My Mother and I

Part One. My Mother and I

My mother and I disliked each other for different reasons. When she flew into the house from the garden, where she was always busy planting or weeding something, I knew that today, like yesterday and the day before yesterday, I had done something wrong, and she would scold me again, “You are already a big girl, and you should know… ” and I asked myself what I should know, what I have forgotten, and what I do not know. And she did not like it either when dad came home from work, and I ran to meet him shouting, “Daddy has come!” Mom went into herself, and fell silent, and turned her back to us, and then, pretending that she was picking up something from the floor, awkwardly and stealthily glanced at us. I felt that she also wanted to run up to us and hug us and jump with us across our room in granny’s large and empty house “poskakushki” — “jump-jump-jump!” and laugh merrily, but something hold her back and forbade her to be happy. She continued to stand at the bedside table, her face darkened, and her eyes were examining what was written on that pharmacy bag, which she finally found on the floor near their bed, as if these pills had ever cured someone, and as if she had to memorize that boring Latin, as if subduing herself receiving the highest scores at some examination when our dad finally got home from the swamp, where he dug up peat and cut out “tablets” for heating and cooking in entire Paide, a small town in Estonia, where God stack us to live. Now dad was washing, changing clothes, and we sat down to dinner …

… I am wearing a yellowish straw hat with wide edges, a red velvety jacket with a white starched collar, and a short beige-checked skirt. Mom managed to dress both herself and me decently, her little hands were skillful, fast, and busy, always busy, busy, maybe too fast, and too busy …Mister Kübler brought a shiny tray of candy made of multicolored, sugar-sprinkled marmalade. “Mom, buy me that little basket from which a bird with a beak is sticking out,” I whined, turning my eyes from the pastry chef and his tray with masterpieces of confectionery art to Mom. A pastry chef in a white coat looks at mom inquiringly, stretching out his hand to a pack of box stocks, now he will take one such box, skillfully fold the edges, and I will point at masterpieces which ones to move from the tray to the box … But mom smiles guiltily, and we move hurriedly out of this bursting from tasty aromas confectionary paradise. “Today there is no money, tomorrow, tomorrow we will be back, and I’ll buy you sweets,” Mom says quickly. We both know that tomorrow there will be no marmalade, but the gooseberry jelly that is boring to all of us. I will move the plate aside, say: “No, don’t!”, And the day will come when my mother look at my father pleadingly, and he, combed and dressed on Sunday morning, will declare sternly, “Eat jelly, otherwise I will have to take a strap!” – “Daddy and the strap! They are going somewhere, and I am holding them back … Will Dad hit me with a strap?” I feel like crying, but I do not cry. A betrayal took place, the wordless agreement of unbreakable friendship between me and my father was violated. Something dark and terrible rose its head in me. We, father, and I looked at each other as two enemies. I am scared, I see that it is possible that he will take the strap … Will it hurt if he hits me? But newly discovered “Mr. Terrible” in me says: “No, dad will not hit me!” I moved a plate of jelly closer to me, as if stirring jelly. “Go, go, my mother and father.” —  I mumbled under my breath. — “I will continue to drive the spoon over the jelly until the second coming, what does this mean “the second coming”? They finally went to borrow money to supply their daughter with candy, as my mother promised me, but I knew the money would float away for something else.

Time was passing fast. Childhood is over, father and me, we do not dance together our “poskakushki”, when he is coming home from his work. I do not shout, “Daddy came home,” and I no longer run to meet him … I am already a big girl. If I would know what was awaiting us, and what it would turn into, and how I would love my father again when he would no longer be with us!

… I am six years old, and the fatal numbers 1-9-4-0 were approaching all Baltic nations!

80 years later, living already in California, I met my father in spirit, and we talked. I asked him if he remembered how he threatened to hit me with a strap for refusing to eat gooseberry jelly.

“Of course, I remember,” my father replied. – You stared at me with pupils dilated with horror, and I felt ashamed, so ashamed!

– Do you remember, papa, how we saw you off to the war? The town’s only square was empty, an old truck drove up with an unfamiliar Estonian already sitting in its body. He was not looking at anyone. And you were ordered to climb into same body of the same truck. And on the square, there was no one else but my mother and me, and you, pale, lost, were silent, and we were silent, and I thought how the heck we managed to annoy God so heavily that he took Dad away from us. The truck’s old engine began to rumble and spit, and it started to pick up speed. Finally, the truck disappeared together with my father, as I saw him in my childhood.

I remember, before the Reds came, the presentiment of the onset of something formidable and inevitable made our pets, cats and dogs behave strangely. Our white spitz Aska bit me painfully in the heel and instead of running away to avoid punishment, poked guiltily her wet nose into my leg. Mom’s favorite, “Frenchwoman” Mimi, or the red-haired coquette Mimishka, angrily wrapped herself around my mother’s hand, and looking guiltily up into  mother’s eye’s dug her claws into her hand deeper and deeper, then, losing patience, abruptly let go of her hand, instilling that she was giving up on us,  because we were hopeless because we did not listen to her that we should not sit around the veranda table and drink tea, but hid under the bushes until the ground under our bottom would stop groaning, sobbing and shuddering, and then you would crawl out of bushes and would think later what to do already sitting at a broken trough.

Mimishka’s prophetic dream

A fire was blazing in the fireplace, and Mimishka, sitting by the fire, admired the merry dance of the flame. When she got tired of flames’ Polovetsian dance  she turned her gaze to the glazed door leading to the garden, to the flower bed, right behind the glazed door and dreamed of how she would sit down in the morning under some newly blossoming flower and greet the rising sun and rejoice the coming day. But here her dreams were interrupted by a mouse that appeared out of nowhere, which jumped out, it seemed, right out of the fireplace flame, and rushed to circle around Mimishka, as if stunned. Mimishka, delighted with such luck, stretched out her front paw and stretched lazily, but confidently for the mouse. But in an eyeblink, a second mouse jumped out of the fireplace and began to circle in the opposite direction around Mimishka.

