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Bold peasants

Bold peasants
Sketch by Lillie Lefort



Русская версия


Two interesting events, which happened when the author was young. In the first story, her female neighbor, a milkmaid, unexpectedly demonstrated good judo skills, impressively throwing a robust girl over hip. The second story is about a duel between the 18-year-old author and a much older woman. Reminiscence about a peasant life.

The author of these stories, Lillie Lefort, amateur graphic told us a few very interesting stories in her interview. We place a couple of them here.

I was born and grew up in a rural village in the Moscow region. Like in any other Soviet farmland areas, women overwhelmingly predominated there - men were leaving for urban areas (the most of guys left the village just after graduating from junior-high school, so there were mostly girls in high school). Almost all remaining men were bitter drunkards and were not taken seriously - it was the particularly female world. Physically strong, sturdy and immeasurably patient, Russian peasant women constituted the basis of the barely functioning unhealthy Soviet agriculture. Everything in villages was held up by women's shoulders - women hard worked in the fields and farms, in the gardens; they grew children and kept houses. Women with exceptional natural talent (in both moral and physical sense) came across in the country. The Russian poet Nekrasov said about them: "She would enter a hut engulfed in flames, she would capture a runaway horse!"

Our neighbor, "tetya Tonya" ("tetya" - the respectful form of address to an older woman - translator's note), just belonged to that category of exceptional women. She was a milkmaid in our collective farm. She had early lost her husband and was growing her two daughters herself. The nature generously awarded her with physical abilities. Having an average height, she was extraordinarily strong and adroit (and at the same time, sharply and beautiful - it's a pity that nobody would be able to appreciate that). When I was ten, I had occasion to watch a scene, which I can't ever forget. It happened in the early clear morning in the late fall season - tetya Tonya was coming back home from the early morning milking. At that time, girls and boys were gathering on the meadow between the village and the small river. All local students above the 4th grade were driven together for loading haystacks. High school girls were romping over the meadow, playing tag and loudly yelling. Despite permanent fatigue, tetya Tonya always kept vigor and good sense of humor - on the run she touched a girl running along and shouted her, "Well then, catch up with me!" The girl cackled and blurted out, "Tetya Tonya, aren't you too old for playing tag?" (Tonya was about 35 that time). Tonya ran toward the girl, catch up with her again and said, "OK, let's wrestle to determine who is a chicken and who is a granny!" The girl cackled again, "Well, tetya Tonya, I don't advise you to mess up with me - I could administer a beating to you" The girl was robust, a pure filly. Everyone around got excited and quiet. Tonya grabbed hold of the flaps of the girl's unbuttoned padded jacket and the girl seized her by the sleeves. While spectators were just getting ready for watching the match looking forward to it, the big filly suddenly found herself lying on her back, helplessly kicking her feet. Here is what happened: Tonya stick out her hip, adroitly pulled the girl by the jacket's flaps over the placed hip slightly twisting her body. So, the girl elegantly flied and landed perfectly on her back (when she was flying, Tony even held her preventing from an injury). That time I didn't know anything about judo or sambo but when I saw the sports after years, I just realized that the Tonya's throw was a judo technique of the first order. (Definitely, Tonya herself had never heard such words - it was just her natural instinct and physical skills.) The villagers already respected Tonya very much but after that incident, she became a real celebrity. Having pinned the girl, Tonya just went home while the remaining ones began vividly discuss the incident. Everyone was impressed and some girls engaged in jocular grappling. Girls and boys made fun of the defeated girl, so she got angry and jumped on a boy teasing her and pinned him down (however, without Tonya's elegance - just put all her heavy weight on him.)

Since that day, I became fond of combative activities; I wished to be as strong and deft as Tonya was. That morning I had my first "wrestling match" - my female classmate and I tried to train the technique Tonya had accomplished - after several attempts, we eventually managed to get it. Then we brought ourselves to a competitive wrestling match. Knowing about that technique, each of us tried to avoid to be caught on it. We wrestled persistently but after all, I managed to win. I fell in love with this activity - that time I didn't feel the physical discomfort that mature girls and women might have - breasts didn't bother me and I tried not to miss any opportunity to engage in grappling. You might not believe but I have never been defeated in wrestling - neither by guys, nor by girls. However, it was a problem to find a sparring partner for wrestling - the most of girls are able just for screeching jostling, whereas boys are afraid of being defeated by a girl.

When I was a girl, I wrestled frequently and always fervently. However, I have never brawled except one occasion. When I was around 18, I was forced to wrestle with a feisty woman much older me. By the way, you have asked if I had brawled. That was a kind of brawl. In old times, men from neighboring villages often ferociously brawled but at that moment (owing to the lack of men), it was about a fierce women tussle. Defending the "honor" of our village fell to my lot. Once in a hot summer afternoon, girl neighbors and I were going to swim in the pond next to a neighboring village (our small river had dried up). When we approached to the pond and got ready for swimming, an aggressive brigade of young local women suddenly approached and began to dispel us. They say that we would muddy the water and scare fish away. Our girls got insolent to them; word-by-word and it was about coming to blows. Then I decided to relieve the situation saying, "Girls, let's settle a matter in a honest way - if any of you have got the guts to measure your strength against me, come out!" The opposite girls got a little disturbed and whispered to each other. Then a short stocky woman (probably the oldest one) started bellicosely approaching to me. I felt confident as a wrestler and looked forward to giving her a good thrashing. However, the woman was going to smack me in the face but I wasn't good in fistfights - I moved my head aside attempting to avoid the punch but she still managed to rub her fist against my cheek. At that moment, her dumpy corpus turned out to be just next to me, so I didn't miss my opportunity. I grabbed her hand and the top of her "sarafan" (open summer dress) abruptly pulling her over my hip - in the way Tonya accomplished several years before. While she was flying, her dress strap was torn, so the cheesecake was not in the mood for fighting. However, I didn't release her before giving her some punishing - I clamped her down the ground and shook up her fats, not paying attention to her screaming. As soon as I considered she had gotten enough, I let her rise to her feet. She cursed us and got out of the venue holding in place her strap; her band accompanied her. We quickly dip into the water and ran away being afraid that enemy reinforcements would arrive. It was, perhaps, the only occasion in my practice when I had a motivated fight with a woman. I always preferred to wrestle just for the fun of it. What satisfaction can you get from clashing with a sweaty fat slattern?



Lillie Lefort

August 2005

The illustration by the author

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