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By Anatoli Kuznetsov

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Sample text

We lived to see the day when a man was afraid of his own shadow. There were informers everywhere, and you were afraid to open your mouth. " And the police would slap a fi ne on you if you didn't hang out a flag on the gate for their holidays and their blasted elections. From early in the morning, when i t was scarcely light, they would bang on the windows, shouting: "All out for the elections by six o'clock, it's a national holiday, let's have a hundred per cent turn­ Ol_lt ! " I wish my voting could have choked them!

At that time I understood nothing of what was going on, but sensed that my parents' characters were in conflict. From then on there was nothing but quarrels and tears in the home. Then all of a sudden I learnt from Grandma that my mother and father had long ago been to court and been divorced but just couldn't make up their minds to part. At last my father tucked his drawings under his arm and went off to work at the car factory in Gorky, where he soon got married again. It was 1 937 when that happened, and l ater on I spent much time wondering how it was that my father, who was so set in his beliefs, did not get into trouble in that period.

But while I was forcing my way through, the shelves were stripped, as if a wind had swept them bare, and the crowd stormed off round the corner. I poked around a bit, clamber­ ing over other people's backs and bewailing my lot: every­ body pinching stuff from under my very nose, yet I couldn't get my hands on anything. They were already snatching bundles of shoe-laces and tins of shoe-polish out of each other's hands. So I skipped back through the window and out on to the street to have a look round and see whether there wasn't 17 18 BABI YAR another shop still unlooted.

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