And my mother’s beloved one, the red-haired Mimishka fell into prostration. What kind of mouse should she catch, the one that spins to the right, or the one that spins to the left, from South to North, or from North to South? And the longer she thought, the faster the mice circled, and the more impossible it was to decide which one to chase, or both, but – how? Can a cat chase two mice at the same time, and what can be done when luck is under its very nose, but you do not know how to grab it, and instead of chasing the mouse, Mimishka fell into deeper prostration, into complete unconsciousness!

Finally, the day has come, which our favorites dogs and cats, canaries and turtles, hamsters and forest deer were so afraid of. It was not in vain that the ground sobbed under the stomp of tarpaulin boots on the feet of the Red Army soldiers, whose march went through the capitals of the three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. After the meeting of the leaders of nations, Molotov, and Ribbentrop, the “father of nations” Stalin got the Baltic, and Hitler got Poland, and Stalin seized his share confidently, in some miserable three days. And the vocabulary of the Russian language was enriched with the expression … “put to the wall”, that is, shot accused and non-accused citizens of the Baltic countries. An eerie rumor spread throughout Estonia that there, on the northern coast, a structure had arisen, where special trains brought well-dressed women with children from Czechoslovakia, and at night black smoke billowed from the chimneys of this building, and it was not so difficult to guess what for the chimneys were smoking, and the people thought when the Jews would end, whether the builders of these stoves would not take on the Estonians, who knows, and when the Red Russians come, they will definitely shove some of them into Siberian refrigerators – the locals thought. And the pipes, meanwhile, continued to smoke.

Listening to these terrible rumors, I remembered our Mimishka, who fell into prostration looking at the mice that circled around her in opposite directions. And I dreamed of European peoples, who fell into a daze from the impending war, in which one leader, either Adolf or Adik, having gathered hordes, moved from the West to the East, and another dry-handed bastard either Dzhugashvili, or Stalin from the word “steel”, was going to move in the opposite direction, from East to West, both fighting for dominance over the world… And all sorts of peoples on their way, like Estonians, brave Finns, and others, for example, the Belgians, Romanians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Czechs and Slovaks, the French and Italians with Mussolini, a personal friend of Adik at the helm, as well as Poles, Latvians and Lithuanians, accompanied  by unsettled Gypsies, and courageous  Scandinavians  along the way, fell into a daze, and inability to decide which side to prefer if Adik’s side put mothers and children in stoves to breath in vapors of potassium cyanide, or the withered side that scattered them like rotten pears along the Siberian refrigerators, in which direction the people should run? But nothing lasts forever under the sky, and the strength of Adik and the withered one finally dried up, and humanity, saddened by the losses, discovered that throwing forward hands for Adik, and the ascension of the withered one to heaven, like shouting “To Stalin we will win this war! We won’t be stingy by paying our winning bills!” cost humanity 50 million ruined souls, and how many died in the Soviet freezers, stays still uncounted! Humanity was shortened, but people were glad when sucking them into that big war was, finally, stopped!

The children of my generation, born shortly before the war, were called in Russia “podranki”, the cut, or wounded for our hungry childhood and fatherlessness, and mothers  gathered that while the greats were fighting, people should think not about victory and glory, orders and medals, but about food for themselves, for children and hungry fellow travelers, so that they do not look sadly into some other’s well-fed mouths. And my little mother knew that all what her life would come to, would be hard work many years to come.

These dinners

I remember these dinners, the war was over, my mother was a widow, my brother who was nearing age six, hated these dinners, because when Mom and Aunt Zhenya cooked them, the stench of excitement floated in the air, the smell of burnt meat, stale food, unwashed dishes, a heavy mood … extreme irritation, in which people forget themselves and insult each other, and  end up not talking  to each other spending eons to overcome senseless ward war, which neither the screamers nor the subjects of wild attacks did not recall. The reasons for quarrels, offenses, nicknames have long been forgotten, only the consequences remain in the memory, because anger becomes the eternal companion of these people. According to the great law of the universe, about which people know little and do not want to know, because it is not easy to live according to this law – the law of attraction of one’s own kind – poverty attracts poverty, wealth attracts wealth, mediocrity attracts mediocrity, talent attracts talent – for example,  the mysterious coming together of the well-known “mighty bunch of Russian composers” which included Mussorgsky, or the Abramtsevo of Savva Mamontov, a dormitory of painters, Korovin, Serov, Vrubel and the long list of wonderful artists, laughter attracts laughter, kindness attracts kindness, and then other laws of the universe come into force.

I remember that during Sundays of that period in our life, Lidusenka and Makusenka, as they were called mockingly were the first to appear from around the corner of Green Street, Lydia Mitrofanovna, small and dry and dark from smoking cigarettes, and Margaret, a fat, whitish Russianized German woman … When they, leaning on sticks, smoothly swaying from old age, moved slowly, but, surely, in our direction, I, the girl, inappropriately and disrespectfully recalled the song about Stenka Razin “From behind the island to the rod, to the vast river waves, painted, sharp-breasted canoes swam out …” performed by Shalyapin, which were often broadcast by radio.

Perhaps such an association was evoked in me by the everlasting fashion of Lydia Mitrofanovna, or Lidusenka. She wore only black in the centuries-old mourning for her husband, who had died untimely in tsarist times, the postmaster. Her little black dress was completed with an unusual headdress, reminding the wear of Catholic nuns. A small hat in the shape of a black saucepan was adorned with a black veil with a tightly attached boa and a  peace of black silk which was falling down to her waist fluttering frivolously in the windy air, like two black flags on a pirate ship! No, the whole figure of Lidusenka did not resemble a Persian princess, but rather a sharp-chested shuttle carrying her friend, big and helpless Margarita – Makusenka to a tolerable end!

No, Stenka Razin would not lift Makusenka by the neck with one hand and by the legs with the other and thrown her into the Volga as a tribute to the river for the gold and diamonds presented to him … Little, dry Makusenka would destroy the brave Razin, and save her Margarita, the size of an Indian elephant. Ah, grandmother, grandmother Lyuba, I think that this couple, Makusenka with a smoking cigarette in his teeth, and with the silent Makusenka, constituted in your imagination the core of the future Russian sociality in Paide. The Teutonic knights, the founders of the Weisenstein fortress, around which the town of Paide has grown, turned over in their coffins … In addition, in the ranks of the Russians who came to mother’s dinners, there was a certain unknown Rasinevich, a faceless gentleman in a gray suit worn out to obsceneness. He sat at the end of dinner table what enabled him to disappear at the end of food consumption without thank-you ceremony or exchanging any single word with no one. Probably, life managed to teach him silence as the surest mean of survival. I remember the conductor of the Russian church choir, Madame Irina Schmidt with a tuning fork in her hands, with a silver fox on her shoulder, and a strong-willed chin. She came to us from Narva, a border town between Russia and Estonia. There were more of them, but the faces of visiting priests and chorus girls changed and disappeared from my memory.

Finally, I am ordered to set the table. I place deep plates for soup and plates for a the main dinner meal on a clean tablecloth, then place a soup spoon, knife and fork for each appliance, and finish my work by adding a small plate for bread and a glass of water. They did not trust me to take out food, I would stumble, fall, spill, overturn, and I did not insist with help in this crucial part of the dinner ceremony – to carry and dispense food to the guests!

I try to count from memory how many cutleries there were … maybe seven, eight on one side of the table, and one or two sets less on the opposite side, which was closer to the kitchen, from where the expected dishes began to appear, as at Sunday lunches in old houses of Russian landowners … First, they poured golden broth into deep plates and brought already cut into portions fresh, straight from the oven fragrant pie with cabbage or mushrooms, or with rice and minced meat, and the guests, with trepidation, began to absorb the gold of the transparent broth and the freshest cabbage pie, then chicken meat baked in a stove on red coals, or pork tenderloin, adored equally by those who ate pork easily, especially in the north, and those who were advised by religion to abstain from pork in South countries during eras before the appearance of refrigerators in our lives, which changed a lot in our relationship with food. … Then came mother’s made compote that mixed pears and plums. Today, in America, I buy peach compote in metal jars, it is good, but it is in no way comparable with what was made in that Paide kitchen when my mother reigned there in honor of Lyubov Petrovna’s acquaintances, picking pears and plums from miraculously survived trees in the garden behind the grandmother’s house, already abandoned, when the red councils placed the city kindergarten in granny’s house. Mom chose only ripe fruits for compotes, and semi-ripe and not at all ripe fruits went into cans of supermarkets, the acid of which was covered with excess sugar, which finally spoiled the taste and aroma of the favorite dessert, loved in both hemispheres of the world.

But dinner will not last forever, the guests worked quickly accompanied by the chime of forks and spoons. Then they indistinctly uttered a quick thank you to our mother, the cook, and then flew up to Lyubov Petrovna, lingered with wishes for her good health, exchanged outstanding news of city life, of which there were not many, and disappeared to materialize next Sunday.

Already today, while communicating with my father’s spirit, I once asked him where those dinners came from, and why my mother agreed to carry this burden, because of which she had to maintain a whole barnyard – alone!

Father’s answer was vague.

– You know, as the saying goes, a man does not live by bread alone … My mother forced Tamara, your mother, to cook these dinners by force … By that time Vika was gone, Yurik was gone, and my father, Gregory was not there, he left first, and I was not there, I, the fool, who jumped out of the trench, because it smelled of urine there, and the field behind the trench was clean and smooth and empty, and reminded me of the last field that I sowed on the estate that the German banker managed to get me to buy with money on credit. They knew that I would pass this money to the owners of the estate who were leaving Estonia for their Fatherland, Germany, because Hitler was calling them to return home! In other words, I turned out to be that donkey who siphoned money, and not small ones, from a bank pocket to a private pocket. Their conscience did not torment them, they knew that the leaders of the nations had reached an agreement, and Stalin would receive the promised — the Baltic states, and they would get Poland that would annul the credits, as change of political regimes would make all agreements fly out of the window! However, the donkey, as I was, had no idea about anything, because the donkey was not interested in politics, and they were sure of my class, that is, superficial decency, and they were not mistaken! I gave the credit money to the enthusiastic travelers, and never heard of them again … But I lived the life of a landowner for a whole year, there was something to remember in the Urals, at the Velikiye Luki battlefield, on the Estonian island of Saaremaa, where I finished my earthly journey, so close to my home!

But I did not escape my fate, I was not given to plow and sow and harvest. The Reds burst in, and at that very moment they took my estate away from me, and they mobilized me, and from a landowner, I suddenly became a soldier of the Soviet Army. And only in the Urals, from conversations with the Russians, the donkey, me, realized that his luck had not left him, as it could be way worser. For the fact that I allowed to transfer money that would depreciate into the pockets of the Germans leaving for Germany, if someone had reported this to Russians, the Chekists would have shot me for cooperation with the Germans on the spot, or sent to the Gulag, but apparently they were short of those who were mobilized into ranks of the Soviet Army, and the Russian roulette carried me into the ranks of the Estonian Guards Corps, at that time, already part of the Soviet Army, where we were re-educated, in short, saturated with hatred of the enemy.

…Stop me when I speak to much and too long. I noticed that I bore normal people who pay debts and think where to eat deliciously, where to find a woman who … I am glad that you are not rushing with the herd to the cliff …

“By the way, Dad, if you never met the people to whom you gave away the money that bank lent to you for buying the estate, then our mother met the aging mistress of that estate after the war, in Brezhnev’s time when perestroika seeds were practically sewn into Russian soil. Brezhnev seemed to be tightening the screws…. But as soon as it became clear that foreigners were sending expensive cars of incredible, unseen beauty to the Secretary of the Communist Party and no one had ever seen him in a military jacket, and in public he was shown in impeccable branded men’s suits, communist totalitarianism began to give its first serious cracks. Timid foreigners began to come to us, and we were no longer put in Gulags for exchanging words with foreigners, and among these foreigners there was a German woman who had come to visit her native Estonia. And she knocked on our door!

