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A Minute in a White Cloud of Love and Forgiveness

Here comes a story from my past, when I lived in Tallinn, Estonia, and worked as a journalist in a Estonia government’s newsletter Rahva Hääl People’s Voice. This was blessed time of hope for the profound changes… The Party Twentieth’s Congress, 1956 that denounced Stalin’s cult happened some years ago. Gulags’ inmates started to return home free from charges that Stalin’s regime had put on them… Adzhubey, Khruschev daughter Rada’s husband was Moscow most popular newspaper Izvestiya chief editor and future seemed to bring justice to all! So, it seemed to me at that time. 

The only cloud on my horizon, was upcoming deadline. Tomorrow morning at 8 am, I had to submit them a story about women at the Kiviõli, an enterprise of refining oil of the shale coal mined in the North Estonia. My hand refused to advance that story, but my young will made me to continue. The story about women in their gray overalls and red hard hats was slowly sliding toward its “happy ending” ….  

When, about 5 am, I got up from my chair, I met an unpleasant surprise. A threatening red line was sliding quietly down as a reddish snake along the armchair’s leg toward the carpet. Today I would consider this an important warning sign and call for an ambulance. But 50 years ago, the deadline of submission of an article to the board of the newspaper where I worked seemed to me more important than the obvious – the beginning of the miscarriage in my body… So, I learned that I was pregnant. Was it a cherry on my destiny pie or a curse? I was not in love with him. He was not in love with me, he forced on me a casual sex at a party, and I had no strength to say “no.”

I was writing the conclusion of my Kiviõli story. Who were the women who worked there? My writing did not clarify it. Some pieces of bloody meat were falling out of me on the floor, wrecking the carpet. My body refused to accept that pregnancy. My consciousness did not accept it either.  

He was not a bad man, he was all-around nice person, professional, with his apartment, a rare thing in these days in the Soviet Union, where people still lived in communal apartments, one toilet room on many families…. But he did not love me, and I did not love him, we were only distant acquaintances… He and family?  No, no and no!

I was rewriting the ending of the story, and last time reading my cold, nasty text about the women I knew nothing about and do not want to know anything about them, why they worked in a place where they had to wear red  and heavy and metal hats… … I flied out of my apartment and caught a taxi. At 7: 30 am the story was on the table of people who had already gathered to work together in the name of salary, position, and expectation of some changes in future.  They asked me, if I was OK, as I looked, they said – awful!

Instead of getting to a Tallinn’s café – to sip some black morning coffee in company of fresh newspaper… I changed my route, and rushed to the nearest taxi stand to get as soon as possible to the proper hospital to stop bleeding…

In other words, I was bleeding and walking! And then something happened, something unusual and not expected. When I was walking so bravely toward taxi parking spot, my consciousness took off lifting my hidden, invisible part – my  soul, my awareness, whatever it was — into a milky cloud of pure love! It was high up there – out of this world, that I, a Soviet journalist, knew nothing about! My body continued stepping toward a waiting taxi on the street.

I was a beginner, chosen amidst the crowd registered to quick course to learn to writer to newspapers to get a position in the “People’s Voice.” However, the bleeding was not slowing down. My legs continued stepping along the street, but my consciousness found itself high up in the subtle air of love and forgiveness… If someone happened to be there, live there, they breathed in instead of oxygen pure love. The bliss of pure love and happiness was the material that the space there was made of…

I felt being forgiven for all my trespassing… I was pardoned and my world was transforming! My consciousness was overcoming the dualism of good versus bad, young versus old… In one short instance, my enemies, anger, ego, judgmental attitude were melting away, out of my way to … taxi. My hand grabbed the handle of the taxi door, and soon I was in the hospital.     

Regrettably, I was not allowed to stay in this blissful state of mind too long.  Soon I was “on the table’’ and a gynecologist was asking me pronounce some random words time to time. She explained, “… then I knew that you are alive, you lost too much blood!” Yes, I survived, I was meant to stay on earth and learn more from its hard lessons of survival and love of life that can sometimes turn its threatening face to you, and ask for all attention you have.  

Nevertheless, the brief meeting with subtle empire of love up there, never abandoned me entirely. How many times it had reminded me about The Great Oneness that had helped me resolve many harsh and seemingly none resolvable problems of my life.

The next day, I was supposed to leave the hospital, and I was invited to step by at the doctor’s office. Instead of greeting, and asking me to utter some random words to confirm being still alive, the same nice doctor shouted, being angry as hell, “What did you do to yourself! Have you forgotten that self-abortion is forbidden by law. I will report you to police and you will be out of “People’s Voice” in an instant, and sentenced do time in prison!”

But the milky world was still in me fresh and acute. I kept some pause and answered quietly, “Do what you have to do! I told you the truth…what did happen to me!”

She continued throwing angry words into my face.

But touch of white paradise was still protecting me. And I thanked her for saving my life and encouraged her to do her duty, recommend me to serve time in prison, if necessary! My mind remained calm and peaceful.

