Friday, October 17, 2014
They could hear footsteps above their heads. Somehow Sasha was keeping her baby quiet. The soldiers of the NKVD were searching the village and surrounding countryside for this group of people. We don’t exactly know why or what they were searching for but we knew what the results would be as they had demonstrated in the village 5 miles south of us. The villagers were found, shot and buried in a mass grave. No explanation was given. The theory was that one of them was a relative of Lavrentiy Beria and he was convinced that somehow, something this person knew would harm him and that all the others who he or she knew might have been told as well. Beria was not one to sort out the wheat from the chaff. His preferred method was to burn the whole field, then salt the soil so nothing could ever grow there again. Now he was searching for the wheat field that he thought required such treatment and this brought the boots above their heads to this exact location.
Just as they closed the trap door to their hiding place Sasha’s newborn daughter started to whimper. No doubt her feelings of discomfort were caused by sensing her mother’s growing terror at the situation that was unfolding over their heads. In addition the soldiers were smashing and breaking things in their haste to find this group now hiding beneath their feet. Yet somehow the baby was being kept quiet. From past experience with this particular child Victor was prepare to smother the baby if need be to save the rest of the group from slaughter. One sickly baby, compared to a dozen others, was not a hard choice for him to make.
It was completely dark as the hiding place was well insulated from light and prying eyes. They had been very careful in both designing and building the space and had actually been through this type of search before and had not been caught. It would seem that the village to the South was constantly renouncing them and slandering them to whatever authority happened to be “investigating” this or that. One easy way to save your life in this day and age was to deflect the insanity that had gripped the world onto someone else. Show the NKVD a shiny object and they left you along. Today they were that shiny object and they had no idea why; all they knew was that they had to hide. Before they let Sasha and the baby into the hiding place they had all agreed that if the baby started to cry it would be killed to save them all. Even Sasha agreed. She might have agreed as an attempt to save herself and daughter but it wouldn’t have mattered. If the baby even started to cry is would be smothered.
Everything was proceeding well. Then just as the soldiers were making the most noise the baby made a fussing noise. One little utterance but you knew what was coming and nothing could stop it. But it had stopped immediately and was not heard by the troops over their heads. It was utterly dark so most did not know what had happened to make the child be quiet. Had it been smothered? Had it stopped on its own? A couple of the women were struggling to hold back tears for they knew that you cannot stop a baby from crying once they started fussing in that manner. Sasha or someone, had done something drastic and immediate, to quiet the child and they feared the worst. There was no groping sounds for a nipple no cooing or sucking sounds, just complete silence; utter and devastating silence.
It seemed like hours before the soldiers left. No one made a sound and they stayed still for another hour after the soldiers had left. As the leader raised the opening a little the others were amazed at what they saw. Sasha had her mouth over her child’s face. It covered both nose and mouth and she was breathing for them both. You could tell the baby was fit to be tide but her mother had matched her exhales with her own and no sound was forthcoming. She then sent a small puff of air from her lungs into the baby’s mouth and nose thus providing the needed oxygen. Then she would suck it out again and in essence exhale for the child as well. You could tell she was exhausted but would not stop until everyone had exited the space.
It seems that Sasha was a member of the Young Pioneers and before the first war a British delegation from the Royal Humane Society Campaign Group for first aid and resuscitation had put on a demonstration of a technique they had been using and advocating since the turn of the century. It was used in many of the swimming beaches and pools of Great Britain. Sasha had been fascinated by the demonstration and had even become an instructor in this life saving technique. She had even saved a boy’s life at Young Pioneer Camp who, had for all intents and purposes, died of drowning. Yet to the amazement of all involved she brought him back to life.
No one knew what this technique was called and no one mentioned it again. Some kind of witchcraft was obviously performed. But the days of witches was over. Was that why the soldiers came? No one really thought so but one never knew. Sasha disappeared in the night with her baby so nothing had to be done anyway.