The Human Base?

In a neighbouring grass hut a husband was talking to his wife. He wanted them to have a child: maybe a child would start right now. But the wife answered: “No, there’s nothing inside us – only weakness. Ten years now we’ve been starting a child, but I’m always empty inside, as if I were dead.” The husband fell silent for a while. Then he said: “Well, we should try and do something or other together….The two of us have got little enough to be glad about.” “I know,” answered the woman. “I’ve got nothing to wear. You don’t have any clothes either. What will we do come winter?” “We’ll get warm when we lie together,” said the husband. “What else can people do when they’re poor? You’re all I’ve got left. I can’t help but look at you and love you.” “We’re all we’ve got left,” the woman agreed. “Otherwise we’ve got nothing worth anything. I keep thinking and thinking and I can see that I love you.” “And me you,” said the husband. “How else could I keep on living?” “There’s nothing cheaper than a wife,” the woman answered. “You and I are so poor – what good do you have other than my body?” “I’ve never owned much in the way of goods,” the husband agreed. “Thank goodness no one can make wives to order – that a woman just gets herself born and grows up. Look at you – breasts, stomach, lips, eyes that can see. That’s a lot. I think about you, and you think about me, and time goes by.”

-from Platonov’s Soul

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Andrei Platonov

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