The women hugged, and my mother baked a pie, and the ladies sat down to remember the old days. When the first joyful exclamations and greetings subsided, and the women began to “speak” looking old and new photos, as the German woman took out a pack of German photographs from her purse, and our mother took out the bulky family album of that Paide, which was no longer there, laughter and joy of meeting changed to sobbing and tears. On the table were laid out photographs of irrecoverable losses both on the German and Russian sides … The German woman came without an interpreter, nevertheless, the women sat over the photographs of their husbands who had not returned from the war, and the German woman recalled her killed and missing sons until late in the evening, until a lady from the tourist firm took our guest back to hotel.

When the guest was gone, Mom was putting slowly the tea service back on the top shelf of the sideboard, still deep in memories of more joyous times, when they both were young and hoped for the brighter future that never came to them.

I was still talking my father’s spirit in Los Angeles.

—Recalling mother deep in her thoughts when cleaning the table after our German tea party, I realized that Grandmother Luba apologized in her way when she talked to me for the first time for this still unfinished book. I wrote down her words but did not grasp the meaning. Of course, she apologized for these dinners, but it was so hidden that I did not immediately get involved in the context of the message. With our dinners, she tried, so to speak, to resurrect a kind of society, and to make up for the fact that Estonian society, as it seemed to my grandmother, did not accept either her or our family into its ranks. It never occurred to my grandmother that there was no Estonian society in her understanding among Estonians. Their society was reduced to a nationwide Song Festival, but it was a formal celebration, a concert that had nothing to do with secular society. The Germans ruled harshly, and they did not intend to drink or eat, or share their dinner time with their slaves! And even in my time in Estonia, Estonians did not accept me “into their society” that is, into a society of fuss, drunkenness and, finally, a lot of random copulations with all bestial consequences… We mutually shunned each other. And thus, I guarded my dignity in my profession, and my name among professionals appeared by itself, without patronage or support of a mythical “strong hand” on the side.

Papa, tell me, why it was so that no one ever offered Mom help to clear the table and wash the dishes, no one ever congratulated Mom on Easter, Christmas, or New Year, no one ever offered Mom, at least one-time cash assistance, no one ever sent us a greeting card for the holidays, no one gifted children, at least my little brother a symbolic toy. We were the children of a slave, a refugee from Red Russia … I remember that I did not expect anything from those who came to dinner, but the knowledge that we were not quite the same, what we were supposed to be in their eyes, did not fit into my head.

When I look at my mother’s life back today, I see one thing that never occurred to me earlier. Ironically, when her age went over nineties, she found herself “in her society” that never came to my grandmother.  At a time she already lived in Tallinn, and  in Russian church he met some of her acquaintances from her past, now also old ladies.  And they started their “old ladies club” by meeting once a month alternatingly in each other’s home for a party, dressed and make-upped. I never took part of it, but I noticed that when she organized these tea parties at her home or returned from that party at her newly found friend’s home, she looked joyous and happy, like ten years younger…  It did not occur to me to ask her who proposed to start “the club”, was it her, or was it someone else?  It lasted some years, until one of the “girls,” as they called themselves, died suddenly.  Then another died… but club lasted its activity, when the day arrived, when our mother found herself alone, her “club” vanished, stopped to exist! But she knew that in her old days she was accepted and loved by her friends. Her afterlife catastrophe started when she returned to live with her parents…
She sought a way out of her childhood past that came to haunt her, and she sought an escape route and was lost in jungle of her personal problems… We will arrive to description of this catastrophe in the second part of this story.         

Haymaking, Dry Hay in Mom’s Solar Plexus Chakra

With help of meditation, I remember my mother’s hay business during war time and first years after war when our cow was helping us out with scarce food supply.

… I see my mother’s hands lifting cubes of dry hay on a pitchfork of unbearable weight, dry hay scratched her legs and face. The heaps of dry grass were lifted on a pitchfork onto a cart, and our old horse Yulka, a family favorite, who replaced both a truck and a car, dragged the overloaded cart through the entire hayfield, with wheels buried in soft soil to a rickety barn where it would stay for feeding our cow in winter months. In spring time the cows would be sent to pasture on green grass on a site allocated by the city authorities for all urban cows. At that time, we were not the only ones who raised a cow to survive. The public herd was guarded mainly by children on a strict schedule. When it was my turn to watch, take out and take home our cow, I took a book with me and read all day on the pasture, which did not prevent the cows from picking the grass right there next to my book. For example, I read Anna Karenina by Lev Tolstoy on that pasture. The episode of Anna’s forbidden meeting with her little son, who was rushing into his mother’s arms made me cry. The tears flowed, which the cows tactfully did not notice, continuing to chew the grass. I do not remember a more fertile environment for reading classics, like those happy days when I grazed the cows in the pasture. Complete indifference to my person in the cows reached an inner agreement with my presence on the field with them. I did not interfere with them, and they did not interfere with me. Never once has a cow emitted its excrement on an open book or anywhere near me. We simply do not understand anything in the minds of those around us, both domestic and wild animals. Through the cow’s indifference there was an unconscious warmth, if not to me personally, then to a peaceful existence, the inception of creativity – for cows this was milk production, for me, creating a world in which Tolstoy’s novel lives, and in which I live while I empathize with the novel’s action.
A disturbing memory of gathering of the dark rain clouds in the sky appears on my third eye screen. And Mother is nervous that she will not have time to take the dry hay under the roof, and if moistened by rain, it will die. I remember praying to all saints asking them to disperse the clouds, and my little Mom, standing high on a heap of hay like a divisional commander, orders to flickering below assistants, “Faster, faster, there is room for two, three more rows to fit in, do not sleep there on the pitchfork, pick up the hay, faster, faster, one drop has already fallen on me from the sky, soon it will pour, pick up the hay, faster, faster!”

