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My Russian Grandmother




She cherished everything natural and hated artificial things, which were usually found in human beings. Her instincts were as sharp as any animal's, vicious to protect herself and her dear ones, but kind to show mercy to any suffering creature


Her mother and father fed and clothed her and taught her. She was capable of supporting herself, milking, ploughing, harvesting,


She had learned, men were mostly violent, but if she was to be married she would have to find one deserving of her obedience. It would be one of her choosing.


A man who satisfied her conditions would become her husband, the only man she would be obedient to.


Rachel reached marriageable age, young men called on her parents, to catch a glimpse of her. She hid in a place where she scrutinized the man without showing herself.


After the man had gone she would say he's impolite, his finger nails aren't trimmed, or his hair isn't combed, or his shoes aren't polished.


If a man showed signs of being Mr. Right, she would flit quickly through the room, exciting him but not stopping, She would give him further consideration, while pasturing the cow in the meadow or feeding the chickens.


Other times her mother, Chatzke would find an excuse to have a man, who she considered eligible, come to the house while Rachel was around.


None of them fulfilled her requirements for her life partner. They could visit again but she would always be in the fields when they came.


All the men in the hamlet and in the area were well acquainted with Rachel's rigid standards for a spouse, and didn't dare to try their luck a second time.


One young man kept returning. He was a travelling salesman, offering various metal objects made by his uncle in the village.


Rachel made out the noise of his tin cups and elegant enamel plates with designs of fruit on them, clattering from far away and always ran to hide.


Being a businesslike young man, eager to make a sale, he concentrated on his work, but now and again he glanced this way and that as if looking for something.


One day Rachel, in the lands harvesting a crop of cucumbers, was caught by surprise. He studied her coming from the vegetable patch carrying freshly gleaned potatoes. Another day he considered her as she dragged a load of carrots to the house. She rejected his offer to help.


A little encouragement would be useful in the case of the well mannered, handsome young man. Chatzke asked the boy to go to the cow shed when she fathomed he'd appreciate view of the young maiden milking the cow.


Still as a mouse, he contemplated her strong fingers pulling on the teats. He caught an eyeful of the girl, her skirts turned up to sit more comfortably on the stool, her white knees sticking out and showing a sturdy thigh.


The girl raised her head, her blue eyes shining, her well proportioned face red with embarrassment. He had entered without telling her, she picked up a red glazed mug of warm liquid, threw it in his face begging him to leave and not disturb her at work.


The boy, his elegant salesman's suit wet with white fluid did not move off and coolly said, your mother sent me. She stared at him, without a word, handed him an earthenware container of the tasty elixir and laughed, turning back to her work.


He turned around, as if going away, she continued milking, her skirt raised higher than before, saying to herself, he's gone. But he turned back for one last parting glance at those lovely white thighs, and ran away laughing at her.


She shook her head, continued squeezing, but slower than before because now the image of the boy, who had tricked her into showing more of herself than she meant to, filled her mind.


Picking up the full buckets of milk, which she lugged on a crossbar on her shoulders, she patted the cow on the rump, saying, I'll show him a leg, in the pants, again she laughed.


Sitting at the kitchen table, she placed her head on her folded arms and wept. Chatzke called her silly to cry because a young, eligible, handsome man had seen her legs. Rachel took a different view of things; he was nothing more than another cheeky young man looking for a peck.


A day later Barney, returned with flowers, seeking forgiveness from the milkmaid. The child was taken aback, many had come bearing pretty knik knacks and had ended up rejected.


She took the colorful bunch, this way, please sir, she said politely. She walked to the meadow, and while she laughed and fed Barney's precious bouquet to the animal, he placed his strong arms around her waist and kissed her on the cheek.


The bovine creature turned her head, munching Barney's precious greenery, staring with her immense eyes at Rachel kissing Barney on the lips. She had found the man who she would obey.




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