Friday, December 28, 2007

Gorbachev and my part in his downfall

L ast night I watched the film Hotel Rwanda and I admit even though I didn't enjoy the things I saw. I loved the positive side of the story especially knowing it was true. But there was a downside. The shootings and other things woke up the memories chucked deep inside of me at the back of my mind.

I am one of very few from my generation who remember what happened. I remember the horror the sirens and sleeping on the floor next to the radiator and no not for the heat, for protection from bullets that might 'accidently' end up in our apartment.

The world called this the singing revolution* but I remember it slightly different. It all began 1988** and continued until 1990. When I was four my grandmother took me along to women's protest in 1989 my picture was in the papers:


My father as a ship captain put up the Lithuanian flag on his boat and ignored the threats, and my mother I believe (I am not sure of this) left the communist party that she was forced to join so many years ago. As my father said years later if the revolution would not have worked out we all would have ended up in Siberia or dead.

Fortunately for us and so many other Lithuanians, Lithuania managed to get it's independence back. Before all that there was the 13th January 1991 when the Russian forces took over the Lithuanian TV tower killing 14 people and injuring over 700. I woke up in the middle of the night screaming that a rat bit my finger, my mother took me to the bath to wash my hands and calm me down and I begged her to switch on the TV. When the TV was on we discovered to our horror what was happening. The TV tower was taken by Russian forces the journalists inside not knowing what is going to happen, all around the tower people coming to protect it from all over the country. I remember my mother trying to make me sleep, I couldn't. Every year afterwards I would watch the repeat of the events trying to understand.

The horrors lasted for few years my father ending up as a security officer for a long time (I can not recall how long exactly) and later an army officer and so on. He is a patriot he is proud of being Lithuanian and I admire him for what he did back then when the unknown and the fear were in the air. And after watching the film Hotel Rwanda and witnessing bigger horrors I remembered my own. My mother would not take me to kindergarten I was at home with my grandmother. My mother pretending everything is fine going to work as we needed to live, my father somewhere that we didn't know for security reasons.

Unfortunately I have flashbacks and I can not recall the term of events. I know what happened I learned at school years later only discovering none of the children in my class knew what we were talking about.

Last night I was turning in my bed until early hours of the morning trying to forget AGAIN. This is the history and I witnessed a part of it. I remember seeing the The Baltic Way****

on TV on 1989 my grandmother was there my mother wouldn't allow me to go there but it was one of those events that some people in the western world might remember.

Few years the revolution was over, we were poor on the brink of survival. Then I fell into the social gap.

No matter what, how silly it may seem and considering it traumatized me I will never forget those events. I am not patriotic, I never was. That people who were united in front of the world fighting to get out from behind the Iron Curtain*****they turned not so friendly once they were free. There was no government to supply you with a job or a home. You had to find it all yourself. My mother as an engineer had no or very little work (the same money-wise), my father was still involved with the Lithuanian army ending up poor himself.

I am writing this to let those ghosts out, so maybe when I see the horrors of war or revolution in other countries I can sleep. I am not ignorant, I am aware what kind of place this world is, but I need to recover. I am afraid of guns, war threats and even a fire alarm going off puts me in fear. I want to thank all those people who died for my country, for saving all of us, not turning away or being afraid.

So I raise the Lithuanian flag for them.

I hope one day they will be able to see someway that those lives were worth it. I don't believe in it. Call it romantic Singing Revolution but there where more people than those unfortunate 14, but history will forget them. The same way as I can not remember what happened first and I have to check with history records to be correct.

There is no event I can think of that is coming anytime soon to remind me of anything, but just a little thing. I once met a girl who was born on the day when Lithuania declared independence on 11th of March 1990 her parents called her Hope, maybe now you can get an idea what that meant to all of us, forgotten by the western world and only now accepted again.

This is a short excerpt of my real memories not all of it, as this writing down task brings tears to my eyes, dizziness to my head and pain to my heart. Everyone saw it differently and this story is from my viewing angle as a 3-6 year old at the time.

P.S. From my husband and I the world is cruel place but life goes on. Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is a gift that's why we call it the present.

* The Singing Revolution
** The Rebirth Of Lithuania
**** The Baltic Way also known as The Baltic Chain
***** The Iron Curtain


b said...

Incredible post, Carra. As a middle-class American, I realize that I can never relate to the great pain and fear that these events cause first-hand. It hurts me to know that the privileges I enjoy come at a tremendous cost to those in places such as your childhood Lithuania, Rwanda, Haiti, Darfur, and many others.

There is so much unrest in the world, always. As painful as it is, your open discussion of your personal experience can help break down the massive misconceptions that exist regarding these events.

I too was deeply moved and then deeply outraged after seeing Hotel Rwanda. I was finishing high school at the time of the genocides there and I never once recall hearing about it in school or in the news. We cannot turn our backs on the world. We must strive to raise awareness and hold our governments accountable.

Thank you for sharing this with us. I cannot believe that is really you in the photo?! I'm sorry you had to experience that fear and sense of desperation. However, you've obviously become a stronger and more compassionate individual as a result.

Pumpkin said...

Strong and very honest post, Carra. Thank you for sharing it with us. I grew up in America and even though we were at times poor, I never lived with the fear that you did. You are such a brave and beautiful person.

Kim/Thomas said...

I see your writers block has lifted! :)

What an amazing post and pictures, I see you had a fondness for hats then too:):)

Thank you so much for sharing Carra, you are such a delight to be able to know virtually, I feel I can learn sooo much from you!!

Your story reminded me of the stories my mother tells when she was a little girl, she used to sleep on the floor by the radiator in Germany when the bombs were dropping, it's amazing that you are 1/3 her age, and yet went through the same thing, just different places...

Wonderful post again!!
xoxo kim

~*~ D ~*~ said...

Wow, thank you for sharing that. I've never experienced anything like what you have lived and I can only imagine what it would be like. I'm glad that you are OK and alive and free now :0)

Thanks for stopping by my blog, I'm gonna go read yours for a while...

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