Translated by James von Geldern
Tretiakov (1892-1939) was another of the dedicated revolutionary writers destroyed in the Stalin purges. A participant in Proletkult, Blue Blouse, and LEF, he achieved fame through political theater and attracted the attention of Bertoldt Brecht. In the 1930s Tretiakov led sketch-writers who journeyed to workplaces to write about “real” Soviet people. He spent two years on a kolkhoz researching this piece.
Original Source: Vchera i segodnia: ocherki russkikh sovetskikh pisatelei (Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1960), pp. 305-316.
She sits and leans forward slightly.
Her tense, extended hands are joined on her lap–it’s the same grip used to steer a tractor when it jerks through frozen clods of autumn soil.
The transparent tangle of her bangs falls into her eyes, which glisten through the hair, concentrated, with a cold, unwavering gleam.
That’s how they watch a furrow at night, when the “Bat” lantern flickers in the wind, but the job has to be done right.
She doesn’t jest. Doesn’t stumble in her speech. Her words flow, measured and serious. In her restrained and muffled voice a metallic ring sometimes appears–that’s when she remembers old insults and hardships overcome in pain. Sometimes a surprisingly gentle softness is woven into her voice–she’s talking about friendship or something fun–and then her lips confirm what she’s said with a smile. Only the lips. Not the voice or the eyes.
Eight girls sit next to her in a row. They have strong hands, accustomed to grappling with iron, and eyes of such clarity that it seems they’ve been washed by the rain. There is a great calm in their silence. They know–whatever Pasha Angelina said must be true.
They’re used to it. The behavior that the brigade learned at work has gone beyond boundaries of the job. Sometimes even Pasha smiles, remembering how scared they were of losing her, their leader in Mostorg. They held hands like in a choral dance and walked up the staircase, past the stalls, towards the cashiers and through the entrance to the bus.
“Like ducklings,” I remark.
A calm smile touches their faces. They take the comment without humor. Yes, just like ducklings. Each is wearing the same jacket, the same collars folded back on their blouses.
“What can I do with them!” exclaims Pasha, as if flustered, but actually proud. “I buy something, and they buy it too.”
“We were visiting Comrade Sarkisov, president of the Don Regional Committee,” she continues. “He begged one, then another to eat. They bow, thank him, but just sit there without moving. So I say ‘OK girls, let’s eat’–and right away they begin.”
Pasha speaks a pure Russian. But if she’s moved by her memories or the heat of the moment, strange intonations sneak into her speech. It’s a Greek accent.
Out of the nine girls in her famous tractor brigade, five are Greek.
“Nei kuricha,” one of them says. That’s Greek for “nine girls.”
“There are Hellenic Greeks,” Pasha specifies, “but Vera Mikhailovna here is a Tatar-Greek, and we generally speak Tatar Greek.”
And truly, if they’re talking about private, unofficial matters, they quickly begin to speak Tatar.
Ancient Greece has come to the Soviet Five-Year Plan!
How many centuries has mankind been amazed by the statues of beautiful white heroines, brave young men and commanders it has dug from the earth. One glance at them makes for the legend of mankind’s beautiful springtime.
Verses traced on parchment telling of battles and exploits, of friendship and hatred, of voyages and wars, fly across the centuries from that age to ours. A magnificent era, which to this day is a lesson to man.
But take a look here! A volcanic eruption has wrenched the earth, and these Greeks emerged from the black soil of the Ukraine, unearthed from the coal dust and factory grime of the Donbass mining region. They come to us not with blind eyes of marble, but with the energetic glean of Komsomol eyes; not with the silence of stony lips, but with the piercing melody of a ditty; not with the smooth gesture of a petrified hand, but with the firm grip of a skillful fist clenching the wheel of a tractor, a manager’s pencil, the shoulder of a Komsomol dance partner; not in the pampered nakedness of a goddess begotten by the foam of warm seas, but in the buttoned jacket of a proletarian girl who knows the discipline and joy of work, the joy of someone who has worked a twenty-hour shift on a frozen iron tractor seat, and strolls away in her thick cotton work-pants, hands in pockets not because of the cold, but to hold the pants up, and there and then breaks into a dance–a dance not just to warm up, but to show the happiness of work successfully completed, show it proudly to friends, neighbors, the field, the motherland, the world. The language of singing and dancing.
