9. The awakening
I slowly came back home, feeling loss and happiness at one and the same time. When I got there,
I bumped into a huge surprise: my mother was waiting for me in my room almost about to faint. The world turned upside down and
I fell from my "shining dreams" right down into pitiless reality. I could not lie, but I absolutely did not know what to say; also I felt
that my mother perfectly knew that it somehow related to my "strange talents", the conversation about which
neither she nor I would, regrettably, be able to avoid.
Svetlana and her mother
To my enormous relief, she said nothing that night. Maybe, she did not know what to say. But the next morning the windows
in my room were thoroughly nailed up. My mother did not mention the incident for a couple of weeks, as if giving me time to
realize what I had "done", which did not make me feel the least bit better. My dad was on a trip on his reporter’s business then,
and I hoped with all my heart that somehow everything would settle down and be forgotten before his arrival, but that did not
happen. One morning, before going to work, my mother said that she wanted to talk to me. Of course, it was not a big secret for
me, what she wanted to talk about…
As usual my mother was tender and warm, but I felt with my whole being that this story oppressed her and she truly did not
know how to begin our conversation. We were talking for a very long time. I did my very best to explain to her how much all that
meant to me and how terrible I would feel if I lost it. But it seemed that this time I had indeed scared her and she said that, if I did
not want her to tell my father everything, when he came back home, I must promise that that kind of thing would never be repeated
She did not understand that these bizarre "surprises" of mine did not happen at my will and I almost never knew,
when one or another "surprise" would happen. But because my father’s opinion mattered to me more than anything else, I promised
my mother that I would not do anything of the kind, as far as it depended solely on me.
10. Everyday life
Like all other children I went to school, did my homework, played with my "ordinary" friends and infinitely missed my other,
unusual and shining "star friends". Regrettably, complications sprang up on every side at school too. I began to attend it when
I was six (normally, children began school in the former USSR at the age of seven), because the testing showed that I could go
right into grade 3 or 4, which, certainly, pleased nobody. My school friends considered that everything came too easily to me,
and their mothers quite disliked me for that for some reason. So, it turned out that I was alone almost all the time at school too.
Svetlana and her mother
I had only one real school friend, the girl with whom I shared a desk. We sat together for the whole twelve school years,
but the relationships with other children did not turn out right for some reason. And not because I did not want that, or because
I did not try, on the contrary, I did. But I always had a very strange feeling, as if we lived at different poles. I never did my
homework, or better to say I did it, but it took just several minutes. My parents, certainly, always checked it, and because
usually there were no errors, I had plenty of free time. I attended a musical school (studied playing the piano and also singing),
painted, embroidered and read a lot. But all the same, I had a lot of free time left…
It was winter. All the neighbourhood boys skied because they were all older than me (and they were precisely my best
friends then) and I had to content myself with sleighing, which to my mind was good enough only for kids. And, certainly, I
desperately wanted to ski!
Finally I somehow managed to entreat my softhearted mother and she bought me the smallest skis she could ever get. I was
in seventh heaven!!! I immediately rushed to share the news with my friends and was absolutely ready to try my new acquisitions
on the same day. Usually they went to a large mountain to ski, near the river, where the princely castle once was. The ice-hills
were very high there and in order to ski one had to have at least some initial skills, which, unfortunately, I did not.
But of course, I was not going to yield to anybody in this respect. When at last, puffing and sweating (despite the temperature
of 25 C below zero!), I clambered behind the others to the top, I, frankly speaking, was terrified. Romas, one of the boys, asked
me whether I wanted to watch them ski down first, but of course I said no and chose the highest ice-hill. Well, the "punishment"
did not keep me waiting...
I hardly remember where I got the boldness to push off and go down. What I do remember perfectly was the real horror of the
wildly whistling wind in my ears and the picture of very quickly approaching trees on the border of the forest. I was lucky; I did
not run into a tree, but slap-bang bumped into an enormous stump. My poor new skis were smashed into pieces and I had a lucky
escape with a little injury which I, burning with indignation, did not even feel; so much for my short, but very bright ski "career".
Much later I came to like skiing very much and could ski for hours with my dad in the winter forest, but I never liked ice-hills.
