I am a tiny female television reporter interviewing a big Russian woman in her late fifties. She is dressed in black. We are standing on a track where an open gate marks the boundary between pasture and forest.

The Russian woman tells me about her first child--a daughter who was born a long time ago. I pick up two old walnut shells from the wet grass and show them to the woman. She tells me that they are her second and third children, two boys who were never properly born.

We open the walnuts. At first I think that the kernel inside each walnut is dead. There is a tiny crack in each shell which, over the decades, has allowed damp, dirt and mould to enter. But the woman says, no, and carefully pulls the flesh apart further to reveal the wholesome kernels within. Her two sons are alive--sort of. Each of them is covered by a slimy, transparent membrane. They have eyes like a chicken's when it's in an egg.

Their minuscule fingers are trembling.