In these strong, quiet girls with their beautiful, calm faces Greece has been resurrected, with its myths of people who fear no encounter with the savage monsters and phantoms. Great tales of battles, remembered through centuries, come back to life in the story of these nine girls who conquered the earth in this true springtime of mankind. These girls, of whom the oldest is twenty-two, the youngest not even sixteen.
“Besh” means five in Greek. The village of Starobesh near Stalino has that name because five Greek families moved there from the Crimea in the time of Catherine the Great, and by our day they have grown to more than a thousand households.
Pasha grew up in the village. Her father, Nikita Vasilievich Angelin, was a farm hand. Her mother worked for the kulaks white-washing huts.
“Mother nursed all us children herself and yet never quit working,” says Pasha in a conversation about whether a tractor-driver should quit work when she has a baby. And she remembers an incident from when her older brother was still nursing.
Leaving for the fields, her mother tied the baby to a cart wheel so he wouldn’t crawl away. She returned to feed him and saw that the baby had stretched the string tight and is playing with something springy, black and quick. A poisonous snake. He inched his fingers towards it, pouted his lips and goo-gooed. And the snake was twisting peacefully near his hands, so that her mother was scared to make a step–frighten it and it’d bite.
She ran for the father and her blood ran cold. When they raced up, the snake was gone. It hadn’t touched the baby.
A real Mawgli of the steppe.
The Angelins lived poorly in a one-room hut thatched with ancient reeds, where it was worse than outside when it rained.
“How often,” Pasha remembered, ” I cried angrily by the stove in the winter, after I had to run home through the snow from school barefoot, in my summer jacket.”
But Nikita Vasilievich never got mad. He was even-tempered, steady and extraordinarily firm-willed. Himself illiterate, he set aside his pennies so that his children might become something (and there were eight of them).
The family grew up Bolsheviks. The family of a true Soviet celebrity. Her older brother is a regional agronomist; another finished the Communist Institute of Journalism and became Party secretary of a regiment stationed in the Far East; a third is a Black Sea sailor; the fourth is a tractor driver and Party organizer. Of her sisters, one works as a market-gardener in the kolkhoz brigade, another studies at the Industrial Workers’ School. She’ll become a metallurgical or mining engineer. A third is the leader of a Pioneer troop. The fourth is Pasha, a Komsomol member and the most famous girl in the Soviet Union.
Even in elementary school the kulak-pups teased her and called her a “commie.” Sometimes they beat her up. She cried rarely and quietly. She was stubborn even then, unbendable like her father. She didn’t know how to snap back, and she didn’t know how to be soft.
The benighted customs of Greek families dictated that girls be quiet and veil their faces up to the eyes. Against their will they grew up shy, scared even to talk with a boy. They’d tar your gates if you did.
In 1927 Pasha’s father organized the first kolkhoz in Starobesh, and her brother delivered the first tractor.
Pasha liked the machine very much, and the way you drove it. She pestered her brother to explain better how it was made. But he didn’t know. Only knew how to turn the wheel.
From that time on, Pasha would dream about the tractor. She hung a picture clipped from a magazine on the wall–a tractor driver plowing.
Her mother saw it and said: “It won’t happen. Become a doctor. It’s better.”
The kolkhoz slowly got stronger. Pasha’s father fought for it against overt and covert kulaks. Pasha also learned to fight, by her work in the brigades.
The year 1930 arrived. The kulak fought back savagely, radicals took policies too far. Lamps kept going out at meetings, and party-organizer Angelin and his children were pelted with corn cobs.
The kolkhoz came out of that year’s scrape very small and weak, with only twenty-three households, and the fields unweeded. But Pasha’s father didn’t give up, and his children were in the front ranks of the weeders that saved the Bolshevik harvest.
And when a kulak with a party card, a member of the kolkhoz board, tried to undermine Nikita Angelin, Pasha rushed to the Regional Party Committee, unmasked the scoundrel, and made sure he was put on trial.
It was then that a leaflet from the tractor courses arrived in the village. But the young men were needed for field work, nobody wanted to let them go. That’s why they sent Pasha, so that the spot in the courses didn’t go to waste.
One sixteen-year old girl amongst a hundred young men. Everybody mocked her. They noticed that cursing made her blush, and the language got three times fouler. You could hear: “Long of hair, short of brains!”, “You should be barefoot and pregnant, not on a tractor!” If she passed through a crowd of boys on her way to class, they’d always shove her, make her fall in the snow–and that so it hurt.