Svetlana in winter
After such a vexing fiasco with my "sport adventures", I had no wish whatsoever to do any winter sports. Therefore, in order
to fill the rest of my free time, I tried to read as much as possible. And here something new and completely unexpected happened
I was reading a lesson which I did not like and I was eager to finish it as soon as possible. Suddenly I noticed that I read too
quickly. It appeared that I did not read like we all do it usually – horizontally, but vertically – from top to bottom. I
was very surprised at first. It was unusual and a little strange, but because I was already used to my different oddities, I tried it
again. It was true; the reading went much quicker. From that day I almost always read "from top to bottom", however, for some
reason my eyes got tired much sooner doing this. But it was quicker and this method of "rapid reading", as I called it, saved me
a lot of time in future.
Other "wonders" constantly happened too, but I already became more careful and did not hurry to share them even with my
nearest people. At first I was a little sad and bitter because of it, but then I got used to it and it seemed to me that life should
be exactly like this, at least mine. Loneliness is not created for a child, just as a child is not created for it. Unfortunately,
life sometimes can be quite a pitiless thing and pays no attention whatsoever to whether we like something or not; or it may also
happen for reasons which will be hidden from us for the time being, and when their sense becomes clear later, it may strongly
surprise someone, or leave somebody sadly guessing "what would have happened to us, if…"
11. The neighbours
My "sixth" winter reluctantly retreated, leaving behind lacerated furrows on the once virgin and pure face of earth. Snow-drifts
pitilessly "sank", losing their proud whiteness and growing into dirty lumps of ice, and bashfully melting, giving life to numerous
merry brooks, which playfully whispering to one another, joyfully ran on slopes and paths which already began to turn green here
and there. The days were clear, transparent and windless. The spring confidently exhaled its "green" scents in the air, and almost
genuine warmth spread all over, waking up the earth, still sleepy from hibernation. The new life was born once again…
Like all children I adored spring. It seemed that we too, like sleepy little bears, got out from our "lairs" after a long hibernation
and gladly exposed our smiling faces for a kiss from the first tender sunrays. The good sun, brightened with pleasure, "painted" our
cheeks and noses with freckles, making our mothers warmly smile. The days gradually became longer, and on our street more old
women came out of their houses with small benches to sit at the porch and enjoy warm sunrays.
I loved our good and quiet street. It was neither very wide nor long; it was, as I always called it, homely. Its one end set against
the forest and the other – against an enormous daisy field. Much later, to my huge regret, a railway station would be built there.
There were only twenty houses on our buried in verdure street. This was a "blessed" time when there were no TV sets yet (we had
the first one when I was nine) and people simply socialized with each other.
We all knew each other very well and lived like one big and united family. Somebody was loved very much and somebody less,
but everybody knew that if there was trouble, they would be helped anyway. It never happened that somebody remained aloof, even
the most "disagreeable" neighbours offered their help, although later they, certainly, one way or another did not miss the slightest
opportunity to mention it now and then. By no means do I try to picture a romantic idyll of the place and time in which I lived, or
decrease the meaningfulness of any "progress". But I will never forget how much warmer and purer people were when their souls and
minds were not burdened by the alien "fog of prosperity" and "mental dirt" of "progress".
There were twelve boys and four girls in my street then; we all were of different age and had different interests. However, there
was a time of day which we all loved – the evening, when we gathered together and did something that allowed us all, both teenagers
and little children, to take part. Our poor parents found it quite difficult to "drag" us home, tearing us away from some (always exciting,
of course!) unfinished story or game.
Even here, in a seemingly inoffensive corner of my life, I got the next bitter lesson that it would be better, if I kept my strange
"abilities" to myself. It turned out that whatever game we played, I always knew its result beforehand, be that hide-and-seek,
riddles or just storytelling. And at first I was sincerely sure that it really should be like this. I was glad, when I won (which happened
almost always) and did not quite understand why it caused my friends’ "deaf fury", although usually they treated me very well. And
one evening one of them finally "burst" and after my next success he darkly said:
– We won’t want to play with you anymore until you stop showing your nasty "tricks".
It was quite a shock for me, because I showed no "tricks" at all, never mind nasty ones, and could not understand what he was
talking about. I never thought about why I could foreknow one or another answer; it was an absolutely normal thing for me and, as
it appeared, not quite normal for others. I came home grossly offended and closed myself in my room to feel it keenly all by myself,
but my grandmother had a sharp flair for all my unsuccessful "adventures". She always knew, when something went wrong,
and it was absolutely useless to deny it.
