KULAK

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A forgotten part from nationalization of the land during the communist rule

Submitted: November 01, 2006

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Submitted: November 01, 2006

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KULAK

By Siromah

"Sign, you bastard!" The mayor banged his fist on the table. "Don’t you get it, you moron, you’re not getting out of here before you sign this!"

"I’m not signing anything," Spas snapped. "Beat me, kill me, I’m not signing anything! This land was my father’s and my grandfather’s. It has been our family heritage to this day."

"I don’t care if you got it from your father or from the sultan," interrupted the lanky mayor. "Now you sign, you pigheaded peasant!"

"No, I’m not giving up my land," repeated Spas obstinately. "You can take my life but not my land."

"No? We’ll see that." The mayor smiled nastily. "Take him to the basement. We’ll starve him for a few days and see what he’ll have to say then."

Two policemen grabbed Spas brutally by the shoulders.

"Get up"

"Move, you bastard!"

One of the policemen kicked Spas in the ribs and glared at him.

"So you refuse to sign, ah? You goddam kulak! Enemy of the proletariat! Should I roughen him up a little, boss?" He looked hopefully at the mayor.

"Okay, you can dust his jacket, but don’t make it too rude, no broken bones!"

"Sure, boss." The policeman grinned and brandished his club. "I’ll be careful, I promise."

Cold shivers went down Spas’ spine but he could not show weakness before his torturers.

"I’m not afraid of you bastards," he shouted bravely. "My grandfather strangled Turkish soldiers with his bare hands. Do you think you brats can cow me?"

"Move the fuck down!" The policeman pushed him down the dark stairway.

The two policemen and their victim disappeared in the basement. A few minutes later, muted screams were heard.

The mayor grinned. "Sure he’ll sign, he’s got no choice. They’ve all put their land into the cooperative, he’s the only stubborn kulak left. The bourgeois piece of shit!"

Who the hell had sent him to that remote village, he frowned. All his comrades occupied high posts in the cities, while he was stuck in that godforsaken village in the middle of nowhere. And, to top it all, those pigheaded peasants were getting on his nerves. He had to break Spas as quickly as possible, or soon, very soon, the other yokels would also get out of hand.

There was a shrill creak from the brakes of a black Volga which frightened the mayor out of his thoughts. He jumped up excitedly to look out of the window.

"Hell! The security police," he gasped.

He had heard about security police agents travelling the villages to check the progress of collectivization. He wondered feverishly what he would tell them. Some stubborn bumpkin refuses to sign. Spas, the richest landowner in the village. All of his fields were near water, by the river, perfect land. His fellow villagers who owned land in the rocky hills readily joined the cooperative. No plough could break up the hard stony soil. "This land is only good for breeding tortoises," Spas used to joke. This is probably the reason why he was not too popular with his fellow-villagers. He was straightforward and he owned the best land in the village. In a word, a kulak. A veritable kulak. Kulak to the backbone.

Before the mayor knew, the agent had arrived upstairs.

"So, you are the comrade here...?" He was short, middle-aged, and had the sly look of a fox.

"Yes, comrade..." This man was giving the mayor the creeps.

"So, how are you doing, mayor? I heard your wife had a baby. Congratulations!" The agent wanted to make it clear he knew everything there was to know.

"Thank you, comrade...?"

"Lozanov. How’s your progress with the collectivization?"

"They have all joined, except..."

"Now, let me guess," the agent grinned derisively. "The old kulak Spas. It’s him again, isn’t it?"

The mayor was not surprised that the security police were so well informed: they had informers everywhere.

"You know what your weak point is, mayor?" The agent frowned. "You’re getting sissyish. You know that weakness is of no use to the Party; what those peasants deserve is an iron fist. Now just sit and watch. If that kulak doesn’t sign in one hour..." The agent took an old, battered-looking watch off his wrist. "Here, if he doesn’t, you get the watch." He turned the watch over and showed the mayor some letters scratched on its back. "Do you know what D.S. stands for?"

The mayor’s heart jumped in excitement.

"This couldn’t be true! Dragan Savic, the Flying Commander of the guerilla Unit Five?"

"Yeah, and do you know what happened to him?"

"I’ve heard that at the time of the Resistance he ambushed German regiments, blew up bridges and destroyed convoys of supplies for the fascists. He even blew up a train full of fuel for the Eastern front."

