My fascination with my international class continues… The other day I was thinking how I lived through the end of Apartheid in South Africa as a child. I wondered if there were other people in my class who had lived through significant national moments – moments that we heard about on the news – as a child. And so, I thought I would start a little mini series within my blog about it.
For the first “episode” of this mini series a classmate from Russia wrote for us about her experience of the end of the USSR and the years that followed…
“I remember when the USSR collapsed”
“Mom, what’s his name?”
“His is name is Mikhail” replied my mother when I first saw my new-born brother in May,1990.
“Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev”, jokingly said my father because the first and the middle names of my brother were exactly the same as the names of the first president of the USSR, quite popular at that time. Little did my parents know that just in one and a half years Mikhail Gorbachev would declare collapse of the Soviet Union and the country, where we were all born would not even exist.
Lihie devyanostie (“Turbulent 90’s”) as we call them in Russia had quite an impact on my family. Trade and import crashed into the country all at once as soon as the borders opened up; and everyone was so overwhelmed with the abundant variety of imported things, which the Soviet Union couldn’t offer. So did I. Chupa Chups, Twix, Mars, Snikers, bubble gum, bright and colorful winter jackets, amazing toys to name a few. Back in those times the thought that Russian chocolate, for instance, was one of the best in the world and definitely its quality couldn’t be compared with Bounty’s, had never popped up in my head. Instead, my friends and I were eagerly waiting for the pocket money just to run chasing each other to the nearest (or most probably farthest) shop to buy 10 pieces of “Love is…” gum and check what love actually is. The cards inside this gum were our main source of information about such a mysterious feeling.
Later on, my father was seriously injured in the car accident so that he couldn’t move his feet and hands at first. But, fortunately and due to my mom’s help and his will, he recovered, but not to the extent to continue working as a surgeon – job of his life. Life sometimes has many surprises, and you never know how you will be earning for a living. My father opened a small bakery business in collaboration with his friends. I remember smell of the fresh bread in the morning and father, whom I saw only late at night due the extreme busyness. Sometimes I could stop by his shop after school and feel myself as Alice in the Wonderland, wonders of which began from the smell of yeast mixed with cinnamon, and chocolate, adding the finishing touch to the products ensemble of the “Queen” bakery.
If asked “What is the most powerful memory from my childhood after break down of the USSR”, I would name three things:
- Soap operas from Brazil;
- Wide choice of products and clothes;
- Pop-music that suddenly replaced songs of Robertino Loreti taught at first and second grade of the school (as an echo of the Soviet Union culture).
Some things that every second girl had or dreamt about during the 90’s: