"How terrible it is to be married", or The Strange Love of Daniil Kharms and Marina Malich
Categories: CelebritiesBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/how-terrible-it-is-to-be-married-or-the-strange-love-of-daniil-kharms-and-marina-malich
Daniel Harms wrote about his second wife in 1938: "I love her very much, but how terrible it is to be married." Perhaps Marina Malich, the main woman in the poet's life, could say the same about marriage. She endured his crazy antics and constant infidelities, was a grateful audience for his works and tried her best to keep the family together until she despaired.
Marina Malich was born into the noble family of the Golitsyns, but was an illegitimate child. Therefore, she got her grandmother's maiden name, and her grandfather's patronymic. After giving birth to a daughter, Marina's mother quickly left for France, entrusting the upbringing of the child to her married sister Elizabeth. The aunt had her own daughter, Olga, thanks to whom Malich met Kharms.
One day in August, a strange young man appeared at the door of the apartment. He was dressed brightly and provocatively for a Soviet man. Marina later recalled that with his plaid jacket, short trousers and leggings, he resembled an exaggerated foreigner from children's books. But the most striking thing about the man was his eyes — they were bright blue and looked intently and warily.
The guest's name was Daniil Kharms and he came to Olga. Marina, as an illegitimate and unwanted child, used to be always in the shadow of others, but that's probably what attracted the poet. He came to visit often and everyone was sure that he would woo Olga. But Daniel quite unexpectedly offered to marry him to Marina. She agreed, and then everything happened rapidly.
Young people did not play a wedding and did not even arrange a feast for friends. They were outrageously poor and just signed at the registry office. Harms suggested not to change the surname of the young wife, rightly judging that it would be safer that way. He assured his wife that it would be easier for her to live with the surname Malich if he was arrested. After the marriage was registered, Marina immediately moved into her husband's room in a communal apartment.
The spouse's dwelling was a real "crow settlement". Separated by flimsy partitions, Daniel's father, a sister with a Bolshevik husband hated by Kharms, and a young girl with a bedridden mother lived nearby. Everyone lived in plain sight of each other, knew all the details and openly hated each other. To the apartment of Aunt Elizabeth, in which Marina grew up, the way was closed to her because of Olga's offended feelings.
Marina and Daniel's life together was filled with events, ideas and insults. In the person of his wife, the poet met a true friend and a grateful listener. She laughed when he read poetry to her, supported him when he did the unimaginable, forgave what another would not tolerate.
Harms behaved with his wife as eccentrically as with others. He could wake her up in the middle of the night to paint the oven pink together. Or arrange a ridiculous night hunt for rats, which have never been in the room of a starving young family. One day Daniel demanded that Malich cut off her pride — a long braid. The poet claimed that the hair constantly floats in his soup. The woman silently stripped herself of her hair.
The poet continued to lead a bohemian lifestyle. He went in his funny costume to visit and party with us, and Marina was waiting for him at home. She couldn't even get a job, because she didn't have decent clothes and shoes. Often the poet's wife starved, as Harms, eating at a party, almost never brought food home.
One day, due to hunger, Marina fell ill and was already preparing to die. But Harms brought her a lump of sugar from somewhere and brought her back to life. The insults inflicted by the spouse were innumerable. Once my husband got coupons for women's shoes. After showing them to Marina, the poet said that he would give them to his first wife, Esther. He motivated it by the fact that she lives alone and unhappy, and the two of them are happy. Malich was left without shoes again.
But most of all Marina suffered from her husband's infidelity. She knew that his first marriage broke up because of this and hoped that everything would be different. But Harms was incorrigible. It seemed that he fell in love several times a day and was disappointed as many times. He did not hesitate to bring his mistresses to their room and did not even hide it.
Sometimes Marina came home and came across a door locked from the inside. Harms was shouting at her to go for a walk, and this meant that he was not himself. And once he told his wife that he sometimes sleeps with her stepsister, the same Olga. At the same time, he asked not to show it, since Olga is vulnerable. It was not difficult to do, because because of Daniel, they had not even greeted each other for a long time.
Over time, Marina fell into complete despair. She wanted to divorce the poet many times, but she was constantly dissuaded. A couple of times, finding some women at home, Malich went to the railway station to throw herself under the train. But she could not repeat Anna Karenina's act.
Every time a train approached, she got scared. Marina just sat on the bench for a long time, meeting and seeing off the trains. Then she wandered home to find out about the next adventures of a wayward spouse. Marina understood that she no longer loved a man who did not value her at all, but she continued to live with it further. Harms didn't seem to notice that his behavior was killing Marina. One day he dedicates a comic poem to her.
At the very beginning of the war, the NKVD came for Kharms. He was arrested on the denunciation of a female agent who moved in Leningrad poetic circles. Daniel did not go to prison, because he was recognized as mentally ill. The poet was sent to a prison hospital and it seemed to many that he had escaped certain death. But it wasn't like that.
Marina from the very first day began to wear her husband's gear, tearing off the latter from herself. On her third visit to the psychiatric department of the Krestov Prison hospital, she learned that he had been transferred to Novosibirsk. But very soon she was told that Daniil Ivanovich Kharms had died. It happened on February 2, 1942, during the most hungry period of the siege of Leningrad. The poet was killed by hunger and cold.
Unexpectedly, it turned out that by keeping the seal of marriage in the passport, Malich got a chance to be saved. As the wife of a writer, she was evacuated from Leningrad. However, soon Marina found herself in the occupied territory and she was hijacked to Germany. When the war ended, Malich decided not to return, where no one was waiting for her. She moved into Allied-controlled territory. From there, she managed, posing as a Frenchwoman, to go to France, to her own mother.
In a foreign country, Marina got married and gave birth to a son. The marriage was unsuccessful again and broke up. Then the woman moved across the ocean to distant Venezuela. There she taught yoga and taught the locals French. In South America, she married for the third time, to a simple taxi driver, an emigrant Vasily Durnovo. When her husband died, Marina moved to her son Dmitry in the USA, where she died in 2002 at the age of 90.
Shortly before her death, Marina Malich dictated memories, thanks to which the world learned the story of her relationship with the poet Daniil Kharms. By the way, the woman forgave Kharms a long time ago and, despite everything, said a lot of warm words about him.