She came to my room in just a minute and found me in tears. I never was a weeper, but it was always hard for me to endure the
bitter taste of unfair accusations, especially when they came from the closest friends. In fact, only the closest friends can indeed
wound you, because their words get straight to your heart.
– There, there. You’ll see, the time will pass and everything will be forgotten – my grandmother assuaged my grief – the offense
is not like smoke, it will not eat away your eyes.
Well, yes it probably will not eat away my eyes, but it certainly ate my heart with each new drop of injustice, to be sure! I was
just a child, but I already knew much of "it is better not to show" or "it is better not to talk about"… and I learned
not to show. After that little incident I really tried not to show that I knew more than others and everything was all right. But was
it really all right?
The summer came quite unnoticed. And, as my mother promised, exactly this summer I was going to see the sea for the first
time. I had waited for this moment since winter, because the sea was my long awaited "great" dream, but a quite foolish event
almost reduced my dream to ashes. Only a couple of weeks remained to the journey and in my mind I already was on the shore,
but, as it turned out, it was still a long way off.
It was a pleasant warm summer day. Nothing unusual happened. I lay in the garden under my favourite old apple-tree, read a
book and dreamed about my favourite cookies. Yes, yes, exactly about cookies from a little shop near by.
I don’t remember eating anything more delicious than those home-made cookies. Even now, after so many years, I perfectly
remember the marvelous taste and smell of this dainty morsel melting in my mouth! They always were fresh and incredibly soft
with a dense sweet crust of icing which burst at the least touch, with a divine scent of honey and cinnamon and something else
which was almost impossible to catch... These were the cookies which I was going to get without thinking twice. The weather
was warm and I had only my short shorts on. The shop was nearby, right in a couple of houses and (there were three shops like
this in our street!)
Then in Lithuania this kind of small shop in private homes were very popular and usually occupied only one room. They
grew like mushrooms after rain and usually belonged to the citizens of Jewish origin, like the shop where I went which
belonged to our neighbour called Schreiber. He always was a very pleasant and polite person and had very good food,
To my great surprise, when I came there, I could not enter inside – the shop was crammed full of people. Obviously there
was a new delivery and nobody wanted to miss freshly brought products. So I stood in a very long line and was not going to
leave, patiently waiting for my favourite cookies. The line moved very slowly, because the room of 5 x 5 metres was absolutely
crammed with grown-ups and I could not see anything because of them. Quite suddenly, on making the next step, I began to fall
head over heels down a wooden, crudely knocked up staircase and plopped down on the wooden boxes which were made in
the same rough fashion.
It turned out later that the owner left the door of his basement (seven metres deep!) open, probably hurrying to sell new
goods or simply forgetting to do that, and I managed to fall into it. It is highly likely that the impact was very serious, because
I did not remember how and who dragged me out of there. I only remember many frightened faces around and the owner,
endlessly asking whether everything was all right with me. Of course I was not all right, but I was not going to confess it and
declared that I would go home. A whole crowd accompanied me. My poor grandmother almost fainted, when she suddenly
saw that impressive "procession" which chaperoned me home.
I stayed in bed for ten days. As it turned out later, the fact that I managed to get off with just a scratch after such a
stunning seven meter deep "flight" with my head downward was considered something unbelievable. The owner,
Schreiber, came to us every day for some reason, every time bringing a kilogram of candies and asked whether I truly felt
all right. To tell the truth, he looked very scared.
Be that as it may, I am sure that someone had put a "pillow" under me; someone, who considered it too soon for me to
break my head. By that time my very short life had contained quite lot of "strange" cases of this kind. Some happened and
very quickly were forgotten, others were remembered, although they were not necessarily interesting. Thus for an unknown
reason, I well remember the case with making a fire.
