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  1. 1. Ludimila Kriskovich Just Believe in YourselfThis book is dedicated to you. It’s no accident that you are holding thisbook.Before you were born, God planned this moment in your life. This ishow important you are!This book describes the true life of a woman looking for happiness withan open mind. This person passes all possible tests in her life, buthappiness has not met her on life’s journey.Then there are the questions: what does it mean, this elusivehappiness, True Life, Love, Hatred, Resentment, and Forgiveness?They are all our feelings, and man can understand them only throughspirituality.She is on the spiritual path, but with none of the happiness she seeksso desperately. Then there are the questions:why is there a division ofthe Road of Life and the Spiritual Path, if a man without a soul doesnot exist? Only spiritual change and the merging of two roads into onepath can lead to human happiness.The book provides life examples and practical answers to manyspiritual questions of life. The reader is provided with the methoditself, in practice, to find his own way home; the road to anunderstanding of his soul; to know why his soul came into this world;to learn the truth about who he actually is and what prevents all of usfrom being healthy and happy; and how it can be gained.
  2. 2. CONTENTSIntroductionCHAPTER 1 Physical lifeThe beginning of my life on earthI was born in the U.S.S.R.My socialist childhoodFirst life experiencesSchoolMusic schoolThe first desire to knowSportThe wheel of life set in motionMy parentsTransitional periodA visa to enter adult life has been obtainedStudentWifeWorkChernobylDivorceMy daughter and INew jobIn search of a princeSecond husbandMy second childBusinessPerestroikaHealth problemsMy brother
  3. 3. My oldest daughterThe School of Universal EnergyThe last warningPreparation for immigration to CanadaEnglishClosing my businessDeparture is delayedGoodbye, Motherland!Finally, I’m home!Life from scratchNew life experiencesMy teenage daughterGoodbye, my dearest little mommyLong-awaited workFirst Canadian boyfriendSecond Canadian boyfriendThird Canadian boyfriendDo I even need a boyfriend?Learning to live anewPeople always try to prove what is already obvious… or the last dropThe beginning of a new lifeMy childrenI’m happyCHAPTER 2 The Spiritual PathThe Beginning of a Soul’s Life on EarthThe influence of society on the minds and actions of peopleThe influence of family on the feelings and actions of peopleParentsHappiness and SufferingEarthquakes, disasters, and catastrophes
  4. 4. What does this or that situation teach us?What is spirituality?What is love?Wisdom and enlightenmentThe truthConsciousness / ConscienceWe can believe or not believe in God, but we remember himFortune and happinessIs it possible to bypass or avoid destiny?Time to forgive and not be offendedFreedom of choiceWhere to find help?What to do?CHAPTER 3The merger of the road of life and spiritual path, orHow to act, or Change themselves, rather than waiting thatsomeone will do it for us
  5. 5. Introduction Just believe in yourselfEverything has its own beginning and its own ending, which is in itself the beginning…When I first read this story, I cried from the beauty of it, the love, thefeeling of truth. And each time I read this tale, tears fill my eyes, and Ifeel that inner love that connects me to God’s Source. I have given itto different people to read and its reception has been widely varied.Please try to read it with your soul, not with your mind. Neale DonaldWalsch wrote this story, “A Little Soul and God”.Once upon a time…Once a Little Soul said to God:“I know who I am!”And God replied:“That’s great! So who are you?”The Little Soul exclaimed:“I am Light!”God smiled wholeheartedly and affirmed:“That’s true! You are Light.”But very soon, just knowing who you were became not enough. And sothe Little Soul went back to God and said:“Hello, God! I would like to feel how it is to be Light.”God replied:“All right. So, you are Light, but you cannot see yourself when you arein Light, so we will place you into darkness.”He continued:“When you are surrounded by darkness, don’t wave your fists around,don’t yell, and don’t curse darkness. Be the Light in the darkness, and
  6. 6. remain calm. Let your Light so shine that everyone will know howspecial you are!”The Little Soul happily replied:“Thank you. I must experience what it’s like to be Light!”God asked:“What part of light would you like to be?”The Little Soul didn’t understand.God explained:“Light consists of many parts. Light can be kind, gentle, creative,patient, helping, forgiving, friendly, and attentive. At any moment, asyou desire, you can be any of these parts of Light or all of them atonce. This is what it means to be Light.”And so, the Little Soul, trembling with excitement, pronounced:“I would like to be the part of Light that is called ‘forgiveness’”.“All right,” said God, and added: “But there is no one here to forgive.”The Little Soul couldn’t believe it:“Nobody?”God explained:“Everything that I created is perfect. You could not find even one soul,out of all that I have created, that is less perfect than you are. Lookaround!”God asked:“So then who is there to forgive?”The Little Soul sadly said:“I wanted to experience what it’s like to forgive. I wanted to know thatpart of light, to know what it feels like.”And right after these words, another sympathetic Soul stepped forwardand said:“Don’t worry, Little Soul. I will help you. I can come into your next lifeand do something so that you can forgive.”The Little Soul asked:“Why? Why are you going to do that?”The Sympathetic Soul answered:“It’s very simple. I will do it because I love you.”
  7. 7. It seemed that this response surprised the Little Soul.“Don’t be surprised,” said the Sympathetic Soul, “You did the same forme. You’ve just forgotten it!”And so the Sympathetic Soul explained:“I will come into your next life and will create “bad things” for you inthat life. I will do something truly horrible, so that you have thechance to “forgive”.The Little Soul asked, a bit nervously:“But what are you going to do that is so truly horrible?”“Oh,” said the Sympathetic Soul, winking, “We’ll come up withsomething.”The Sympathetic Soul continued:“But you have to know something.”The Little Soul asked:“What is that?”“I will have to slow my vibrations and become very evil in order to dothese bad things. I will have to pretend to be someone completelyunlike myself. And in return, I ask only one favor,” said theSympathetic Soul.The Little Soul said, with tears in her eyes:“Anything! Anything at all! What can I do for you? You, who would dothis for me, like an angel!”God said:“Of course, this Sympathetic Soul is an angel. I send you nothingexcept angels.”The Sympathetic Soul continued:“At the moment I hit the hardest, when I break your heart, at thatvery moment when I do to you the very worst things you can imagine,at that exact moment…”“What?” interrupted the Little Soul, “What…?”The voice of the Sympathetic Soul became much quieter, and she said:“Remember who I really am.”“Oh, I will remember! I swear! I will remember you exactly as I seeyou right now!” cried the Little Soul.The Sympathetic Soul continued:
  8. 8. “All right. If you forget who I really am, then probably I won’t be ableto remember who I really am for much longer, probably you too willforget who you really are, and we will both be lost. In that case, wewill need another Soul to come to us and remind us both of who wereally are.”“No. I won’t forget!” promised the Little Soul again. “I will rememberyou and will be grateful to you for this gift, the possibility toexperience for myself Who I Am.”And so the agreement was made. The Little Soul was incarnated into anew life, with the desire to be the Light, the very special Light, calledForgiveness.Each time a new Soul appeared in her life, bringing her joy or sadness,and especially when it was sadness, the Little Soul thought of whatGod had said to her:“Always remember,” God smiled when he said this, “I send you no onebut angels.”The Beginning…I was waiting for the moment when I would be ready to write thisbook, when my inner world would complete the necessary tasks thatwould get me to the starting point. Now, I feel that the time has come.Too many people have become lost in their lives and have forgottenwho they really are. I ask for all the powers of the Universe to help meremind readers of who they truly are.Perhaps my own life experience will assure someone that happiness ispossible in this world – you just have to want to find it and to believein yourself. That is why the title of this book came easily to me: “JustBelieve in Yourself”.I have divided my story into three chapters: physical life, spiritual life,and the unity of the two lives. I deeply believe, and my life has shown,that only the unity of these two paths can allow a person to experiencefully the happiness and joy of his life.There is only one language – the language of the Heart. There is onlyone religion – Love.
