me warm, I categorically refused to go to sleep at all unless she herself lay down beside me. I thought that as long as she was beside me she wouldn't be up to any tricks. And I told her:
“You've invited me as a guest, I take it. In your home. I imagined there would be at least a few buildings here, but you won't even let me light a fire, and you offer me a beastie to keep me company at night. If you don’t have a normal home, what's the point of inviting a guest?”
'All right, Vladimir. Do not worry, please, do not be afraid. Nothing bad is going to happen to you. If you want, I shall lie down beside you and keep you warm.”
This time in the dugout cave there were even more cedar branches strewn around, along with neatly arranged dry grasses, and there were also branches stuck on the wall.
I got undressed. I put my sweater and trousers under my head for a pillow. I lay down and covered myself with my jacket. The cedar twigs gave off that same bacteria-killing aroma described in the popular literature as capable of purifying the air. Though here in the taiga the air is already so pure, the air in the cave was particularly easy to breathe. The dried grasses and flowers contributed a still more unusual delicate fragrance.
Anastasia kept her word and lay down beside me. I sensed the fragrance of her body, which surpassed all other odours. It was more pleasant than the most delicate perfume I had ever sensed from a woman's body But now I had no thought of wanting to possess her. After my attempt to do so on the way to the glade, which had resulted at the time in an attack of fear and loss of consciousness, I no longer felt aroused by fleshly desires, even when I saw her naked.
I lay down and dreamt of the son my wife never bore to me. And I thought: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if my son could be borne by Anastasia! She is so healthy sturdy and beautiful! The child, then, too would be healthy He would look like me. Like her too, but more like me. He would be a strong and clever individual. He would know a lot. He would become talented and prosper.
I imagined our infant son sucking at his mother’s nipple and invol-untarily put my hand on Anastasia’s warm, supple breast. Immediately a shiver ran through my whole body and then dissipated at once, but it wasn’t a shiver of fear, but something else, extraordinarily pleasing. I didn’t take my hand away, but only held my breath and waited for what might happen. Next thing I noticed was the feeling of the soft palm of her hand on mine. She did not push me away
I raised my head and began looking into Anastasia’s marvellous face. The white twilight of the northern night made it seem even more attractive. I couldn’t take my gaze off her. Her greyish-blue eyes looked at me tenderly I didn’t restrain myself, but bent closer and, quickly and carefully with just the slightest touch, planted a kiss on her half-open lips. Once more a pleasing shiver ran through my body My face was enshrouded with the fragrance of her breath. Her lips didn’t utter, as the last time, wBo not do this!... Calm down!”, and I had no fear at all. I was still haunted by the prospect of a son. And when Anastasia tenderly embraced me, stroked my hair and gave her whole body to me, I felt something indescribable!
Only upon awaking in the morning 'was I able to realise that this kind of magnificent feeling, blissful excitement and satisfaction was something I had never once experienced in my entire life. Another peculiar thing: after a night spent with a woman I had always felt a sense of physical fatigue, but here everything was different. In addition, I had the feeling of some kind of great co-creation. My satisfaction wasn’t just something physical, but had another dimension I couldn’t quite comprehend, one I had never experienced before, extraordinarily lovely and joyful. The thought even flashed through my mind that life was worth living just for this feeling alone, And why had I never experienced anything that even came close to this before, even though there had been all sorts of women — beautiful women, beloved women, women experienced in love?
Anastasia was a girl. A tender, quivering girl. But beyond that there was something in her that belonged not to a single woman I had known. What was it?
And where had she gone now? I made my way over to the entrance of the cozy dug-out cave, poked my head out and looked out into the glade.
The glade was situated at a slightly lower level than my night-time resting-place. It was covered by a layer of morning mist a half-metre thick. In this mist I could see Anastasia spinning around with outstretched arms. A little cloud of mist was forming about her. And when it covered her completely, Anastasia sprang easily into the air, stretched out her legs in a split just like a ballerina, flew over the layer of mist, landed in a different spot and once more, laughing, spun a new cloud around her, through which could be seen the rays of the rising Sun, gently caressing her body It was a charming and delightful scene, and I cried out with an overflow of emotion:
‘Ana-sta-SI-ya! Good morning, my splendid forest fairy, Antastasi-ya-ya!”
“Good morning, Vladimir!” she joyfully called out in response.
“It’s so delightful, so wonderful out right now! Why is that?” I cried as loud as I could.
Anastasia lifted up her hands toward the Sun, and began laughing with that happy, alluring laugh of hers, calling out to me (and someone else besides, high above) in a sing-song voice:
“Out of all the creatures in the Universe only Man is given an ex-perience like that!