13. The fire that did not warm up
All neighbour's kids (including me) were very keen on making campfires, especially, when we were allowed to bake
potatoes there, which was one of our favourite delicacies, and making such a campfire was a real festivity for us! Indeed,
could something else ever be compared with scalding potato, which we just fished out from the fire with our sticks, smelling
fabulous and powdered with ash?! One would really have to try hard to stay serious, on seeing our awaiting and thoroughly
concentrated faces: we sat around a campfire, as if not having eaten for a whole month, like hungry Robinson Crusoes. And
at that very instant nothing in the world was more delicious for us than that little, smoking ball of potato slowly baking in
Exactly in one of such cheery "potato" evenings the next "unbelievable" adventure happened to me. It was a quiet and
warm summer evening and it already started getting dark. We gathered at somebody's "potato" field, found a suitable place,
brought a sufficient amount of firewood and were ready to make a campfire when somebody noticed that we had forgotten
the most important thing – matches. Our disappointment had no limit. Nobody wanted to go back home and get them, because
we had come quite far away. We tried to make fire in the ancient way – rubbing a piece of wood against another piece of wood,
but very soon patience ran out even in the most persistent of us. Suddenly one boy said:
– Oh! We completely forgot that our "little witch" is here with us! Well, c’mon! Do it! Set fire!
They often called me a "little witch" and it was more a rather tender nickname, than offensive. Therefore, I was not offended,
but, honestly speaking, was taken aback. To my huge regret, I had never set a fire in my life; it somehow never occurred to me to
do this kind of thing. But this was the first time they had asked me to do something and I, certainly, was not going to
let such a chance slip away and moreover, "lose face".
I had no idea whatsoever what had to be done to "light it up". I just concentrated on the fire and wished very much for it to
happen. A minute passed, but nothing changed... Boys (and they are always and everywhere a bit wicked) began to laugh at me,
saying that the only thing I could do was "guess" when I needed to. It was very offensive for me – I honestly tried to do my best,
but that, certainly, interested nobody. They needed a result which I failed to produce.
To tell the truth, even I do not know what happened then. Maybe I felt very strong indignation that they laughed at me,
which I did not deserve at all, or the bitter offense of a child was roused too mightily? One way or another, I suddenly felt as
if my whole body froze (it would seem that it should be to the contrary); the real "fire" pulsated with explosive impulses only
in my hands. I got up, turned and sharply threw my left arm forward. Terrible roaring flame flashed out of my hand right into
the place with the firewood. Everybody began to yell... and I recovered consciousness already at home, feeling a cutting pain
in my hands, back and head. My whole body burned, as if I lay on a burning hot pan. I did not feel like moving or even opening
My mother was in shock about my "trick" and accused me of "all possible sins", and the main reproach was that I did not
hold to my word that I had given her, which for me was worse than any all-devouring physical pain. I was so sad that this time
she did not want to understand me, and at the same time I felt an unprecedented pride, that I, nevertheless, did not "lose face"
and somehow I could do what I was expected to do.
Certainly, today all this looks a bit funny and childishly naive, but then it was very important for me to prove, that I could
be useful to someone for something with all, as they called it, my "tricks", and that they were not mad fables, but the most real
reality which now they should take into account, even a little bit. If only everything could be so simple, as in a child's thoughts...
As it appeared later, not only my mother was horrified by what I had done. When the neighbouring mothers heard their
children's stories about what had happened, they immediately required their children to keep away from me. This time I
indeed remained all alone, and because I was a very proud little human being, I was not going to ask anybody to be my friend,
not for the world. But it is one thing to show one's attitude, and quite another – to live with it....
I loved my friends, the street and all who lived there very much and I always tried to bring some joy and good to anybody.
And now I was all alone and the only person to blame for it was me, because I was unable to withstand the simplest and
inoffensive child's provocation. But what could I do, when I was a child myself then? But the child, who gradually
began to understand that not everybody in this world deserved proof of something, and even if you prove something to
somebody, it did not absolutely mean that the person, to whom you do that, would necessarily understand you correctly.
In a few days I physically came back to normal and felt fairly well enough, but since then I have never desired to set a
fire. Regrettably, I had to pay for my "experiment" for quite a long time. I was in complete isolation from all my favourite
games and friends for some time. It vexed me a lot and seemed very unfair. When I told that to my poor kind mother, she
did not know what to say. She loved me very much and wanted to protect me from any troubles and offenses. But on the
other hand, little by little, she started being scared of what almost constantly happened to me.