  9. 9. CHAPTER 1 Physical life The beginning of my life on earthI was born ten years after the end of the Second World War in thecapital of the Republic of Belarus, Minsk, one of the republics of theformer U.S.S.R. I was born at a time when people had only just begunto return to a normal life after many long years of war, suffering,deprivation, and losing loved ones. Nobody talked about it, but feelingsof revival were in the air. According to my very first sensations, it wasa feeling of some growing happiness, like the anticipation of a miracleand gratitude for every day of life.I don’t remember any rainy days in my childhood; they have beenerased from my memory. Memory holds only sunny, summery, warmdays.My first memories from my childhood are of my yard. In the part ofthe city where we lived, two-storey houses were constructed for four,six, or twelve families, but there was no specifically planned-outcourtyard. These houses stood around a sports field, and therefore,were close to each other. Dirt paths led to the houses, and betweenthem remained some unused land. My family and our neighbors usedthis public land for gardening. At the time, each family had a smallgarden, growing berries, various vegetables, and fruit trees. Thisgarden not only provided some food for the families, but it was also agood opportunity to work with the land for those people who wereused to labor.Each family in our building had a separate entrance, which created asense of independence. My brother, who was older than me by fiveyears, and I had full freedom of choice about where to go and what todo, like most children at the time. Nobody even thought to worryabout something happening to us. This freedom probably played a rolein the fact that my memories of this time are only happy and bright.To me, my courtyard seemed a huge place for unlimited investigationsand learning new things. I’d like to define my yard. It is EVERYTHINGaround our house. It is EVERYWHERE that it is possible to go. It isEVERYTHING that you can touch, break, or build. It is EVERYTHINGthat no one can restrict. At the time, there was not much variety inkids’ toys. But they were all loved and kept for a long time. I didn’t
  10. 10. have any toys for playing in my courtyard. What for? It was sointeresting there already.Here is a meadow yellow with dandelions. They warm the eye like littlesuns. You can weave them into a crown and imagine yourself as afairy-tale queen in a magic castle. You can make a magical soup fromthem that can heal any scratch. Here is a wooden fence, dividing whoknows what, but one that you can’t climb so easily; the same fence,from which you can’t so easily climb down without tearing your clothesor bruising your legs. You must be creative. In those times, it wasdifficult to buy anything. All industries were just beginning to berestored, and the family budget didn’t have much money. None of thatmattered, as my mom would say: “Most importantly, there is no war.”Or perhaps just wisdom showed itself: “If you can’t change thesituation, change your attitude towards it.”I don’t remember my parents fighting against the situation by askingendless questions: why is it so bad, I’m sick and tired of this, andwhen will this be over… This is where the miracle happens: when aperson accepts calmly any given situation the way that it is and doesnot try to waste his energy on useless attempts to change thissituation, then the person will be shown the best way to live in thissituation. The answer comes naturally.It was difficult to buy not only ready-made clothes, but even fabric formaking them. But my father was a history teacher at the technicalcollege, and he would bring home old, written-off red communist flags.My mother washed them, boiled them, separated the fabric from thebacking, and sewed underwear and dresses for me out of it. Later on,this affected my oldest daughter’s clothing selection: for many years, Idressed her only in red.I was around five years old. It was a bright, warm, summery, sunnyday. I was happy, going out for a walk in my new red dress. This timeI decided to explore a new territory and started walking in a newdirection. Near some building, I happily discovered a huge rain puddle,and I started testing the depth of this fantastic, glittering puddle thatreflected the light of the sun. But then, my leg sank into an unseenhole, and I fell completely into the puddle. My new dress! There wasno end to my distress. I was sitting in the puddle and sobbing. Twokind “young ladies” (probably students) came over to me and startedtalking to me. Crying, I told them about the tragedy with my newdress. They took me by both hands and led me to their dorms. Evennow, I remember that feeling of comfort and the sense of adventure Iwas experiencing for the first time. I sat on the bed naked, eatingsomething, and watching my clothes being washed and then dried with
  11. 11. a big heavy iron. What a happy moment! I was standing, like a newshiny coin, my face washed and my hair combed, in a newly washedand ironed dress. A little later, they took me home, and I never sawthem again. I don’t remember their faces or their names, but I still feelthe warmth of their hearts.How often in our lives do we feel the need to help others, but unableto find a “logical” explanation or spare time, we find only excuses fornot doing simple, kind things. And as a result, we don’t warm our ownor anyone else’s hearts, we don’t give joy to ourselves, nor to others,and we don’t let our feelings express themselves. I was born in the U.S.S.R.At the time of my childhood, my country was “building” socialism andplanning to start “building” the most enlightened communistcommunity on earth. Everyone had roughly the same income. Therewas no point in comparing who had the best furniture, the bestclothing or car. Everyone was equal. It was not discussed. Everyoneaccepted this as an undeniable fact. But I’m sure that it was only onthe surface. After so many years of Stalin’s brutality, people had adeep-seated fear, accumulated from numerous dramas that hadhappened to them or to their loved ones. And they tried not to standout from the crowd. To be like everyone else was a forced way of life.My mother sometimes recalled her university years. A girl in her classwrote incredible poetry. Her poems were rather straightforward andhonest. One night, a black windowless pick-up truck pulled up to theirdorms, several people burst into the room where she was sleeping,and took her away somewhere. Where did they take her? Nobody sawher again or knew what happened to her after that. This was theStalinist method. People who didn’t “fit” the regime simply disappearedwithout trial or investigation. Although I think these methods are usedeven today, they’re just more subtle and the actions not so obvious.This fear hovered around quite long during my childhood. I didn’twitness these times but I felt the fear when my mother told me storieslike that.That was the fear of the generation that went through this… and thisfear was passed on to the next generation.I remember only good things from my childhood, did my memory notkeep the bad or did nothing bad ever happen?