“Only men and women sincerely desiring to have a child between them!
“Only Man having such an experience lights a new star in the heavens!
“Only Ma-a-an striving for creation and co-creation!
“Tha-ank yo-o-u!” And, addressing me alone, she quickly added: “Only Man striving for creation and co-creation, and not for satisfaction of his carnal needs.”
And again she went off in trills of laughter, leapt high into the air, stretched her legs into a split as though soaring over the mist. Then she came running over, sat down beside me at the entrance to our night-time resting-place and began combing her golden tresses with her fingers, lifting them up from the bottom.
“So, you don’t consider sex to be something sinful?” I asked.
Anastasia fell silent. She looked at me in amazement and responded:
“Was that the same kind of ‘sex’ the word implies in your world? And if not, then what is more sinful — to give of yourself so that a Man can come into the world, or to hold back and not allow a Man to be bom? A real Man!”
I started thinking. In actual fact, my night-time closeness with Anastasia could not possibly be described by our usual word ‘sex’. Then what did happen last night? What term would be appropriate here? Again I asked:
‘And why did anything even approaching that experience never happen with me before — or, for that matter, I would venture to say, with hardly anybody else in the world?”
“You see, Vladimir, the dark forces are constantly trying to make Man give into base fleshly passions, to stop him from experiencing God-given grace. They try all sorts of tricks to persuade people that satisfaction is something you can easily obtain, thinking only of carnal desire. And at the same time they separate Man from truth. The poor deceived women who are ignorant of this spend their lives accepting nothing but suffering and searching for the grace they have lost. But they are searching for it in the wrong places. No woman can restrain a man from fornication if she allows herself to submit to him merely to satisfy his carnal needs. If that has happened, their marital life will not be a happy one.
“Their marital life is only an illusion of togetherness, a lie, a deception accepted by convention. For the woman immediately becomes a fornicator, regardless of whether she is married to the man or not.
“Oh, how many laws and conventions mankind has invented in an attempt to artificially strengthen this false union! Laws both religious and secular. All in vain. All they have done is caused people to play around, accommodate themselves and imagine that such a union exists. One’s innermost thoughts invariably remain unchanged, subject to nobody and nothing.
“Christ Jesus saw this. And trying to counteract it, he said: Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’
“Then you, in your not-so-distant past have tried to attach shame to anyone who leaves his family. But nothing, at any time or in any situation, has been able to stop Man’s desire to seek out that sense of intuitively felt grace — the greatest satisfaction. And to persist in seeking it.
“A false union is a frightening thing.
“Children! Do you see, Vladimir? Children! They sense the artificiality, the falsity of such a union. And this makes them sceptical about everything their parents tell them. Children sub-consciously sense the lie even during their conception. And that has a bad effect on them.
“Tell me who — what individual — would want to come into the world as a result of carnal pleasures alone? We would all like to be created under a great impulsion of love, the aspiration to creation itself, and not simply come into the world as a result of someone’s carnal pleasure.
“People who have come into a false union will then look for true satisfaction in secret, apart from each other. They will strive to possess body after body, or make paltry and fateful use of their own bodies, realising only intuitively that they are drifting farther and farther away from the true happiness of a true union.”
'Anastasia, wait!”, I said. “Can it be that men and women are doomed this way if the first time all that happens between them is sex? Is there no turning back, no possibility of correcting the situation?”
“There is. I now know what to do. But where do I find the right words to express it? I am always looking for them — the right words. I have been looking for them in the past and in the future. But I have not found them. Perhaps they are right in front of me, after all? And then they will appear, new words will be born — words capable of reaching people's hearts and minds. New words for the ancient truth about their primal origins."
“Don’t panic, Anastasia! Use existing words to start with, just as an approximation... What else is needed for true satisfaction, apart from two bodies?"
“Complete awareness! A mutual striving to create. Sincerity and purity of motive.”
“How do you know all this, Anastasia?"
“I am not the only one who knows about it. A number of enlightened people have tried to explain it to the world — Veles, Krishna, Rama, Shiva, Christ, Mohammed, Buddha."
“You’ve what... read about all these people? Where? When?"
“I have not read about them, I simply know what they said, what they thought about, what they wanted to accomplish."
“So sex by itself, according to you, is bad?"
“Very bad. It leads Man away from truth, destroys families. An enormous amount of energy is wasted."
“Then why do so many different magazines publish pictures of naked women in erotic poses, why are there so many films with erotica and sex? And all of this is extremely popular. Demand generates supply So, you’re trying to say that our humanity is completely bad?"