Regrettably, that was a "dark" time, when it was not "accepted" to speak openly about this kind of "strange" and unusual
thing. Everything was preserved in very strict frames of how it "must" or "must not" be and everything
"inexplicable" or "eccentric" was flatly hushed or considered abnormal. To tell the truth, I slightly envy those gifted
children who were born at least twenty years later than me, when all these "eccentric" abilities were not considered a
curse, but, on the contrary, they started to be called a GIFT. And now nobody badgers or sends these
poor "unusual" children to madhouses, but on the contrary, they are valued and respected, as unique children endowed
with a special gift and talent.
Regrettably, nobody was delighted with my "talents" at all then, quite the contrary. Several days later after my
"scandalous" adventure with fire, a neighbour "confidentially" said to my mother that she knew a "very good doctor" which
treats exactly "problems" of the kind I had and if my mother wanted she would be delighted to introduce her to
him. It was the first time, when my mother was directly "advised" to send me off to a madhouse.
Later there was a lot of similar "advice", but I remember that exactly then my mother was extremely distressed and cried
for a long time, shut in her room. She never told me about this offer, but a neighbouring boy betrayed a "secret". It was his
mother who gave such "precious" advice to mine. Certainly, thank goodness, nobody took me to any doctor, but I felt that
I had crossed some "line" with my last "acts", behind which even my mother was unable to understand me. And there was
nobody who would help me, explain or simply calm me as a friend, let alone, teach…
So, I "floundered" in guesses and errors in stiff solitude, without anybody's support or understanding. There were some
things which I tried and some which I did not dare to try. Some of them turned out to be successful, some did not. And how
often I was simply terrified, like any other human being! Honestly speaking, I continued to "flounder" till I was 33, because
until then I had not found anybody, who would somehow explain at least something intelligible to me. Although, there
always were more than enough people who wished to do so, having no idea whatsoever what they were talking about…
Time was passing by. Sometimes it seemed to me that everything that was happening did not happen to me or that it was
just a strange fairy-tale which I invented. Regrettably, the fairy-tale was too real a reality. So, I had to abide by the
circumstances and, which is more important, live with it. Everything went smoothly at school, just like before. I got
"excellent" in all subjects, and my parents had no problems at least with that. Rather, on the contrary – being still in the
fourth grade, I could solve very complicated algebra and geometry tasks and did that, as if it were child's play, enjoying it
Also I loved my music and drawing lessons. I drew almost all the time and everywhere: at other lessons, during breaks,
at home and outside. I drew on sand, paper and window-glass, in short – anywhere possible. I drew only human eyes
for some reason. It seemed to me then that it would help me to find a very important answer. I was always fond of observing
human faces, eyes in particular, because very often people dislike saying what they truly think, but their eyes tell everything.
It is obvious that not in vain they say that eyes are the mirror of our soul. And I drew hundreds and hundreds of these eyes
– sad and happy, grieving and satisfied, kind and wicked. For me it was again a time of cognition of something, the
next attempt to dig down to some truth, although I had no idea of what truth. It was just the next time of "search",
which, with different "digressions", lasted almost my whole conscious life.
15. Giving up eating
Day flew after day, months passed, and I continued to surprise (and sometimes terrify!) my family and very often myself
with my numerous new "unbelievable" and sometimes unsafe adventures. When I was nine I suddenly, for some unknown to
me reason, stopped eating, which terribly frightened my mother and upset my grandmother.
My grandmother was a genuine first-class cook! All the members of our family gathered at the table to enjoy her famous
cabbage pirozhki, including my mother’s brother, who lived then 150 kilometres away. Nevertheless, he came to visit
us every time when my grandma baked her pirozhki. Even now I remember very well and with enormous warmth those
"great and mysterious" preparations: the smell of the fresh yeast pastry, which had been rising for the whole night in a clay pot
near the stove and turned in the morning into dozens of white circles spread all over the kitchen table, waiting for their magic
time to turn into fluffy pirozhki... and my grandma, concentrating, her hands covered with white flour, busy, like a bee
buzzing around the stove. I also remember how impatiently we waited for the moment when our "craving" nostrils could finally
snatch the first amazing, deliciously delicate, savour of freshly baked pastry…
It always was a very special occasion, a true feast, because everybody adored her pirozhki. And whoever came to our
house, there always was a place for him at my grandma’s large and hospitable table. We always stayed late at night, trying to
prolong the delight of being together. But even when our tea-drinking was over, nobody wanted to leave; it was as if my grandma
"baked" part of her kind soul into her pirozhki and everybody wanted to sit a little bit longer and warm themselves near
her cosy hearth and big heart.