"The Flying Commander was inflicting such losses on the Germans that Hitler himself issued an order to his generals: ‘I don’t want any more reports about burning trains, destroyed convoys and bridges in Yugoslavia. This man has become a popular hero. The next time I hear about him, let that be the news of his death. If you can’t eliminate him, I’ll have to find more capable generals.’"

"What happened?"

"Savic was betrayed. The Germans caught one of the Flying Commander’s men and tortured him until he revealed the unit’s whereabouts. The Nazis surrounded the mountain with a numerous regular army and gendarmerie, searched every square inch of it for days, and finally found the small unit’s dugout. A bloody battle was fought for hours, until the guerillas ran out of ammunition. To avoid falling alive in enemy hands, the few survivors pulled down the supporting beams, taking with them to the grave a few of the enemy soldiers. The Germans were so afraid of the Flying Commander they dug for a week to recover his body. This watch here was found on the wrist of a German general who was captured in the battle at the Drava. That general told the story of the Flying Commander’s death. His own lot was no better, of course, for the Russians turned him over to the Yugo guerillas who fed him into a giant meat grinder and cut him into pieces. A nasty way to die, I assure you. Wouldn’t wish it even to my worst enemy..."

The mayor licked his suddenly dry lips and tried to speak but only muttered something unintelligible.

"After the heroic death of the Flying Commander," the agent went on, "my father took over the command of the surviving guerillas. This watch is the only thing he left me, and to me it’s more precious than anything in this world. So, as I said," the agent wagged his finger at the mayor, "if Spas fails to sign by sunset today, the Flying Commander’s wristwatch is yours."

"I’m just curious, why did they call him the Flying Commander?"

"The Germans gave him that nickname. One day he hit a convoy here, the next day he blew up a fuel tank 100 miles away, a day later he turned up in the south to destroy a dairy producing cheese for the German army... Enough of this story, let’s get back to your kulak. Bring him in," the agent shouted and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt.

"Funny," the mayor thought, "he looks like he’ll be fighting a grizzly bear."

The two policemen brought in the peasant. He was moaning quietly. He had a black eye and a missing front tooth.

"I’m not going to sign," said Spas resolutely and spit blood on the floor.

The agent went up to him and gave him a mocking look.

"You won’t? No kidding? Listen." He went closer and whispered in the peasant’s ear. "Sign this and I might let you live. If you don’t, I’ll cut you into small pieces, piece by piece, until you curse the day you were born."

The peasant said nothing.

"Here’s the paper and a pen. Sign here," pointed the agent.

The "bourgeois element" stayed silent.

"So you won’t talk, ah? We are not good enough for your highness, ah? You piece of shit!" The agent was mad with anger. He suddenly grabbed the pen and stuck it into the peasant’s left eye.

The kulak screamed like a wounded beast and clutched his face.

"Oh God! You gouged out my eye you bastard!"

Blood was streaming down his neck and soaked his shirt. A few drops fell on the document the peasant had refused to sign.

"Oh my God, my eye’s gone," he cried and stepped back.

"I’ll do you in you stupid yokel," the agent yelled in rage. "Sign now or I’ll gouge your other eye out!" He pulled the peasant, nearly slamming his head into the window. "Take a look at the sun. Enjoy it, because it is the last day of your life. From now on, you will only have nights. Endless dark nights. All black..."

The agent tried to wipe the blood off the paper but only smeared it.

"Fuck!" he yelled and pushed the pen into the peasant’s hand. What had been his eye was still all over it. "Sign here, you son of a bitch!"

The kulak took the bloody pen in his shaking hand, and wrote down his name: Spas Lutkovic. Two drops of blood fell on the paper by his signature.

"You are a beast," he moaned. "God will punish you!" Tears and blood were running down his face.

"God?" The agent grinned derisively. "There is no god, country bumpkin. Can you show me where god is? God was created by the priests to fool the people. My gods are Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and Lenin is their prophet!"

The mayor doubled up in laughter at the joke.

"Reject the pen and you get the club," the agent went on. Again the mayor laughed obsequiously.

"This comrade here asked you to sign and you’re driving him from pillar to post instead. This will teach you a lesson. Now you’ll know you must respect the authorities."

The agent turned and gave the mayor a severe look.

"You should be sterner with instigators, comrade. Revolutionary alertness is required here. If you’re unable to bring the bourgeois offspring into line, the Party will find someone else to do it!"

The mayor’s heart sank. He bowed so low that he almost collapsed in the agent’s feet.

"Please. Comrade... give me one more chance... I’ve got small kids to feed... I promise it won’t happen again..."

"Allright," the agent snapped. "This time I won’t mention you in my report but next time I won’t be covering you up."