She tried to stay away. She never ate with any of them. Always ate after everybody else was done. And always in the corner, hiding behind her kerchief after every bite.
When she came home from school it wasn’t easier. Her mother didn’t believe she’d learned anything, the kolkhoz members laughed: “What good will come of you?”
She worked in a men’s tractor brigade. But what she managed to produce was swamped in the prevailing leveler’s stew. People continued to laugh at her. She just stayed silent and knit her brow. But she noticed that there were other female tractor drivers in the area, and that they were having a tough time too.
From there comes that angry tenacity with which she holds to her purely female brigade, refusing to dilute it with men. As if saying: “You mocked “women’s work”–take a look now, be ashamed, just try and match us.”
In 1933 the Politsektor was formed. The organizer sensed in Pasha one of his first allies among the village youth of the time. And most important, a selflessly conscientious person who loved her work more than herself.
The Politsektor director, Kurov, whose name she remembers gratefully to this day, once invited her to his office.
She came with her frowning face buried in her collar.
“Have a toothache?”
“Why are you hiding?”
“You’re a good worker. Let’s organize a women’s brigade. Let’s show how important women are to the kolkhoz.”
Her face popped out of the collar and lit up. Her dream was coming true.
All the kolkhozes were laughing: “They sent girls. We don’t need girls–they’ll ruin the fields.”
Kolkhoz director Afenkin greeted them with vulgarities and chased them away. It was no easier in other kolkhozes. No huts were set up for them to sleep in, they had to beg for food, they had to drink from a stream, there are hitches in fuel delivery, the tractors keep breaking down–and nobody helps them find a mechanic.
But how she worked! Furious, gritting her teeth. The girls were a bit green and timid. One gets a tractor and she raises a ruckus. Pasha runs up–the girl won’t budge: “Who the hell thought up this damned machine. Take it, I’m leaving!”
And it seems tougher to budge the girl than the dead machine. Pasha pushes her, pushes, peps her up, explains things, and then she herself gets so angry that she too starts howling–so they cry together. They cry themselves out and, when they’ve settled down, they again set to conquering the “damned machine.”
The girls had a tough time getting used to tractors, they were scared.
They drive over a gully and quit right there: “No further! We’re scared!” The brigade leader herself gets into the saddle and guides each tractor, one after the other, across the gully.
The first seven days, when they weren’t given anywhere to sleep, they worked without leaving their tractors. They slept right there, in the furrow, while the mechanic fixed the machine. Or right in the iron saddle, if their inflamed eyes couldn’t make out the furrow anymore, with their oozing, shaking fingers slipping off the wheel.
After seven days Pasha went to Kurov to tell him about their work. She said three words and fell silent. The Politsektor director looked at her, and she was asleep on the couch.
But still she fulfilled her Plan. And Pasha is vain and stubborn as hell about the Plan–don’t mind that her last name is angelic.
That was when the brigade’s fame first began. The kolkhozes began fighting one another to have it. Even Afenkin asked its pardon and invited them to work. But Pasha cut him off: “We won’t go to Afenkin!”
Pasha doesn’t remember personal insults, but she never forgives an insult to her cause.
Pasha also remembers how she hauled coal with tractors from the mines to the Tractor Station. In a blizzard, in freezing weather, when even the young men refused to drive, she went with an improvised girl’s brigade.
The mine director refused to give them coal.
“Bring lumber first, then I’ll give it to you.
In such a storm? Pasha wouldn’t agree to the artful dodger’s idea. And it was already late, almost evening. The girls let the water out of the radiators so that the freezing pipes wouldn’t burst. They hunched together on their tractor benches against the cold. There they slept in the blizzard.
And Pasha drove back all night to complain to the Politsektor director. She arrived and covered the machine with her own shawl so that it wouldn’t freeze. And she ran off in her summer jacket. By the way, she saw nothing special in this. Most important to the girls were their machines, and more than once they took their coats off to wrap the tractors.
The Politsektor director went to let the mining bureaucrat have it. Pasha didn’t sleep that night, shivered the whole time. She drove back to bring food to the girls–they hadn’t eaten for days.
The coal was brought. But by then the girls were in no condition to work.
Then the personnel director, a certain Serdiuk (Pasha remembers his name very well) ordered her to deliver it with a brigade of men.
