Akalena made the best of it, bringing up her three children and making a meagre income from weaving hard wearing floor rugs. Those mats were woven together from old rags that she used to scavenge together from throw me downs by the rich in the bigger towns. She had through the years build up a reputation for her colourful mats. Her colour combinations and natural taste set her mats apart from most other weavers.
She managed to survive despite Boris’s whoring ways. Her loom was busy, especially in those long and harsh winters with the build up of snow on the window sills and overhanging eaves. Still, she did always have enough firewood and there was always chicken soup on the wood stove.
Anyone walking past her timber house would hear the sounds of the loom when Akalena was weaving her mats. The throwing of the warp across while the shuttle would find its way through the threads, tightening the twirled rags into yet another bit of matting. She would take care into picking the right colours that would be repeated along the lengths of the mat. It gave her peace as well as an income from which she could send her kids to school as well as provide the endless chicken broths for Boris. His culinary needs never varied. Just chicken soup and the home-made sour dough black bread.
The years went by and her children were often witness to Boris violence, sometimes even at the receiving end of his rage, getting belted. Once, Boris broke the youngest his arm. Police were called, but they showed their sympathy for Boris more than her children. They were mean men as well, having witnessed the same treatment when they were young. This was the way of the Ukraine; it was the way of many men. Men always give back what was given to them when they were young.
Akalena would throw herself in between Boris and her children, hoping to prevent even more injury. What would any woman have done when her children were at risk? She needed to have something to keep her going, to survive and somehow keep sane. What was there to look forward to? There were some whose plight became so severe; they would walk out of the village, back to other relatives, distant aunts, gone forever.
One day, when she noticed Boris’s axe outside the house of a woman known for her generosity in giving sex for axe, she decided she had enough. Her fury and rage welled up. All those years of abuse she had suffered. The continuing sexual degradation when he demanded from her by force what he got elsewhere with money or axing wood for stinking whores. The beatings and rapes, the abuse of her children, the stealing of her money earned by weaving mats…the years of making his chicken soup and early morning baking bread. What had it given her? Where and when would it end?