  12. 12. I remember a summer evening. Many neighbors from the nearbyhouses had come out into the courtyard after work and dinner. Theadults were sitting on the benches and discussing the latest (and thefuture) news. The kids played team games… hopscotch, jumpingropes, hide-and-seek. Someone hides, someone finds, someone makesothers laugh, someone frightens, someone catches, and someonethrows. There was something for everyone. Amazing memories! Kidsfound game partners for themselves – whether by age, gender, or asthey wished. The adults had nothing to do with it – it was none of theirbusiness. I remember running around until I was dizzy, getting sohungry I could faint. And the most popular “sandwich” was a piece ofrye bread sprinkled with sugar. Delicious! We always had a healthygroup appetite. Even if you weren’t hungry, seeing the other kids eatwith such relish made you drool. It was normal to share food with theother kids. It seemed like someone else’s bread smelled better, tastedbetter, and the sugar was sweeter. Or maybe that wasn’t the reason.At that time, you couldn’t buy as much bread as you wanted. Familieswere given ration cards. This was a certain amount of groceries afamily was allowed to buy each month. This wasn’t so bad, but youcouldn’t always find bread in the stores. And when it did appear on theshelves, the whole family lined up to buy one loaf of bread per personin the family. The more family members were in the line-up, the moreloaves they could buy. This was a highly unpleasant time for me. Myfather made me stand in these line-ups, taking me away from, in myopinion, much more important activities.Every winter in almost every neighborhood, people made ice-skatingareas by pouring water on the ground. In the middle of the “ice rink”,they would put a big real Christmas tree with paper decorations andtwinkly lights. In the evenings, there was music, and whole familieswould come with their skates and pass the evening after work skatingin circles around the tree.My brother’s and my first skates resembled metal sleds, about twice asbig as our feet and we attached them to our shoes. This was anunforgettable time for me. Imagine, a frosty evening, a hugeChristmas tree with decorative lights, a waltz melody playing, thesound of skates gliding across the ice, people holding hands, movingaround the tree to the tempo of the music. No rush, pure enjoyment,many pink cheeks from the cold. Why did people forget about thesekinds of pastimes?Our apartment had a separate entrance on the first floor. In front ofthe entrance was a square concrete porch with some steps. Every yearmy mother planted flowers around the porch. She loved dahlias, but
  13. 13. didn’t neglect other types of flowers either. The flowers were alwayscolorful, simple, and created a happy atmosphere. We made bouquetsout of them when we went to visit others, for birthdays, or to bring forour teachers on the first day of school. Everyone who had the smallestbit of land planted flowers. I loved the colors, the smells, and thevariety of flowers along my path on the way to school. Each time theflowers were different: sometimes budding, sometimes wilted and old,sometimes flowering, and sometimes sick. Just like people… birth,death, different ages, different stages, a constant process of change.Flowers were everywhere.The streets were incredibly clean. Socialism had a plan for everything.The state planned in advance what to plant, when to harvest, when toclean the streets, and when to water the flower plots. The people, likeinstruments following a plan “descended from the heavens”, made it areality. The idea behind Socialism was actually good.Kids went to kindergarten, played sports, and got health care all forfree, and adults, also received free education and health care. Therewas almost no unemployment. No one worried about losing his or herjob; it was not too difficult to find work.The media reminded people constantly that everything in this countrybelonged to everyone, and that we had to take care of it as if itbelonged to us. People believed these good ideas and words. This wasno different from any faith or religion. Some religious teachings alsohave good ideas and right words; people believe in them and followtheir religious leaders. To agree with an idea and follow it is notnecessarily to change yourself. To agree with an idea and to follow it isto go the path of least resistance and not to bring your new ideas tohumanity.The Socialist plan decided everything. Everything was good and correctin the plans for the creation of Socialism, but one very important thingwas not included in those plans: the “question” of the process ofindividual change and self-improvement as part of the wholeCommunist system. Without the development of people’s creativeabilities, without an internal faith in one’s own ability to create theworld’s first Communist country, any idea, even the most brilliant one,hit a dead-end.The Government’s plan forced every person to be a part of it, but notto create or to develop. This, like still water, will flower and deterioratewithout movement to keep it fresh.People believed that conscientious labor according to theGovernment’s plan would lead eventually to the creation of Socialism.
  14. 14. My mother told me how she understood it. She imagined Communismlike a society in which there was no money and everything was free.You go to the store and take no more than what you need. Everyonetrusts each other. Everyone is equal. Great fairy tale. In this way, thegovernment gradually made people lose their ability to think, tocreate. They were taught to live according to the plan that somebodyhad created, someone had approved, and someone had put intoaction. People began to understand this later, after the fall of theU.S.S.R. My socialist childhoodAs a child, I loved to watch the clouds, how they constantly shifted,changed, how they came from nowhere and disappeared intonothingness. Clouds can look like animals, like people, like flowers, orlike monsters. And how fascinating it is to look at a starry sky! Whereis the beginning and where is the end? What’s behind that star? Howto comprehend infinity? Who keeps all of this in such impeccableorder? The sky, the clouds, the stars inspired many fantasies andnever gave the idea that man could control any of it.Kids can be so fascinated by their games! And they don’t need anyguidance or toys. I remember my favorite childhood game called“secret”. You find a piece of glass from a broken bottle, attractiveflowers, rocks, sticks… anything that catches your eye. You dig a smallhole in the ground, carefully arrange your finds in a pattern inside, andcover your creation with the glass. It’s so beautiful! You admire yourcreation and cover it with dirt, feeling completely certain that nobodywill ever find this “secret” and only you know about it. The processwas the interesting part, the result irrelevant. From birth, each personhas an innate desire to create, to be a creator. Where there is a desire,there will be ability.I went to kindergarten from age three and spent all day there withpleasure. My parents worked six days a week. My mother, on her oneday off, had a huge job to complete: do the laundry, cook, sew, makepickles, patch up, clean the apartment. Why was she the only onedoing it? Perhaps it’s a cultural tradition passed down throughgenerations. Perhaps my grandmothers too took all of this work uponthemselves. But what is certain is that I also took on this duty, withouteven asking “Why?” Apparently, my grandmothers gave me this“infection”. On the other hand, if my parents had not followed the
