Since the 1990s, I’ve had a good friend in Russia and one in Ukraine. They are two very special ladies. They know each other because they were campers in camps where we aught counsellors. To protect their privacy, I will call them V and K.
They are both very musical. V, in Ukraine, is a writer and has written a Russian guide to teaching music for counsellors. She plays piano and writes songs for young people and illustrates her songs and stories. She is married to a translator and they have two sons.
In her emails to me, V describes the violence going on in Ukraine. There is a tone of fear in her letters. There are many prayer groups meeting and they are not in favour of violence. Of course, she is worried about her children, who are into their teens now.
K, in Moscow, is younger than V and her two sons are just four and six. She has never mentioned the terror Putin has instilled in my other friend. It’s as if she is ignoring it, hoping it will go away. Of course ,she has very little time to write, with her young sons taking much time.
She has been teaching English in a university. English is a very popular subject with many Russian young folks.
I correspond quite regularly with these women by email but we never talk much about politics, except I hear all about the situation in Kyiv from V, but the situation in Moscow does not get any mention in K’s very short emails.
I know more about the Ukrainian side than I do about stuff in Russia, as we have not broached that subject at all. K is also my relative, therefore we don’t talk politics.
Sometimes I wonder at this strange situation, this avoidance of very unpleasant topics. The fomenting of danger in Ukraine worries me almost as much as it causes trouble for the people truly in power there.
What would you do in this situation?
At Christmas, K in Moscow said she was sending us some candies, but by the end of January I had received nothing. I told her about it (by email) and on April 24, a lovely package, containing five different kinds of very delicious chocolates arrived, carefully and beautifully wrapped. I could only conclude that she had sent a second package, which left Moscow Feb. 22.
Regarding the first package, I could only surmise that some mail carrier in Moscow had a sweet tooth.
If you are tempted to complain about our mailmen, just think about a lady in Moscow sending out a second package of chocolates who is certainly not in a position to complain to authorities.
I wonder what happened to the first package of candies. But I also worry much more about the violence, and the widening rift between Russia and Ukraine.
Bertha Klassen is a community correspondent for Elmwood.