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Posts Tagged ‘violet’

I have been thinking a lot lately about how do I happen to have such brilliant memories of people I have met in my life. Most of those meetings so bizarre and disturbing that writing about them would put no novel to shame. Most of those meetings happened by a total coincidence as if someone had planned it all. It would have only taken a five-minute time difference and some of those people may have remained strangers to me forever…

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I have to tell you a story about how a life can be either black or white. The white side of my life is my beloved grandmother. She was born in 1933. Her name is Helen and she lives about 200 kilometers from the capital Vilnius in a small town of Taurage. While my grandfather was still alive, they lived in a private house size of a small villa. All kinds of fruits and berries used to harvest in a garden behind the house. They were one of the first people in the village to get a TV – black and white – at that time.

But they only lived a somewhat happy and wealthy life when they were married and their children (one of whom is my mother) were in the middle school already. My grandpa had a good position and was in charge for the agriculture around the region where they lived. So they didn’t have to starve and tried to help the neighbourhood as much as they could.

But until then, Helen said she had a very dramatic childhood and years of adolescence. Life was not easy and there was nothing that you could easily afford.

I cannot remember my grandfather very well, as he died when I was just 7-8 years old. I cannot remember his face clearly, but I will never forget time spend with him in the basement of the house, where the main kiln was located. The smell of a dry wood, ashes, yeast from the bread being baked in a metal stove and the smell of the old newspapers. I used to adore playing with pieces of coal. It was always black, light and so skinny as if it was spread with silver dust. Granny wouldnt’ let me do that because very quickly all the clothes would turn dirty from it, but my grandfather knew how to keep my games a secret 😉

Later, when I grew up, I met some people who used to live in our neighbourhood and who knew my grandfather. They told me that my grandpa was a great man and everyone liked him for his sense of logics and sharp mind. He would always try to employ the people who he knew lived the poorest and if he couldn’t , he would make sure they receive some food donations not least than once a month. I know this doesn’t have anything to do with me directly, but still listening to stories like these made me feel proud.

What:

Tunica: Flame.

Coat: Tank .

Shoes: Miss Selfridge.

Hat: My grandmothers: bought it right after when she got married – so it’s about 50 years old… Unbelievable, isn’t it?

Gloves: purchased at a local craftsmen market in October 2011.

Belt: My mothers – bought it when she was a university student from some artist in Denmark .

OMG Item: “The hat. My grandmother told me about the life in Lithuania when everything here – the language, culture, items at the shop, your political opinion and even your private life – was a possession of Soviet Russia. Everything even a little bit luxurious was impossible to get. She told me you couldn’t really choose – you would simply buy items that are available and be happy that you even got them. For instance shoes: there was one type of shoes in the variety of sizes. So if you needed new shoes, you’d buy the ones that you could find. My grandmother lived in a suburb area of a small town so it was even tougher to get anything. She purchased this hat when my grandfather somehow managed to take her on a trip to Georgia – Georgia in Europe – for their honeymoon, I believe. She said it cost something like half of a salary of an unqualified worker and at that time it was an impossible amount of money. My grandmother laughed at the fact that she so saved the hat for special occasions that it remained in a perfect condition even 50 years later. I am proud and happy to wear it as a wonderful historical piece. ”

It’s not difficult to count that at the time when the 2nd World War ended in 1945, my grandmother was 12 years old. By that time she had already seen it all: bombings, injured people, burnt down houses, families ripped apart, deportation to concentration camps… She once told me about where they lived which was basically anywhere they could because their house was destroyed 3 times: two of them by bombing and one of them by fire. There were secret local underground schools because Lithuanian religion, language, culture, political movements were strictly forbidden. First by the German, then by the Russians.

People saved everything they could and tried to fit in to the new norms of the Depression.

    

You had to have a garden in order to have food and you would then trade your products to the things that you needed: wheat for oil, eggs for milk, cheese for sausage, wheat for potatoes. Shops were closed, no job was available, except for the agriculture and medical sectors. Due to the depression, no or very little goods were imported so there was a lack of everything including clothing, footwear, school equipment, medical and other necessities.

If you wanted to have something, like a new sweater, it would go like this: someone would know someone else, who had some sheep so they had wool and grow cotton in the fields to make threads which then would be weaved or knitted to make clothing.

The luckier ones, had some wealthier relatives that moved away to USA or somewhere else so they sometimes could send people new clothes and shoes. But as I browse old pictures with my grandma, she points to a dress that my mother got from her uncle in America to wear on a wedding of a relative. Later you can see her cousin wearing the same dress at someones elses wedding and then a friend of that cousin wearing it at someone elses childs birthday…

     

When I listen to all of those stories it seems almost impossible to comprehend. People sound heroic just for their capability to survive those time, not to break down and at the end – achieve success. My grandma later worked as a Lithuanian teacher probably because she wanted to educate people and to compensate for the time when our langauge was abandoned. For a long time she was a principle of a local school and always encouraged us to talk flawlessly, avoid slang.

I remember very well her sitting on the side of my bed, gently running her warm hands through my hair and telling me story after story, poem after poem until I fell asleep. She is now a real senior and her memory is not so good on daily topics. But when it comes to Lithuanian literature, she does the unspeakable – last Christmas she told me my favorite fairy tale in poem which I think she used last about 20 years ago!

I really wish she could stay healthy and happy forever…

P.s. here is a link to my favorite childhoods poem translated to English. Scroll down untill you see JŪRATĖ AND KASTYTIS. Do that if you are interested, of course 😉

http://members.efn.org/~valdas/maironis.html

Cheers to all of those wonderful grandmothers and grandfathers that are out there for you!

Yours truly,

Vaiva K.

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