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another posting on the 90s in Russia
“Dad died in 1993. By that time I was married, our son was 4 years old. We lived in a private house, we had a vegetable garden and cattle. But Papa’s illness “ate up” all the supplies: the cattle were slaughtered, the garden was abandoned, only something grew here and there, we managed to make some supplies, but by the time Papa died they had eaten everything.
My husband left to work, only my mother and I, my son and his little friends remained. There were chickens and a hornless goat “at launch” – pregnant, the milk was not coming soon … It was April, but some kind of cold one. Usually in April there is already some greens, and chickens lay eggs better when it’s warm, but… One property of dubious quality: a full cellar of melt water under a summer kitchen, transparent, cold…
Once I go out into the garden and see children with my son at the head of the team, they are on all fours and gnaw something. F***! Earth? Or, what are they eating? It turned out they were gnawing tiny shoots of sorrel.
– Mommy, we found sollel (sorrel), we have found it! Hurrah!
F***… what a f*** f*** kind of mother I am, that my child eats already grazing forage? They don’t pay me at work, it’s good if someone brings in as payment flour, cereals, sugar or butter (I worked as a massage therapist then). Otherwise, the money went to the cashier, the rent and taxes were paid, and only three kopecks fell into my hands. Child benefits were not paid. Mom’s pension was delayed.
I wandered into that summer kitchen, hid in a corner and howled … my husband was only supposed to return in a week. “Sollel” is not enough for that much … So, I was crying and suddenly I saw: what’s it that shines under the water in the cellar? I ran to get a flashlight. And there were jars! Jars of homemade salted lard, stew from our pigs and turkeys, tomatoes, compote, jam! Yes, that was an unheard of treasure! Yes, I’ll pump this water out with a pump right now and we will all be well fed. But, the pump did not recognize anyone but Papa. It gave me a severe electric shock and stopped working. What am I to do…
What else to do. Dive.
So I started diving. Three meters deep, the water is cold. But I pulled out this treasure.
I remember we gathered all over the street then, dragged out a five-bucket saucepan, made up a brick hearth and cooked borscht on a fire, everyone brought smth: some carrots, some cabbage, frying in lard, stewed meat, scraped flour on the bottom of the barrel and made pampushki, now our kids ate! Right at the table some fell asleep, and some even dirtied their pants.
The leftovers were consumed by adults with moonshine, and also were taken to old women too, who are single or not walking. Enough for everyone. They also baked potatoes in coals …
Somehow we survived this cruel times. And then it seemed to become easier. Summer has come 🙂