Saturday, September 20, 2008

Encouraging a Young, Gifted Writer - Don't Miss this Story

One of the first young people we met when we arrived in Kyrgyzstan last April was Maria. She is young, gifted fifteen year old writer and artist. Recently, she brought a story she had written about her grandmother to us to see. It was in the local newspaper. We encouraged her to translate it for us so we could read it. We were awestruck with the beauty of her writing. We asked her if we could post it on our blog. Maybe someone reading it will ask the same question we did after reading it - how can we help this young, aspiring writer?

This is a story that will touch your heart!

As any patriot would say,
And versed man knows what I do mean:
Not only front would take the pain
But also rear would forge the win.

“I devote this story to my beloved grandmother
Galina Ivanovna Gavrilishina”
By Maria Sidorenko, age 15
Translated from Russian by Maria, with assistance from her older brother

Hard to tell now how many years have passed since those times… It seems that just recently I was hurrying to my village, to our special dating place, to see my beloved. It seemed that even wide open windows of little village houses were looking at me with favor. Hens were cackling near old wickets. Men were returning back from tillage, and the neighbor grannies gathered for evening talks were talking over all the details of a recent marriage that happened last week.

Everything was so familiar to me here – every house, every tree, every little lane. And especially dear to me were the endless fields. Ah! I loved these sweet-scented herbs and wild flowers! They would bestrew the whole field – like a big motley table-cloth. I remember me and my sister twining wreaths from these flowers, she laughed and said that when she grows up she will make wreaths for the whole village so that they could also enjoy.

Here, near the old willow, time would stop. River was whispering something to wind and sunset rays were caressing grass. This was the place where I dreamt of becoming a good, worthy teacher when I grow up. I enjoyed imagining how proud my parents will be of me. I was also thinking about becoming a good wife and mother. I was sharing all these dreams with my very king friend - the willow. And it would nod its twigs as it would try to say: “It will come true, my little Galya, it will come true”. This was the place we used to meet with Kuzma, our secret place.

I remember one day we were sitting there embracing one another and watching whimsical shapes of galaxies.
“Look! These stars are just like a small house!” I said.
He smiled – “Probably, ours…”
“May be…”

Suddenly he became very serious and, after a short pause, he said “Galya, be my wife.” At the beginning I even did not understand what happened, but after a moment I cried and embraced him even tighter. “Yes… Yes, of course”, I said.

Our friendship began back in our 7th grade, when we used to just walk home after school together... And now everything was different, and we were different too. We have experienced both enjoyable and hard times. Time was flowing and our dreams started to come true. I graduated teacher’s training college, and he graduated military school to become a tank man. We married in February of 1941, in Kaunas, Latvia – Kuzma was carrying his military service there…

When we received news about the war, my husband was immediately sent to the border. Women and children were being evacuated. We, wives and children of military men, were transported by cars, trains and even tanks. It was a long way and we all were very scared. Finally, I managed to come to the village named “Tyumentsevo” – the village where mother of my beloved Kuzma lived at that time.

When she met me, she cried:”Galya, my dear Galya, Kuzma perished…” I almost fell unconscious. I tried to ask something more, but was only able to utter a hoarse groan. With trembling hands his mother gave me a shabby piece of paper – the letter. The only word of all I was able to see- “Perished, Perished, PERISHED” – booming echo was tearing my mind. An ominous vortex of thoughts was filling me – “So what is now?!?! What will I do without him?!?! May it be a horrible mistake??? What if he is in the hospital?.. Suffering, but alive?!?! Oh God, why did this happen?!” I was unable to stand and tears were rolling down my cheeks that still kept the memory of his last kiss.

Time was passing by but the war was still there. All work in the village had to be carried by women and children. They were plowing, sowing, reaping and looking after cattle. Everyone was working hard, because all knew that it is wartime and the country needs bread.

I remember, that every morning I would wake up early and go to school to teach children and direct other teachers. I, a young teacher, was given a position of school principal. It was very hard. We did not have pens and pencils; we had a big lack of notebooks. And still, children were doing their best to study, even though they have been working all night along. Sometimes they were falling asleep during the lesson. We teachers, understood them very well, so we would kindly awake them… and again the lesson continued.

My heart was full of pain when I was looking to these children, so small, but it seemed that the fear will never leave their eyes. They were our best helpers, and despite the cold and starvation they were working equally with adults. There were no free pair of hands and so much work! Children were working day and night, and would never object whatever you ask them to help. They worked until sores on their hands. Reaping would last for two of three months that time. And all that time boys were carting corns. After the morning dew falls combined harvesters would stop, and only at that time boys would unharness horses and take a nap under their carts.

After an hour or two combines need to start harvesting again so we would start to wake them up. You raise his head and it falls back again as of a weak ducklings head. They were unable to wake up and crying. And we were crying with them, so painful it was to see. Finally you wake them up and they go to work again. And all their food was one piece of bread and water. My heart was covered with blood from pain.

Finally so long awaited victory came! I was so happy! No more fear for lives of relatives, no more deadly starvation. But the most important was that now our husbands and brothers, fathers and sons will return home. Maybe… Maybe my beloved Kuzma will return too. Maybe he is still alive, my dear Kuzma, maybe still alive… And again I had a little hope in my heart, again the wounded bird was flopping the wings.

The train station was full of people. Air was filled with a pleasant buzz of arriving men’s voices. I saw mothers, who were hugging their sons and crying of happiness. And lots of loving couples, that were lucky to meet each other again. Many brothers, fathers, grandfathers and husbands returned back.

Awards found their owners. Many people received medals and orders. A was also honored by a medal “For valorous and self-sacrificing work in the years of the Great Patriotic War”.
Many people returned from the battle front. Among them was courageous soldier Misha. He asked in marriage with me. At first I refused, after all I still loved Kuzma. Everything was changed after talk with my father. I came to him to share my doubts. “My dear Galya”, he said – “You shall understand that the war took lives of many, and also it took life of your Kuzma. But you are still here. Now it is your duty to bear children and make them grow worthy people. Give the world new people in place of your perished husband. The happiness of being mother will heal your wounds.” “I will ask for advice”, I said and cried. My father did not ask from whom, maybe he could guess.

And once again I was running through my village to the place that was my intimate little world. My friend willow was waiting me there. I did not even have to tell anything, it seemed to know all my thoughts already. Standing near the willow I felt the leaves kindly touching my cheek, such as it would favor my decision.

I agreed to marry Michael. We had four children. We brought up our children to be honest and helpful people. Anatoly is a sculptor, Michael is a military man, Natalia is an economist and Yuri is an engineer.

Years flew by fast. The sunset of my life is near. And as always I follow the beaten track to my close friend willow. Now I do this much slower than always – old age tells. I come to ask the willow if I lived my life the right way. I come and hope that it will embrace me with its twigs and rustle softly – “You did it right, Galya… You did it right.”

Maria remembers the stories her grandmother would tell. She passed away a number of years ago, but Maria captured her spirit so well in this story.

Why did I post this story? I have a magnificant obsession, it has been with me for years. It is to help young aspiring writers, just like I was helped. My hope is that someone reading this will had a creative idea on how to help this young woman from Kyryzstan become a published author in America. I believe in dreaming big!