1.

What's gone is gone. Why look back when one can look ahead? You are no longer here, there's only memory left now. I don't remember much about you. I remember your name, your face, something of your voice. I don't know much about your life: you were a radioman, your father was repressed, you were from Far East. I know that you've seen many places that most of people haven't at that time, that you've travelled to India, Japan, Africa, South and Northern America, Antarctica and many other places — you've been to most of the planet's waters. You liked to drink and were a great guitar player, you were a company man. You loved women.  I also know a little about your family life: that you were strict, sometimes even cruel with your son and daughter, that grandmother went through a lot with you, that you two lived the last 25 years, after you’ve left the ship, in harmony with each other. I know that you were forgiven for your temper because you were a first-class specialist. But this is so  little and so general — in fact I didn’t really know you, I have really no idea what kind of a man you were. We didn’t talk to each other when I became older — sometimes we would call grandmother on the day of the Lifting of Leningrad’s Siege, giving you our regards. But you never called yourself. Memory is a strange thing. I remember your funeral. There was no burial service, there was no cross on the grave. You were a staunch communist, despite all the things that your family went through because of the system. Your coffin was put into the earth, father smoked a cigarette, grandmother cried, then we went on our ways. Thinking about you now, there's one scene that comes to my mind: one of the few times me and my sister went to your summer house; I asked you something and you answered "maybe" — in English. I don't remember what did I ask about, I didn't speak English that time, so your answer baffled me. It seemed to me that your answer didn't have anything to do with the question I've asked, had nothing to do with the situation, that it meant something more. As if you wanted to tell me something personally. Something that I myself will understand sometime.

2.

 

I also remember going to the autumn forest together, following your trails. You loved the forest, loved the small forest lakes that are hard to reach because of the swamps, loved finding the trail that would let you reach the black mirror of the water and see the sky reflected in that mirror. To see the austere autumn sun reflected in the waters. You joked that five-meter pikes lived in those waters, that you have to catch them with the line. I don't know if that was true. On the way home from the lake we would pick mushrooms; we didn't even look for them, we just went to "your" special places and cut them. Everything was as it had to be. I'm not recalling the past here, I'm talking about my present — the memory, as long as it is alive — as long as we treasure it — is living and not just a collection of facts. After the grandmother's death, when I got the photography archive of your family, the whole new life was open to me. Besides learning about the family tree, I also found that you were a photographer. Seeing your photographs — there are almost no people there, you peer into the city landscape or into some window as if it were an icon — as if perceiving something greater there, maybe even life itself — I seemingly learned something about you that the others didn't know. It was curious to see that we have a similar sense of composition. I can't say I miss you, but I would really like to talk to you, seeing that all our country is sliding into the past, seeing the system showing its teeth again under the adage "all's well", remembering the changes that the whole world goes through. I would just like to talk. Would you be glad about what you would see? We might meet on the other side — even though you didn't believe in God, I'm certain that nothing goes away with no trace, that death is not the last thing that happens to us. It's possible that we would meet again. I will show you the photographs from my life's journey. I'm sure that we would find what to talk about — even if not as the relatives but as the photographers.

3.

There is a war going on. There are no rights and lefts in this war. Everyone is guilty. We live in the 21th century, and it’s still the same… There are some powers… That are against peace. There is lawlessness, thievery and lies in Russia. But it’s not only Russia, most of the world’s countries are the same. I had hoped that the horrors of the 20th century would be enough for the people, but even now people steal from each other: ideas, things, money, the rich despoil the people, governments of all the countries lie to everyone: to oneself, to others; bureaucrats “create”  senseless and cruel laws, strengthening the armaments instead of development and support for health care, arts, culture, instead of helping the poor, working people, instead of reaching for God and the real good, they try to cheat each other and all the people in the world. Slavery in the 21th century! They try to erase the historical memory and its bearers, everything repeats itself…

America is no better. Capitalism has eaten out the soul of Europe. And the culture and tradition with it. Same thing in Asia. Europeans, Americans, Russians go there and make the same story happen as in the rest of the world… There’s so much beauty in the world, so much incredible, but people spend it on the things that don’t bring anything wonderful in the world, don’t make it better. Isn’t it time to stop? 21th century promised a change, but everything is the same. Why people don’t want to do something different? Are the torments of the past not enough?

Maybe it’s not too late to change something. To change hate for love, for example. Anger for compassion and real support...