But she just couldn’t anymore. She could barely rise from the bench.
“If you don’t go,” says Serdiuk, “we’ll raise the question of your exclusion from the Party.”
It was like a knout blow. Pasha couldn’t tolerate it. She stood, and went over to the machine, swaying. Her eyes were green circles, her face like ashes. The mechanic saw her and announced that he wouldn’t let her go. He brought her back, and she fell down without getting up for a month and a half. Pneumonia.
Sickness is not as terrible as human callousness. Disease might not leave a trace. But the blow of a callous word will always leave a wrinkle around the mouth or the scar of an insult in the heart.
From her hospital bed she went straight back to the tractor seat. Her fame swept through the region. She already sensed the ability of herself and her friends and knew that for the honor of their tractor brigade they’d go through fire and water, without mercy for themselves.
They challenged Anastasov’s tractor brigade to a competition. And beat them. The men did four hectares per shift, Pasha’s brigade did 5.6. Moreover. She took Anastasov into the brigade as a student. As an exception. By the end of the summer Anastasov was amazed: “I earned five hundred rubles for the year in my brigade, but under Pasha’s leadership, I earned twelve hundred in five months.”
Already two of Pasha’s girls lead brigades of their own: Stepakina and Anastasova. The Starobesh Tractor Station already has three women’s brigades.
It was hard for them to leave Pasha! Not only did they break into tears when they said goodbye, but later, whenever they’d see Pasha’s brigade from a distance, there’d always be tears.
You look at this quiet, serious girl in a Moscow hotel room and think: where did this disciplined strength, these fine leadership qualities come from?
She ran into the room and spoke hurriedly, because there wasn’t much time. She speaks precisely, in detail. But her hand works independently: it smoothes the rumpled dress hanging on the headboard of the bed, puts the pen near the inkwell, covers some carelessly unwrapped packages. Unconsciously, she puts everything in order.
Pasha has a law for the brigade: if you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your machine.
That’s why the girls never step into their field cabin without first examining their machine, cleaning it till it shines, and washing themselves properly.
How could you enter that cabin dirty–it’s first-rate, white-washed on the inside! Folding beds along the walls, chests for their linen, suitcases, flowers, a hundred and fifty book library, pictures, a gramophone.
Pasha’s drivers’ don’t only look out for themselves, but for the nearby truck-drivers’ cabin. They make sure the truckers wash, don’t curse, read and wear their work clothes, not street clothes, on the job. And study their machines well.
Incidentally, it a bit tougher with the truck drivers. There are always different drivers, depending on which kolkhoz the brigade is working.
What makes the brigade so strong? It maintains a strict discipline that is entirely voluntary, is faultlessly clean, it has a sharp sense of political responsibility, and it strives to justify the honor of high norms for female labor.
But their strength comes not only from Pasha’s knowing her tractor like her own hand and caring for it like a mother cares for her child. Not only because she ceaselessly searches for fuel, or for parts, or for food, breaking down the barriers of human sluggishness, ignorance, bureaucratic callousness, or the simple vileness of enemies.
The tremendous power of the brigade, besides all that, comes from the closeness of the girls, living heart to heart, looking after one another, worrying and caring for one another.
Not only for business, but for any personal problem they go to their brigade leader. If it’s something happy, they laugh together, if it’s sad, they cry.
“Which tractor driver,” I ask Pasha, “is the most careful? Who works hardest? Who likes to read most? Who’s the best dancer?”
Pasha doesn’t like the question. She frowns.
“They’re all the same. They all work just as hard, dance just as well, read just as much.”
A stern answer, in which you don’t know whether there’s more solicitude for the members of her team, or a unique “psychological leveling.”
Of course, each is different. And of course, Pasha treats each differently. It’s called “the distribution of strengths.”
Take Natasha Radchenko. Broad-faced, quiet, doesn’t raise her eyes. But actually the merriest. She dances on the way to dinner, dances as she gets off the tractor. The best chastushka singer in the brigade.
Little apple, little apple,
What a nation.
Satellites, loafers, carburation.
Or jauntier still:
I didn’t love the tractor-boy,
And wouldn’t drive a tractor.
Then I loved a tractor-boy,
And became a tractor-girl.
She puts chastushki together herself, or takes an old one and changes it:
If I was, if I was
If I was a parakeet,
In my loved one’s pocket,
I’d weave myself a nest.
