Anatoly and Larisa Shakhovs met 21 years ago. He was a 52-year old piano tuner and piano instaurator. He was then an experienced trekker, a UFO eyewitness, a member of Astronomic society, a bookworm that read hundreds of philosophical books, a brilliantly-educated man that has been to all big museums of USSR and met many famous people. She was just an undergraduate in the music school of 19. They had one common topic – ufology. 21 years later they are still together. The Shakhovs live in Makeevka that is close to Donetsk, the Ukraine.
Larisa’s parents were shocked to know that their daughter was to live with a man that is 31 years older than her. Things became worse when they gave up their jobs to dedicate all the time to their hobby – ufolofy. However, they still decided to keep in touch. Once a month they visit Larisa and give her vegetables and preserves. The Shakhovs accept food, however, with suspicion: before eating, they test it on cats to identify if it is poisoned or not. They are completely sure in the food that they themselves buy in the market, situated nearby.
Anatoly thinks it is the market owners that once set his house on fire. He thinks they wanted enlarge the market and his house was the only obstacle. The ufologist still can’t keep up with the thought that his observatory with telescopes, books on astronomy and some rare icons are gone in the fire. The house was put out by firemen, and this is how the town found out about the couple that doesn’t accept any norms of society.
Their half-dilapidated house is situated almost in the center of the industrial town Makeevka. Their shelter deserves to be talked about. The crib has neither light, nor any electronic utensils. The walls are all covered with the maps-labyrinths of space. Larisa claims they are not handmade, but painted by the hand of someone from the above.
But what really shocks is not their house, but the appearances of these people. They haven’t washed themselves for 16 years! They never wash their clothes. They wear the same apparel for a year until it becomes damp. Neither do they wash up. 10 years ago, after the market construction, their water pipe dried up. But they decided not to ask anyone to get it fixed. Instead they started to gather rainwater and use it for cooking and drinking. They say they get enough water, because they are very thrifty: they eat and drink once a day, sometimes even less frequently – once a couple of days, and with absolutely no salt.
They bought 4 loaves of bread in Februaty and still have half a loaf. Larisa also manages to cook soup, sauces, mush, beans, potatoes, coffee and so on. The most surprising is, with shortage of fresh water and lack of any hygiene, they never needed neither medicines, nor medical help. Well, to some extent they do really take care of their health: they neither smoke, nor drink alcohol and beware of products with harmful ingredients. When someone asked them if the like the way they smell, the couple says that they hate the smell of shampoo and deodorant and think it is much more harmful for health to use them than to stay unwashed for decades.
They don’t just stay unwashed for decades, but also unshaved. Anatoly has an almost 78-inch long beard. It is difficult to say about the length of hair of the man and his wife: for 16 years that they haven’t cut hair it became a tight mat. It is difficult to wear such long hair, but the couple already got used to it.
The Shakhovs don’t try to underline that their long hair is used to communicate with space. They just say that ‘it’s meant to be so’. They have never thought of leading another way of life. They both say that it is the best life and they would die to live in any other conditions. Well, tastes differ, they say.
Translated by Lena Ksandinova