  15. 15. cultural tradition and had instead done the work together, they wouldhave probably “killed each other.”I remember well how my mother was washing the sheets by hand inthe big bathtub, with the help of a wooden board, when I walked intothe bathroom (I was about four years old) and noticed her sweatynose, red face, and hands swollen from the hot water. I rememberhow I went up to her, took her wet hand, and kissed it. I could feelhow tired she was. My own kids could never notice it, feel it,comprehend it. Perhaps it’s just an experience that they need to gothrough, and I have already been through it in a past life.Kindergarten – that was “my job”. The two-storey building looked likea small modern castle and was surrounded by a fence you couldn’tclimb. Between the fence and the building were playgrounds withsandboxes, slides, and benches for kids of different ages. Parents justdropped the kids off at kindergarten and then picked them up. Theydidn’t pay money. The government paid for everything: feeding thekids three times a day, health care, summer camp, New Year’scelebrations, presents for the holidays, New Year’s costumes for thekids. In this way, the government cared for the new generation.It’s difficult even to imagine in our time your child being fed threetimes a day for free. Porridge for breakfast – a different sort every day– bun with butter, tea or hot chocolate, and fruit. For lunch, hot freshsoup, borscht or sour cabbage soup, mashed potatoes with fish,chicken, or beef, and compote made from dried or fresh fruit. For anafternoon snack, cottage cheese cake, omelet, dessert, and fruit orvegetable juice. Even now, I wouldn’t say no to that! I’ve always had ahealthy appetite, but I remember that kids without much appetitewere not left hungry or ate at least a part of this delicious and healthyfood.We had an airy sleeping room where we slept after lunch. Each had hisown bed with clean sheets. In the summer, when it was hot, our bedswere put on the terrace, and we slept outside in the fresh air. It couldbe compared to a mother’s care, but it was the government’s careabout the new generation. The government cared about its future workforce. We always had medical personnel in the building. Children gotvaccinations, dental care, yearly medical check-ups, with their blood,urine, and stools checked.Nurses who worked at the kindergarten gave children their prescribedmedication throughout the day. In the evening, when their parentspicked up these children, the nurses sent the medication home withthem so they could continue taking it in the evenings and onweekends.
  16. 16. The government took full responsibility for the medical care of the kidswho went to kindergarten. Parents had no idea when and whichvaccinations needed to be done. They only knew that a givenvaccination had been administered and this or that side effect waspossible. As for the children that were brought up at home, theirparents took them to the closest free clinics, and the medical staffinformed them about vaccinations or scheduled tests. How well, howcorrectly and carefully everything was organized!How wonderful the New Year’s celebrations were in kindergarten! Frombirth I was a very organized, brave, and obedient girl, and probably forthis reason, I was always chosen to be Snegurochka, “Santa’s helpergirl”. One year, I was even invited to be Snegurochka at theneighboring kindergarten. Every New Year, a huge live Christmas tree,smelling like resin and forest was delivered to each kindergarten. Itwas decorated with various bobbles and toys, with a huge star topperand colorful lights. Each child received an animal costume and anaccompanying poem or song that he had to perform for Santa Claus.Santa Claus had a magic wand that lit up the lights on the tree whenhe touched it. But first we had to shout all together: “Light up,Christmas tree!” I genuinely believed in all these miracles andwholeheartedly rejoiced at these incredible days.And how wonderful was the time spent at summer camps! Kids fromthe kindergarten were taken to camp for a week. We lived in fullyequipped buildings with hot water and toilets inside.The magical world of the awakening forest, the singing of birds, walksalong forest paths. This has stayed with me my whole life.In the media, at any time, you could hear many speeches by the headof state, Communist party members, regulations, decisions, and so on.Of course, this was Communist propaganda. And for children frominfancy were created conditions to cause them to love their countryand believe that they were born in the greatest place on earth. I toogenuinely believed that I was incredibly lucky that I had been born inthe best country in the world! In kindergarten, we sang many patrioticsongs, praising Lenin and our country that was “building” Communism.These were very happy songs, and I remember many of them evennow. While kids enjoyed singing patriotic hymns, their parents, bytheir own example, showed that for them, as creators of the brightfuture, there could be nothing more important than work. First life experiences
  17. 17. I remember, when I was still in preschool, if my father picked me upfrom kindergarten, I would run immediately to the bus stop to meetmy mother after work. I missed her a lot and feared that somethingmight happen to her. I’d like to focus a little closer on this “fear” andof how it stayed in my life almost forever.It’s noteworthy for me to have forgotten about this event for many,many years. My desire to be free from the past uncovered thismemory hidden so deeply inside me.I was around five years old. I had always been a good girl, as parentsunderstand it – a child who eats well, doesn’t get sick often, plays withtheir toys by themselves; in short, one that doesn’t bother anyone. Onthat day, I don’t remember the real reason, but I absolutely refused todo what my mother had asked. I remember that I got so angry withher that I grabbed her hair with all my strength to cause her pain. Mymother didn’t chastise me, she didn’t even raise her voice, she simplyrefused to notice me from that moment, as if I didn’t exist. This lastedseveral days. I remember how chills went up my spine, how tense mywhole body was, how deeply I felt my helplessness, how hopelesslylonely I was in the world.Nobody had taught me how to say the simple but very importantwords: “Forgive me, please, Mom. I’ll never do it again.” I didn’t knowabout the existence of such a simple solution. In my country, peoplewere not used to telling each other “sorry” and “I love you” very often.I only heard the word “sorry” in my childhood when my father wasspanking my brother with his belt and saying, “Say you’re sorry,bastard.”That was my first, and probably the most significant experience of theappearance of fear, the fear of being alone in the world. And how Icatered to my mother afterwards! How afraid I was to say what Ithought out loud, what if she didn’t like it and stopped talking again! Ididn’t know that this was fear, what fear was… I just changed. Thisfear took away a part of my freedom; it started to control my actions.I hid this fear so deeply that very soon I had forgotten about it andabout what had happened. And subconsciously, the fear of beingabandoned, forgotten, lonely, had taken up permanent residence inmy heart.This probably explains why it was always difficult for me to say “NO’,even when it needed to be said – because of the fear of being leftalone.I remember, when I was still in kindergarten, my father once took mybrother and me to the central park. This was one of those exceptional
