One dark, cold morning I woke up at 6:48, 2 minutes before my alarm went off with a realization that I have another 10 years of pain and suffering in front of me.
That thought paralyzed my breathing, my whole being went into a cold shock.
A short, one day suffering I could handle, but thinking each endless day like the other endless day strung together on a string of 10 years of unimaginable length filled me with horror. I wanted to vanish. I wanted to be under ground. I wanted to die.
I was eight.
Each Soviet citizen was to go through the school system for 11 years to receive a thorough social polishing and basic education. There were no alternatives to this. I admired local gypsies for their freedom to drop out of school after 4th grade and getting married at age 14. They weren’t afraid of KGB or one’s crushed future. They made their own future outside the system.
But my family was part of the system and I was to go to University. For that I had to go to school every day, become a Lenin’s Child at age 7, then upgrade to Pioneer at age 10, then join Komsomol at 14. If one didnt do one of those steps, one couldnt study in University and thus, didn’t have any future except to join Gypsies, if Gypsies accepted.
Joining Lenin’s Children was easy and fun. It felt like an initiation rite, the first step towards adulthood.
It was the school that was insufferable.
I changed schools after the first grade, and the first thing my new classmates did – they beat me.
Well, not all of them and not without a reason. The click of boys wanted my absolute submission to their whims which was nothing too incredibly bad, just taking their orders and fulfilling them. Like:
– Carry my bag! Or: – Give me your book! Or: – Give me all your money!
I dont know why, but I resisted. And when they hit me, I hit back. So they gave me a couple of bad beatings and after a few weeks started to ignore me. The whole class, thirty-five 8-year-old children, girls and boys, good and bad, all ignored me. No one sat next to me. No one talked to me and when I asked something, they turned their backs.
It felt worse than a jail.
– Mom, what would happen if I changed schools?
– Don’t even think about it. Impossible.
A year went by, and another one. My classmates slowly forgot that they are ignoring me, so they sometimes talked, sometimes listened. But they vaguely remembered that I was an outcast.
On few occasions my rank in the group was reminded. Like, when our literature teacher decided to read one of my stories in front of the class as an example of good writing. The heads of my classmates slowly turned towards me, their stares fueled with scorn, hatred and ridicule. The praise the teacher was trying to give was my punishment.
I counted each day like a prisoner, each day brought me closer to the end of the 11 year sentence.
Then it was over. We celebrated the graduation, received the education certificates, my classmates went to a party that I was not invited and didn’t want to go to and I went home.
Suddenly life gained taste and smell. The prison gates opened and I stepped outside. Everything encountered in my new freedom was received in a heightened state of perception. There were many choices in front of me, anything was possible. I was a beautiful giant – everybody noticed and admired me.
I went to University, a hard-won prize. I was popular there, and used it to my advantage. Before I knew a man I was passionately in love with proposed. I dont know why, but I accepted.
I got pregnant. We got married. A child was born. A few months later I woke up in the middle of a night with a realization that this was it. I made my choices and nothing will change till I die. This is my husband. He likes to drink and carouse, he only cares for his needs. This is my son. He screams and sucks my milk, he only cares for his needs. There is nothing for me. I have to submit my life to the needs of my men. A dark road of servitude lies ahead of me, a road that ends only with my death.
A cold hand grasped my heart and shook it violently. Horror didn’t let me sleep.
– Mom, what would happen if I divorced?
– Dont even think about it. Impossible.
The colors, taste and smell went out of the life.
I was twenty-two. If I didn’t find a way out, another 50? 60? years of suffering were in front of me.
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