From A Journey into Russia, by Jens Mühling (Armchair Traveller series; Haus, 2015), Kindle Loc. 4274ff:
When I think back on Agafya today, I hear her voice before I see her face. She speaks, but I do not hear any words, only an unmistakable melody. She seems to be singing. It sounds like a faint, unfinished song not intended for an audience.
For five days and four nights I heard her singing voice almost constantly. Each of its melodic variations impressed itself on me, even if I did not always understand the text. Sometimes I was not sure whether Agafya herself knew the text exactly. When she spoke, it often sounded as if her song drifted aimlessly and at random through fragments of memory and verses of scripture, through family tales and the life stories of people she had known.
While we walked along the river, the evening sun sank behind the mountains. The valley turned red before it paled. I was in a strange mental state, dead tired and wide awake at the same time, exhausted from the hike, electrified by our arrival. I could hardly feel the weight of my backpack anymore, everything seemed strangely light, as if the world in which I had landed was not quite real. Agafya walked in front of me, so close that I could make out the irregular seams in her dress, the dirt under her fingernails, the notches in her hatchet. I memorised every detail with the nervousness of a dreamer who knows that he may wake up at any moment.
I was only half listening when Lyonya told me the name of a smaller tributary which flowed into the Abakan just behind the fish trap: the Yerinat. We continued walking on its shore, until the dense forest suddenly opened up. A clearing wound its way up the mountainside. Three small wooden houses stood about halfway up. Above them I could make out the furrows of a potato field.
The oldest of the three huts was half-dilapidated. Agafya had lived in it until her father had died. The two other houses, which were visibly newer, had been built by Lyonya and his forestry colleagues. Agafya lived in the one on the left. Lyonya disappeared into the right one to unload our backpacks.
I unpacked the gifts I had brought along with me [from Abaza, Republic of Khakassia] the headscarf from Doctor Nazarov, the letter from Agafya’s cousins in Kilinsk, the jar with the home-pressed sunflower oil, a woollen blanket that I had bought as a gift and finally the letter from Galina, the linguist. Smiling, Agafya turned all the objects over in her hands, as if she was pondering their religious adequacy. In the end she put the headscarf, the blanket and the sunflower oil on a woodpile in front of her hut. Only the letters remained in her hands as she went inside.
A campfire was smouldering between the houses, with a pan full of fish roasting over the embers. While I was wondering who had put them on the fire, a very small man with a very long beard suddenly stood before me. He reached out his hand. ‘Alexei.’ The high voice did not fit his beard.
Alexei was a distant relative of Agafya’s. He visited her each year around this time. Usually he would stay a few weeks to help her with the winter preparations. He came from one of the Old Believer communities in the Altai Mountains. As it turned out, it was a neighbouring village of Kilinsk, the place where I had met Agafya’s cousins.