  18. 18. events that happens once in a lifetime, stays in your memory forever,and causes many other effects.It was a hot summer day. Mom was at work, and Dad suddenlydecided to show some attention to the children. He took us to the citypark. At the entrance, he bought us ice cream, then we rode variousrides, ate more ice cream, drank cold fizzy water with syrup, ranaround the maze looking for each other, and ate ice cream again. Dadwas always different without Mom around. I liked him like that.At the time, you could find street vendors everywhere who soldcarbonated water. Glasses were washed in a thin stream of water infront of you and then filled with fizzy water with or without syrup. Itwas so delicious! I never heard of anyone getting sick from it. Why?Sometimes a person can be healed of cancer with vitamin C pills, if hebelieves in their power. And sometimes, the fear of getting foodpoisoning can cause real food poisoning. Please find the answeryourself.The day passed quickly, and we got enormous pleasure out of the timewe spent together. The large amount of cold ice cream and water hadcooled our enthusiasm about visiting the park. In my family, it wascustom to drink things warm, no colder than room temperature. Mybody had gotten used to warm drinks. When you get used tosomething, then you begin to run on autopilot. And all of a sudden,here’s something cold, how do I react to it? You must react to adisturbance. So my body reacted too. When Mom got home, shenoticed immediatelythat I wasn’t well. She put a thermometer undermy arm and read the result with horror – forty degrees C. The firstquestion was directed at my dad: “What did you do all day?” I don’tremember the answer because of my fever, but my fever got worseafter Dad’s answer. My mom was beside herself and said that shewould never entrust the kids to him again.Unfortunately, it’s no use crying over spilt milk. That night I wasburning up, and in the morning, I couldn’t swallow because my throathurt. In the morning, the doctor came, prescribed me somemedication, and said I had to stay in bed for a few days. During one ofthose days when I was home alone, I felt an ache in all my joints. Ibrought all the pillowsto my bed I could find and put them all aroundmy legs. My legs warmed up, and I fell asleep. This is how my motherfound me when she got home from work. She sensed that there wassomething wrong and called the emergency doctor immediately. Thedoctor listened to my heart, checked my throat, and suggested thatmy mother take me to the hospital right away. The ambulance tookme to the children’s hospital, and my mother left me there. The next
  19. 19. morning, the doctors examined me and concluded that the tonsillitishad caused some heart complications. They determined that mycondition was lower than satisfactory and prescribed a three-week longhospital treatment. So, for three weeks, the hospital became my newhome.I remember that the ward was big, clean, and well lit. Six metal bedsstood along the walls, and a big table stood in the middle of the room.Near each bed was a bedside table where we kept our personalbelongings. Each day we had a strict schedule. A nurse came at six inthe morning and woke up all the children, giving each a thermometer.After ten minutes, our body temperatures were recorded into ajournal. Then we had blood and urine tests. The nurses helped us witheverything. After the tests, we had breakfast in bed. They fed us verywell. After breakfast, we took our medicine, and a small rest in bedbefore the doctor came. The doctor, armed with temperature recordsand our latest test results, listened to our hearts with a stethoscope,and examined the body and the throat, to continue the treatment, tomake any changes to it, or to send us home. After the doctor’s visit,we had to receive the treatments that the doctor had prescribed.The hospitals were well stocked with modern medical equipment. Thegovernment cared about the health of the people. Health care wascompletely free.After the treatments, the patients returned to their beds. Lunch wasserved exactly according to schedule. Then our medicine and a two-hour nap. At this time, silence was strictly observed. After the nap, asnack, more medicine, rest, dinner.We received ahealthy diet food, almost without salt, sugar, or spices. Iremember how once we got mashed potatoes with a piece of saltedfish. When the nurse had put a plate on each bedside table and left theroom, I, noticing my bedside neighbor was absent, quickly grabbed herpiece of fish and ate it. I craved salt so badly, and my one piece wasclearly not enough to satisfy my craving. In this way, I experiencedwhat it was like to be a thief. I ate my portion too. Then I coveredmyself with my blanket and pretended to be asleep. I was afraid thatsomeone might find out what I had done.It’s interesting that the taste of the salty fish is longforgotten, but thefeeling of having done something bad repelled any desire to steal formy entire life. I think that if stealing, or any other act in life, bringsjoy, then you want to repeat it again and again. I’m almost forced tosay, “If you want to steal – do it, but do it with pleasure!”
  20. 20. Visiting hours were after six p.m. Concerned moms, dads, grandmas,and grandpas rushed to visit their adored children. And the kids werewaiting impatiently for their treats or their gifts. On the very first dayof my hospital stay, my mom brought me several lined notebooks,pencils, an eraser, and a coloring book. This was a real treasure forme. Usually, my mom gave inexpensive, but very valuable gifts, so Iwas never bored in the hospital. And it was great to receive some rareattention from my mom, who worked all the time. My dad, apparently,was grounded because of his reckless behavior in the park.The days flew by, my hospital stay went as planned, and the doctorassigned a date for my release from the hospital. The evening before Ileft, the doctor spent a long time talking to my mother, and based onher reaction, it was obvious that my heart problem had remained. Thenext day, ready to leave the hospital, I waited for my mom but shewas unable to leave work and pick me up.My mom worked at the Railway Head Office in the position ofdepartment manager. Work there resembled the military. A huge,impressive building four storeys high, regal steps leading to theentrance, columns on the sides, everything pointed to the importanceand power of this societal structure. The workday began with a bell.What do I mean by that? At five minutes to nine everyone must be intheir seats.Exactly at nine a.m., a loud bell rang through the building:the signal for the beginning of the workday. The second bell rang ateleven a.m.: workplace exercise. At the bell, everyone had to goimmediately into the hallway, or to stand up and take their place atthe desk for exercising. Once the bell had gone and all employeeswere in position, a recording was turned on which directs the exercisesto music. It was a series of simple exercises, like “lift your hands, legship-width apart, touch your right arm to your left leg,” and so on. Afterten minutes of exercise, another bell rang, signaling the end of theexercises and the continuation of the workday.Almost everyone brought their lunch from home. Usually they broughta lot of bread, potatoes, sauerkraut, and sausages. Officially, you wereallowed to have a one-hour lunch, but everyone tried to complete asmuch work as possible and shortened their lunch to the bareminimum. Work. Exactly at five p.m. the bell rang that signaled theend of the workday. At the bell, people stopped working, put theirpapers away inside their desks, and left the building. Discipline. Mymother worked in a place, in a society, where personal problems hadto remain personal and did not interfere with work.For this reason, my dad came to pick me up from the hospital instead,which I was not happy about. I was seeing him through my mom’s
