Peasant Autonomy
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Story 42

A small Hutsul village in the Carpathians, Ukraine – around 1910

The icy cold water

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Juanedc)


“Forgive me, Marichka. I'm married to Palagna, but I really couldn't help it. I was so alone. I missed you so much. And I still miss you, every day, and every night. When I look to our star, I know that you are near me. Why did you leave me? Why was I left alone?”

Ivan is a handsome young man in his early twenties, with a smooth, brown moustache. As a child, he had played with Marichka in the forest, when they had to keep watch over their families’ sheep herds. He often thinks back to those days.
To earn money for their wedding, he left for a neighbouring village, where he again was a shepherd, but this time for money. Before Ivan departed, Marichka pointed out to him a brilliant star. From now on it would be their star. When Ivan looked at this star in the night, he knew that Marichka was also looking at it, and that they were together in spirit.
Marichka missed Ivan terribly, and one day she went to visit him. When she was close to the village where Ivan was shepherding, she heard a lamb bleating. She would rescue it, it would be her gift to Ivan. The lamb was perched on a mountain ledge, and just when Marichka finally had it in her arms, she slipped, fell into the river, and drowned.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Sergii Gulenok)


Ivan was broken-hearted. With a bewildered look in his eyes, a wild mop of hair, and filthy clothes, he wandered from one village to another. Until a few villagers persuaded him to take a good bath, pull on new clothes, and marry Palagna, an appealing young woman. The marriage quickly fell apart. Ivan couldn't forget Marichka.

One winter night, Ivan is so distraught that he walks to the river where Marichka had drowned. He bends down over the water. He has tears in his eyes. “Marichka, forgive me. You are the only one I love. I know that you are here in the water. I am so happy to see you back again. Come here to me, take me in your arms. I am yours, you are mine.” Ivan stretches out his arms, and falls into the icy cold water. The following morning, the villagers find his rigid body.


In Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965), Soviet director Sergei Parajanov paints in vivid colours the peasant life in a mountain village. A marvellous movie!

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Trapped to work in the jungle camp - Chiapas, South Mexico – around 1910 (1), story 43.
= the Table of contents, story 42.