I continue to meditate, a white-winged angel comes down from the sky and dresses up my mother in a golden dress, puts a diamond necklace around her neck so that she will forget this hay, and recall being not a divisional commander, but a small and beautiful woman!

When our Yulka barely reached the cart under the roof of our twisted barn, waves of thunder rolled through the universe, lightning flashed, a tree caught fire pierced by fiery arrow of an angry deity, and the atmosphere was discharged by pouring rain! Having finished transferring the hay from Yulka’s cart to the corner of the shed, where the roof did not leak, Mom, wet with sweat, and covered in hay, slipped down the slope of the laid dry grass on the floor and sat down on a plank. Someone handed her a can of cold water, and my mother began to drink greedily, then, carefully pouring the rest of the water onto her hand, she wiped her face, neck, and hands from the dust from dry hay that had set in her skin. I felt my mother’s moistened skin seething with pain from irritation from the myriad injections of dry grass, but then accepted flowing water, and skin on her hands calmed down. I looked out the barn gate raising my gaze to the clouds in the sky. I already knew that angry rains like this one do not last long! They spoil the hay, but the earth will soar in white steam for a long time, returning the waters of the world’s oceans back to the clouds!

I was convinced that after her transition from here to the next world, her hardship here would grant her a generous reward, a worry-free life in eternity. I did not know yet that I was cruelly mistaken, and her life after death would not be beautiful or amazing. But if it would be so, then where was the truth, and why, why, and why it would be difficult for her in her afterlife as well?

The Last Conversation

On that April day in 2005, I was thinking obsessively about my mother. 16 years ago, I fled from Estonia to the United States of America, leaving my mother in the care of my brother, her belove son, Vsevolod, or in short —Sevo! Over the years, we got used to the prevailing circumstances, and at first, we called once a week, and then less often, since I did not always have enough funds for frequent telephone calls from California to Tallinn, Estonia. So, it was this time. I called her a couple of days ago, and all our simple current affairs were discussed, and the problems were sorted out and decided what to do about them. Mom said that she had a bit of a cold because at evening she was too lazy to get up and close the window, but that in all other respects she was fine, and that Sevo and Madli come in often, and I do not need to worry about her in my America.

Nevertheless, the aching in me did not subside, and I caught myself looking for an excuse to call Mom in Estonia. Despite the late hour, I still dialed an Estonian phone number. Sevo visited her at that late hour to be sure that she would take her prescribed medicine. He picked up the phone and handing over the phone to his mother, he said, “Take it, it is Tatiana calling from America!” Mom did not answer to my greetings. She continued to be silent. I heard her even breathing, probably she had a cold, but it was light, there were no wheezing, no moans, no emotions of irritation or haste, no desire to speak either with me or with anybody else.  “Mom, talk,” Sevo urged her. “This is Tatiana calling from America!” He repeated, accentuating the word “America”.

Mom was silent, and I suddenly realized that she was just listening to me. We did not speak, and at the same time, we did say something important to each other. For the first time together, my mother spoke to her daughter, asking who she was and how to say something most important what was not said before. But with what words?

Maybe because she spoke not with words, but with feelings for which there are nether needed words, we continued to listen to the talk of our souls, and this was the best and perhaps the only worthwhile “conversation.” Mom gave up the attempt find missing words,  for her the impossible words about love and heaven, God and angels, and about a chiffon dress with orange poppies scattered across a sky-blue field, what I imagined her wearing instead of her working attire when she did her hay… she listened quietly to our telephone breathing.

Suddenly, her inner voice dried up, and I realized that she was tired. I wished her good night, and she handed the phone back to Sevo, and I said goodbye to him too. Four hours later, Sevo called me back from Estonia to California. Soon after our conversation, my mother fell asleep, and quietly and imperceptibly left, left her body, that is, died in a dream. She had three weeks until her 99th birthday.

Part Two. My Mother’s Afterlife

After my mother’s transition to a better world, I received two spiritual messages from her. She asked me to light a candle when I was thinking about her, because in that case, a “mirror candle” would appear in her home, enlivening the feeling of connection with the family on earth. In the last message, she said that our dad, Vladimir Senior, war casualty, found her and now, in their common afterlife, they are trying to catch up with their lost youth.

However, their hope that their restored union would be “long and happy” turned out to be illusory, not real. The war changed his father, he began to drink and use cocaine, and the mother’s joyless earthly life made her more decisive and stubborn, in short, life changed them both! And the difficulties of their relationship made me rethink a lot of what I managed to learn about the life of souls in the astral plane. When the book Prisoners of Fame was being written, Myrna Loy, “the queen of the Hollywood screen of the thirties,” Marlene Dietrich and Cary Grant emphasized that everything in the subtle world moves and changes faster and more thoroughly than in the reflection of these changes on earth. Indian guru Yukteswar Giri, author of the book “Sacred Science”, briefly summarized the difference between life on earth and in heaven: “I never argue when someone tells me incredible stories that happened to him in the astral world, because in the subtle worlds everything is possible!”

Seven years after my mother’s death, I was approached by a male spirit James, who held the position of manager of the territory set aside for the former Golden Hollywood actors, now in spirit. He helped arrange my meetings with some of these actors for the book Prisoners of Fame. This time he hit me with the shocking news that my mother was … pregnant!

Life in the astral world gave my mother what she never had on earth — time to think about everything. And her union with my father broke up, therefore, her relationship with my grandmother Luba, that is, with the Elmanovich family and the Masoedovs’ lineage also disintegrated, in short, she renounced relations with her past on earth and decided to follow her path without any support, alone.

In fact, her departure from the family began earlier, at the time of my relationship with one of the participants of the critical period of Russian literature, when the foundation of modern literature was being laid. Let the consciousness, which played one of the key roles at that time, be called Mr. N. Can a relationship arise between a person in the flesh and a person in the astral body? I think there is no simple answer to this question, there are many examples of negative experience in this area, but there are also enough examples of the opposite. It turns out that the matter is not so much in the shape of our bodies as in the conformity of our minds.