  21. 21. eyes. If my mom wasn’t happy with dad, then that meant I had to feelthe same way. This is the case when we gradually begin to see theworld through the eyes of those we are dependent on, those we love.It was a sunny fall day. Without holding my dad’s hand, making a faceto display my disapproval of his behavior towards Mom, I walkedslightly in front of him. Very soon, I felt weakness in my legs, butshowing stubbornness, decided to walk home by myself, withoutasking for help.I was happy to be back at home. Dad went to work; my brother wasstill at school. I wanted so badly to do something nice for my momthat I tidied up the house a little, but again felt pain in my legs. I wentto bed with pillows all around my legs and fell asleep. When my momgot home from work and saw me in the same exact position as beforeI went to the hospital, she was very upset. This disappointment grewinto anger at my dad when she found out that I had walked home fromthe hospital, that my dad hadn’t carried me home. A sick childappeared in our family –me. My mom believed that the heart was themost important organ in the human body, that it’s an engine that’svery difficult to repair. The question, “How’s your heart?” became acommonplace question for me. I felt healthy and perceived thisquestion as additional, welcome attention towards me. SchoolI said goodbye to my kindergarten, and my parents registered me inschool. It was September 1st. I walked with my mom to school,carrying a bouquet of fall flowers, cut from our garden. First time andfirst grade. All the students had a uniform: for girls – a brown dresswith a white apron overtop on holidays and a black one for normaldays, for boys – a dark-blue suit with a white or blue shirt. Those whocould afford to buy the uniform did so, and those who could not sewedit themselves. I had a brown pleated dress and a white scallopedapron that my mom had sewed for this special day. I was very anxiousabout the unknown but most of all, I was proud of myself for being anadult and going to real school.It was a warm sunny day. The first-graders met their teachers in asmall field behind the school. Many excited and anxious childrendressed in neat school uniforms with their parents created anatmosphere of a significant day. Each knew the letter of his first-gradedivision, 1A, 1B, 1C… and found his teacher, holding a sign in herhands with the appropriate letter. Each freshly baked student stood
  22. 22. near his teacher and curiously observed his classmates. And when allthe first-graders had grouped themselves into their classes, welcomingmusic started playing, the teachers began to pair students andorganize them into neat columns. Each took his appropriate place:parents in the audience, students in pairs behind their teachers.Everyone was ready and waiting. For whom… for what? The musicfaded away and the principal, a VIP in the school, took the stage towelcome the new recruits. I remember my sensations, how everythingwent quiet, how everything was soaked with tension. And the name ofthis tension is discipline. This was the first moment in my life, whensociety began to take control over my actions and influence my life. Iwill mention many times, how society, culture, family, and traditioninfluence our lives.Discipline is the rules that everyone must execute. In accordance withthese rules, everyone was in his or her appropriate place. Parents,teachers, children, and the principal were ready for the beginning ofthe new school year.The principal, looking around at his “domain”, satisfied by what hesaw, began his welcoming speech. I don’t remember a word of whathe said, but I remember how I felt: He is so powerful; He is sointelligent; He can do anything; He is always right; He is in control ofeverything.There was nothing surprising in the fact that after the principal’swelcoming speech, all the first years, followed their teacher to classinstraight ranks, showing impeccable discipline.In those times, after years of Stalinist repression, the fear of jail oreven death as a consequence of not conforming to the rules of societywas still alive. So the children, fed by their mothers’ milk mixed withthis fear, willingly followed the rules. To control people, you need toplant the seeds of fear in their souls, and the fear will do the rest.And so there we were, in the classroom for the first time. Theteacher’s desk was piled with bouquets of flowers. Three rows ofdesks… thirty to thirty-five students per class. The teacher assigned usto our desks, two students at each one. The students were organizedby height: the shorter ones were put in the front of the class, and thetallest ones got the desks in the back row. The desks were woodenwith a hinged panel at stomach level, so it was easier to stand up. Iwas assigned a desk somewhere in the middle of the room. Theteacher began to explain to us how to sit properly when listening tothe teacher, that our arms had to be bent at the elbow and folded ontop of one another. The students practiced how to do this. Then the
  23. 23. teacher explained what to do when asking or answering a question:the left hand must remain on the desk, bent at the elbow, and theright elbow must be on the desk with the hand in the air, fingersoutstretched. The students practiced how to do this, too. The correctspots for notebooks, books, pens, pencils, and backpacks were shown.Then the teacher explained what to do when you were called to theblackboard to answer a question: the student must flip up the hingedpanel on the desk, place the (right or left) leg into the aisle betweenthe desks, push off the desk with both arms, stand up, and walk to theboard. The correct position at the blackboard had to be in the middleof the board and at the level of the teacher’s desk. You could speakonly after the teacher gave you permission.All the rules had to be stated. The laws of school life were established.All of our “MUST-dos” were rehearsed. And that was the first schoollesson of my life in first grade on September 1st.During the second period, our teacher led us on a tour of the school.We followed her in neat pairs, as she showed us where the girls’ andboys’ washrooms were, the cafeteria, the library, the gym, and theprincipal’s office. She explained that students that broke the ruleswould be called to the principal’s office for a “talk”. In short, thatmagic wand, in the form of the principal, for enforcing discipline, wasshown to the students so they knew who was boss.During the third period, we had a tour of the school grounds. We sawthe school garden with its vegetables and flowers, the exerciseequipment on the sports field, and the workshop, where the olderstudents learned the skills of woodworking. We were instructed on howto enter the school and how to exit it, which doors to use and how tocross the street in front of the school. In those times, almost all first-graders walked to and from school by themselves, as their parentswere at work. Parents simply put the house keys on a string aroundtheir first-grader’s necks, directing them at age seven into theirindependent, government-managed school life.In the fourth period, we went in a column to the library to receive ourtextbooks. At that time, the government provided the textbooks tostudents for free. Sometimes you got a textbook that wasn’t brandnew, but that the librarianshad fixed up. We put our textbooks awayinto our school bags, and our teacher explained that we had to takecare of the books, that we were not allowed to make notes in them,not allowed to get them dirty, not allowed to fold the pages, and notallowed to carry them around without a book cover. The entire fourthperiod took place under the slogan of “What you are not allowed to dowith your textbooks.”
