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TRUE TALES ALEX STERNIN


As a child I had a recurrent dream. In the dream I was being chased by a character native to Russian folk tales – Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga was clad in peasant’s outfit, and mounted on a broom which flew. In the dream she was chasing a rabbit down the railroad tracks – the rabbit was me. I could see the bars of the railroad skip under me, my heart beating fast in my ears, filled with fear I ran. At the last minute I - or the rabbit, would run into a hut and the door would shut. Only then the realization that the hut belongs to Baba Yaga would surface. I would dread every time the dream would appear on the horizon – I knew what was coming next, and was powerless before it. How does one surmise scenes from one’s childhood? I remember my childhood in fragments, in flashes of memory and pieces – in a visual language of a child. And yet it was me.


But summer. I think the summer that loved best was one when my mother was pregnant with my sister. My parents did not come along, and I spent it in the company of my grandmother – who let me do what I liked. I remember riding through the forest to the lake and back on the back of a bicycle of a kind older boy.


I remember picking nameless berries from a tall tree with my two friends – a boy and a girl with whom I shared many great adventures that summer. This was the last summer before I entered school. Incidentally it was the only summer that I remember during which I did not end up in the hospital or at least caused myself some great injury.


Russia, Russia, childhood games‌ masquerade.


I remember school uniforms. Brown drab dresses made of thick wool to keep us warm in the winter and even warmer in the summer. On top of the brown dress went an apron, white for special occasions and black for everyday wear.


Record player was also a source of tales – long before books on cds, there were records with tales of Peter Pan, Alice, and Puss in Boots. All accompanied by music that I still remember.


Once after a painting trip to the botanical gardens during our summer practice Anja and I stayed behind to watch a midnight cactus open..Losing patience we left early, and were caught in ferocious rain. As we made our way knee deep through the puddles, we sang songs from old films walking soaked arm in arm. I wonder why simple events like this stand out in memory, and feel like a friendly fire on a cold night.


True tales  

A book about growing up in Russia in 1980's (short version)

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