Book 1. Anastasia (1996)
Anastasia goes to bed at nightfall in one of the shelters hollowed out by the creatures of the forest, most often in the bear’s dugout. When it is warm, she can sleep right on the grass. The first thing she does upon waking is offer an exuberant outburst of joy to the rising Sun, to the new sprouts on all the twigs, to the new shoots of growth popping up from the earth. She touches them with her hands, strokes them, occasionally adjusts something into place. Then she runs over to the little trees and gives them a thump on their trunks. The tree-tops shake and shower down on her something resembling pollen or dew. Then she lies down on the grass and blissfully stretches and squirms. Her whole body becomes covered with what appears to be a moist cream. Then she runs off and jumps into her little lake, splashes about and dives to the bottom. She’s a terrific diver!
Her relationship with the animal world around her is very much like people’s relationships with their household pets. Many of them watch Anastasia as she does her morning routine. They don’t approach her, but all she has to do is look in the direction of one of them and make the tiniest beckoning gesture, and the lucky one jumps up on the spot and rushes to her feet.
I saw how one morning she clowned around, playing with a she- wolf just as one might play with the family dog. Anastasia clapped the wolf on the shoulder and dashed off at full tilt. The wolf gave chase, and just as she was about to catch up with her, Anastasia, still on the run, suddenly jumped in the air, repelled herself with both feet off the trunk of a tree, and dashed off in another direction. The wolf couldn’t stop but kept on running past the tree, finally making an about-turn and chasing after the laughing Anastasia.
Anastasia gives absolutely no thought to feeding or clothing herself. She most often walks about nude or semi-nude. She sustains herself with cedar nuts, along with varieties of herbs, berries and mushrooms. She eats only dried mushrooms. She never goes hunting for nuts or mushrooms herself, never stores up any kind of provisions, even for the winter. Everything is prepared for her by the multitude of squirrels dwelling in these parts.
Squirrels storing up nuts for the winter is nothing out of the ordinary — that’s what they do everywhere, following their natural instincts. I was struck by something else, though: at the snap of Anastasia’s fingers any squirrels nearby would compete to be the first to jump onto her outstretched hand and give her the kernel of an already shelled cedar nut. And whenever Anastasia slaps her leg bent at the knee, the squirrels make some sort of sound, as if signalling the others, and they all start bringing dried mushrooms and other supplies and laying them out before her on the grass. And this they do, it seemed to me, with a good deal of pleasure. I thought she had trained them herself, but Anastasia told me that their actions were instinctive, and the mother squirrel herself teaches this to her little ones by example.
“Perhaps one of my early forebears once trained them, but most likely this is simply what they are destined to do. By the time winter has set in, each squirrel has stored up several times as many supplies as it can use for itself.”
To my question “How do you keep from freezing during the winter without the proper clothing?” Anastasia replied with a question of her own: “In your world are there no examples of people able to withstand the cold without special clothing?”
And I remembered the book by Porfiry Ivanov, who went around barefoot and wearing only shorts no matter how cold the weather. It tells in the book how the fascists, wanting to test the endurance abilities of this extraordinary Russian, poured cold water over him in a minus-twenty-degree frost and then made him ride naked on a motorcycle.
In her early childhood, in addition to her mother’s milk Anastasia was able to draw upon the milk of many different animals. They freely allowed her access to their nipples. She makes absolutely no ritual of mealtime, never sits down just to eat, but picks berries and sprouts of plants as she walks and continues on with her activities.
By the end of my three-day stay with her I could no longer relate to her as I had done at our first encounter. After all I had seen and heard Anastasia had been transformed for me into some kind of being — but not a beast, since she has such a high degree of intelligence, and then there’s her memory! Her memory is such that she, of course, forgets nothing of what she has seen or heard at any moment in time. At times it seemed that her abilities are well beyond the comprehension of the average person. But this very attitude toward her is something that greatly distresses and upsets her.
In contrast to certain people we all know with unusual abilities — people who wrap themselves in an aura of mystery and exclusivity, she constantly tried to explain and reveal the mechanism underlying her abilities, to prove that there was nothing supernatural to Man in them or in her — that she was Man, a woman, and she repeatedly asked me to bear that in mind. I did attempt to keep it in mind after that, and try to find an explanation for this extraordinary phenomenon.
In our civilisation one’s brain works to develop a life for one’s self, obtain food to eat and satisfy one’s sexual instincts. In Anastasia’s world no time is spent on these things whatsoever. Even people who find themselves in a situation like the Lykovs’ are obliged to constantly give thought to how to feed and shelter themselves. They don’t get help from Nature to the same extent as does Anastasia. There are all sorts of tribes living far from civilisation that are not blessed with this kind of contact. According to Anastasia, it is because their thoughts are not pure enough. Nature and the animal world feel this.