My grandma truly loved to cook; whatever she made was always incredibly delicious. It could be Siberian meat
dumplings, smelling so good that all our neighbours mouths watered "hungrily", or my favourite cherry-and-cottage cheese
vatrushkas which literally melted in my mouth, leaving the amazing taste of warm and fresh cherries and milk for
a long time. And even her most plain pickled mushrooms, which she made every year in the oak tub adding currant leaves,
dill and garlic, were the most delicious food I ever ate in my life, despite the fact that by now I have travelled more than half
the world and tested every delicacy one could possibly dream of. But no foreign dish, even the most exquisite one, could
ever outshine the unforgettable taste of grandma’s incredibly delicious works of "cooking art".
So, even having such a cooking "magician" right at home, one fine day I suddenly stopped eating to the overall horror of
my family. I do not remember whether there was an occasion for this or it simply happened for some unknown reason as, with
me, things always did. I simply lost any desire whatsoever to touch food, although I felt no weakness or dizziness, on the
contrary, I felt extraordinarily at ease and was in splendid shape. I tried to explain all that to my mum, but she was seriously
frightened by my next new "trick", did not want to hear and only tried to make me "swallow" something.
It felt bad then and every new portion of food made me throw up. My tormented stomach could accept only pure water.
My mother was almost on the verge of panic, when our family doctor, my cousin Diana, paid us an unexpected visit. Being
extremely happy about her visit, my mother hurried to tell Diana our "terrible" story about my starving myself. My joy was
limitless when I heard that "there is nothing terrible in that" and that I could be perfectly left alone for some time without
food being forcibly crammed into me! I saw that my loving mother disbelieved that, but she had no grounds for objection
and decided to leave me alone for some time.
At once life became easy and pleasant, because I felt absolutely perfectly myself and got rid of the permanent agony of
suspense waiting for stomach spasms which usually accompanied every single attempt at taking food. It lasted about two
weeks. All my senses intensified and perception became keener and stronger. I felt like only the most important things were
brought to the forefront and the rest receded into the background.
My dreams changed or rather, I began to have the same repetitive dream: as if I suddenly rose above the ground and could
easily walk without touching the floor with my heels. It was so real and such an incredibly wonderful feeling that every time I
woke up, I wanted immediately to get back to it. This dream repeated every night. I still do not know what it was and why.
But I began to see it again after many years, and even now, before I wake up, very often I have the same dream.
One day my dad's brother came to visit us from the city where he lived at that time and during the conversation he mentioned
that recently he had seen a very good film and began to recount it. I was very surprised when I suddenly understood that I knew
what he was going to tell us! Although I was completely sure that I had never seen the film, I could retell it from beginning
to end with all the details... I told nobody about it but decided to wait and see whether something like that would show up again
and of course, as usual, a new "trick" did not keep me waiting.
At that time we were studying ancient legends at school. During a lesson on literature the teacher said that today we
would examine "The Song of Roland". Suddenly and unexpectedly for me, I raised my hand and said that I could recite the
Song. The teacher was very surprised and asked whether I often read old legends. I said, not very often, but I know that one.
Although frankly speaking, I had no idea how.
From that day I began to notice that unknown events and facts which I could not possibly know came to light in my memory
more often, and their number increased with every day. I got a little tired of the "influx" of unknown information which, highly
likely, was too much for my child's psyche, but since it came from somewhere, then probably it was necessary for
something, and I calmly accepted it, just as I always accepted everything unknown which my strange and unpredictable fate
Although sometimes this information manifested in a very amusing form – I suddenly began to see very bright images of
unknown places and people, as if being among them. "Normal" reality disappeared and I found myself in a world, "closed" to
others, which only I alone could see. I could remain there for a long time, standing "rooted to the ground" somewhere in the
middle of a street, seeing nothing and reacting to anything, until some frightened and sympathetic passer-by began to shake me,
trying to "bring me to my senses" and find out whether everything was all right with me.
