Essays > Coping with Communal Life > A little girl takes justice into her own hands
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A little girl takes vengeance on a neighbor for stealing food.
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This story, a kind of family legend, was told to us by an old woman. It is about an incident that occurred to her girlfriend when she was a child. We don't need to assume it is true (though if it did happen, it would likely have resulted in a huge communal uproar). It is, however, instructive that this was kept in family memory in this form.

There was hunger in postwar Leningrad. In one fairly small communal apartment in the early 1950s there lived a family that, considering the poverty bordering on destitution of everyone else, was comparatively well-off. One of the members of this family worked in a cafeteria and always brought home some food. They didn't share it with the neighbors.

A little girl from a poor family who was present at a kitchen squabble heard these tenants being accused of stealing, in essence, from the people who ate at the cafeteria. She understood that thieves were living in her apartment. Later that day, alone in the kitchen, the girl was drawn to the smell of food. It was coming from a big container on the table of the rich neighbors. She looked: it was filled with beet salad, stolen from the cafeteria.

In those days in the middle of the kitchen was a big wood stove, which was occasionally fired up for cooking, although usually food was prepared on primus stoves and kerosene stoves. But heating was still by wood. Wood chips and wood filings were used to light fires, and the girl, of course, knew where they were stored.

The girl got a whole scoop of wood filings, poured it into the container, and mixed it into the beet salad.

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