A Witch Disses Candidates in Favour of Gold

Paul Goncharoff

This rainy Wednesday morning in Moscow found me in the apartment doing some distance work on the laptop, and thinking of important matters like ‘what’s for lunch?’ Checking the fridge was enough to send me walking in the drizzle to the farmers market nearby. This is my go-to place for excellent spices, fresh veggies and remarkably good meats.

Who do I run into, but my one and only neighbourhood Znakhar, my ‘witch’ acquaintance of whom I have written before. “Hello, wet foreigner” was her unsurprised greeting, “what, an empty kitchen and a growling stomach brought you outside?” Not giving me a chance to exchange pleasantries, she started in on her gold theme again. “So, inostranets (foreigner), are you taking this opportunity of low gold prices (low? it is $1,925!) to buy more St. George coins, or are you wasting all your spare change on foods and spices?”

I tell her that gold seems a bit expensive to buy just at this moment, to which she cackled “Expensive! rubbish! just wait and see what happens by the end of this week and in all the weeks leading up to your reality show of an election!”. This irritated me, and I snapped back “why do you say our elections are a reality show, that sounds like you are making fun of us which is not very polite on a rainy day.”

Not deterred in the slightest, she retorted “Since I know you foreigners rarely read the classics, or read at all… have you read or seen the play by your English Mr. Shakespeare called Much Ado About Nothing?” I did and told her so. “Good, then you have this comic election marriage that everyone says they want in order to make the democratic baby of the future, but it is a process where each is looking to deceive each other, talking of bright futures, but doing everything today to ensure the resulting infant will be stillborn.”

I had to scratch my head before digesting all that and comparing it to the protagonists in the play, still, she went on, “I read (surf, I guess) the internet, I see what is happening in your foreign cities, everything is a conflict, speaking the truth is a problem, you want safety and order yet want to liquidate the police, some lives matter more or less but you forget simply that all lives matter and your candidates are all older than Leonid Brezhnev was!”

“One thing I have seen is that whoever you elect, it will be their deputies (vice presidents) that will finish this term, so look at them carefully now, they will be your vote. This I know, I was born, raised, lived in the USSR and I see the difference between then and now here in my country. I see some of the most dangerous aspects of the old regime are now popular in America and other European countries. This is why I buy gold, this is why I also look into these cryptocurrencies because the dollar is like the Soviet rouble once was under the communists, propped up and printed into no value. I also know inflation, and this is a beast that will make itself known very soon, especially now that it is all but forgotten. It is simple arithmetic.”

I could tell she was just getting started, she was in her prophesy mode and I didn’t have all day to hang around discussing the meaning of life any further, so I made my hurried goodbye’s, grabbed my shopping bag and made tracks out of there. On my way home under the drizzle the moral axiom of “always a price to pay for everything you do,” popped into my head. As usual, she got me thinking of the unintended consequences of our actions. More disturbing was the picture she left me with… a President Mike Pence, or a President Kamala Harris on some future US coin. Interesting times to come says the witchy Znakhar, we will watch and see, won’t we?

Paul Goncharoff

Moscow August 26, 2020

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