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About three Valentinas


It is always a pleasure to write about women, especially Russian women. Nobody disputes that they are the most beautiful in the world since this is not a compliment but fact. Science has no explanation for this, not having researched it, although in my opinion it is quite evident. At least the main reason seems to be that Russian women in contrast to our Canadian women and in general North American ones, have lagged considerably in the battle for emancipation, i.e. equal rights with men. I have observed that the more women are emancipated, the more they resemble men even outwardly. Understandably they therefore lode their feminine charm and other womanly qualities. As a result we have neither women nor men but something in the middle of "it". These "it" I meet constantly in North America and somewhat rarely in Europe. Thankfully in Russia they are in their units. For the most part, women here remain women with all their delights and charms. But even in the midst of this feminism and beauty one finds rare examples which may surprise even Russian men who are not generally surprised at anything. I shall describe three of them who by coincidence are all named Valentina.

Valentina the First – Wife and Mother

 I shall begin with Valentina the first. She amazes me with her natural qualities of wife and mother. What is unusual lies in the following: Sometime in the seventies, Valentina married a student from one of the provinces. Owing to circumstances they settled in Moscow without any apartment, not even permit for one. While they struggled to obtain a permit they had to move twenty times with their two small children and meager possessions. On top of that, since the husband is not a normal human being by normal standards, he chose to head for work to  Vladivostok. She followed. They changed homes five or six times. He went to Japan and later to Canada. In the land of the Rising and Setting Suns they moved from place to place six times. In short they dwelt in over thirty homes, excluding hotels and hostels. Although we in Canada do not stay in one place all our lives but generally move, it is more frequent in the experience of Valya. Honestly, I do not know of any one woman that could endure so much moving from place to place. But this is not all.

Since Valya's husband was at first more an undergraduate student, than a science worker with a salary of from 90 to 250 rubles (this was in the seventies) it follows that they were always in arrears. This forced Valentina to learn how to sew, which is not unusual for a Russian woman

to know. She sewed everything: shirts, pants, suits, ties, leather and fabric coats, parkas, not to mention dresses and women's boots, right from the beginning such as soaking the hide, stretching and drying and do on. I have never met her equal in these crafts.

Both her husband and Valya's friends are amazed by her culinary prowess. Not in such ordinary dishes as pirogy, pelmeni and bortsch, but also in Japanese cooking. Not every Japanese woman can prepare a genuine sushi. Valya spent a deal of time to learn how to make this dish in the true Japanese way, not in the North American or European way which one could get in any restaurant. Someone who knows Japanese cuisine will know the difference. The most wonderful surprise for guests is her ability to prepare a special cake called "Pavlova". This torte is somewhat like the Russian "Birds' milk", but lighter and with-out any fat. This is the secret. There is one family in Vancouver that makes this torte and they keep the recipe secret. According to her husband, Valya struggled for two months and used up many ingredients before she discovered the secret. Now she may treat her guests with "Pavlova" torte which was named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.

Her two children were never a problem. She treated all their childhood ills and raised her children. But I am aware that as adults they phone her five of six times daily, especially her son who lives and works in England.

I say to her husband that he has an unusual wife but he unwittingly asks: "What is so unusual about her? How could it be otherwise?" I don't know, perhaps all Russian women are like her.

 Valentina the Second-secretary and politician

 Valentina the second is married to a doctor of science, professor, and scientific worker. The husband is from out of reality. More opposites than Valya and her husband I have yet to meet. Their habits, life style, thinking, and nutrition are on opposite poles. She is in life, he is out of reality. As she remarks: "He is in letters." But without her help he couldn't do what he does. Valentina not only organizes his life, but she actively assists him in his scientific endeavors. At first this entailed typing his undergraduate and doctoral thematics which involved editing his work to give it shape and readability. Then she taught herself to use the computer and was thus able to use programs, processors, the Internet and find the best paths to different databases.

The wide scientific interests of her husband that use up to about 1 MB of information daily make it imperative for the wife to sit long hours at the computer. As a result she has mastered well all the nuances of the international and domestic politics of USA, Japan, Russia, China and could easily discourse on many problems. She finds amusing the discourse of specialists who talk on the TV about problems in, say Russia.

But she finds especially amusing those women politicians or women who claim to know politics and with a straight face attempt to teach the populace on TV channels. She finds it even more amusing to hear discourse on democracy and the "good life" in the West, such as USA and

Canada by the proponents of "western values". I myself as a Canadian am often shocked at the ignorance of these "Specialists of the West". By the way, Valentina and husband have written a small book called "Immigration to North America: Advice of Russians Canadians" in which   they have painted a true picture of the North American "paradise".

I am saying this because nowhere in Canada nor in Russian I have met a women who have been more involved in the professional life of her husband and did not consider it of special merit. It should be said than Valya's own work does not have any relation to science. The husband does not see her as a "heroine" reasoning that she is performing the functions of a normal wife. Perhaps it is normal for a wife to help the husband in his profession.

 Valentina the Third – An Artist

 I met Valentina the third about a year and a half ago and was amazed to find that she was a painter of Chinese paintings. This is really unusual. Valya is a musician who graduated from The Leningrad Conservatory in Piano as a musician. But one day she saw some Chinese paintings at her friend's house and was hooked. She used to love European paintings before that and took part in studies of European technique of painting on television and had taught herself to paint   landscapes in oil in 40 to 45 minutes. But she was not really captivated by "Europe". She became addicted to Chinese painting; she read books and learned on the Internet the many works on the technique, the specifics of Chinese paints and paper. She then began to work. She worked through the classics, learned the different styles and trends, modern schools and began to develop her own style which may be seen in many paintings that fill the walls of her Moscow flat. Her husband, an expert on the Orient, is not to come and give an objective opinion. The friends   acknowledged that these were genuine Chinese paintings. One of the professors said that these were better than the Chinese. They were even more surprised that Valentina did believe this and I would not have either had I not been present when she executed them.

Russian TV had featured self-taught men and women painters but their works often shows "self-taught artistry". Here is real professionalism which is corroborated by Chinese friends and those in the know. This is surprising and hard to understand. Valya assures everyone than even   though she does not know the Chinese language, she feels the Chinese spirit as though in a former life she had been Chinese and she signs her paintings: Wang Liushi. There is in Russia someone, a Russian Chinese, a genuine artist.

 *   *   *

 I have written about three Russian women, each of whom elicits my amazement and admiration with their unusual qualities. I do not believe that even in Russia there are many of them, but each one is unique. But this uniqueness is treble because I shall reveal the secret that Valentina I, Valentina II and Valentina III is one the same and her name is Valentina Alieva. She lives in Moscow with her husband, who still believes that he has a normal wife and if someone's wife cannot sew, cook, edit and paint Chinese pictures, what sort wife is she? "She is just some kind of spouse," says he. Perhaps he is right.

 Published in "Volga" (Astrakhan), December 5, 1998; "Russian Vancouver" (№ 52, March, 2000).