My third eye, then in power, long before it became a toy in the hands of the evil spirit of Vladimir Vysotsky, which I will tell you about later, opened a vision of a long corridor. I saw Mr. N approaching me. He asked if he could come home and have a shower, since he had spent some time with the gypsy beauties. I replied that he can have it in a public bath, in short, I did not show sufficient delight from his late return after having fun with the young and beautiful gypsies.

At the same time, on the right, my father and mother came up to me. At the same time Mr. N began to move away from me. My Mom suddenly left my father where he was, ran up to me and spoke quickly, “What are you doing, he will leave you now, he will find a place to shower, you kicked him out! Give it to me! Give him to me!”

I raised my hand, and said, “God is my witness, I give it to you, if you can handle him!” And my “third eye, a huge purple circle between my eyebrows, took the time out, stopped serving me. The vision of the strange hall disappeared!

You will never hear about the complexities of relationships in the subtle world at the evenings of spiritual communication conducted by famous mediums. According to the established English tradition, mediums alternate attention on one of the spirits, ask his name, and communicate this name to the audience. If someone responds to the call, then the long-awaited meeting of the spirit and his relative or acquaintance in an earthly audience may take place. The medium tries to see or feel the facts he needs from the life of the spirit to communicate them to audience, often with amazing accuracy knowing that a relative or acquaintance of the spirit in the audience will confirm or deny these facts. This is how famous mediums James Van Praagh, Hollister Rand, English medium Robert Brown, and many others work. Often, brilliantly presented evidence of a spirit’s identity makes the audience to burst into an applause, and mediums rush to the next spirit to reunite him with someone in the audience.

These dialogues between representatives of two different worlds take place as follows. Let us say that the chosen spirit for communication is a father of a certain young man from the audience. The medium united them, and now he tries to feel, see, hear several vivid facts from the life of father’s spirit on earth. The task of his son, the man in flesh, must confirm or deny these facts. But an earthly man, a son, is interested in something else, he asks, where his father lives in the next world and what is he doing over there. And the father’s spirit replies, “I am fine, not to worry! I try to look after you, I know you have some problems at work right now.” However, the medium does not have time to discuss the affairs of father and son, he needs to extract three facts from the father’s spirit that confirm the identity of the father, for example, where and how he died — at home or in the hospital, in bed or on the operating table, in a battle or in a car accident, or in the bed of a mistress. The medium literally walks on a tightrope, he cannot allow himself to be mistaken, he must enter the communication channel with the father’s spirit in a second, see with the third eye, or hear the answer, and then this answer will be correct and convincing for the audience. This work is difficult, and not many succeed. But this way of communication limits the talk about the seriousness of the problems that the most ordinary person may face in the next world.

I wanted to shift the emphasis from identifying a spirit to his afterlife description. And letting them speak and recording them, I discovered that these stories always contain, at least for me, most interesting confirmations of their identity.

James, the manager, asked if I knew how my mother got pregnant? And then he decided to console me, adding, “She will give birth to some special creature, and she will be all right again.” Up to that moment, it seemed to me that biological matter was not found in the astral plane, but I was mistaken. If my mother was pregnant in the astral plane, then there is biological life, but in what form does it exist there? And I realized that we are far from any reliable knowledge about the subtle worlds. Or maybe this manager is an ordinary liar, or was he rehearsing for a role in a sci-fi movie?

However, my guest was not finished yet. He recalled that after my mother’s transition to the astral world, she was well received by everyone who told their afterlife stories for the Prisoners of Fame. However, she misinterpreted this kindness and overstepped the bounds. In other words, I was asked to speak to her and explain to her who is who in the astral field reserved for the artists of the Golden Hollywood era. James added that from time to time they had similar problems with family members of some actors, especially actresses. My mother began to visit the Golden Hollywood actor’s garden on her own … Cold shiver ran down my spine. I had to save my relationship with people who were kind to talk to me for the book “Prisoners of Fame.” I decided to break all contacts for some time to clean the air. However, time ran fast, and before I knew it, the six years were sunk into summer. Yes, contacts were restored, but they no longer needed me or I them, as we had already forgotten each other.

I started my investigation how my mother got pregnant. My relatives remained silent and pretended not to hear my questions. Finally, an outsider took pity on me, revealing that Tamara, my mother, had an affair with a suspicious stranger whom she met on the street in her astral village. In short, I learned that the stranger who seduced my mother was a paid recruiter of guinea pigs for a suspicious scientific project to create a “man for future times.” He saw in my needy mother a promising candidate on the role of the victim of a scientific conspiracy against humanity. This is how I regarded these experiments. Perhaps the reader will have a different opinion. But for now, my mother was delighted that she would make her modest contribution to the advancement of science, and for one thing, she would earn herself, without outside help and patronage, her first house on the pasture of houses for not very wealthy “guinea pigs”. If the recruiter saw in my mother a potential “guinea pig”, then my mother saw in the recruiter a deliverer who would pull her out of the beggarly environment. It seemed to her that she was receiving a little house for a trifling service. She had already given birth to two, me and my brother Sevo, and it did not kill her! Why did she believe him? Because of monstrous provincialism, and not knowing life, oddly enough? Perhaps the point was that the recruiter came to her as a kind of seducer with a look that was approved by provincial ladies? My mother’s relationship with Mr. N turned out to be fleeting, and she saw the recruiter as a real handsome man, so it seemed to her that, in addition to the house, she would have her revenge over Mr. N. 

I was told that he was a brunette with a sexy mustache, a friendly smile, and very white teeth, which undoubtedly helped him win women’s hearts. He deftly and quickly infiltrated the trust of his victim, quickly established what she most needed, or what the “guinea pig” most wanted, and based on this, built a “mousetrap” to enslave an innocent soul. No one promised my mother a house near, say, Yasnaya Polyana, Lev Tolstoy’s estate, or in the replica of St. Petersburg, and she did not demand it. Feeling in her the consent to any house, they got off by offering her a house in the sparsely populated ash-beige desert on the outskirts of the village.