"Thank you so much, comrade Lozanov." The mayor was little short of kissing the agent’s perfectly polished black shoes. "I will do my best to be stern. The ‘bourgeois weeds’ will be uprooted," he added in an attempt to imitate the agent’s phrasing.

"Good luck in the struggle, comrade. And don’t forget, being in an out-of-the-way village does not mean you are in the Party’s back ranks. In the struggle against the capitalists there are no front and back ranks, they are all one. And remember," added the agent, pointing at the kulak’s eye, "where words fail the club works."

He then pulled the mayor aside and whispered in his ear:

"You know, my wife’s going to have a birthday, and you know how hard it is to find fresh meat in the city..."

"Sure, comrade!" The mayor nearly jumped in relief. "I have prepared a modest gift..." He snapped his fingers and the two policemen followed them.

"Comrade," he whispered fawningly into the agent’s ear, "this thing here is home-made sausage, my grandfather’s secret recipe, it’s simply delicious, then there are two slabs of bacon, two dozens of fresh eggs, a chunk of cheese and a bottle of home-made brandy. Plum brandy, the killer kind, 70o strong."

"Thank you, comrade. My wife will appreciate your gift." The agent thought to himself: "If my wife knew I was feasting with my new mistress she’d scratch my eyes out."

Things were taking an excellent turn. Three more villages to go that week. Hs wife did not expect him before Monday, so he had two full days to enjoy his new mistress. And what a gorgeous woman she was! He might be luckier than the previous time when she had rejected him... At least they would stuff themselves, thanks to those country bumpkins who filled his Volga to the brim with treats... The agent smiled as he got into his car.

"Good luck in the struggle with the enemy, comrade!"

The mayor gave a sigh of relief when the black Volga left.

"Spas, why were you so obstinate, beg you as I would? And now what? You lost an eye. You’re branded for a lifetime. That’s what you deserve."

The peasant just kept moaning. Blood was still leaking between his fingers

"What are you waiting for, you moron?" The mayor turned to the policeman who was standing like a log by the door. "Can’t you see the man’s wounded? Take him to the vet. We can’t leave him to die, can we?"

It was a small village that could not afford medical services, so the veterinarian was by extension a doctor and a dentist. If Spas had thought his ordeal was over, he was tragically wrong. The would-be doctor who was not good enough even for the animals, not to mention human patients, washed his wound with warm water and stitched it up. Of course anaesthesia was not even considered, and the kulak screamed his head off.

The mayor watched with a contented smile.

"As you brew so you must drink," he noted wisely. "Next time you’ll think twice before you say no."

He turned and headed for his office.

***

For three months, Spas fought with the infection, and his life was hanging by a thread. Every day his daughter dressed his wound. His body was burning with fever, at night he was often delirious. He kept seeing the same scene in his nightmares: the agent pushing the pen into his eye. Again and again. He kept hearing the agent’s fiendish laughter.

Spas jumped in his bed and woke up. The same nightmare again. This time it had been even worse: the agent had gouged out both his eyes. The kulak touched his healthy eye and sighed with relief. He had at least that one left. Another three months passed before he was back on his feet. He had to, for his daughter could hardly make ends meet. The communists had taken away all their livestock, and she only cooked vegetable soups for him: spinach, nettle, carrots... At least he shed a few pounds from his midsection. A perfect diet they had imposed on him... Indeed, the Party was taking good "care" of its "flock". Only the capitalists were fat, not the proletariat - its members were all slim and trim...

"Why is Belcho here," Spas asked his daughter when he went out of the house for the first time. The bright spring sun nearly blinded him and made him blink. "How come that those bloodsuckers did not take him away?"

"Plague on them," she cursed. "They took away everything, those bastards. Horses, cows, oxen, sheep, even hens... everything they took, them goddam thieves. All went for the Economy of the People. Even the old Belcho they took. But they brought him back a few days later. Their foreman was swearing like hell: ‘The goddam ox turned over the cart and the food containers went into the puddle. Take it back, we don’t want it.’"

Belcho, the old ox, was nearly blind and could no longer pull the plough but Spas did not have the heart to slaughter him or to get rid of him.

"Belcho, Belcho," he patted the old ox on the neck. "We are in the same boat now. You are all alone, and so am I. You’re nearly blind, so am I. What shall I do with you? We are almost like brothers, you and me..."

The kulak hugged the old ox and a tear ran down from his surviving eye...

 


© Copyright 2018 siromah. All rights reserved.

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