Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The part that I skipped before. I apologize! FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Rimka worked in the laboratory of a big orthopedic clinic. She quickly advanced to the top position, which she then occupied with relish. She was in charge of a few womenlab technicians. Some doctors were working closely with her to do their theses. The more power she felt from her position, the more she felt free
Rimka is the second form the left in the front row,
               with Lera on her lap. Meyer is the third from
        the left  in the back.
verbally abuse her family. She ranted and raved for the smallest reason. Meyer took to spending a lot of time playing chess at his brother's home. When questioned late in life, why he didn't leave his family at that time, he said that, there was no-where to go. One had to have a permission to stay in Moscow, and apartments were worth killing over. It would also go against the very fiber of his being, to abandon the people for whom he was responsible. He made good money restoring historical buildings and painting murals in the public offices and institutions. Sometimes there was no work though, and his crew had to get by on any jobs they could find, like painting safety posters or doing apartments for the high and mighty. Meyer always was sure to give Rimka just a set amount every month and keep the rest, in case if there was no work later, and he had to endure her scolding about the lack of money.   
family-having-breakfast.jpg (405×270)The family seemed to be well to do and keeping it together. Dina sometimes wondered, if anyone knew or cared about what went on in their apartment. Perhaps, Rimka was just a typical housewife and mom, struggling with the finances and her teenagers? But there was a day, for instance, when Dina came to get her friend to go to school together in the morning, after going through a gauntlet of her mother's scorn and  accusations. The friend's family was running around, getting ready for the day: the girls were braiding each other's hair, parents were joking with children. She didn't have to think about it much: the contrast with her own family was too stark and painful. Dina just started to cry, standing in the middle of their living room. So, the situation in Rimka's home wasn't usual or acceptable: in an unending, hopeless pattern of their lives, her children and husband were being emotionally flayed 
As the result of this abuse, the children stopped trusting their parents. One of them was the cause of pain and another was helpless to stop it. Dina didn't know, what helped her sister to survive. They were six years apart and Lera became an adult and a stranger when Dina was just starting to form her real character and opinions. Ironically, it was her mother who gave her the beginnings of her idealism and certain stubbornness, by providing the books with the  role models in them whom Dina wanted to emulate 
Something was missing, though. The books spoke of and assigned enormous value to love and romanceBut those things were terribly hard to come by! And,
even more importantly, where was the purpose that would be worthy of committing her whole life to it? Dina found friends who were like her in trying to focus on their inner life and culture (maybe, because there was nothing happening in their lives otherwise?). They scoured Moscow for cultural events. They met a lot of odd people and heard many ideas about saving the world and oneself, that ranged from  meditation to veganism, to walking on the snow barefoot 
Nothing appealed to her.  She felt like she was in the fog, without a direction or aim. She began to drift, avoiding her studies in preparation for college exams.  One after one she failed the exams.  
Now what? Dina worked in the newspaper, sharing the duties of a delivery girl, proof-reader and a on-the-spot journalist. Her social life was erratic; she no longer listened to her parents' ideas about an appropriate behavior. Each relationship ended as soon as it begun, and brought her immeasurable heartbreak. Then came the last blow. 
jpeg (273×185)
Moscow University
She attempted to get into the Moscow University. As a Jewish person, she should've known better. Upon meeting the Dean of the Journalism Department to find out why she didn't get in, he bluntly declared: "We have enough of your kind of people!". For this reason or that, nobody wanted her. Her parents came to her then, with the proposition to emigrate to the U.S. She didn't refuse.  
Dina at 18.
By then, Lera, who did everything with less drama and more elbow grease, finished college and found a stable job. Her mother was desperately trying to marry her off, because, at twenty five, she was approaching the spinsterhood, wasn't she? The inevitable matchmakers showed up, sized her up and tried to ply her on every Jewish mother's son in Moscow. By extension, no self-respecting matchmaker would miss a chance to find a husband for a younger sister! And so, here they came, the strange and the stranger men and blind dates, but after meeting her, no one was interested to see her again. That only confirmed her conviction that nobody wanted her. Later on in life, when she looked at her pictures at that age, she saw a fresh-faced girl, attractive in a spiritual kind of way. She was neither fat nor frumpy at all, as she used to believe herself to be. She guessed, that those men were baffled, even intimidated to find somebody like her, not a usual type of the girls desperate to get married. That wisdom couldn't help the younger Dina, though. 

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