I ran from my home, my country and everything I have ever known, to live as I want


I wonder, how many people hold the hand of a person they loath? Do you? Perhaps people are not even aware that they don’t want to do anything with those they see every day. Those they call their girlfriend or boyfriend. And later tie their lives with.

It was different with me. I knew I couldn’t stand the man I was seeing. It didn’t matter; I went on seeing him. The power of indoctrination is such, that you are not aware of your own self-destruction. You just do what those around you expect of you. Your jailers’ acceptance of you becomes the most important factor of your life. Becomes your only way of being. I never stood up to my jailers. Never conceived of it. Never thought it was possible. This was why I held Dmitry’s hand every day. I held it that day as well. When we were covering last meters to the person I wanted to be with.

Dmitry, the man who held my hand, was it. He was what was proper for me to do. What had to happen to me. He could hold my hand, could violate me when we were alone. Could claim my days and life. What I thought of it all, didn’t make a shred of difference. Nobody asked me if I actually liked Dmitry or wanted to be with him. He was a man. I was twenty five, old by Russian standards. I had to have a man, now! Had to tie myself to him. To bare his children and loose my name. Only then would my family and every one else leave me alone and consider my life and me complete.

Dmitry was so thick he wasn’t seeing anything. He didn’t notice I was trembling. That I could hardly wait to get rid of him and be with Natalia. Honestly! How could he not? It was obvious. Or is it the Mother nature I should be blaming? It must be advantageous for males of human species to be completely ignorant of others’ feelings. Who cares what a female wants or what she dreams of. It all comes down to reproduction. The point is, I, a female, have to end up pregnant. If a courting male cared about my well-being and happiness, he certainly wouldn’t be fathering his offsprings with me. And so it was, I and Dmitry were approaching the fast food restaurant where I and Natalia set up a date. Dmitry wasn’t pleased: I was going to spend time with somebody other than him.

The way Natalia stood, the way she looked around and finally at me, drove it home. We were subversives. We were the wrong ones. We, women, dared to like each other. So we hid our affection. We greeted each other with exaggerated apathy and indifference. Only our eyes told the truth, if somebody cared to notice.

Dmitry finally left. He could say his “I will miss you” to me only so many times and could stare at me with his sad stare only for so long. He had to go; Natalia was right there, waiting for me by the entrance. He was blocking her from me with his wide shoulders in a leather jacket that I hated so much because it was a part of Dmitry. Still I saw her. Couldn’t help but glance at her. Natalia was impatient, she watched us. Was thinking the same very thought I was. “Get away from her already!”

I have never been on the second floor of that building before. As it turned out, it was a food place, where mothers could be freed form their small children. The furniture was painted in bright colors and there were toys lying around. Natalia was a mother. Her children were always with her, no matter where she went. Outside of her home, it was her children she was with. Back at home, she was watched by her parents. By then they were suspecting something was amiss with their daughter. Lately Natalia has been fighting with her husband. She wanted to be left alone, to have no children with her or anybody at all, at least for a few hours. She had female friends online and she dared to keep seeing them. By the time Natalia and I started seeing each other, she was seriously harassed by her parents and husband. It was a war that was taking place within the walls of their small apartment, where all six of them, Natalia, her parents, her husband and their two children, lived.

We were sitting beside each other on a couch. Natalia’s children buzzed about. We watched them thinking only how considerably close to each other we were. Inappropriately close. Inappropriately lax and indifferent to Natalia’s children’s fuss. I put my arm on the back of the couch and touched Natalia’s back with my fingers. She didn’t react; there were people, happy mothers, around who could notice. This was a place of propriety. We knew, had we made a move towards each other, looked at each other with that kind of look that says so much, we would have crossed the line. Would be given looks, maybe even thrown out.

We spoke about each other, about us, only when we were outside, where we couldn’t be overheard. Natalia said she appreciated my touching her back. I wondered. Did she really? Or she lied. Because she thought I wanted to hear it. She was wrong, I expected nothing. Was only making sure I was standing on guard. Being who we were, the wrong ones, one could never forget the danger. The danger that is everywhere around you. Honesty, any expression of feelings at all is a luxury.

Seeing each other in public was a torture for me and Natalia. Us walking the rope. Knowing we can’t make a mistake. Can never be our true selves. Can never smile at the sight of each other. Can never be relaxed as those around us. Unlike everyone else, the proper people, we were despicable. By choosing to be with another woman, a woman becomes a pariah because it means she doesn’t want to be with a man. There can be no such deal in Russia. There always has to be a man in the picture. If one woman got away with it and lived as she wanted, the rest would follow suit.

Featured image: I have nothing left of Natalia, not a photo, not a thing. In Russia, our relationship was considered illicit. The image of the place where we met that time I took off the Google maps.