Home > Uncategorized > Elizar Maltsev: Suddenly people would discover that there was no war at all

Elizar Maltsev: Suddenly people would discover that there was no war at all


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on war


Elizar Maltsev
From Heart and Soul
Translator unidentified

….Three days later Grunya stumbled blindly behind some carts loaded with soldiers’ packs. A blood-red sunset seeped through clouds as white as bandage: the sky was an open wound. And this fearsome bleeding sky was flecked with ravens.

The carts halted outside the village where the fields began. The woman wailed while the men just stood there, black as thunder-clouds, apparently insensitive to the hasty, greedy arms seeking a last embrace.

Grunya’s heart bled to hear the wailing of the women; it made her whole body ache. She saw Rodion’s tear-wet face and heard his voice, but couldn’t tell what he said.

He followed the carts and she remained standing there, trying to understand where he was going and what had torn him away from her.

And suddenly it was as if someone had given her a push, and she began to run after him. There was something she had to say to him. She had not said a single word in farewell. Only now did the thought that she might never see him again penetrate her consciousness and drive her on.

Like black stumps the carts loomed one after another on the horizon before they vanished over the hill. The wind blew a bitter, choking dust into her face.

“Rodion!’ she cried as she stumbled and fell, only to rise and run forward again. “What about me? Wait! Rodion!”

But Rodion was already far away. The drivers were standing up in the carts and lashing the horses for all they were worth.

Grunya dropped exhausted on the hard warm earth and hid her wet face in it as if it were her mother’s bosom.


At night Grunya was obsessed by a strange and incongruous idea: suddenly people would discover that there was no war at all; the whole thing was a mistake and Rodion would come back and tap softly on the window-pane.

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