The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the category “invasion”





They came on horseback in hordes, with their weapons drawn.  They slaughtered man, boys, male babies, and pregnant women. They took the women as slaves, raping us and forcing us to bear their children. I was only just a woman, myself, then, having been a girl until just a few moons before.

We were the conquered and with no men of our own for protection, we had no choice but to make ourselves appealing to these men who both controlled and protected us.

We adopted their ways, their language, their methods of preparing food, their values, their standards of beauty, their ceremonies and spiritual practices, although most of us women continued to speak among ourselves in our own language. And in secret we practiced the old rituals.

The younger women and girls, like myself, adapted better to our new masters. I forgot my father and my brothers and my uncles because I had no choice.  Many of the men went back to from where they came or perhaps went on to conquer new peoples.  But many stayed on, for what is the point of conquering new lands if you do not stay to reap the rewards and extract its riches?

Some of those who stayed became kinder in domestication, especially those who now had children.

My original captor/rapist was one of those who left and I was eventually taken as a wife/slave by another man – a younger,  low-ranking soldier who had been conscripted into service and didn’t really have the heart for war.  He was happy to remain and farm our rich, fertile land. In the end, what did it matter to a young girl which man took her as a bride?  Men as a group, it seemed to me, were all alike.

In time, we younger women forgot the old ways as the older women, who still had their memories and their anger, died out.  Eventually,  a new culture emerged – a blend of our old ways and the new.

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Photo:  Detail of a 19-century CE painting depicting the Battle of Kulikovo (1380 CE). By Ivan Blinov, on display at the State Historical Museum, Moscow.

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