“Natasha” David Bezmozgis on Dysfunctional Relationships

“Natasha”, a short story by David Bezmozgis, provides prime examples of dysfunctional relationships.
The dysfunction could be seen in the very first deal that Berman and Rufus made together. Berman offered to run drug related errands for Rufus in exchange for free drugs and some money (88). When Berman introduced Natasha to Rufus as his ‘little sister’, it seemed to Berman that Rufus was paying extra attention to Natasha and disrespected Berman by saying that, “With all due respect, Berman, you and her aren’t even the same species” (91). This lead to the final betrayal, where Rufus takes Natasha into his service even though he knew the status of Natasha and Berman’s relationship (100). This betrayal in their relationship marked the most significant twist in the story plot.
Another one of the clearest examples of a dysfunctional relationship is the one between Fima and Zina. While living together, Zina made Fima sleep in the living room couch (98), a clear sign of a dysfunctional marriage. Zina also tries to suck the life out of Fima. This was foretold in the first few conversations between Berman and Natasha, “I feel sorry for him. She’ll ruin his life… he groans like he’s being killed and she screams like she’s killing him” (88) and prediction came true later on, “You saw how she tried to ruin my life and your life and how she was killing your uncle” (98). Furthermore, Zina took advantage of Fima by stealing his money, embarrassing and insulting him. No matter what she did, Fima never took up the courage to leave her (98). This relationship helped in enlarging the dysfunctionability between Zina and Natasha.
The basis of the dysfunctional relationship between Zina and Natasha stemmed from early age where “since the age of eight, [Natasha] had been on her own” (Bezmozgis 93). Zina neglected her while she messed around with other men (93). This turned Natasha towards the porn industry at age twelve (93-94). Furthermore, Zina also actively hurts her daughter. When Natasha finds out that Zina is cheating on her husband, Zina does not admit it but instead lashes out at ther daughter’s involvement with Berman (95). Natasha retaliates by calling her mother, whom she avoids, a “whore” (88) and is so agitated that she attacks Zina with a break knife (94). One cannot imagine a more dysfunctional relationship than this.