"We had no food"

This fragment from Do Not Avenge Us is written by Tamara Oala Plesca, from whom I posted before. The family was in Siberia, after they were deported by the Bolsheviks. Left with no food and no means to provide for themselves, they die one by one…

 

After a while, we moved into a different place, in a small house. He had nothing to eat in this house either. We only drank water with salt. We were dying of hunger, all of us! As I said, the potatoes froze in the land, so the locals did not get to take them out. I used to go to gather some of those frozen potatoes. I could find some things, even fruit of the forest, so I ate things like this. I was looking for arrach or nettle. Mama used to grind it, prepare it, and make some sort of cake out of it. Mamagave us the little food we had, not keeping for herself.

I remember that she used to give all of us a loaf of rice bread on Saturdays. For all of us there, as many souls as we were, she had this loaf of bread. One per week. For six souls, one loaf per week! All the other time, there was only arrach and nettle. Mama made some sort of small cake out of arrach, potato peels, and whatever else we could find there. Bunica had no longer any teeth, and she used to say:

“I cannot eat this wooden board, this arrach cake.”

One evening, my brother came with bread. Such a beautiful smell… And we were all dying of hunger. My feet were swollen, and I could not walk. When we saw that bread, as we were hungry, we looked long at it… But he tied it with some string in the attic. This was on Saturday. We used to eat this bread only on Sundays. We ate on Sundays so that we would have that taste in our mouths for the entire week.

Bunica began crying, and she implored my brother:

“Vasile, give me a piece of bread! I cannot eat this cake. It is as tough as the board. My stomach cannot take it. I don’t have any tooth.”

But my brother told bunica:

Mamuca, dear bunica, you raised us with these hands of yours! You saw many things, and you endured much! Please suffer it until morning. What would I do with these children, who have their eyes fixed on this loaf of bread? If I give you any of it, they are children and will want to have it too. You are older and understand. Please, endure it a bit longer!”

Over night, we did not close one eye. We lay down and looked up to the loaf of bread. We waited, hoping that one piece, one little piece would fall and we could put it in our mouths. Well, when morning came, bunica was no longer. She had cried and cried. She had rivers of tears on her face, and she died.

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About Tavi's Corner

Blogging on ancient philosophy, communist persecution in Romania (including deportation to Siberia), and Orthodox Christianity. I've translated books from Romanian to English, and I also write about them from time to time.
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