watercolour and pencil. Panels added and edited on MediBang.
All characters and plotlines here are by me and are from my original series Blue Star.
This is another task for
, this time about my character Katya
's biggest fear. See this folder
for all the other OC-training tasks about Katya I've done so far. Summary: Katya's biggest fear is to be forgotten, abandoned, and become an old, bitter, lonely woman with no one by her side.
- In particular, she is afraid of losing her lover and later husband Kuzma Ardalionovich Mayakov (the man on the top panel, shown for the first time with facial hair!! In this picture, he is being interrogated by Commissars who suspect him of being anti-State) to the State.
She is afraid that Kuzma's connection to some underground poets (as well as the fact that he is one of the sons of the 'blacklisted' Regimental Commander Ardalion Ivanovich Mayakov, who committed suicide before the Secret Police could get to him to save face, see here: Embracing Nothingness
) will lead him to be taken away by the secret police and that they will 'conclude' that he is an counter-revolutionary, leading to imprisonment, torture, exile, and/or execution. After the accusations go away in 1933-4, Katya starts worrying about losing Kuzma again in 1939 when the Great Patriotic War, WWII starts. When he is drafted, she is afraid he will never return and that their children will not remember him or have very few memories of him by the time he does return (or doesn't return). The idea of being away from him for so long causes her deep pain. Who else can she talk to about her greatest fears? And she'll miss him talking about his creative writing as well as his physical presence. There are, after all, many things she won't and can't tell her children.
She fears that once she loses Kuzma, she will fall back into being the kind of stagnant, boring, anxious person she was before (bottom left hand panel illustration). She fears that she will become so disillusioned that she will isolate herself from society even more than before and become an old, embittered woman with no one by her side (see bottom right panel for an illustration of old Katya) other than a couple of cats. Such a life, she feels, would not be worth living. Better to die young if becoming an old, embittered, lonely crone is the only thing waiting for her at the end of all of this, she thinks. All these years of slaving away at the factory and serving her family, all for nothing...? All of her attempts to gain freedom (by boarding the Armoured Train during the Civil War, reading, and trying to learn new things despite her extremely busy schedule) and develop a stronger sense of self, all for nothing...?
Her fear of becoming old is also tied to her self-worth. Not well-educated with no real career of her own, Katya believes that one of the only things she can be proud of is her femininity. Though she is not the most beautiful woman she knows and she is well aware she doesn't turn heads most of the time, she believes she's reasonably attractive and hopes that she can use her beauty and sensuality for a good cause (to get married and have a family) before it's too late. When she becomes a wrinkled old hag, she knows that no one will have time for her and that she'll be shut out of most activities as a woman with no children, grandchildren, husband or suitors. See the third deviation below for a discussion/illustration about Katya's views on age, body, and sexuality.
Why is she so afraid of losing Kuzma?
After years of slaving away at the factory with few chances to get to know new people besides her family and two or three friends she knew from before she started work (all of whom started drifting away from her once they married and started families of their own in their early 20s and late teens), 27 year old Katya (as we know her at the beginning of Blue Star
) is jaded about her future prospects of finding a suitable husband, especially since she had been 'ruined' by the Regimental Commander Ardalion Ivanovich Mayakov back in the early 1920s, when she had been an impressionable teen. As a result of their impestuous affair, which was about satiating both of their egos and desire for attention more than it was about mutual attraction, young Katya had to go through a painful abortion, which prevented her from actively seeking out any kind of relationship from 1922 to 1932.
Then she runs into Kuzma again in 1930s. She knew him back in the early 1920s when she was getting acquainted with the Mayakov family, before she started her affair with Kuzma's father, Ardalion. Kuzma back then was only 12 years old, whereas she seemed much more mature than him at 17. Little did she know that she had made an impression on him, due to the mature way she had behaved and the loyalty she expressed towards her family (which Kuzma wished he had for his own family, since his family was already breaking apart for a variety of reasons, mostly due to his parents quarelling over Ardalion's long absences, womanizing, and his mother's bitterness and as his father put it, 'turning Kuzma into a weapon against his own father').
