SOME STEPS IN THE PAST: AN ATTEMPT AT AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
by Mikhail Yeselson
2. MY GRANDPARENTS
What is covered by the sands of time behind us? Where are they who were here before, who loved us and were loved by us? Where are they, from which distant place are they looking at us, so that we feel their anxiety and love? There is no answer.
Somehow, my father's relatives were always closer to me than my mother's. Probably it occurred because my mother was the youngest daughter, and all her brothers and a sister were much older than I was. By contrast, my father was the oldest son, and when I was born, his youngest brother was only fifteen.
My father's parents... Granny and Grandpa. Their daughters-in-law told that Granny was a very wise woman, and Grandpa was a very kind man. I did not think about that when I was a child, and I do not know that now. I only knew that they loved me and I loved them very much.
They were not educated, but that did not matter. Granny saw and understood people perfectly, although her characteristics were somewhat unusual. When I went to Kharkov to tell her I was going to get married, she, who had never met Tatyana, asked me in a very worried tone. "Say me, is she a greedy woman? Tell me the truth!" She was not well-to-do but looked upon avarice as an awful human defect. My aunts used to gossip about my Granny's wonderful cooking (ah, what genuine Jewish meals she cooked)! They said that her secret was very simple: if the recipe required one egg, she took two; if a dish needed one spoonful of butter, she would add two; and so on.
Before World War II, when I was a kid, I often lived with them in Kharkov during summertime. Every day, Grandpa would take my hand, and we would stride to the corner. There was a small booth, in which Grandpa would buy me a big chocolate waffle called "micado," which every kid loved, or a small bottle of chocolate with some drops of rum inside. Waffles or bottles--I still remember them.
...My grandson Alex is a reserved young teenager who is uncomfortable with "mushy" sentiments. But I can bend down to my granddaughter Masha's little ear and whisper: "I love you. I love you so much!" After that Masha will lift up to my face her huge eyes, light blue as mountain lakes, look at me for a long time, and reply quietly and very seriously: "I know."