Happy Anniversary, Lithuania!

by HelluvaGirl

It all starts with blueberry jam. Pia's recently discovered it with her oatmeal porridge.
You know, Love, when I was a kid, my parents and Mother Grandmother would make jam at home. They would pick buckets of berries, take a huge pot and cook it with sugar. Why wouldn't they buy it in a shop like we do? Because there weren't products like these in shops at that time. Why?
I tell her about the years of being in the Soviet Union and the blockade, and how the shops were tiny, unlike our supermarkets these days, and there wasn't much choice, like fruit or washing detergent to buy easily. I will never forget the time I was around 8 and they brought boxes of bananas to our street and I stood in a queue for hours to buy that Western miracle but then I thought I wouldn't get them anyway so I went home just to find out later our neighbours who waited longer got the bananas. I remember sobbing in my mother's embrace, defeated by the feeling of pity I didn't wait longer...
It is easy for us to just go and buy things today. When I was little, there weren't things to buy. But how could they keep the borders closed? Was there a wall? Not a wall but it was forbidden to travel freely. People couldn't leave whenever they wanted, and bringing goods into the country was strictly controlled. As a matter of fact, today is 11 March - 25 years ago on this day Lithuanian Independence was declared. We said we didn't want to be occupied any more and then there was 13 January 1991. And what happened then? Then Russian soldiers came with their tanks...
There's a thick ball in my throat. I start blotting my eyes with a napkin as I realise I can't speak any more because no matter how much I try to control the emotions, my voice is breaking with every word. I can't understand why - I've never even been that much of a patriot. But telling my daughter about it, I can't hold the tears.
What did the soldiers do? They didn't want Lithuania to be separate from Russia. You see, sometimes people are selfish and they want more than their own land and their goods. But the will to be free, to live in an independent country is very strong. So our people stood there holding hands as the tanks moved forward, killing them.
I sit at the breakfast table, tears streaming down my face. Pia's eyes darken with concern.
What is it? Remember how yesterday you felt sad? I am sad now.
She stands up and leans her forehead against my shoulder. I caress her face.
It's ok. But war is wrong and the thought of it alone makes me very sad. However, it's a big day for us all because it is the day of Independence. I'm sure something's happening in the city today. Wanna go and see? Yes!
As we drive, Pia counts the national flags raised on every building. We reach the Parliament to find hundreds of people flooding Gedimino avenue. It is a massive celebration. Most of the time, I don't feel I'm a member of a tribe but moments like these move something greatly in me. The rare feeling of belonging? After 25 years, we go out on the streets to feel united and positively proud; to affirm our will to be free. Needless to say, the unsettling proceedings in the region prompt it is as important now as it was back in the day to be ready to hold our hands.
The rage I saw in Lithuanians, I haven't witnessed anywhere else. It ignited and inspired the rest. Alexander Nevzorov on the fall of the Soviet Union.
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