Sunday, 19 April 2020
Not a good photograph - you can see my reflection on the glass and it is not straight - it was difficult to take the photograph and the picture is too heavy for me to take down off the wall, so apologies. But you get the general idea.
There is only so much one can write about endless days of isolation. I am not minding them - in fact there is something pleasant about them, especially when the sun is shining as it is today. But after listening to the appalling death figures from the virus coming out of Moscow it did set me thinking about my many trips there and throughout the area when it was still The Soviet Union.
My then husband, M, who sadly died in 1991, and I went many times to various parts - to Moscow, to Samarkand, Alma Ata, Tashkent, on the trans Siberian, and to St Petersburg (which was then of course called Leningrad). We were travellers, had a limited amount of money to spend on travelling - and Russia needed Western currency so holidays there were cheap and good value.
I thought I would share with you the story of my very dear friend A, who has been dead for many years now, who came originally from St Petersburg. This painting, done of course by my husband, is of the Peter Paul Fortress seen across a frozen River Neva. A and her friend both went to Medical School there to train as doctors but had only been there a short time when Germany invaded and overran the city. Both of them were captured and taken to work in hospital in Germany where they spent the whole of the war.
After the war ended they didn't know where to go. They were not sure about going back home. The people there had suffered so terribly that they were unsure of how they would be received having worked in Germany throughout the war (albeit they had no alternative and would have been killed had they refused). A's friend returned home and within a week was hanged. A came to England instead, met another Russian refugee and they married and came to live quite near where we lived.
The story for A does have a happy ending. She had no way of contacting her parents, didn't know where they lived, whether they had survived the war even. Then A became attached to an organisation associated with the British Council and was sent with a delegation to Leningrad - and one evening after dinner she went out and caught a bus to the place where her parents had last lived. She walked up the path to the door,knocked on it - and her mother opened the door.
In those days how many people there were who had suffered terrible privation and been displaced with no knowledge of what had happened to their families. There is food for thought there as we struggle through this pandemic. None of us are short of food, none of us are separated from our families, none of us live in fear and from what I see here in my little neck of the woods - all of us are coping well. Let's keep it up. Keep safe.