In return, she pledged to give birth to what they would fertilize her uterus with, carry the object before the due date, and give birth to a “baby” in their 12-bed laboratory hospital. The woman in labor will be delivered, along with a newborn and a traditional bouquet, costing about $ 20, and decked with a second bouquet of balloons in shades ranging from whitish to sparkling pink-reds and shimmering blues, to her new home, prepared for her grand celebration.

Mother signed everything that was slipped to her, looking forward to entering her own house. She literally ran from the laboratory to the park to share with her lover the good news that she was hired and signed all the necessary papers. He promised to wait for her on “their bench” in the far corner of a small park near the laboratory building. But alas — he was not there! She called him, but he did not respond, and she never met him again during her long walks through the streets of her village, when something grew and swelled in her stomach, and she finally wondered what was growing and swelling in it!

It will take about a year for my mother to share with her sister Evgenia, Aunt Zhenya, how things really were. After signing the agreement, she was immediately taken to the laboratory, where she was injected. The entire fertilization procedure took no more than 15 minutes. She was thanked with a polite smile, and a door was opened in front of her, leading directly to the street, on which the recruiter found her, a man of that vulgar beauty what is so dear to provincial women.

When she realized that the smiles were over and she was left alone, unprotected, a gray anxiety stirred in her mind. A lottery question what was maturing in her instigates sooner or later any pregnant woman bearing a baby — a kind soul, or the soul of Enfant the Terrible, a genius or an idiot, a handsome man or a freak, whose soul is burdened with crime throughout several incarnations in a row? She was too proud to ask anyone for help. She gave up shelter in her father’s small house. Because she knew that her father would repeat hundred times: “I told you that there is only one fear on the street! Children should stay with their parents!” Or was there something else, unknown to me, that turned her away from her parental home?

During her pregnancy Tamara, my mother, walked the streets, stubbornly looking for the person who had dragged her into Frankenstein’s dark business. Her confidence that she could handle it alone was shaken, and she annoyed strangers with a certain offer, which she learned from prostitutes on the street. In short, she began to imitate them to earn food and lodging in a shelter, but she never returned home to her father and mother. She did not ask me for help; she did not ask help from her favorite, my brother Sevo, either. In short, she turned her back on her past, on the marriage with my father, the world of my grandmother, a high-profile noblewoman, to her own family of Sirotins, who tried to climb, by hook or by crook, into the possession of Grandmother Luba, and who stubbornly refused them, unable to come to terms with that vulgarity, which the Sirotin’s were so proud, imagining themselves to be carriers of ancestral wisdom

Finally, my mother, having walked her way through the streets of the lower astral, and got acquainted with various types of shelters, poor houses, housing projects, gave birth to a creature that looked like a mixture of a man and a monkey, covered with gray monkey hair, with sharply blue eyes and half-bald, with bare, large ears. He tried to walk on two legs, but preferred to sit on the ground, like monkeys sit, having too long arms that almost touched the ground when he walked on two slightly bent legs.

Three times he appeared in my apartment as well. Since his energy was sharply different from ours, I easily recognized his presence, although nature still does not open my eyes to the vision of spirits and their world. I hear spirits, but I do not always see them. The guest sat on the floor without any greeting or desire to speak, to explain why he had come. He silently looked at me as if examining me, whether I am fit for the role of a prostitute, and whether he should become my pimp. And all three times my candidacy for transformation from the image of an old woman to the role of a prostitute with experience and knowledge was resolutely rejected. I never once tried to talk to him, I was afraid of him, and he did not arouse trust in me in any way. We must pay tribute to him, he did not seek our friendship, did not impose himself, but simply quietly retired, as if erasing me from his life forever.

My mother boldly looked at the essence of her position, abandoned, abandoned, not understood … and resigned herself to her fate! But not in the way her society expected. When her family and acquaintances urged her to “behave decently,” adhere to the standards of social behavior, she abruptly cut off moralizing. She reminded them that they had no idea what her life on earth had turned out to be, that she could remember nothing but hard work. She, the daughter of a Russian priest, will not burden God, in whom her father did not believe, with her problems. Instead, she will try to cope with her problems without asking for handouts and alms from anyone, not from friends, or enemies.

Nevertheless, on the way of her humility, Tamara, my little mother, having won an incredible victory in her rejection of the past, she reproached her teachers of exemplary decent behavior with hypothetical questions where they were when she alone, a widow, dragged her little children, bedridden mother-in-law Lubov Petrovna and her two helpless sisters Zhenya and Valya through the war, hungry and dangerous post-war decades in Sovietized Estonia? Where were they when she was experiencing the horror of the mass deportation of Estonians to Siberia, where local Russians also ended up. Where were they when the KGB offered, that is, ordered, frightening, and extorting, and practically, wringing her hands, to agree to become their informant, and she looked in the dusty attic for a hook to hang herself if she could not get rid of them. None of those teaching her now, not even family members — no one lent her a helping hand when she had to feed a horde of hungry. And she realized her right to throw in their faces: “Leave me alone and mind your own business!”

When I invited her to live in my aura, she threw the same words in my face, do not teach me! I saw in her something new, which was not in her on earth and that I, perhaps, will have to find in myself before I come to the irrevocable line of transition to another world. Can I cope with what she coped with, rejecting the world of superficial decency and vulgar half-truths, and petty lies when she chose the hard path of an independent individual?

When I offered her again the shelter in my aura, she answered that now we were even.

