“Quietly, mom is asleep.” The little daughter of the deceased didn’t leave the home shrine. The child thought it was her mother’s birthday because there were many flowers and candles lit around, but unfortunately, it was a terrible sorrow.

“Be quiet, Mom’s sleeping.” The deceased’s young daughter never left the house. “Quiet, my mom is sleeping because her head hurts,” she implored the choir members singing the requiem, putting a little finger to her lips. “When Mom gets up, we’ll sing ‘Korovai.'” The child assumed it was her mother’s birthday because there were many flowers and candles lighted, but it was actually a tremendous grief.

Inna’s headaches were a daily annoyance, but she couldn’t find the time to see a doctor because she was caring for three children and working in the fields all day. She lived in a village distance from the district center, so it would take at least half a day if not more. She told herself that everyone had aches and pains and that there were no healthy individuals, and she took medications and endured.

When some pain medicines stopped working, she replaced them with stronger ones. She considered working in the garden and then going to a test. But there was always some seasonal employment following gardening. Hay needed to be collected, grain needed to be threshed, potatoes needed to be dug, maize needed to be harvested, and beets needed to be plucked. She had to borrow money from her husband for the trip for the exam, but Inna despised the humiliating procedure. Even the medications she frequently purchased for herself.

“Go to the field without me,” Slavko instructed. “I’ll take a short break and then return.” My head hurts a lot, and I took a tablet…” “You always have a headache,” he complained. “Every woman is as healthy as a horse, and I got a sickly one.” Nadya is seventy and works hard, but you are frail. You’re not getting better, and you’re not dying.” Slavko slammed the door, and Inna burst into tears. What made him despise her so much? Was it her fault she was sick? She did and managed everything around the house.\

Nobody questioned her about her efforts. Only her mother and children felt sorry for her, but they had no idea how badly her skull hurt. It hammered in her temples and behind her skull, as if her brain was on fire. Especially when the weather was changing or she was fatigued or frightened. And there were other grounds to be concerned. They were largely caused by Slavko. Inna married the older man, ten years her senior, when she had just graduated from high school, and she immediately began working.\

He provided well, but he treated her as a servant. It was traditional in their family for Slavko to earn money, keep it for himself, and give it to his wife as needed. She had to express what she needed and how much she needed it, or make a list. He’d carefully examine it, mark off a few items, subtract the money, and constantly remind her to bring back the change. “I need new tights, I have nothing to wear to church,” Inna once stated, observing that her husband had checked off items meant for her.

“Women nowadays wear pants to church, or buy yourself some thick tights so they don’t tear.” Because holey tights look horrible, get it yourself!” Slavko complained, as he always did. “Or get some thick tights to wear over your socks.” Doctors should not be bribed either! That’s not why we got stuck on Maidan…” “Who froze?” Inna couldn’t take it anymore. “You? Have you forgotten how you grumbled about the jar of lard you gave when they were collecting funds for Maidan activists?”

Inna walked to the district center without waiting for an answer or money. She borrowed a few hundred hryvnias from her mother. She was depressed as she left the doctor’s office. He recommended that she get an MRI as soon as feasible. He stated that it was only done at the regional facility and that the examination cost over a thousand hryvnias. Inna walked out of the doctor’s office as if dazed, wondering,

“This is the end.” Slavko would never pay her money for this test. Then there would be additional treatment costs. How could she possibly ask for money? What could she possibly say? He didn’t believe she was sick! Inna immediately lay down when she arrived home. “Your head hurts again?” Sofiyka, Inna’s daughter, nestled up to her, resting her warm little palm on her brow. “Lie down, I’ll stay with Grandma.” Kolya and Pavlyk arrived after school.

The eldest enjoyed his new footwear, and the youngest received new socks from her mother. To keep them from being injured by the lack of advancements… “And did you buy yourself tights?” Mykolka inquired. When she realized her mother had ran out of money yet again, she added, “When I grow up, I’ll buy you a hundred pairs of expensive tights.” And whatever else you want.”

Inna never got out of bed that day. She sent her children go to do their homework and help their grandmother after hugging them and holding them as if it were the final time. She slipped away quietly. She was only 29 years old at the time. Slavko grabbed a pair of new tights from under his wife’s skirt as they closed the casket. The women then stated that Inna had never worn such tights in her life.

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