Zoya..that was my gramda’s name…she was truly extraordinary…the centre of my family…the sun around which everything was revolving…she influenced 3 generations of people..not everyone agreed with her…she was a very strong person…and quite opinionated…but I never saw her as rough or ruthless..

To me she was the kindest person on this planet. So gentle. And so endlessly caring. If not for her I don’t know what I’d be today. She always believed in doing the right thing. An idealist. She never gave up. she was a fighter. She wasn’t scared of a struggle. She welcomed hard work. she was 15 when she had to work as a nurse on the train during world war II. she saw loads of pain. She learnt to tolerate death at a very early age. her mom died when she was 13. she had nowhere to go so she begged to be sent to war. She was so persistent they couldn’t tolerate it anymore. So she went. All the way to Berlin. And then there was post-war times. Poverty. She got married. And they moved to Kazakhstan. She raised 4 children. All of them know how to make their own clothes, build a house, grow food, basically work hard…but still remain joyful. She liked to sing. Everyone in my family sings. She also liked to make things with her hands. She could never stop. As long as she could sit she was sawing and knitting. She always said that it is important to put your soul into everything you do. Otherwise don’t do it at all. No wander all the pastries and soups she made were so amazingly tasty. Everywhere she went she left a piece of herself. People adored her. But no one dared to abuse her kindness. She was firm. And she was fair. She always liked spending time with younger people. She said that’s the best way to remain young. She knew how to listen. She cared. Even when I was little she listened to what I had to say. We would sit in her room and watch the birds and the trees outside. I would make observations and she would smile at me. She said that she could notice all the same things that I did. And she could see patterns. In objects, subjects, or events. She read up until her last days. Her hunger for knowledge was limitless. She was interested in everything. And she knew pretty much everything. She did not like arguing about facts though. She knew that she would still be right. And she always was. She had really warm hands and she hugged me more than anybody else ever did. She was very sensitive and could not stand arrogant people. She was patient. But you would never want to test her patience. She was frightening when furious. I never experienced that though. I never wanted to upset my grandma. Why would I? She liked me for who I was and was always proud of me.  That is probably why I am who I am today. And although she’s not here with us anymore, I know that she is with me. She is in my heart. She is a big part of me. And for the rest of my life we will be together. This bond can not be destroyed by anything. I am very proud to be her granddaughter. I learnt from the best. And for that I’m endlessly thankful.


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