What family principles did you have? What did your parents teach you? What did they forbid? What did they permit?
I was left without parents when I was 10! I had mother.
Still you did have mother?
How did she bring you up?
How could she bring me up? She had to feed me up. Only to feed up. I was already earning a bit on a side. Since I was 10 or 12 years old.
What did you do?
In summer, we had such a Great Market, the oldest one. So villagers brought mushrooms and berries there. They sold them on the counters. It was hot, it was summer, could you imagine? People got thirsty, but water was available only at the water-pumping house, 500 or 800 meters away from it. And you know it was impossible to leave the goods. So we were boys and decided to bring water for people – we had a bucket and a cup of 400 gram. We asked the lady who sold ice-cream for a piece of ice and put into the water to make it colder. We took a bucket and were walking around: «Only a kopec for a drink! Only a kopec for a drink!» If you wanted you could drink a whole cup, if you take another one you pay a kopec. For pouring you pay a kopec too.
Were you a madcap or an obedient child?
I cannot say I was a saint boy. I could get into the neighboring garden. There were not a lot of gardens. There were only Chinese appple-trees there, such on long steaks. From apples we made ... Well, we went for carrots too. To pick up berries we could get into the neighboring garden.
Was your mother strict in general?
Up to 13 years old I was obedient more or less. I was fatherless, you know. And when she took a wet kitchen towel to smack me up, I took it away, took a key out of her apron pocket; she was at the kitchen, opened the door and went out. I slept at the balcony. We had a shared balcony. I used to go fishing at 5 in the morning, or at 6. We even didn’t see each other. My brother was a home body, or he ran around everywhere, so we really didn’t make friends with him. Even when we were moving to Kirov and later from to Magadan, or more truly from Kirov to Kharkov, I took him as a learner when I worked a turner, but he wasn’t interested in it. Before that I taught him fishing – he wasn’t interested in it too, he liked to hang about, to do something. He was born as a bad sort of a person, and he died as a bad sort of a person. He used to drink, but I didn’t.
Your mother told that you father was put into prison when you were 10. Did you feel that you had a father? Did your mother tell you about him or was that a forbidden topic?
I was 10, so I remember.
Researcher: Natalia Ivashchanka, Sviatlana Silava