At first, the stepmother treated Rimka really well; she taught and encouraged her. Rimka craved this kind of influence in her life. She especially liked their trips to the clothing shops or to the bazaar. After her step-sister was born, however, things started to change. It turned out, the step-mother didn't have enough room in her heart for a girl, who wasn't her own. She started to quietly mistreat Rimka and slowly turned her father against her.
It's funny, how everything can come to a crushing end in a span of just a few minutes. On a warm autumn day, Rimka was coming home from school with a boy from her class. They stopped at the corner of her house, where the shade, filtered through the leaves of the old tree, was soft, cool and green. The boy suddenly kissed Rimka on the cheek and ran away. She was still looking after him, smiling, when she felt her father's hand on her shoulder. The next thing she felt was a slap on the face,
strong enough to send her to the ground. She looked up, uncomprehending: her father was looming over her, his face - livid with rage and disgust. He spat some words at her that she didn't understand, kicked her, and went away. The girl lay there, crying. The lady neighbor, who saw everything from her window, helped her up,
What possessed Yakov to act that way? Was it because the boy who kissed Rimka was an Uzbeki, and she and her family were Jewish? No, Rimka's father and his wife were atheists and didn't adhere to any Jewish traditions. Was he still that hateful toward the people whom he fought in the war? Or, maybe, subconsciously, he was looking for an excuse to punish the girl, whose birth cost him his first love? In any case, it was her stepmother who informed Rimka, she was to go to Moscow to live with her Grandmother.
The train trip back took forever. Near the city of Kazan, on the Volga-River, Rimka got sick and was taken off the train. She had malaria. When she, finally, made it to Moscow, she was a different person. Where before the adults saw a reticent child, now they found her fighting for attention and control. When she didn't get them, she became abrasive, especially with her Grandma, who wouldn't stand up for herself. People thought, it was just some normal teenage behavior.
Around 1938 Meyer's dad decided, they've had enough of the bitter Russian cold, and moved his family to Samarkand, the chaotic and wonderful Southern city. He couldn't find a job there, though, and went back to Moscow. The money he sent kept his wife and children fed, but his wife was not satisfied with that. She started to sell the blue laundry additive, that gave washed sheets the look of freshness. She sold it by tea-spoons and her family never wanted for nothing. Jacob and Liev soon rejoined them.
Whatever the adults' worries were, the children had a grand time in Samarkand! Liev, true to his nature, found the way to sweeten up their lives. He taught his younger siblings to make little holes in the bags of dried figs or apricots carried to the bazaar by some Uzbeki merchants. Then Meyer or Samuel would just follow the fellows, picking up the delicious treats from the road, to be shared later with Liev and Rachel.
After they received punishment, when their next victim dragged them to their father by the ears, they decided, crimes against outsiders were too risky, and switched attention to their own house. Their mother kept a large chest filled with all kinds of treats: dried fruit, dried cakes and cookies, even just dried bread for a rainy day - in the living room. The kids managed to break the lock on one side of the chest and, little by little, began stealing from it. Unfortunately, they couldn't see so well, what they were taking, because the opening between the chest and the lid was too small. So, time to time, they would hurriedly stick something in their mouths and find that their greed was rewarded by some moldy item!
The World War II arrived in the Soviet Union in June of 1941. Here it was called the Great Patriotic War. Samuel volunteered for the army on the morning after his High School Graduation and the Prom. They never saw him again.