The blue bench will probably become the place where I’ll spend most of my time.
Our schedule is simple: Wake up in the morning, eat some breakfast, have a bit of free time before heading out – I use this for writing a blog entry or at least for starting one. Afterwards we would go on the road searching for old houses without satellite dishes (because that is an indicator weather there’s younger people living in the house). I would go inside and introduce these people to the project we’re doing. On a good day like this one was people would be interested and agreed to tell a little about themselves, their family, the history and they would maybe share some stories about their life… and, if we’re lucky, they would agree that David takes a picture of them.
These meetings take more than an hour and David comes from a generation where producing an image takes more than a “klick”. It’s a slow process where you have to think about everything otherwise you’ll might have to go back and retake the shot. Taking one or two portraits per day is more than enough so today we returned at the Residency at 2 p.m. just in time for Low tea (although at the time when this term was created it referred to 4 p.m.).
When this is said, I want to tell you about the lady we met.
We visited only one household today.
Daina was more than welcoming. She answered to our questions with a story of her own… it felt like she had studied journalism or smth. But what she told us after the photo was taken ripped my heart out. We asked her for a childhood photography and she came out with a photo album. At the very end of it she had the pictures that are “not important” (as she called them) or “the ones that you don’t show to people”. Nevertheless we found ourselves looking at them after all. And there was a photography of a funeral.
At that point Daina told us about the biggest tragedy of her life. It was 1978.. the night before New Year celebration party for the children. They were planning to attend it the next day. Both twins -a girl and a boy (about 2 and a half years old) and their little brother were being anxious because of the big event. There was a russian tv show on. Eventually they fell asleep. In the morning Daina went to the shed to do some farm work as she did every morning. Since it was winter, they finished the work sooner and stayed for a chat. When Daina was returning to her house she thought that something’s wrong – the light in the corridor( that they apparently left on) wasn’t shining. When she opened the kitchen door black smoke hit her in the face so she ran to the shed desperately calling for help. Her neighbour ran into the house and took the children right out of their beds but it was too late.Though one of them was still breathing when the ambulance came, they couldn’t do anything to save them. Daina cried: “Do something! Can’t you see he’s breathing! Save him! (or her, she didn’t say which one of the children was it)” But the lady in charge shouted back to her: “We can’t do anything! Calm down or we’ll give you a tranquilizer!” She remembers it like it was yesterday though the pain reflecting in her eyes is hidden deep inside.
It took her real courage to share this story…she doesn’t speak of it often – not to other people, not to her children or grandchildren.
5 years after the tragedy that broke her first marriage as well, she got married again. Now she has 3 children – two girls and a boy, and 6 grandchildren that come to visit once a while.
After a story like this you feel speechless and close to tears, but I knew – if she can hold it together, I (as a stranger to her) can’t break into tears.
That’s all for tonight.