She gets on her tractor with a painful hop. During the winter break she married the president of the workers’ committee, a railroad worker. Come spring, she returned to her tractor, and he began to treat her badly.
“What the hell use are you to me in the brigade? Stay home and cook my dinner. Otherwise, who will feed me and darn my socks? I won’t let you go!”
Natasha was ticked off.
“I won’t live with such an idiot!”
She left her husband like she was leaving a prison. She got on her tractor and literally in a fury began to cut the earth, putting into her work the entire supply of maternal energy that found no outlet in her failed marriage. Now Natasha is a brigade leader finished in Pasha’s school. And on her strong, broad chest is the Order of Red Labor.
Marusia Radchenko, no relation, is entirely different. A calm-eyed hulk, capable, hard-working, but so imperturbable that when you see her serenity you want to jostle her, just so she’ll flare up!
Each is their own girl. Hot-tempered Marusia Tokareva takes the most pleasure in life, she’s never unhappy when others frown: “Oh, the weather’s bad. Will we fulfill the Plan?”
But Marusia had bad luck: she dislocated her arm cranking up her tractor. True, it was her own fault: some guys were looking her over, she wanted to cut a figure, and cranking a tractor–not a subtle piece of machinery–should be done carefully, particularly by a girl.
“Why is it that people who start a tractor carefully never get hurt” asks Pasha.
“Because they’re spoiled”–Marusia needed another forty-nine hectares for her award.
And Natasha Radchenko had to work double for her partner.
How Pasha looked after Marusia Tokareva! When the brigade received a pass to a sanatorium, she gave it to Marusia, supplied her for the journey, told her how to dress, wrote to her all the time, and when she ran out of money, dug some up and sent it to her.
Vera Zolotopup, the brigade Komsomol organizer, next in line after Natasha to run a brigade, slowly but steadfastly changes from an extremely shy, hesitant girl into a competent leader and lecturer. More than anything she wants to change her last name.
“I’ll go back to the regional center and fix everything up there,” she says.
And then there’s the stern face of the silent Greek girl Vera Mikhailova, who unlike Natasha knew how to bring her husband, the commander of a tractor brigade, to reason when he insisted that she chuck her machine and stay home. Very easily confused. She complained to me about her illiteracy.
The brigade’s fussiest member, and its most avid reader, despite her semi-literacy, is Marusia Balakai, a person with a bright and welcoming heart, who never gets mad at anyone.
Light-haired Vera Kosse, also Greek, whose eyes are opened wide with surprise to the world, dreams of sailing the distant seas.
And finally there’s the youngest, restless Nadya Biits, whom Pasha made editor of the wall-newspaper and then taught her that she must put her brigade-leader through the wringer as well. And in the beginning for show she even wrote critical notes about herself, if there was a break in the fuel supply or not enough food.
Once at a meeting Nadia got a note from a boy she didn’t know: “Hey, I like you, let’s get to know each other!”
She took the note to Pasha. The brigade leader decided: drop it, you’re too young. Then she hunted down the boy and gave him a dressing-down.
“It’s a monastery,” the regional Komsomol secretary, Pasha’s husband, smiles. “There was some agitation in the brigade when they found out that their leader had married me. They decided: he’ll take her away to the big city, the brigade will be done for.”
He also chides her gently for the fact that the girls still don’t read much. He tells of how much effort it cost Pasha herself to quit being an unsocial Amazon of the steppe who never climbed out of her dust-bitten work-clothes, and to speak with people freely. Back in 1933, when she walked onto the tribune for her first big speech, Pasha stood silent for ten minutes before she got out the first word.
“Do you think it was easy to train you out of your work-coat and into a dress?” her husband jokes, and continues to tease: “Will you tell him what you want to call our boy?”
Pasha flares up: “You idiot!”
“What idiot? I can imagine him clearly. He’ll be a real pistol.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a tractor driver. I’m not interested in children.”
Then the young Communist’s voice becomes terribly sly: “And who was that choosing a baby blanket in Mostorg?”
And then Pasha falls face-first into her hands. And for a long time she doesn’t take her hands from her brightly blushing cheeks.
But quickly, leading the conversation back to the Don steppe, she tells how this autumn the brigade harvested the very last hectare just to keep the promise Pasha had made to Stalin at the Second Congress of Kolkhoz Shock-workers: to give twelve hundred hectares per tractor.
