I grew up in relative poverty during “dashing 90ths” in Russia. Well, we could still afford eating several meals per day (I think that’s the subtle line between poverty and misery when people can afford eating, of course not what they really want, but at least several times per day); going to McDonald’s was a big deal, a real feast; school was de jure free as well as healthcare (I repeat “de jure”), at least there were no official school fees. The only thing that I could not have the cloths and devices I wanted to. I even started daring to want them only when I was a teenager. As for devices, I was not really interested, that was a healthy childhood without smart phones and Internet: television instead. It seems to me television was more reasonable then but I am not so sure about that. Anyway, it was the time when freedom (including freedom not to obey the law or, in other words, the anarchy) engulfed the country, there was no propaganda that’s for sure. People suppose it was dangerous. Maybe for some people interested in business but for me as a child, I can’t really say so. I have never thought of security as a child, I was never afraid. Neither were my parents really concerned about it. Now I would be.
It was also colder, much colder. I hated these twenty minutes from my house to school. It was absolutely dark in the morning and as if colder. I remember this unpleasant, I would even say even odious, sensation of freezing toes, fingers and nose. However, there were millions of brilliants sparkling in the snow under the light of street lamps and hat was so wondrous.
As I was watching Brazilian and Argentinean soap operas, I knew I had to be born there under more generous sun. Until now I haven’t discovered this continent, but I will.
I lived on the nine’s floor and our elevator was often out of order because of some stupid vandal boys playing with it. I was running up and down the stairs. I was so young then. The issue of housing had always been acute in Russia (remember Mikhail Bulgakov’s novels). We had our neighbours, some of them were more or less sweet, as much as a person can be while sharing the space with you, some of them were completely crazy. There was a small pretty girl called Amina whose father and mother (so nice and beautiful, much younger than her husband) came from Azerbaijan. Amina had a habit waiting for my father and for me also by our door and calling our names. I have to admit that animals and children love my father but I was afraid of him sometimes as he could thrash me if I misbehaved.
Some people say that the fall of Soviet Union was a social disaster, life expectancy and standard of living dropped dramatically. It feels like it was the time full of opportunities. But we failed. That happens. I cannot judge this period of our history. It was my sacred childhood, the future was so bright, I thought that I would never be anything like my parents; I didn’t even realise that it was actually poverty. It fell fully on aching heads of my then young and inexperienced parents who really fought their way through life. And it’s only now that I started understanding them and respecting consciously their efforts.
The photos are from here