Book 1. Anastasia (1996)
Who will bring up our son?
On the way back to the river, as Anastasia was escorting me to my motorboat, we sat down to rest in the place where she had left her outer clothing, and I asked her:
4 Anastasia, how will we bring up our son?”
“Try to understand, Vladimir: you are not yet ready to bring him up. And when his eyes first take in a conscious awareness of the world, you should not be there.”
I seized her by the shoulders and gave her a shaking.
“What are you saying? What liberties are you taking here? I can’t understand how you could have come to such one-sided conclusions. Anyway, even though the mere fact of your existence is incredible, that doesn’t give you the right to decide everything yourself and in violation of all the rules of logic!”
“Calm down, Vladimir, please. I do not know what logic you have in mind, but do try and make sense of it, calmly.”
“What am I to make sense of? The child is not only yours, he’s mine too, and I want him to have a father, I want him to be well taken care of, and get an education.”
“Please understand, he does not need any kind of material benefits, as you see them. He will have everything he needs right from the start. Even in his infancy he will be taking in and making sense of so much information that your kind of education will be simply ludicrous. It’s the same as sending a learned mathematician back to Grade One.
“You want to bring the baby some kind of senseless toy, but he has absolutely no need of it whatsoever. You are the one who needs it for your own self-satisfaction: 'Oh look at me, I’m so good and caring!’ If you think that you will do some good by offering your son a car or anything else along that line, well, he can get it himself just by wishing for it. Be calm and think about something specific you could tell
your son, think about what you could teach him, think about what you have done in life that he might find interesting.”
Anastasia continued talking in soft, quiet tones, but her words still made me tremble.
“You see, Vladimir, when he begins to make sense of creation, you will look like an underdeveloped creature next to him. Do you really want that, do you really want your son to see you standing there like a dimwit? The only thing that can bring the two of you together is your level of mental purity, but few attain that level in your world. You must strive to attain it.”
I realised that it was absolutely useless to argue with her, and I cried out in despair.
“Does that mean hell never know anything about me?”
“I shall tell him about you, about your world, when he is able to comprehend it in a meaningful way and make his own decisions. What he will do then, I do not know.”
Despair, pain, resentment, fearful conjecture — all these swirled around in my brain. I felt like smashing this beautiful intellectual recluse’s face with all my might.
I understood everything. And what I understood left me breathless.
“It’s all clear! Now it’s all clear to me! You... You had nobody to bang with to give you a child. That business at the beginning — that was all just an act, you sly vixen! You made yourself into a nun! You needed a child. But you did go to Moscow. She “sold her mushrooms and berries”. Ha! You could have got yourself a shag there right on the street. All you had to do was take off that jacket and shawl of yours and you would have had takers right off. Then you wouldn’t have needed to spin your web and trap me in it.
“Of course! You needed a man who was dreaming about a son. And you’ve got yours! Did you ever think about the child? About your son? One destined in advance to live the life of a recluse. To live the way you think he should. Come on now, here she’s been sounding off about ‘the truth’. You’ve got an awful lot of gall, you hermit!
“What is it with you — truth as a last resort? Well, did you ever think about me? Me! I dreamt about a son! I dreamt about passing along my business to him. I’d teach him to be a businessman. I wanted a son to love. And now how am I supposed to live? To live and know that your precious little son is crawling around unprotected somewhere out in the wilds of the taiga? With no future. With no father. That's what breaks my heart. But that's not something you can understand, you forest bitch!”
“Perhaps,” Anastasia quietly responded, “your heart will gain the awareness it needs and everything will be all right? A pain like that will cleanse the soul, accelerate thought and summon you to creation.”
But I was still burning with rage and anger. I wasn't in control of myself. I grabbed a stick. I ran away from Anastasia and began beating the stick against a small tree with all my might until the stick broke.
Then I turned to look at Anastasia standing there and... oh, how she appeared to me! Incredibly, the anger started to leave. I thought to myself: oh, now I’ve gone and done it again — I lost control of myself and went wild. Just like the last time, when I swore at her.
Anastasia was standing there against a tree, one arm stretched upward, her head bent forward, as though withstanding the onslaught of a hurricane. With my anger completely gone, I went closer and began looking at her. Now her hands were clasped to her chest, her body slightly trembling. She didn’t speak, only her kind, kind eyes were looking at me with the same tenderness as before. We stood there that way for some time, just looking at each other. And I started reflecting along these lines:
There's no doubt about it — she is incapable of lying.
She didn't have to say anything, but...
She knew it would be hard, and yet she spoke. Of course, that too is a challenge. How can you possibly live if you must always tell the truth, and say only what you think?! But what can you do if that's the way she is and can't be anything else?
What's done is done. Everything happened the way it happened. Now she will be the mother of my son.
She will be a mother, if she said so. Of course, she'll be a pretty strange mother. That lifestyle of hers... And her way of thinking... Oh, well, there's nothing to be done with her.
Still, she's physically very strong. And kind. She really knows Nature well, knows the animals. And she's smart. In her own peculiar way, at least.
In any case she knows a lot about raising children. She kept wanting to talk about children the whole time. Shell nurture the boy. Somebody like her will definitely nurture him. Shell get him through the cold, through snowstorms even. They mean nothing to her. Shell nurture him, yes indeed. And shell bring him up right.
And somehow IVe got to adapt to the situation. Ill come and see them in the summertime, like going to a dacha. No way in the winter — I wouldn’t make it. But in the summer I can play with my son. Hell grow up, and 111 tell him about people in big cities...
At any rate, this time IVe got to apologise to her...
And I said:
“Fm sorry, Anastasia, I got nervous again.”
And right off she said:
“You are not to blame. Only do not be hard on yourself. Do not worry After all, you were concerned about your son. You were afraid that things would turn out bad for him, that the mother of your son was just an ordinary bitch. That she could not love with real human love. But you must not worry You must not get upset. You talked that way because you did not know, you did not know anything about my love, my darling.”