Everything was fine. They had already done eleven-hundred eighty per tractor, and the brigade had saved twenty tons of fuel, when a frost set in hard. The ground became boggy. It stuck to the tractor treads and forced them to stop for cleaning. It slowed their pace to a crawl. One more week, and the soil would become iron.
Pasha walked about silently, with a pencil and paper, calculating something. The tractor drivers didn’t bother her with questions. If Pasha’s thinking, she’ll think up something.
And Pasha thought something up.
To save time on fueling the tractors and passing them on from shift to shift, she proposed that the brigade go from a ten-hour shift to twenty hours and fill up the tractors only when the gas tanks were almost empty. According to her calculations they would complete their work victoriously by the twentieth.
The plows bucked, and fingers were frozen. Working twenty hours straight wasn’t easy. But the work was fun, because the entire country was watching!
And nine girls, overcoming their dreary kerchiefs and their decrepit, dirty living quarters, and the kulaks’ mockery, and bureaucratic callousness, and the oddities of their machines, and the weariness of their muscles, defeated the weather.
Four days before time was up they tallied what they’d done and it turned out that each tractor had completed twelve-hundred twenty-five hectares.
And for those days the best worker had been little Nadia Biits.
Nine girls had conquered the earth.
Then came the long-awaited Moscow. It was like a holiday, but a little frightening. Particularly frightening was the subway–the doors closed without asking, and could snatch away one who got flustered from the other eight and abandon her in the glittering underground passage. True, Pasha explained that the doors close on a rubber strip and that even a finger stuck in won’t hurt–all the same it was frightening.
The streets were packed with people, and riding the tram was even more complicated than driving a tractor downhill.
But this was eclipsed by the most important thing.
Nine girls could be seen by the whole country. The conquerors were called to microphones, to factory clubs, celebrations were arranged in their honor. Their hands were shaken, glowing words were said, they were showered with gifts, photographers caught them on staircases, at the sight of them reporters pulled out their pencils.
Stores guided them from counter to counter. They tried on jumpers and chose shirts for their brothers. And not only their brothers. They found bicycles for themselves–true, the brigade already had some, but they were the heavy type. They read record labels and shrugged their shoulders, because there wasn’t anything they didn’t already have in their cabin in the steppe.
But the most important thing lay ahead: the gathering in the Kremlin, where Stalin would be, to whom they had made a promise and kept it.
It was evening. The tractor drivers, happy and excited, left the writer’s apartment. A shiny “Lincoln” awaited them at the entrance of the tall building. Hurriedly, one after the other, nattering in a whisper, they got into the car. The door snapped shut, and the olive Lincoln set off. And suddenly from inside a many-voiced song of the steppe rang out, so piercing that passers-by reeled, stood stock-still and smiled.
When Pasha mounted the tribune of the Kremlin Palace, Stalin stood up applauding, and with that motion he pulled up all three thousand people in the audience.
Pasha stood in her bright-green beret, seizing hold of the tribune as if it were a tractor, and directed her speech into the fertile furrows of the rows of humanity, through a storm of greetings that blew in her face. Then she leaned into the rostrum and shouted: “Comrades!”
She shouted to the very horizon, like they yell to a distant tractor in the steppe to drown out its rumbling.
She shouted for the entire country, the entire world, throwing her words to the Pamir plateaus, where the warm sheep graze, and to the frozen strait across which America can be seen from our territory, and to the Moldavian gardens above the murmuring Dnestr, and to the shore-line where the Red Navy distrustfully and guardedly watches the expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
Amazement and a ringing pride were in her hurried tale: that’s what I am, and that’s what we girls are.
Her pride was not conceited: just take a look what I’ve done, nobody else could have done it. No, it was comradely: work intelligently and happily, like we do–you’ll do the same.
It was a challenge to a duel.
Eight girls watched her from the first row and learned how to be proud and to work people up.
“I will take it upon myself this year to organize” Pasha shouted and gathered her breath before a leap, “ten women’s brigades. I will sacrifice my girls to other brigades, take new ones for myself and give per tractor”–here there was no pause, this figure was noted and marked down long ago–“sixteen-hundred hectares!”
And then she fell silent. She wiped her brow with her hand and, leaning to the side, said quietly, like a little girl:
“Working is easier than talking…”
Source: James von Geldern and Richard Stites, eds., Mass Culture in Soviet Russia (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), pp. 216-227.