Despite being so young, I had already perfectly understood then (from my own bitter experience), that everything that constantly
happened to me seemed absolutely abnormal to the rest of the "normal" people according to their usual norms (although
I was already prepared to argue about "normality" with anyone then). Therefore, as soon as somebody tried to help me in these
"unusual" situations, I usually began to convince the kind helper that I was absolutely all right and there was no reason whatsoever
to worry about me. Well, I did not always succeed in that and often it ended in calling my poor, ever-patient, mother who came to
fetch me after the call…
So, this was my difficult and sometimes funny childhood reality in which I lived then. Since I had no choice, I had
to find something "light and wonderful" even in that where others, I think, would never find it. I remember that I sadly asked my
grandma after my next unusual "incident":
– Why does my life differ so much from the life of others?
Grandma shook her head, hugged me and quietly answered:
– Life, my dear, is one tenth what happens to us and nine tenths how we react to it. React joyfully,
my little one! Otherwise sometimes it will be very difficult to exist. As for your difference, in the beginning we all are different
one way or another. It’s just, you will be growing up and life will gradually "trim" you down to general requirements, and whether you
want to be like others will depend entirely on you.
I did not. I loved my unusual colourful world and would not change it for all the tea in China. Regrettably, any wonderful
thing in our life has a very high price, and one truly has to love it very much not to be hurt when paying for it. And as we all
know very well, we have to pay always and for everything... But doing it consciously, you feel the satisfaction of free choice,
when your choice and free will depend only on you. And to my mind, this is truly worth paying any price, even if
sometimes it costs you too much. But let me come back to my fast.
Two weeks had already passed and I still wanted to eat nothing, to my mother’s huge distress, and oddly enough, physically I
felt strong and perfectly well. Since I looked very well, I gradually succeeded in convincing my mother that nothing bad was happening
to me right then and nothing frightful would happen in the immediate future. It was a plain truth: I truly felt splendid, except for that
"ultrasensitive" mental condition which made all my senses a little too "exposed" – colours, sounds and feelings were so keen and
bright that sometimes it was hard for me to breathe. I think that this "supersensitisation" was the reason for my following and next
16. The second contact
It was a late autumn afternoon and some of our neighbourhood guys were going to go the forest after school to pick the last
autumn mushrooms. Of course, I went with them too. The weather was extremely soft and pleasant. The still warm sunrays jumped
like bright young hares among the golden leaves, sometimes leaking down to earth and warming it with the last parting glow. The
forest met us wearing its elegant festively-bright autumn attire, ready to hug us in its tender arms like an old friend.
My cherished slender birchs, gilded by autumn, generously dropped their "gold-leaf-coins" at the faintest breeze and seemingly
did not notice that very soon they would be left face to face with their nakedness and would bashfully wait until spring again dressed
them in their tender smart new clothes. And only majestic evergreen fir-trees proudly shook off the old pine-needles, preparing to
become the forest’s only decoration during the long and colourless winter. Yellow leaves quietly rustled under my feet, hiding the
last russules and milk mushrooms. The grass under the leaves was warm, soft and moist, inviting me to walk on it.
As usual, I took off my boots and went barefoot. I adored walking barefoot always and everywhere when the slightest
opportunity arose! Although, very often I had to pay for these walks with tonsillitis which sometimes lasted a very long time, but,
as they say, "the game was worth the candle". It seemed that my feet acquired "sight" without shoes, and a special keen sense of
freedom from something unnecessary, which seemingly impeded breathing, appeared... It was a genuine little pleasure, not
comparable to anything else, and it was worth paying for it sometimes.
As usual we divided into pairs and went in various directions. Very soon I felt that I had been alone for some time. I cannot say
that it frightened me (I was never afraid of the forest), but I became ill at ease because of a strange feeling that someone was
observing me. I decided not to pay attention to it and continued to pick mushrooms. But the sense of supervision gradually increased
and had already become unpleasant.
I stopped, closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on seeing who did it, when suddenly I clearly heard somebody's voice:
– That's correct…
For some reason it seemed to me that it did not sound outside but only in my head. I stood in the middle of a little glade and
felt the air around me begin to vibrate very strongly. A silvery-blue transparent glimmering column appeared right before me and a
human figure gradually materialised in it. It was a very tall (according to our concepts) and mighty man with silver hair. For some
reason I thought he looked very like the statue of our God Percunas (Perun) for which every year we made campfires on the Saint
Mountain on the night of the 24th of June.
