An Estonian girl who has found a home in Sweden.

Monday, June 21

June 21, 2004 Posted by Vaire

There is a book list making rounds on blogs. I've refrained from posting it because while some of these books were on my school reading list, I have no idea who some other authors are. Growing up in Soviet Union kinda puts a slant on what was available. Also, I have a few favorite authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and Rex Stout, and favorite genres like fantasy and sci-fi. The list of books I have enjoyed would be way too long to post.

Yesterday Cari asked on her blog what are the top ten books that have changed her readers' lives. Well, I don't have a top ten, but there is a book that had a profound effect on me. It is "War Began Tomorrow..." by a Soviet Russian author Boris Vasilyev. I read it in Estonian in mid 80's. I have never read it since and I probably never will read it again, it was that powerful. I usually read the books I like over and over and over, so a book that has been read once is scpecial.

The book is about a bunch of teenage classmates in Russian school. Stalin is the General Secretary of Soviet Union, the economy is doing well and communism is the way of life. Most of the classmates are good little Commyouths and the class Leader is a girl devoted to communism. However there is a Pest in the class, she dares to differ, to read forbidden books and have opinions not 100% in accordance with The Communist Way. So the Leader takes upon herself to let the Pest know how she has erred. A teacher lends a hand and between them they make the Pest's life miserable. So miserable in fact that she kills herself. Everybody is shocked, including the Leader who considers this a very non-communist thing to do. At the funeral the school principal speaks the words that made me a different person. Here is the passage in full. To my knowledge this book has not been translated to English, but I was able to find the original text in Russian and did the translation myself.

"Comrades!", said the director suddenly very loud. "Guys and girls, look. Everybody, look at your friend. Look well, to remember. To remember for the rest of your lives, that not only bullets, not only blade or a shell fragment can kill — affronting words and noisome deeds kill, indifference and bureaucracy kill, cowardice and meanness kill. Remember that, children, for the rest of your life, remember!..."

I've tried to remember. I can't say that I haven't spoken a hurful word since, but it made me think of the consequenses of my words and deeds.