“Till My Tale is Told” – Part III – “Tortuous Hearts”

“People today will tell me:

all that was over and done with long ago,

So there is little point in recalling it.

I know very well that the tale of these events

Has indeed been long buried and forgotten.

Yet why, then, do they sometimes still rise

So vividly before our eyes?

Is it not because there was

Something else in this tragic past,

Apart from the tale,

That lies far from forgotten but,

To this day, continues to loom over our lives?

By Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedin in “Bygone Poshekhonie”

I know some of my blog readers might think that I focus too much on the tragic Soviet past and would rather I look to the hopeful future.  However, I can’t work in Kazakhstan without being reminded that there was a tragic past here, as the poet Mikhail above wrote, it “continues to loom over our lives.” Yes, I need to look at the past in order to understand what is happening presently while I work with the future of this country, the hardworking Kazakh and Kazakhstani students.

The following is another poem by Anna Barkova, she indeed had her share of struggles.  She witnessed how Stalin wanted to build up the former Soviet Union with collectivization, she saw the destruction of any trace of religion.  Not sure what was going on in Anna’s heart, it was tortured as was her body and mind. She left behind poems that reveal her love of words, this passage is found in “Till My Tale is Told” edited by Simeon Vilensky:

What’s the point of faith to some fatherland,

Why pretend that we’ve one settled home?

Now, facing life’s judgement, each one of us

Is merciless, indigent, strong.

With a sneer of disapprobation,

We’ll remember our fathers’ mistakes;

We know now that our sainted relations

Were gambling for worthless stakes.

And with a slave’s quiescence

We shall pay our blood-stained toll,

In order to build a useless

Heaven of concrete and steel.

Behind a door hoped with iron

In the dark of our tortuous hearts

A priest conducts godless rituals,

A suffering saint, and a liar.

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