  24. 24. Classes were forty-five minutes long with fifteen-minute breaks inbetween. The last bell rang, my first day of school ended, and Iheaded home.Schools at that time contained all three schools in one – primaryschool, middle school, and secondary school. Primary school was forkids aged seven to ten, grades one to four, and they received acertificate of completion at the end of their primary education. Middleschool was grades five to eight, and at the end a certificate ofcompletion of an eight-year education program, granting the right togo to a trade school or start working. This education was compulsory,but going secondary school was a choice the students themselves ortheir parentsmade. Getting a certificate of completion for secondaryschool, grades nine and ten, opened the door to higher education.I loved going to school. We wrote with a pen that had a replaceablemetal feather. This feather was dipped into an inkwell. In the first twogrades, each student brought his own inkwell every day, placed it in itsnotch in the desk, and every one to two words dipped his feather inthe ink. There were daily accidents with ink blotches, ink spilled ontextbooks, ruined aprons. But how perfectly you could write in yournotebook! Each letter was formed by pressing on the feather in themiddle and not pressing on the outsides. This was the old-fashionedRussian style of writing. I liked neatness in my notebooks and couldwrite beautifully and with great pleasure.Several times throughout the day, our teacher asked us to standbeside our desks and do some light exercises. For example, stretchingour hands outwards, opening and closing our hands, we would saytogether: “We’ve been writing, we’ve been counting, our hands aregetting tired. Now we’re having a little break, and we’ll be ready towrite again.” And every day at eleven a.m., all the students went tothe main hallway, stood in long rows, and did exercises for tenminutes to accompanying record of music and instructions.We had the same teacher for all of primary school. She was like amother to us. She gradually taught us to write, starting with makingstraight lines, then slanted lines, then half circles, circles, and dots.Our education system was designed for an average-level student.Everything was taught gradually, without pressure but strictlyaccording to the schedule set out by the Ministry of Education of theU.S.S.R. From the second grade, we were taken to theatres, thecircus, and the philharmonic. The parents just paid for the ticket, andthe school took care of the rest. We saw every new show at the circusand many children’s plays in the city theatres. We listened to classicalmusic at the philharmonic. Once a week, parent-teacher meetings took
  25. 25. place. At these meetings, the teachers told the parents about theirchildren’s successes and setbacks, any problems with their children’sbehavior, and anything else that needed to be brought to theirattention. I liked going to school. Music schoolOne of my friends lived near me, and we would walk to schooltogether. Her mother played the piano. I remember the stronginfluence that music had on me, how deeply it touched somethinginside me. Already in preschool, I started asking my mom to buy me apiano and to let me learn how to play it. My mom even asked mydoctor about the effects of piano playing on my unhealthy heart. Thedoctor, displaying the highest level of professional knowledge, rattledoff a lot of things to my mom about how it was not prohibited, but notrecommended. So my mother was unable to say no to my pleadingeyes.However, my mother couldn’t afford a piano at the time, and she saidthat she would start saving up for it. After her promise, I startedpaying close attention to the way her money was being spent. Andsince I wanted to get my piano as soon as possible, I started oftensaying to her “Mommy, don’t buy me this juice, better save thatmoney for my piano.”Time passed and the long-awaited day came. The truck with the blacknew shiny piano appeared on the horizon. This truck couldn’t pull up tomy front door, because the road around the house was for pedestriansonly. But this was only half-bad. Four sturdy men lowered this four-hundred-and-fifty kilo “beauty” on leather slings and brought it to thedoor. Several attempts to drag the piano through the door and rotateit to bring it up the stairs failed. The doorway turned out to be toonarrow. I was watching all of this unfold and burning with impatienceand excitement. My parents and the movers held a meeting in front ofthe piano. It was a silent meeting. Each was trying once again to “feelout” with his eyes possible variations to manipulate the piano in theentrance, at the turning point to the staircase. And when all possiblevariations that played out inside everyone’s head turned out to beimpossible, practically at the same time, all of the meeting participantsturned their heads to the sky, as if asking for an answer from above.And they got it! The piano could be delivered through the second-floorwindow! Great idea! But it weighs almost half a ton… someone saidthat they had seen a small crane nearby. Somebody said that it could
  26. 26. be lifted on planks of wood. But the idea of using large wooden plankssomehow passed away before birth. Finally, the piano, securelywrapped for the safe “hands” of the crane, was smoothly lifted to thesecond-storey window, cleared of glass, window-frames, everything,now just a hole in the wall. The caring hands of the movers receivedmy treasure, and they placed it in the spot my mother had indicated.My joy knew no bounds! It seemed for me that the whole world hadchanged! This was the only valuable thing in my house that belongedonly to me. How frequently I reminded my brother, “Don’t touch it! It’smine!” A few days later the tuner came. Everything was ready to beginlessons.My mother took me to the music school for piano lessons. The youngteacher, who I thought was mythically beautiful, tested my musicalrhythm. I passed the test easily, and the teacher offered me my firstmusic lesson. I had waited for this moment for so long! What can Iremember? The teacher was playing some melody, to show me anexample of what I could learn. I remember the enchanting sounds ofthe music, the sunbeams coming through the open window, the smellof perfume… I remember my strong desire and impatience to learn toplay the piano. I will always remember how that music influenced me,how lightly the teacher’s fingers moved along the keys, speaking tome in the language of music.The school cost money, but it was quite affordable for us. So I becamea student of the first grade of music school. I practiced at home everyday for at least two hours. Twice a week in the evening, my mothertook me to my music lesson, so my teacher could check that I haddone my homework and teach me something new. I usually got thehighest grade. But a less-than-perfect grade caused many tears anddisappointment. It’s interesting – nobody forced me to be perfect,nobody got mad at me for not being perfect, only my own wish tohave the highest grades and be perfect brought me so muchdisappointment.On Sundays, we had musical theory lessons. During the first fewlessons, my theory teacher gave me a sharp reprimand about mywork. We wrote musical notes, and I made many mistakes. Theteacher checked my book and said: “I can’t imagine how you canstudy in a public school if you’re so dumb.” Simple and tasteful. Shekilled my desire to learn musical theory forever.With one sentence, she taught me to deceive. One sentence, but howmuch was accomplished! I was very upset by her words, but I didn’ttell my mom about them. Who wants to inform their mother thataccording to a grown-up, she is dumb! I wasn’t completely sure
