Saturday, May 09, 2009

still russia

my grand-father is very much alive, and very ill. his illness brings me painfully close to the truth that he will not be around forever (there is that buddhist story of a king who asks a wise man to bless his family, and the wise man says 'father dies, son dies, grand-son dies'.) i will very probably have to outlive my grand-father. and the pain i feel at the thought of life without this dearest of old men is made brighter and sharper by the thought of what would disappear together with him. he is, in a very real (though not factual) sense, my last link to russia. without him, i feel as if the last little thread would snap between me and that weird country of which i was born and that runs in me like a childhood virus never quite recovered from.

walking the streets of moscow, any time in the last 15 years, i have looked, sounded and felt like a foreigner. but deep inside i hugged to myself the secret flame of my belonging. because always, walking those streets, i was visiting my grand-father. and my yearly visits to him fanned and nourished that little flame, so that walking other streets, in such different different places, always i knew myself to be (also) a russian woman.

without my grand-father, russia will become an empty shell. a huge, grey, dirty, difficult and inaccessible shell. and in my pain of having to live one day without my crazy and wonderful ancestor is mingled the fear of the little flame dying out.

i guess i just have to find another way to fan and nourish. another way to connect inner flame and outside world. i guess i just have to learn to be (also) a nomadic russian woman.

(speaking of nomads, amazing photographs here. found through Elianne's new and wonderful blog)


elianne said...

Klnikt heel verdrietig.
En is er ook niet zo iets als de volgende generatie. Jij geeft jou kinderen je geboorteland door. Voor hen is het het land waar jij geboren bent. Er is niet alleen maar achter laten maar perspectieven veranderen wel.
Vind jou eigenlijk een bijzondere nomade.

Véronique said...

ja, dat is het ook, ik moet het zelf gaan doorgeven.