Red phantoms. Scarlet thread of my craze - Grazer Sputnik

Red phantoms. Scarlet thread of my craze

bishkek-brot Zhanna
It was sunny spring of 1982. The university alley of apple and peach trees was all pink lace of blossoms. The air was fresh and clear. But I was ascending marble staircase of main building with monument of Great Chief at the top feeling chill in my heart.
I was first year philology student and had exam on history of communist party.
There were two sleepless nights before due to quantity of books to read, which added to feeling of emptiness inside.
The group of students gathered in corridor by the classroom where professor Zhanna – pride of Kyrgyz historical materialism and peril of neglecting freshmen was receiving exams.

She was energetic woman of 50 in gold-rimmed spectacles, with shortly cropped grey hair, who was known to have fits of temper and who failed students by making them to read page-long quotes of Lenin and Marx by heart. The volumes she considered obligatory for young linguists to read could build pharaoh tombs.
It was time of stagnation, a few years before perestroika, and we – generation of pretenders, lost light-tower out of view.
We did not know with what examples to fill up cavity in mind were ideals forced on us by older generation were burned now to the root. Many pompous false ornamentation of younger soviet socialism were already lost, as if golden paint was washed out from wooden figures of angels, but Lenin was still holy man for many, and we didn’t argue his holiness, unless we did not consider themselves to be dissidents.

The humankind makes every effort to be mesmerized by its idols – Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Saddam; portraits of Grandpa were everywhere  in the store, canteen, workshop and public toilet, he was smiling at us from everywhere, small man in the cap, who wanted to look like simple factory worker and never did.
Troubles of humans start when they surrender to ideas and trust them more than to their own feelings.

At that time, I felt bewilderment and discord, as I could never fix my attention fully at what Lenin wrote, and there was not a single phrase in his volumes, which conquered my imagination by meaningfulness and depth. Torture was to learn by heart something that sounded absurd to me – for pure pretense and imitation. Denying dogmatism of church, we were wrapped up in Marxism-Leninism dogmas that contained 100 less of common wisdom.
I thought with dismay I would not pass this exam, what was disgraceful by itself and also meant loss of scholarship.
The performance of examination was going on. Zhanna already failed best students of the group. She was patriot of her subject and enjoyed feeling of power over people as many at her place would do.
The adjusting room with long wooden tables and benches covered by curse, nude pictures and anti-soviet jokes of tormenting students, during exams was used for preparation of cribs. Narrow stripes of paper elaborately filled with tiny abbreviated handwritings were fixed at elastic cords and popped out of sleeves or jacket collar, were glued to bottom of skirt, hidden in bra and underwear. Girls used to scribble numeric catalogs at thighs and knees under skirt, which being checked out helped to find corresponding crib.
(to be continued)

Galina Toktalieva

Kyrgyzstan-born author residing in Graz, Austria

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1 Response

  1. Priptiory says:

    Nothing seems to be easier than seeing someone whom you can help but not helping.
    I suggest we start giving it a try. Give love to the ones that need it.
    God will appreciate it.