  27. 27. whether it was a lie or the truth. The next lesson, I felt souncomfortable, so out of place, that I was actually unable tounderstand what the teacher was talking about.On the one hand, I’m clever; on the other, I’m dumb. I decided to takethe side that was to my advantage. To be clever. I stopped going tomusical theory, but lied to my mother and said I was still going. Inever liked lying. But I didn’t see any other alternative then. So Iremained musical theory-illiterate for the rest of my life. But pianoplaying came easily to me, and brought many deep wonderful feelings. Once a year, the music school held student concerts in the bigauditorium for the parents. I participated in those too, successfully. Mydeception was only discovered after seven years of piano lessons,when I was supposed to get a diploma for completing music school.During the preparations for granting the diploma, someone discoveredthat I had never been to theory lessons. I never got the diploma, but Ihave never regretted it. The first desire to knowIn the second grade, when I learned how to read well, I felt a strongneed to learn. Used to my parents being busy and my brother beingunable to give me anything but a hit over the head, I decided to get alibrary card. The library was close to our house, and every time Iwalked past its windows, the colorful book covers would catch myattention. I remember how I circled the library several times, notdaring to go in. Finally, I overcame my uncertainty and entered thebuilding. A friendly woman behind the front desk took down my firstand last name, the number of my school, and gave me my first everlibrary book. It was a large picture book with only a few pages. Ibrought this book home, sat down on the couch, opened it proudly andhappily, and read the entire thing very quickly. It was the first book ofmy life! I liked it so much that I wanted immediately to read anotherbook and rushed back to the library. I didn’t get a different book onthat day, they told me to come back tomorrow. Rules are rules. Therewere very many books in the library, and I was constantly reading.The most important thing is that I gained this life experience bymyself, without waiting for somebody to help me. Sport
  28. 28. In the third grade, a young man came into our P.E. class. Heintroduced himself as a graduate of the sports institute and a tenniscoach. We had about forty students in our class. The coach startedtelling us about tennis. Almost nobody had heard of this game. His talkwas so passionate, so captivating, that after class, when the teacherasked, “Who would like to sign up to learn to play tennis?” practicallythe entire class said they wanted to join.And so, the first lesson. Almost forty students were lined up on thetennis field, ready to take the rackets in their hands and play. Thecoach greeted everyone and began to explain that before you can takethe racket, you need to train your body. Everyone moved to the sportsfield, designed for exercises in stretching, jumping, and running. Twohours flew by, and the coach announced the end of the first trainingsession. He scheduled the next one in two days. When I came home, Istarted telling my mom about the lesson. My mom said that I was notallowed to play sports, that the doctors had prohibited it, that I had abad heart, and that she was also forbidding me to play.I remember this event like a blow, like something that was takingaway my freedom. I still remembered, subconsciously, the experienceI had when my mom stopped talking to me. I didn’t argue, but I felt astrong sense of bewilderment and some sort of injustice. The next day,having gotten home from school, eaten, and played the piano, Iimagined that I would now be going to tennis practice. I decided to gothere and watch from the sidelines. When I was walking up to thetennis courts, I ran into the coach, who asked me to help bring thetennis balls onto the court. Before I knew it, I was practicing witheveryone else.This time exactly half of the students that had signed up showed up topractice. I liked learning how to play tennis. But each practice, therewere less and less students from my class. A month later, I continuedcoming to practice, but there was nobody else left from my class. Inthe end, only about eight people remained who continued to practice,roughly the same age (perhaps one or two years apart), from differentschools.This continued for about two months. I went to school, to musiclessons, and to practice. No one in my family knew about my tennispractices. No one asked me about anything, anyway. My brotheralways occupied my parents’ attention.
  29. 29. Only many years later, I realized how much my brother had “done forme”, taking all of my parents’ attention upon himself, and giving mefreedom.My brother was five years older than me, with an extraordinarily sharpsense of humor, and he had “gifted hands” and was very talented. Hedidn’t like discipline and always tried to go against the rules. In his tenyears of school education, he “switched” schools five times. He wasconstantly being expelled from school for misbehavior. For example, inprimary school, he covered the blackboard in wax and ruined aRussian lesson because it was impossible to write on the board withchalk. In this way, he expressed his disagreement with his teacher. Hedisplayed it everywhere and had no fear of punishment. Where there isno fear, “creative energy”, that in this case was directed at theexpression of freedom, it is very productive for gaining experiences.He did “bad” things, but he never repeated himself.I remember our neighbors complaining constantly to my father aboutmy brother’s behavior. They would complain, and my father wouldpunish him. Once, I don’t know what happened between my brotherand our downstairs’ neighbors, but my brother broke the glass in alltheir apartment windows. As usual, swearing, my neighborscomplained to my dad about my brother’s bad behavior. My dad wasso angry that he took a leather belt and started beating my brotherwith it. It was a terrible scene. My mom was at work. I, screaming,tried to protect my brother from the strikes, but it was impossible. Ireceived some of the blows. I was crying, feeling the unfairness of it. Ididn’t even know what to do.When my dad was tired of the beating, he poured some sort of graininto the corner of the room and made his son stand on his knees init.An old method of punishment my father had applied from his ownexperience in his childhood. All night long, my brother stood on hisknees on the grains. My father probably thought that he needed topunish his son properly just once, and then he would remember thelesson and be afraid to misbehave again.This method is used when one person wants to control another – plantthe seeds of fear and the fear will make it happen. The next day myfather was certain that the “job” he had done had been valuable andhad shown his unruly son a good lesson. In the morning, everyonewent about their business as usual. When I was returning home frommy “secret” practice, once again I saw broken glass in the neighbors’windows, which they had just put in that morning. I don’t rememberhow my dad reacted, but there was no fight that evening at home. Myfather never again used the belt as a punishment for my brother.
  30. 30. Yes, we all teach one another.I trained in secret until the first snowfall. On that day, my coach, as areward for my good progress, gave me my first, very own tennisracket. This new, wooden racket brought me great happiness andpride. But when I was walking up to my house, I thought with horrorthat this racket might give away my secret if my mother saw it. Iwrapped it in newspapers, found a quiet spot behind my house, andcovered it with a thick layer of snow.This went on for a month, until my coach showed up at my house tomeet my parents. It was Sunday, when my mother, as usual, wastrying to finish an impossible amount of housework. Through thewindow, I saw my coach approaching our front door. I nearly diedfrom the horror that my mom would find everything out. What must bemust be. The coach rang the doorbell; I opened the door for him,invited him into the living room, called my mom, and ran away toanother room. After her talk with the coach, my mom called me andasked me, quietly but very strictly: “I forbade you to play tennis. Whydid you lie to me?”I remember that I stood there like a Steadfast Tin Soldier and withtears in my eyes repeated insistently that I would train anyway. Iguess I put a lot of certainty and stubbornness into my words, becausemy mom understood right away that a ban would not help, it wouldjust worsen the situation. So, focusing her attention instead on thecoach, she stated his obligations in an official voice. She said: “You arerequired to receive permission for training from my daughter’s doctor.”To which my coach said: “Of course. Once a month every athlete mustget a medical check-up, after which I will know about the doctors’conclusions – to allow practice, to forbid it, or to implement somethingrecommended by the doctors. Please, don’t worry.”When the coach left, I felt so overjoyed, that I no longer needed to lie,that I didn’t need to hide the tennis racket I was so proud of. My momasked me: “How’s your heart? How are you feeling?”And these,probably, were the most wonderful questions – they brought me closerto my mom, and allowed me to do something I enjoyed so much. I ranoutside, dug my racket out from the snow, ran back home, andshowed it to my mom. I guess my face was lit up like a shining light,because my mother smiled and, without saying anything, continuedwith her housework.So from the third grade, I was a pretty busy kid: school, tennis, andmusic. I had enough time to do everything. Everything was going well.I think that God from birth made me disciplined, organized, and