Wave of Terror

Wave of Terror

Book - 2008
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This remarkable novel, hidden from the English-speaking world for more than 50 years, begins with the Red Army invasion of Belarus in 1939. Ivan Kulik has just become headmaster of School Number 7 in Hlaby, a rural village in the Pinsk Marshes. Through his eyes we witness the tragedy of Stalinist domination, where people are randomly deported to labor camps or tortured in Zovty Kazarny prison in the center of Pinsk. Ivan struggles to make sense of this new world, learning the politics of survival in the emerging Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic and trying to sort out his personal life. His passion for Marusia, a green-eyed, unpredictable young woman, is a theme throughout the book.
Publisher: Chicago, Ill. : Academy Chicago Publishers, 2008
ISBN: 9780897335621
Characteristics: xv, 326 p. ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Odrach, Erma


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p. 82-83: He reached the exit doors just as a woman was entering. She was tall and dark-haired and wore a gray overcoat; a red shawl was thrown over her head. Her eyes moved with a sort of nervous impatience along the aisles, then paused briefly to study a group of men gathered beneath an icon on the east wall. When the priest emerged from the sanctuary, she stared at him and then turned her head toward the center. She did not make the sign of the cross, nor did she lower her head in prayer. Who was this tall, dark, mysterious creature? What was she up to? Kulik watched her for a few minutes and then quite unexpectedly her eyes met his. After a second, she turned and started toward the door. Why had she come to the church? Clearly not to pray. What could she possibly be looking for? The priest’s Russian filled the church again, followed by the chanting of the cantor. Kulik wanted to shout at them, “Blasphemers! Imposters!” And now this woman, whose black eyes seemed to radiate a passion — a passion from Hell?

Kulik followed her out of the church, watching as she buttoned her coat and wrapped the shawl tightly around her head, and began to walk with a slight swing to her hips. He stayed behind her until she reached a large, three-story building and disappeared inside.

There was a sign over the building doors: ‘Oblispolkom: Executive Committee of a Regional Soviet of People’s Deputies. Government personnel only.’

p. 236-237: “…I am the school inspector and I was sent here by the People’s Commissariat of Education.”

Dounia rushed back at him. “School inspector, hah! You’re nothing more than a flea! You were born a flea and you’ll die a flea!”

“How dare you!” Paspelov could not believe his ears. “You’re an illiterate and vulgar creature, you have no place in a school, let alone becoming a candidate for Deputy of the Village Soviet. I will be certain to brief Yeliseyenko, the school superintendent, on the mess here. Then we’ll see who the flea is!”

At this fiery moment, to Boris’s great surprise, as if out of nowhere, two government officers entered the room. They were both in official army uniforms and their chests and lapels were heavily decorated. Revolvers dangled from their holsters. The taller of the two, Paspelov noticed, was carrying what appeared to be a bottle wrapped in brown paper.

“Dounia!” Kokoshin rushed to her, and looked into her face with concern. “What’s going on in here? We heard all the racket from outside. Is everything all right? Have you been waiting for us long?” Then catching sight of the inspector standing against the wall, he raised his brows suspiciously. “Who’s that?”

“His name’s Boris Paspelov. And he’s been harassing me all afternoon. It’s a good thing you came when you did. He was just about to hit me.”

At that moment Paspelov felt rather dizzy. It was precisely then that he realized whom he was dealing with and how dangerous the situation was that he had created for himself—it hit him like a ton of bricks. He had battled with the wrong person; it was now obvious Dounia Avdeevna had friends in high places, and these friends, with just a wave of her hand were capable of bringing him down. Wiping his forehead, swallowing hard, he gathered his belongings quickly and made for the door. In a faint voice, he bade farewell and hastened to his car.

Dounia shouted after him sarcastically, “Good day to you too, Comrade Paspelov. Who’s the flea now? Hah! Hah! Hah!”

The sun was setting, and a harsh and bitter wind coming in from the north piled the snow in large heaps against the schoolyard fence. It was so cold outside one could hardly breathe. With his hands trembling upon the steering wheel, the snow-covered countryside rushed past Paspelov, who felt he was having a bad dream. He knew it was the beginning of the end for him. His ascent up the Party ladder had stopped before it had gotten started, thanks to Dounia Avdeevna, future Deputy of the Village Soviet of B.S.S.R.

p. 210-212: “Iofushka,” she whispered, “I’ve been thinking. I have a proposition for you and it’s quite a generous one, one that I thought up all by myself just now. It’s like this: you can remain my lover as long as you agree to share me with Kokoshin. It’s up to you.”

…Dounia looked impatiently at him. “Is that a no? Well, Iofushka, then it looks like it’s goodbye.” She shrugged, a look of disappointment passed across her face and vanished as quickly as it appeared. “I must admit, it was fun while it lasted. Come here and give me one last kiss.”