She continued looking straight in my eyes. Suddenly her hands grabbed the report from the table and tore it apart sending the pieces of paper into the “round file” under her desk. “Go to your “People’s Voice,” am I the judge of your words and deeds?”

Lately, a person familiar with this kind of finer matters commented that usually people find themselves in high realm of milky cloud of love and forgiveness shortly before they near transition to the next world, before facing death itself. So, I faced death, but it was not my hour to leave this planet yet.

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A Sip of Water

With the ticket in my pocket to fly the next morning to Berlin, I was registering as a guest into hotel Moskva, as the trip to the Berlin’s International Film Festival  started still from the airport Sheremetyevo near Moscow, the capital of the Soviet Union. I had slight headache, and some unwanted body temperature.  It was important to stay healthy, as the Soviets did not pay hospitalization bills of their citizens, if they fell ill during their business trips abroad. In general, the sick were not allowed to board the planes, and their  boarding passes were rendered to the status of a useless pieces of paper. If you happen to be one of these disappointed travelers, you would be advised go home and drink herb tea to fasten your recovery.

I had increasing chances to become tomorrow morning one of those who would be denied boarding the plane to Berlin. My flu was becoming more and more visible on the hourly bases. At the evening before flying date, the temperature reached over 40 Celsius, my nose was stuffy and running, throat sore, lips were visibly chapped and cracked. To cut long story short, I had a legal flu! I crawled into my Moskva hotel’s luxurious bed that I did not have at home, and decided, if tomorrow I will be denied the flight to Berlin, let today enjoy this incredible bed, and have a good sleep, no matter what!

At night I woke up. I was not in hotel Moskva, but in picturesque Rila, a Bulgarian Alpine monastery trying to drink water from a small fountain set to satisfy the thrust of those who were approaching the church. The entrance was invitingly open and candles’ light was bright enough to see what was going on in the church – a traditional Eastern Orthodox sermon for complaining to God and His angels on difficulties, never ending problems of daily life of a person in flesh.

I took one more sip of water at that outdoor fountain and wondered, how I got here, and what was I doing here? The instant when these deep thoughts touched me, I was back in Moskva hotel and fell asleep again.

The next morning my temperature was normal, and my cracked lips … were no cracked anymore, they were absolutely clean and normal. I was flying to Berlin. Was a Baltic Documentary Retrospective a success? Yes and no!

Already back in Moscow, I went straight to Sheremetyevo to catch my flight to Tallinn. TV stands aired reports from Soviet delegation adventures in Berlin Film Festival.  None of these reports mentioned the Baltic retrospective that I, as a witness, as a participant, saw attracting enough Western media attention to be mentioned by Moscow Central TV programs.  But they kept their mouths shut about Baltic retrospective, unique program, maybe the first and the only one that proved the existence of multinational filming in the Soviet Union. Yes, we had our “Moscow Hollywood” in form of the Moscow film fabric – Mosfilm, but we had something that Hollywood did not have, and cannot have – multinational cinema –Gruzia films, Latvian and Estonian documentaries, Kirgiz films… but perestroika did not recognize it as an achievement, rather a nedorazumenye—a misunderstanding! When West started to by documentaries from Baltic Retrospective, Moscow Goskino asked for every documentary prices as high, if they were feature films,  flicks for public entertainment in city theaters, money makers, not cultural phenomena.

I was standing in front of a Sheremetyevo TV stand and while waiting my flight to Tallinn, watching every Moscow Central TV report from Berlin, and the truth about perestroika started to dawn in my stupid, naive, Estonian film critic head. The game was changing. Forget rules that worked in the Soviet Union, learn new rules that will come from the West, forget our so called national cinemas… They will stay in past with both good and bad experiences. Soon two Latvian filmmakers Andreas Lapinsh and Gvido Zvaizgne would be shot in broad daytime on a Riga street by the Soviet military during confrontation with the local national movement forces.

I, the participant of the Berlin film festival, a insignificant film critic, will receive death threats over the repeated phone calls from local KGB. “We will first torture and shot your son in front of you – then you!” In 1989, this repeated over and over announcement made me fled  from Estonia with $15 in my pocket, and zero English on my lips to California.

Did I survive? I have forgotten details of my awaited so passionately trip to Berlin International Film Festival, and there was only one “lesson” that counted – a sip of holy water that eliminated flu with stuffy nose, sore throat, high temperature and swollen lips – overnight, giving me chance to learn deeper  truth about perestroika, and many other things so beautiful on the surface, and so unimportant in its essence.

Did the sip of holy water change me? Of course – not,  I was too superficial, I did not see a real value of that lesson, I forgot it, I took it for granted… and only now, when leaving this planet, I see real value of it, the true power of our mind that we ignore, do not trust, and have no idea how to handle it for benefit of ourselves and others.  Nevertheless, the memory of this experience survived my long and not so easy life — without teaching me, only reminding me that out there are great things that had nothing to do with our boring daily existence. But they are there for those who care reaching for the stars.