The gods have shone over us again. A bridge that is created it lasts forever, the same holds true for friendships and all other types of relationships. It just so happens that one of these relationships that was formed several years ago in the province of Kerala crossed over this bridge unbeknownst. Sreejith had promised me that he would create a post sharing about his personal story about his childhood memories of Russian literature in his homeland. Back in May of 2014, he and I created a post for “Life in Russia”, it can be seen here. I’m very pleased to share with you his thoughts and feeling about his life in Kerala during Soviet times.
I am from Kerala, a small state at the south western tip of Indian landmass.
It’s unique in comparison with all other states of India, both geographically and culturally…
More interestingly, it is here, in 1957, the First democratically elected communist government in the world, came to existence. See more here
The Indo-Soviet friendship and coöperation was most evident in this place and we had great exposure to Soviet literature, especially children’s literature.
We had many magazines and books printed Soviet Union, but in our native language, Malayalam.
Due to all these, USSR had a special place in our minds, and when it got collapsed in 1991, it was unbearable for us, at least for me.
My Beloved Soviet Union was no more in Existence
Tears rolled down my cheeks and I felt the whole world is coming to an end. My fantasy world was disintegrated.
My beloved Soviet Union with swathes of red over Eurasia was no more in existence.
Neither I am from the erstwhile USSR nor from any other Soviet bloc countries, but from a small village at an obscure corner of India.
I was only a ten year old boy when I listened to the news of USSR dissolution in the afternoon news in our national television.
For me, USSR was the best friend and protector of my motherland …
It stood with us, during tough times and helped us on every front …
But, did I really have an idea about the Indo-Soviet co-operations in military, space, nuclear and all other areas, then ?
I am not sure…
‘Misha’ the children’s magazine
But, every month I used to wait for the postal worker to deliver ‘Misha’ the children’s magazine, published in USSR.
Once I opened it, I was drawn to a fantasy world, where fish could talk, frogs could tell tales, horses jumped over fort walls with young and adventurous princes riding them.
Soviet Land and Soviet Women talked about the political and cultural relations between our countries and many other serious topics, with my limited English knowledge I never could understand any.
What really caught my attention was the colorful dresses of Soviet folk dancers, images of Smiling children playing in parks, the pictures drawn by them, images of rockets, fighter planes and ships.
There were more serious magazines like Sputnik, Science in the USSR etc; I collected all these and stuffed my shelf like a treasure.
My father used to bring story books printed in USSR but translated to my mother tongue, Malayalam, once I get it I used to get disconnected from the real world.
The Magical Characters from Russian Folklore
We were so used to the Russian names for princes and princesses and one among my favorite was ‘Ivan’.
From these books and magazines I pictured a world which is powerful, people brimming with energy and happiness, and more than anything else, magical…
Who would like such a world to get shattered?
Russia the Great Friend of my Motherland
Years past, I read many articles and books on what happened during the Soviet times, how people led their lives, the Socio-economic situations and international relations during those days and many a things, to get an idea behind it’s fall.
The world has changed so much during last 25 years, India has now become a stronger nation and has a great economy, she could stand on her own facing any military challenges and it could send it’s own space ships…
But, I really miss those colourful magazines and story books…
I miss my fantasy land and that great friend of my motherland…
I really wish, the people of all those Soviet Lands are just as happy as they are in my old picture books…