Kuzma, however, is now a young man, a writer working for a political organization. He is deeply dissatisfied with his lot in life. A poor writer with few connections, he has been reduced to being an editor who has no say in his boss' projects. All he does is copy and edit, and he is questioning his career choice. Before, he had tried to join the army like his brothers and father before him. He did not fit in there well, finding the structure of the army "animalistic" and the behaviour of his peers reprehensible, particularly their sexual mores (which reminded him once again of his father's transgressions against his mother, Katya, and many others).
Proud and obsessed with being pure and dignified (so he can project some sort of confidence, since Kuzma really has NO confidence due to his lack of achievements and lack of strong bonds with others), Kuzma drifts towards Katya, wanting to establish a friendship with her. Finally, he thinks, the woman he used to be obsessed with has made her appearance again. He tries to 'fix' her, tries to educate her, giving her lectures, showing her his universitiy work, and trying to get her to network with the small group of writers he's acquainted with. When Katya accepts, he is delighted, and tries to further 'refine' her into the woman of his dreams. He is a bit perturbed by her 'lack of refinement,' as he puts it, and encourages her to read more, especially now that many of her factory shifts have been taken by new workers from the villages. With Katya having more free time and having earned enough savings (at least for now) to live more comfortably, Kuzma decides to help her find a new job for her. This is done ALL for the sake of himself more than Katya's sake. What Kuzma wants at this point is to have a subservient, grateful woman like Katya follow him around and inflate his ego, so that he can finally feel on par with his peers and challenge his father's assumption that he is a weak, mollycoddled child unable to stand on his own.
Katya and Kuzma only become truly close and emotionally and sexually intimate after Katya's father's death. Kuzma, being the fool he is, erupts in anger towards her in their pivotal Argument
(read the description of the deviation). Thinking that Katya will never forgive him for using her like this and leaving her at her most vulnerable time, Kuzma blocks off all contact with Katya for a couple of months. Later, they meet again and both reveal their insecurities. They manage to forgive each other and realize that despite all the tension between the two of them, they had really enjoyed their time together and want to spend more time together in the future. Kuzma reveals his lonliness and fears towards Katya, and tell her about how he's been suspected by the State of contributing towards counterrevolutionary poetry groups. He's also been placed under 'supervision' by the Secret Police due to his Father, who was suspected of spreading anti-State views before his suicide. Katya tells him her fears as well--her fears of being abandoned, ignored, and, as he already knew, being an unrefined working mule with no significance.
They spend more time together and eventually become lovers. Katya and Kuzma start understanding each other more as they share more and realize they have a lot more in common than either of them had previously assumed. Both of them find in each other someone who listens to them more than anyone else they've known has ever done. Kuzma especially loves Katya's kindness and her desire to improve herself, which he no longer uses to prop up his ego. He learns to be more selfless and less demanding and finds happiness in helping Katya find her own happiness. Katya admires Kuzma's resolve and his intellect as it develops throughout the course of the series. He becomes more outgoing, less judgmental, and starts making more connections as he shakes off the accusations, builds better relationships with his co-workers, and starts to legimately enjoy writing and creativity.
Together, Katya and Kuzma build their own world and eventually family, and both instill within one another a zest for life they had not known previously.
This is why losing Kuzma is something that terrifies Katya. Without Kuzma, she feels, she would have to start from scratch again. What are the chances of her meeting someone like this again? She is nearly thirty years old, after all. In the event she loses Kuzma during WWII when she is already married with children, she worries that her children will have few/no memories of him once they grow up and only she will remember Kuzma's role in their family. Eventually, their son and daughter will leave her, so she will be all alone again (for the most part) when she gets old...
Check out this fear from Kuzma's perspective: