My Home in Tarusa

A wistful account of a childhood spent in the Russian province.

It has just started to rain. Time has stopped. I am nestled inside of my sleeping bag on the roof of a house in Mozartgasse, Vienna which for the moment, has become my bedroom. It is cozy, and it is wet. I don't know for how much longer I can do this... I am dreaming of waking up at home. 

I was travelling through Russia three weeks ago, and visited my family in the countryside. My genealogy confuses me, but this is the family that I grew up with.  Natasha is the mother, Andrey is the father and there are seven children. Ivan is the eldest. We were born at the beginning of a cold December in 1993, with a three day difference between our birth dates. We were put in one cradle. 

Ivan grew up to become an architect. Then there is Sonya. I know she is skipping her boring college studies right now, doing self-education in Italy instead. Varya is the third. I imagine she is painting, or eating a cake while reading a book on how to master relationships. Masha is almost 19-years-old, and after observing how she received tiny human beings in the hospital, I can conclude that she is a doctor. Lavrik is the fourth child. Since the day he was born, I saw a romantic soul in him. Mark, I notice, is the skinniest of the family – probably because he is always very busy. Luka is the youngest sibling. In my mind he is always covered in chocolate and Coca-Cola stains.

There is a place in Russia called Tarusa. It is a small town on the bank of the Oka River, 140 km from Moscow. We go there often. I assume we go there to escape the noise and chaos of brimming cities. And yet the house is always full. The dinners are big and loud. We cook together, and our best cook is Natasha – who only knows how to make food  for twenty people, and not any less. Everyone is caring and loving in this home. The doors are always open. The teakettle is never given any time to cool.

I find the memories of my childhood here. The best childhood you could ever imagine, and the magic of it is preserved in this place with these people. 

I am 17-years-old, and it is a late August evening. I am standing on Platform 6 of the Kurskaya Railway Station, waiting for my train to take me to that place. I have just run away from home and am going to live with them now.  

I am walking along the Oka river and get to a field. A shriveled tree stands in the middle of it. The moon is full, and I can hear women singing. They are there, just standing and singing. This gives me goosebumps. I walk back and hear Rihanna’s voice echo from a parked car on the riverbank. I hear men’s drunk voices and feel warmed by their inconsolable conversations  – it’s very poetic. 

I can’t say that I miss home. There are many things that I find much more important now; things that happen to be very far away from home. However, I can’t resist the bouts of nostalgia. Everytime I do go back, I see how beautiful my home is, and how much freedom leaving it has given me.