Grabbing hold of his head, almost crushing his jaw, she thrust her thick red lips upon his…Soon all feelings of resentment disappeared and he began to experience pleasurable sensations. He wanted to have Dounia the way he had always had Dounia, with her fierce embraces, her brutality, her abuses. Out of breath, his deep-seated lust for her intensifying, in a split second he decided to surrender himself to her demands. Sharing her might not be such a bad idea after all—it was not as if he was being cut off completely. Dounia was a substantial woman with more than enough to go around. And Kokoshin wasn’t that bad, a good sort really, a bit obnoxious at times, but it was not as if their paths would ever have to cross. Then remembering the endless supply of bread and sausages Kokoshin regularly confiscated from local villagers, he smacked his lips and smiled to himself. Yes, this arrangement might work out better than he thought. And before he knew it he had accepted the new arrangement enthusiastically.

Dounia was delighted by Leyzarov’s turnabout. Twirling his hair with the tips of her fingers, she whispered softly and joyfully in his ear, “Ah, there Iofushka, I knew you’d come around.”

Thus the threesome—Dounia, Leyzarov, and Kokoshin—comfortably and unabashedly settled into their new lifestyle. They reveled in their shamelessness, not caring what anyone thought or said, engaging in thrilling round-the-clock orgies…Kokoshin would bring cheeses, breads, and kielbasa; Leyzarov, whisky. Things could not have worked out better and the two men even started to like each other. If they happened to meet along the way, they greeted each other with a sort of camaraderie, exchanging playful, knowing glances. Soon their visits with Dounia began to coincide, and passionately devoted to her as they were, with the aid of liquor, they soon discovered a new kind of ecstasy. The threesome now spent their days and nights together in wild scenes of sex and scandal.

The shocking story of the ménage a trois spread quickly: two representatives of the national Party and a Morozovich schoolteacher engaging in lewd, licentious, sexual escapades. There was talk of dancing, drinking, and all-night carousing. Legends were created about Dounia—the unappeasable seductress, a Siren, who lured men into her boudoir and bound them in salacious misbehavior. Her sexual appetite was said to be so great and insatiable that she was capable of accommodating the entire Red Army.

In Hlaby the teachers of School Number Seven, including Headmaster Kulik, were well aware of the goings-on in the shabby little cottage on the edge of Morozovich…Leyzarov and Kokoshin had begun to neglect their duties. From early February there had been a dramatic decrease in the number of Clubhouse meetings, and in the few that were called, the two men were absent more often than not. Almost all political duties had come to a standstill: wages were no longer confiscated, men were not rounded up and sent to work on the Bugsy-Dnieprovsky Canal, and land was no longer expropriated...

Everyone was grateful to Dounia Avdeevna for having taken the two Party men off their hands. It was because of her that the entire region was experiencing a sort of mid-winter thaw. The men wallowing in drunkenness and adultery at all hours gave the villagers a break from their misery. They couldn’t have been more pleased.

Mar 24, 2015

Theodore Odrach is a Belarus author who experienced Stalinist terror firsthand. A look into everyday life in Belarus during this period. Well written.


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p. 79-80: Her beauty was truly startling, and it was difficult for him to imagine how such a lovely creature could be found in a drab provincial town like Pinsk. Her poise and grace could rival that of any woman in Vienna or Berlin.

But she had a cold and capricious personality, and seemed to treat people, especially men, with a certain disrespect. She had a classic Ukrainian face, high cheekbones, deep-set eyes, an upturned nose, but her soul was foreign. She had clearly lost any sense of her own self and all too readily accepted the ways of an aggressive alien culture. She spoke only Russian, frequented only Russian cinemas, and read only Russian books and newspapers. She had slipped so far away from her own people that she showed contempt for them when they were mentioned.

Kulik felt uneasy, and questions gnawed away at him. How could he have allowed himself to become helplessly attracted to a girl so misguided and so aloof?

p. 72-73: “May I call you Marika?”

“Marika? She leaned back. The sofa let out a screech.

“Yes, Marika is a lovely name, more appealing than Marusia, wouldn’t you agree?"

Marusia stared at him. "I don't agree with you at all," she said. "Marika is not a nicer name than Marusia. In fact, I find it rather plain, too commonplace." Then with her eyes narrowing, "Uh . . . what did you say your name was again, Ivan was it?"

"Yes, Ivan. Ivan Kulik."

"Ivan?" The girl rolled her eyes and grimaced.

"Yes, it's a very ordinary name, I agree, but there's not much I can do about it."

..."Why don't you use your Russian diminutive? Vanya. There, that sounds much better."

...“The Russians take Ivan and make Vanya out of it, that’s the same as taking Maria and forming Marusia. In Ukrainian, which you’ve clearly denounced, everything has a natural order. Maria becomes Marika, Ivan becomes Ivasik, Vasil becomes Vasilik. We don’t take Ivan and transform it into Vanya, or Vladimir into Vova.”


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