Nineteen Fifty Eight
Mir Antal Nineteen fifty eight In the year of Our Leader Nineteen Fifty Eight I was twenty one years old. The Soviet Union was recovering from Stalin’s madness and thin rivulets of the “Thaw” trickled down from the Kremlin. As a popular song of that time said, “Our beloved father Stalin turned to be not our father but a bitch.” Cattle trains that were readied to evacuate Jews from large cities to Siberia were instead carrying grain. Khrushchev traveled to the United States and banged his shoe on the lectern, but in Russia political prisoners were leaving labor camps, gathering on the streets and exchanging memories. Poets read verses in public squares and carried Yevgeny Yevtushenko on their shoulders. Van Clibern won the international piano competition in Moscow and charmed music lovers. That year I finally lost my virginity after several unsuccessful attempts and gained an intimate knowledge of female mysteries. It happened in a sunny little clearing in the woods and a plywood memorial plaque preserved that event for posterity. I don’t know if it’s still there but I suspect that it was sold to the Museum of Evolution, like Lenin’s underwear was sold to the Museum of Revolution. Thus, I was no longer a pizdostradatel which can be loosely translated as “pussy-sufferer”, now I was a pussy-owner. Every night I dreamed about Natasha, my girlfriend who studied with me at the Moscow Institute of Architecture and lectured me on life. “Men are stupid,” she said.
My mother Dora Kogan was born in 1896 in the town of Kremenchug of the Ukraine, or as the Russian Imperial House called it, “Mahlorossia”, or Little Russia. Kremenchug was located within the Pail, the area restricted for a habitat of Jews. The Pail encompassed the areas of small towns within the currently sovereign states of Bessarabia (now Moldova), Ukraine, Belorussia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. All these countries were the parts of the Russian Empire that brutally suppressed all political decent there. At the break of the twentieth century until the revolution of 1917 the Jews who lived in the Pail suffered the most infamous violence at the hands of bigoted gangs.
Pilgrims and Indians
A bronze Massasoit gazed at the Plymouth Rock monument below and the Atlantic ocean beyond. The ocean played with blues, greens and grays moving them in accordance with flying clouds. Wet wind squeezed tears from tourists’ eyes. Four teenagers stared at the Indian.
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