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“He got ill-tempered. Once, when I was pregnant with our second child, he shot at me
with his rifle. Now, I was athletic. I skied and ran track in the summertime. So I was able
to jump out of the way. But he had a serious rifle that was loaded to hunt wolves. Another
time, he started coming at me with an ax. And . . . one time, he hit me on the ear and on my
head. That is when I said 'I won't forgive you for this.' And I sent him out of the house. I
said the world is too big for this. 'I'm pregnant with our second child—five months preg-
nant. I'm twenty-two years old.' I told him, 'You run. You'll run all over the Soviet Union,
but one day, you will come back to me to die. You will crawl on your knees back to me.'”
And Galina was right. He returned thirty years later.
“He crawled back, with diabetes. He had been sick for a long time. I told him, 'My chil-
dren might accept you, but not me.' My children kept saying, 'Mom, he doesn't drink any-
more, he doesn't drink.' I did feel sorry for him. And you know, I guess a woman has long
hair but a short wit. I took him back. He worked another four years, but then because of the
diabetes, he lost his legs, went blind, and got weak. I was supposed to retire then, but I told
him, 'You help as best you can, and I'll keep working.' I buried him nine years ago. I took
care of him for thirteen years. That was my fate.”
As Sergei finishes listening, he asks if there's anything more. I tell him this is his inter-
view, he can decide. “I think we're good, David.”
The babushkas are not sure when their next big concert will be. I tell them I hope they'll
come to America at some point.
“When we went to Eurovision,” says Valentina, “we had only one thought. Let's just not
disgrace our little native land, Udmurtia. We will perform and do our best. We got first in
the Russian qualifiers and got to Baku. Then we are thinking, let's not disgrace our Russia.
This was our only thought.”
“We just cry sometimes, onstage,” Galina says. “When people stand up for us. At Euro-
vision, all of them stood up and greeted us and applauded for so long. We were just crying
not even understanding what was happening.”
She goes on.
“You know we have our land, our soil, our dreams, our goals. We have this goal, to build
a church. This is our goal, and hopefully people will remember us for it. Our children, our
grandchildren, our great-grandchildren will say, you see who built this? They have already
laid a stone there that says this was initiated by the Buranovo Babushkas. And the stone will
stay there forever. We sing about it in one of our songs—that we shouldn't praise ourselves.
Let other people praise if they wish. Let our names stay with people. Now the time has
come for us to sing. There was a time when we had to work. Right now? It's time for us to
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