This piercing stare at a little girl is disturbing for its lack of empathy or even warmth towards a child. Nadya is the adopted daughter of a powerful member of the Kremlin Communist elite under Stalin. Formerly powerful, that is. The man has just fallen from favour and is soon arrested and the girl, having been pampered for the first few years of her life, is then sent to a stifling orphanage, politically tarnished for life by an association she didn’t choose in the first place.
The day before her father’s fall from grace, the guard would have been deferential. Now her nanny tries to protect her from his predatory look. Soon after, the nanny was also taken from the girl.
When Marfa Domityevna and Nadya came back from their walks, the guard now looked straight at the little girl, straight into her little face, and Marfa Domityevna would try to prevent her from seeing his stare, which was as sharp as the filthy, bloodstained talon of a bird of prey.
This is from a short story by Vasily Grossman, apparently based on one of the most murderous of KGB heads under Stalin’s reign of terror.
See another such predatory look.
Source: Vasily Grossman, ‘Mama’, The Road: Stories, Journalism, and Essays, trans. Robert and Elizabeth Chandler with Olga Mukovnikova, afterword Fyodor Guber (New York: New York Review Books, 2010), pp. 210-11
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