Saturday, December 04, 2010

Karachay: Part 8

Sunday, June 11th, 1967
Three are dead. I do not know which is the worst, the old woman, the boy, or the farmer. The boy was the first. His death had been what the bell tolled for when I last wrote. He had been swimming in the lake with a friend, and he apparently had some sort of seizure; he tensed and spasmed for a minute before drowning. There was nothing of this vein in his family. I don't believe it's genetic.
The farmer was next. The first to contract the illness was the first to die. It was to be expected, of course. Without any sustenance, anyone would wither. By the end, it almost seemed a mercy, for he had clawed at his face and hair so that it was torn and furrowed. In many ways, I am glad for him that he is gone. I worry for his wife, though. And his child.
Now, understand that our village here has had a wise woman by the name of Mother Yeva. She lives alternatively in the village or wilderness. Whenever she is present, she is fed and sheltered by the townsfolk, who believe her ramblings to be prophetic. Though I never believed in such things, I always welcomed her when it was my turn to house her, for the things she said, well! They were vivid as dreams. I found her dead on my doorstep yesterday.
She had been away from the town for a good while, and due to come back any day. Whenever she arrived in the past, she always seemed older and more withered, but her youth was restored with company. The body I found was a frail, shriveled thing unlike I had ever seen her. Upon her neck was some sort of swelling, similar to a goiter. I feel that examination would have borne knowledge, but it is against custom to desecrate a body here, and for a woman of such standing, I would be risking my life.
It is still light out and I already feel need for rest. I hope your investigation bears fruit. I'm certain now that this must be a plague. No mere fatigue, no mere drought could cause this. All shall be well soon enough, though. Whether it be by death or health, I doubt anyone will remain ill by next month.

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