The Story of Serafima Andreyevna
When I meet her , Serafima Andreyevna doesn't have much of a desire to live , or to remember . Spring has brought with it the hard jobs , but her son Anatoly doesn't want her to wear herself out- Serafima , whom everyone calls Xenia , is eighty yeas old and wants to feel useful Her granddaughter lets me in and tells her I'd like to speak with her , to hear her story She looks at me and says hello , but doesn't smile . Serafima never smiles , and this is something that inspires fear " Tea is nothing , it's just sugar water " she says , and offers me something more Substantial . Since I'm not used to eating between meals , I muster a timid " No , thank you . " but I see her face fall . So in the end I accept " I was born on May 4 , 1928 , in the village of Uchiska Zhito mirskaya , in the region of Malynivka , Ukraine , " she says , and then she seems to wait for the memories to come.
I was born on May 4 , 1928 , in the village of Uchiska Zhitomirskaya , in the region of Málynivka , Ukraine .
My father , Andrey Fyodorovich , was born in 1900 in Zhitomirskiy region
He didn't have an easy life my poor father . His parents were Killed when he was just a boy .
As for my mother , I never met her . She died giving birth to me .
She had an old name , she was called Gapka
Mother: SHHH , SHHH
Andrey and Gapka had six children . Katya , Nadya , Galya , Hvenya , Traton and me
Left a widower , my father went to look for another wife . Someone had to take care of his orphans .
I was between four and five when the famine came.
We lived on the edge of the village.
Our house , like all the houses in the village , was made of wood , insulated with clay and horse dung , and whitewashed . It was small and very warm
Babushka: XENIA , OPEN UP , I'M BACK ! HAVE YOU ALL GONE DEAF IN THERE ?
The rich families decorated the walls with floral motifs .
XENIA: BABUSHKA ! DID YOU FIND ANYTHING ?
Babushka: TWO ROOTS
You could spot the poor ones right away , they had no decor and plain things and old Furniture inside
Babushka: I'VE FOUND TWO ROOTS AND YOU ?
XENIA: NOTHING NOTHING BABUSHKA
The family had already started feeling the HOLODOMOR in October
Babushka: HM.. DID YOU LOOK HARD ENOUGH
The winter had come early , with the first big snow falls . And already there was no bread
XENIA: YES , WE LOOKED IN THE WOODS FOR HOURS
In November and December , the hard times began .
Babushka:TOMORROW WILL GO BETTER
Babushka: HEAT SOME WATER . INEED TO PUT SOMETHING WARM IN MY STOMACH .
XENIA: YES BABUSHKA I'M SORRY IT'S ALL RIGHT IT'S ALL RIGHT
Before , as long as Fall lasted , we could get by. My older sisters (who usually worked as maids for rich families ) and I filled the soil .
My father's second wife , also a maid worked hard-
And everything she earned was paid in wheat, Ears , which we boiled
Bread was made with hay . And we would make Fritters called KORZHIKI , which we pan - fried without oil . Who had oil in those days ? In winter we would also use forage to make cakes , since it had more flavor than everything else.
At night my big brothers would go with my father to hunt hares or rabbits or hedgehogs. Something to eat.
There weren't many hedgehogs left , they'd been disappearing from those fields for years .
We even ate snakes , anything.
But usually my father and brothers did'nt find much , just a few roots .
Dug up with sweat from under the ice and the snow.
And brought home like treasures ....
"I'm losing my memory " , she says , and pours herself something to drink before going on .
At that time , and this was a luxury , whoever could afford it bought a piece of horse skin on the black market .
It was put out to dry and cut in Small strips
Then it was given to the children . They chewed and sucked for hours and hours , it lasted forever
It's not like it took away the hunger , but it kept you busy
Someone , I don't remember who found out that infusions made from the branches of fruit Trees where good . Especially apricot trees...
I am losing my memory but this I'll remember as long as I live - In a tiny village a short walk From Milayanivka There were five or six hours .
About ten people lived in each.
And some Kids I played with lived there ... Yura ,Misha , Kostya ...They died one after the other.
There were no funerals , nothing like that . The house would be closed and soon after you would see smoke rising From the chimney
It was a sad world , the world where one person's death brought hope to another.
Soon the roads between Villages were infested with thieves and murderers They lived there camped out in the ditches , waiting.
Babushka: XENIA , YOU AND YOUR SISTERS CAN NEVER GO NEAR THERE
NEVER , UNDERSTAND ?
XENIA: YES BABUSHKA ...
Babushka: THEY KIDNAP CHILDREN , EVEN GROWNUPS ... AND KILL THEM
Cannibalism became common place .
I remember like it was yesterday .
1932 was the most terrible year of my life .
recorded on March 13 , 2009