 —I fed you, the difficult child, because I was a wedded mother, I took that obligation given me by God. But you, leaving us in Estonia, and running away to America, did not sell your apartment, you rewrite the ownership in my name. And Zhenya and me lived there to the end in warm and comfort that we had not received before. For this you will be rewarded, but for the fact that you left us … you will pay off! We are even! I never loved you, and you never responded to me with love, you considered me a creation of the lower class, this is how you treated the mother who was not afraid of any work to feed you, you willful fool! Why carry this “I love you” American lie! Let’ us leave that to sentimental Americans who echo “I love you!” —thinking, “Fuck you!”

Years passed again, until we met, when she knocked on my door and asked me to spend the night, because somewhere, something… I did not get it what she was talking about! I still did not understand where, what and when something dangerous had happened to her.

I lost heart, I was ashamed of my mother and refused to let her into my apartment. “You’re on cocaine, you’re not allowed here, they’ll kick me out of this elderly facility, and I’ll be on the street as well!”

My apologetic bubbling did not impress my mother. Moving past me, she, with Zhenya clinging on to her, slipped to the “fourth floor,” into the free spiritual apartments, made for small people in the astral body. There they found an empty bunk, on which they slept until sunrise, and fled without saying goodbye.

She has grown incredibly old over the past years of independent existence. On her face there appeared an unpleasant expression of haste and desire to grab a piece sweeter, which I could not stand, and which, I knew, had never led to anything but new losses, failures, and typical annoyances of a loser.

She hid her hair under a faded shawl, her face turned bluish pale. She was in her burnt-out raincoat that she wore on earth during field work, torn here and there by tree branches, and loading and unloading hay. She wore children rubber boots on her small, like a Chinese woman’s feet. How naive are those who dress and decorate a woman to become a prostitute. She understood that this was not required, but on the contrary, you would earn faster and more, if you dress simpler. She rushed off and disappeared … And she did not spread about what happened next. One day I asked her a question.

– What happened to your hairy children, where did they go?

– After the story with the throat, they were taken away from me and settled on a common pasture. It became empty, I feel sorry for them, after all, they were my children … Because of them, I learned this business, how to earn to feed them.

My mother became a professional prostitute. I found the strength not to reproach her for this. She no longer aspired to live in my aura. Almost funny things happened if they were not sad. She appeared when she had no money. And I gave her what I could. Having obtained a hundred-dollar piece of paper, she quickly ran away. When I asked what she needed the money for, she replied angrily, “On cocaine! Do not ask about food, I don’t need any food, someone will always give me something, I need cocaine, I don’t need anything else!” I did not know how to help her. After all, she had her own home, and I did not.

To advance science, she gave birth to three more gray “babies”, until one of them almost gnawed her throat, after which she became dumb, and her children were taken away from her to some menagerie. Zhenya, without any warning, brought my mother to my alternative treatment. No sooner had I read the cherished prayer for all times and occasions “Our Father” three times, when my mother jumped out of her chair and rushed into her four-dimensional space to tell a story, which was cut off by a “child” clutching her throat.

Once, running across some field, she was pressed by the need for evacuation, cleansing the stomach, and drunk, not understanding, she wiped herself with the hundred-dollars’ worth piece of paper she received from me. There were two versions of this story, according to first version, she threw the piece of paper and ran on, and according to the other, she washed the piece of paper and bought food with it! I think the first version is more believable! The soul of the Russian person in America is truly spacious and wide!

It will take some more time, and my mother will appear again with the same request to supply her with a hundred-dollar bill. Our fourth spirit floor was occupied by a delegation of dashing spirits, young people with a developed interest in women.

They do not understand the connection between me and my mother. They engaged my mother to dance for them the Krakowiak in the middle of my living room. And she danced a krakowiak, tying to tie a “palochka”, a piece of stick to a broken leg, which I knew nothing about, a stick, which she carried with her to dance, if the clients demanded such fun.

Then what is used to happen at such gatherings happened! Having figured out that she was my mother, they kicked her out without paying. Paide prostitutes were not allowed into building for elderly where I lived, but “friends” who offered free service were tolerated.

She was kicked out, and she was not paid, therefore there were no prostitutes, everything was sewn and covered and corresponded to the regulations.

I contacted my father. With the last money he had, he ordered his mother a new leg, this is possible in the astral plane, but soon she was found drunk on the street, and a group of Russians busy cleansing Russian nation from freeloaders, alcoholics, prostitutes  and cocaine junkies marked her for destruction… Hard to believe but this is happening to Russians in their afterlife, as if echoing the communist regime meager attempt to cleanse the nation, принудительное выселение проституток из двух русских столиц, Москвы и Питера на сто первый километр! — forced eviction of prostitutes from two Russian capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg, to the one hundred and first kilometer!

Thank God, I had already written and published her portrait in English. The judges read about her haymaking during hungry war years and during following restoration period, and her conviction to be destroyed was changed to healing sleep on the first Light Plane of Rest.

When his father said, not without bitterness, that he had spent the last money on a new leg, and instead of walking, now she was put at sleep with that new leg of hers. But the all-knowing guardian of the resting facility reassured him. He explained to my father that it is exceedingly difficult for those who wake up with broken arms and legs. And it will be easy for her! You have no idea how invaluable your help is to her! However, my father was told by a resting facility authority that he had done a nobliest thing, because when her time will come to wake up, she will be fine, but folks with broken legs or hands will suffer significantly, as there would be no one to help them. Father calmed down and stopped blame my mother neither when talking about her, nor thinking about her.

Before departing to the resting plane, Mother thanked me also for initiating the leg change affair.

—Tanya, I thought that being a prostitute is very cool, that it is good to lead a free life, but I was mistaken, I will try to recover and start all over again, I was thrown out of life as superfluous, but I will never be more superfluous … Thank you for teaching me nothing, for not forcing on me changes of my ways. Now I am aware that there must be another way to happiness. You know that I am not afraid of work, now I will go to study. When I wake up, and they will again let me walk through my streets, where I sought freedom, and found only shame, I will already be different. … God is merciful, he forgave me, they will put me to special sleep with restoration and thus they treat bad addiction, without torment and suffering, because I had done something right, and God had forgiven me! 


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