“Humanity is not bad, but the devices of the dark forces obscuring spirituality by provoking base carnal desires — these are very powerful devices. They bring people a lot of grief and suffering. They act through women, exploiting their beauty A beauty whose real purpose is to engender and support in men the spirit of the poet, the artist, the creator. But to do that women themselves must be pure. If there is not sufficient purity, they start trying to attract men by fleshly charms. The outward beauty of empty vessels. In the upshot, the men are deceived and the women must suffer their whole lives on account of this deception.”
“So what, then, is the result?” I queried. “Through all the millennia of their existence, mankind has not been able to overcome these devices of the dark forces? That would mean they are stronger than Man. Man hasn’t been able to overcome them, in spite of the appeals by spiritually enlightened people, as you put it? So, is it downright impossible to overcome them? Or maybe it’s not necessary?”
“It is necessary Absolutely necessary!”
“Who then can do it?”
“Women! Women who have been able to grasp the truth and their own appointed purpose. Then the men will change too.”
“Oh, no, Anastasia, I doubt it. Anormal man will always be aroused by a pretty woman’s legs, her breasts... Especially when you’re on a business trip or on holiday far away from your partner. That’s the way things are. And nobody here will change anything, they won’t do it any other way.”
“But I did it with you.”
“What did you do?”
“Now you are no longer able to indulge in that harmful sex.”
All at once a terrible thought hit me like a flood, and started chasing away the magnificent feeling that had been born in me during the night.
“What have you done, Anastasia? What? I’m now... what — I’m now... impotent?”
“On the contrary, you have now become a real man. Only the usual sex will be repugnant to you. It does not bring what you experienced last night, and what you experienced last night is possible only when you desire to have a child and the woman wants the same from you. When she loves you.”
“Loves? But under those conditions... That can happen only a few times during one’s whole life!”
“I assure you, Vladimir, that is enough for your whole life to be happy. You will feel the same way eventually... People enter many times afresh into sexual interaction only through the flesh — not realising that true satisfaction in the flesh is impossible to attain. A man and a woman who unite on every plane of existence, impelled by radiant inspiration, earnestly aspiring to the act of creation, experience tremendous satisfaction. The Creator gave this experience to Man alone. No transitory thing, this satisfaction, no! It never can compare with fleeting, fleshly gratification. As you cherish the feelings from it over time, all planes of being will, with influence sublime, happify your life and the woman too — a woman who can give birth to a creation in the Creator’s own image and likeness, His design!”
Anastasia held out her hand toward me, trying to move closer. I quickly darted away from her into a corner of the cave and cried:
“Out of my way!”
She got up. I crawled outside and backed off from her a few steps.
“You have deprived me, quite possibly, of my chief pleasure in life! Everybody strives for it, everybody thinks about it, only they don’t talk about it out loud.”
“They are illusions, Vladimir, these pleasures of yours. I have helped save you from a terrible, harmful and sinful appetite.”
“Illusion or not — doesn’t make any difference. It’s a pleasure recognised by everyone! Don’t even think of trying to save me from any other ‘harmful’ appetites, as you see them. Or by the time I get out of here I’ll be... — no relations with women, no drinks or appetizers, no smoking! That’s not something most people are used to in normal life.”
“Well, what good is there in drinking, smoking, senseless and harmful digestion of such a huge quantity of animal meat, when there are so many splendid plants created especially for Man’s nourishment?”
“You go and feed yourself with plants, if you like. But don’t come near me. A lot of us get pleasure out of smoking, drinking, sitting down to a good meal. That’s how we do things, do you understand? That’s how!”
“But everything you name is bad and harmful.”
“Bad? Harmful? If guests come to celebrate at my place, and they sit down at the table and I tell them: ‘Here are some nuts to gnaw on, have an apple, drink water and don’t smoke’ — now that would be bad.”
“Is that the most important thing, when you get together with friends — to sit right down at the table and drink, eat and smoke?”
“Whether it’s the most important thing or not is beside the point* That's how people behave all over the world* Some countries even have ritual dishes — roast turkey, for example»”
“That is not accepted by everyone even in your world.”
“Maybe not by everyone, but I happen to live among normal people.”
“Why do you consider the people around you to be the most normal?”
“Because they're in the majority”
“That is not a good enough argument.”
“It's not good enough for you, because it's something impossible to explain to you.”
My anger at Anastasia began to pass. I recalled hearing about medical prescriptions and sex therapists and the thought came to me that if she had somehow injured me, the doctors would be able to fix it. I said:
“Okay, Anastasia. Let’s make peace. I'm no longer angry at you. I thank you for the wonderful night. Only don’t you try saving me from any more of my habits. As far as sex goes, I’ll fix the situation with the help of our doctors and modem medicines. Let’s go for a swim.”
