“A grandmother is like an angel, who takes you under her wing, she watches over you and she’d give you anything.”
( ‘Nanna’ by Valentin Loginov )
“Why do you never argue with your man. Is her beating you up?”
“No, nanna, of course, not.”
“Are you scared of him?”
“Certainly not, nanna.”
“Why do you never argue with your man then? Don’t tell me lies. I know life, my little star…”
Nanna surely did know life. She was born in the years of famine, soon after revolution, fed on water instead of breast milk. Her mother was very sick, so from early age nanna was running the house: scrubbing and washing, mending and cooking from morning till night.
She got married at 19 and moved to live with her husband and her mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law was no good at housekeeping, so nanna was to do all the house chores: scrubbing and washing, mending and cooking from morning till night, delivering babies at night at the local maternity hospital. She used to be a midwife.
Soon my mum was born, then my uncle. More scrubbing and washing, mending and cooking from morning till night. She was so hard-working and so naive. She could not stop laughing when she first saw her man crawling on all fours to the house one night. Soon her laughter turned into tears. Her man started drinking heavily and beating her up. Scrubbing and washing, mending and cooking, moans, groans and tears.
To get more vodka, her man started selling everything they had. By the time nanna got a divorce, there was nothing left at all: just four empty walls and bare floors. Her man was gone. She never saw him again. There was no child-support either.
Even four walls did not last long. Nanna was lucky enough to get a room in a communal flat shared with 3 other familes – it was better than to be kicked out on a street with two little kids. Scrubbing and washing, mending and cooking, working 24-hour shifts to feed her hungry kids.
Nanna was still delivering babies at the local maternity hospital, when I was born. Scrubbing and washing, mending and cooking, running after her daughter’s kids. She looked after me during the day, doing night shifts at the hospital. “My life is over,” she used to say to me. “You are my only hope, my only star.”
We shared a room with nanna. She used to get up with the first rays of sun and tip-toe to the kitchen to make some porridge for me. “Hush,” she would say to everyone. “My little star is asleep. Don’t wake her up. She needs a good rest.”
She used to walk with me to school and pick me up at the end of the day. “Hush,” she would say to everyone. “My little star needs a good dinner. She has been working very hard at school. Studying is a hard work.”
While scrubbing and washing, mending and cooking, she would say “Hush” to everyone. “My little star is doing homework. She is very bright. She needs to study very hard to get a good life.”
“Hush,” she would say to everyone in the evening. “My little star is reading. I can scrub and wash, mend and cook for my little star to shine forever. She deserves a decent life.”
“Why do you never argue with your man? Don’t tell me lies. I know life, my little star…”
( Photo by Jancooler )