Lilac

In my memory
my grandmother is a dying woman in an anonymous room.
A twig of lilac stands spilling out of its vase on the windowsill. In my memory it looks like the kind of lilac we pick on our way home, the kind that blooms in a warm sunny world.

I am trying to come up with something to say.

But perhaps there is little to say to a man who is watching his mother wither away. Hands twitching in panic, scraping together memories and seconds
trying to make them count.

Children cannot break silence like that,
words are held like foreign objects in their soft red mouths.
Children can only go over to the lilac twig and play with its petals
can only prat that time will pass quickly

It does.

I do not remember going home
but it seems inconsequential because a little after the twitching and her wrinkled purple cheeks
an entire life seemed to happen, all at once.

I do not mourn.
Perhaps a young woman mourns other things, perhaps nothing at all.

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I don’t remember my grandfather dying, but i do remember his funeral and that i threw chess pieces in his grave while holding my sisters hand and hiding my tears, I felt shame crying even at funerals. I could not decide how many to throw and which ones, i think in the end i threw the king, the queen, the knight and the horse. I still have that chess-game but now those pieces are replaced by some other toy figures, a pen troll, a Moomin, a button and a pin.

My grandmothers laughter was never the same after this moment, her lies were never as grand and i think she even stopped coloring her hair purple after he died. She died just a few months after, not because she was sick or so. Probably because she just decided it was time, some people are really like wolfs and just stay together their whole life. They moved continents together twice during their lifetime, learned new languages, fought wars and famine. Lived through the revolution. Her favorite flower was a Dianthus and only later I found out it was a symbol for the socialist revolution in russia, but also its a funeral flower. She came to me in a dream recently, told me she was proud of me.

The pre-school kids were always conspiring about me and my family being Russian spies. At first I denied it because of the ridiculousness and the stupidity of this connection but at some point I got tired of the denying it and just added wood to their fire. I started dressing like I could imagine a spy would look with dark shades and a long black coat. I had a headset and would sometimes whisper things in Russian in it. The kids were really impressed and scared of me being this 9 year old spy badass and the rumors about me stopped reaching me, also the bullying. The questions stopped too, it was obvious now to everyone that they had to stay far away not to give any intel to me. I was left alone like this for many years.

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A tattoo on my lower back I got when I was sixteen.
A yellow acacia: secret love. I was in love with som
eone , and that someone was a girl from Chemistry
class. Grandmother was the only one who knew ab
out this affair. I was… afraid – mortified – at that po
int in time I didn’t know just how profound the depth
of her compassion was. She held both of my hands
with hers. Wrinkly, veins crisscrossing all over them
, I stared at those hands for a limited eternity before
she told me about her yellow acacias , her secrets ,
her soft resolution to bring me back from whence I l
ost all sense of wonder – in life and in myself. “Rem
ember to hold her hands tight ,” Grandmother said. I knew she was not being benevolent or kin
d. The woman was being dead serious with me . She had meant it. I yearn for her touch now. D
id I let go of her hands in exchange for…? Did I let go of her hand when she needed me the mo
st? Blame. First stage of grief? No, it can’t be. Anger? No. What will her flowers do ? Do they kn
ow? A hollow feeling in my stomach . Can’t explain what it is. I want to vomit. I need to go to the
bathroom and find out what this feeling is. The world twirling all around me. To see life in a grain
of sand. Who said that ? Someone . Probably grandmother before she took her last breath. She
whispered it to me, although I wasn’t there. Everyone was weeping. Jesus wept, too. I wept. Wh
o wore them better , those tears. We’ll never know. “You’re a wild plant,” she’d say . A wild plant.

A name is a knife and a lovers caress, sharp and shiny, soft and sweet. To name is to hold and to be held. Your hand in your grandmothers. Can a sound be a name? Can a touch be?

The name is a container. Not being able to say the name of your closed one, a curse of mine. A wild plant. The ultrasonic scream the plants gives away when they need water, when they are picked or hurt and cut. Ultrasonic sounds. The name of you. I whisper it under the blanket, I practice everyday to say your name. To hold it in between my lips and vocal chords. Sometimes the name just comes out like sound, like a shapeless blurb. Like a ultrasonic scream that needs the ears of machines or other plants to be recognized. Did you know that plants listen to? Through the vibrations they can hear the running water of a lake.

Okay but then you gave me tjeburashka, who is lying next to me right now, whose name I struggle to say to. Tjeburashkas eyelids are heavy, sleepy I think. You told me he is a rebel, a guerrilla, a armed fighter for the revolution. A companion for me to hold the hand of when you are not there anymore. You were always upfront about that, that you would be gone soon. Prepared me for it.

M. You were hiding potatoes under the bed, was it to keep the bed warm or to keep the potatoes warm? Or was it both?
A. I went to the supermarket yesterday where you always shopped, I remember the dill and the tea in the plate with the sugar-cube in it.
R. You would sleep for three four hours in the night and then go to the theater and sleep there. You snored so loudly, I poked you constantly when you would bring me along.
I. Once my job was to distract you on new years when my father had to climb out of the window from the 5th floor because he had forgotten the key somewhere. I was doing cartwheels and funny faces and you were laughing and applauding.
A. You were never allowed to watch his movies, they were too violent. But you came to all my shows. With your finest coat. But sometimes it would remind you of the theater so you would fall asleep. Afterwards you told me it was the best thing you ever seen, and the best sleep of your life.