By the way, it was a very beautiful ancient holiday (I do not know whether it still exists) which usually lasted till dawn and
was very much loved by all, independent of age or taste. Almost the whole town gathered to celebrate it and, which is quite surprising,
no negative incidents were ever noticed during the holiday despite the fact that everything took place in the forest. Apparently the
beauty of the customs opened even the most hard-hearted human souls to good, thus shutting the door to any forthcoming aggressive
thoughts or deeds.
Usually the campfires were burning on the Saint Mountain for the whole night, ancient songs sounded in round dances and all
that looked very like an extraordinarily beautiful fairy-tale. Hundreds of loving couples began to search for the fern flower, wishing
to secure its magic promise to be the happiest couple and of course, that would be forever. Single young girls, making a wish, put
flower garlands with an ardent candle in the middle into the river Nemunas. There were a lot of such garlands that night and the
river turned into an amazingly beautiful celestial road, softly glimmering with reflections of hundreds of candles, along which rows
of kind gold ghosts floated, creating trembling golden shadows and carefully carrying human wishes to the God of Love on their
transparent wings. And there, on the Saint Mountain, the statue of the God Percunas, which my unexpected visitor resembled very
much, can be still found.
The shining figure "floated" to me without touching the earth with his feet and I felt a very soft and warm touch.
– I came to open the Door for you; – I again heard the voice in my head.
– The Door? Where to? – I asked.
– To the Big World, – came the reply.
He stretched his luminous hand to my forehead and I had the strange feeling of a light "explosion" after which I indeed had the
feeling of a door opening right in my forehead. I saw fabulously beautiful bodies which looked very like enormous multicoloured
butterflies coming out of the center of my head. They lined up around and, being tied to me with the thinnest silvery thread, made
up an amazingly colourful unusual flower. A quiet and "unearthly" melody was flowing into me, vibrating, through this "thread"
and a feeling of peace and plenitude filled my heart.
In the shortest instant I could see numerous transparent human figures standing around, but for some reason they all disappeared
very quickly. Only my first guest remained. He still touched my forehead with his hand thus making some very pleasant "sounding"
warmth flow into my body.
– Who are they? – I asked pointing at the "butterflies".
– They are you, – the answer sounded again. – It is all you.
I could not understand what he was talking about, but I knew somehow that genuine, pure and light Goodness came
from him. Suddenly but very slowly all these unusual "butterflies" began to "melt" and turn into an amazing star fog, shining with
all the colours of the rainbow, which gradually began to flow back into me. A deep sense of completeness and of something which
I could not understand yet, but only felt very much, with my whole being, appeared.
– Be careful, – my guest said.
– Careful? Why? – I asked.
– You have been born… – came the reply.
His tall figure began to vibrate. The glade began to whirl. When I opened my eyes, my extraordinary stranger had already
disappeared, to my utmost regret. One of the boys, Romas, stood in front of me and observed my "awakening". He asked me what
I did there and whether I was going to pick mushrooms. When I asked what time it was, he looked at me with surprise and told me.
I understood then that everything that happened to me had lasted just a few minutes!
I got up (it appeared that I had sat down on the earth), dusted myself down and was already going to go, when I suddenly noticed
a very strange detail – the whole glade around us was green!!! It had the same amazing emerald colour, as in the early spring! Our
mutual surprise became even bigger when we saw beautiful spring flowers in it! It was absolutely fabulous and regrettably, completely
inexplicable. Probably it was a side-effect of my strange guest's visit. But I could neither explain nor even understand it then.
– What have you done? – Romas asked.
– It was not me, – I guiltily mumbled.
– Well then, let's go, – he agreed.
Romas was one of those rare friends of that time, who was not afraid of my "tricks", and nothing that constantly happened to
me could surprise him. He simply trusted me, and therefore I did not have to explain anything to him, which I considered a very
rare and valuable exception. When we came back from the forest, I was shivering, but I thought that I had simply caught a light chill
and decided not to disturb my mother unless something serious appeared. Everything was over by the next morning, and I was so
pleased that it fully confirmed my notion that it was indeed just a chill. However, it was too early to celebrate the happy ending
of my adventure.