Stalin's Children

It's Tuesday but I haven't gotten through the Book Review. Snowy landscape, cold feet from shoveling at the door, chill in the air, dinner on the stove, and a lethargy I can't name, I get back to the reviews and discover a whispered memory in Stalin's Children.

Matthews writes,

“If languages have a color, Russian was the hot pink of my mother’s ’70s dresses, the warm red of an old Uzbek teapot . . . the kitschy black and gold of the painted Russian wooden spoons which hung on the wall in the kitchen.” English, the language he spoke with his father, was “the muted green of his study carpet, the faded brown of his tweed jackets.”

and I remember:

My material family came from two villages in the East, traveling by land and sea with their own treasures, treasures that would remain a mystery to me all my life, never revealing their history.

They left no letters to read, no onion skin papers to record a prison of the mind, just sudden, out of context memories of wisps of smoky, deep voices in a foreign language, visions of huge pots and pans steaming on the stove on cold winter days and the warmth of a grandmother's aproned bosom reaching out to me for a hug.

Something propelled three generations of this family to seek other shores, but what they left behind in history, dwindled as the silences grew longer and the days shorter, until any chance of a story was gone.

I am left an orphan except for those smells that occasionally waft into the air, or the eruption of a recollection when reading another man's story.

Russian soil was where my own Stalin's Children grew up.

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