I began heading for the lake, admiring the morning woods. Just as my good mood was beginning to come back, she — well, there you go again! Walking behind me, she piped up:
“Medicines and doctors will not help you now. To put everything back the way it was, they will have to erase your memory of everything that happened and everything you felt.”
Stunned, I stopped in my tracks.
“Then you put everything back the way it was.”
Again I was overwhelmed by a feeling of rampant rage — and, at the same time, fear.
“You! You brazen-—! You poke your nose in where it doesn’t belong and turn my life upside down! So, you played a nasty trick on me! And now you say you can’t fix it?”
“I did not play any nasty tricks. After all, you wanted a son so badly But so many years had gone by, and you still did not have a son. And none of the women in your life would bear you a son. I also wanted a child by you, a son too. And that is something I can do...
'And why are you getting so concerned ahead of time that things are going to go badly for you? Maybe you’ll still come to understand.
“Please do not be afraid of me, Vladimir, I am certainly not trying to meddle with your mind. This happened all on its own. You got what you wanted.
'And I would still very much like to save you from at least one mortal sin.”
'And what’s that?”
“You’re a funny one. Your philosophy and lifestyle aren’t human.” “What do you find in me so inhuman that it frightens you?” aYou live all alone in the forest, and communicate with plants and animals. Nobody in our society even comes close to that kind of life.” “How can that be, Vladimir? Why?” Anastasia exclaimed, flustered. “Your dachniks — they too communicate with plants and animals, only not consciously. But they will understand one day Many have already begun to understand.”
“Oh, come on! Now she’s a dachnik? And this ray of yours. You know a lot, but you don’t read books. You must be some kind of mystic!”
“I shall try to explain everything to you, Vladimir. Only not all at once, I am trying, but I cannot find the right words. Comprehensible words. Please believe me. All my abilities are inherent in Man. It is something Man was given right from the start. Back in the days of his primal origins. And everyone could do the same today Nevertheless, people are starting to go back to their primal origins. It will be a gradual process after the forces of light triumph!
“What about your 'concert? You sang in all sorts of different voices, you portrayed my favourite artists, and even in the same order as on my videotape.”
“That is right, Vladimir. Yon know, I once saw that tape of yonrs. I shall tell you later how it happened.”
'And what — you... right off memorised the words and tunes of all the songs?”
“Yes, I memorised them. What is so complex or mystical about that?... Oh dear, what have I gone and done! I have talked too much, I have shown too much! I am muddle-headed and tactless! My grandfather once called me that. I thought he was just being affectionate. But in fact I probably^ tactless. Please... Vladimir!”
Anastasia’s voice betrayed a very human concern, and this was probably the reason that almost all my fear of her had now left me. My whole feelings were pre-occupied with the prospect of my son.
“Okay, I’m no longer afraid... Only please try to be a bit more restrained. Remember your grandfather told you that.”
“Yes. And grandfather... But here I am talking and talking. I have such a strong desire to tell you everything. Am I a chatterbox? Yes? But I shall try. I shall try very hard to restrain myself. I shall try to speak only in terms you will understand...”
“So, you’ll soon be giving birth, Anastasia?” I said.
“Of course! Only, it will not be on time.”
“What do you mean, it will not be on time?”
“Ideally it should be in the summertime, when Nature can help with the nurturing.”
“Why did you make that decision, if it’s so risky for you and the
“Do not worry, Vladimir. At least our son will live.”
“And I shall try to hold on till the spring, and everything will adjust itself then.”
Anastasia said this without a tinge of sorrow or fear for her life. Then she ran off and jumped into the little lake. The spray of the water in the sunlight took flight, just like fireworks, and landed on the smooth, mirror-like surface of the water. Some thirty seconds later her body slowly began to break the surface. She lay, as it were, on the water, her arms widespread, her palms upturned, and smiled.
I stood on the shore, looked at her and thought to myself: Will the squirrel hear the snap of her fingers when she lies with her baby in one of her shelters? Will she get help from any of her four-footed friends? Will her body have enough heat to warm up the little one?
“If my body should cool off and the baby have nothing to eat, he will start crying,” she said quietly, coming out of the water. “His cry of despair may waken Nature, or at least part of it, before the beginning of spring and then everything will be all right. They will nurse him.”
“You read my thoughts?”
“No, I just guessed you were thinking about that. That is quite natural.”
'Anastasia, you said your relatives live close by. Would they be able to help you?”
“They are very busy, and I must not take them away from their work.”
“What are they busy with, Anastasia? What do you do all day long, when in fact you are so completely served by your natural environment?”
“I keep busy... And I try to help people in your world — the ones you call dachniks or gardeners.”