Chapter 29: Everybody has a bucket. Rattle – Rattle – Rattle. Everybody plays The Leningrad Blockade.

At 2pm and after class two seven-year-old girls go home to play. I am one of those girls. We need a table, two scarves, two buckets and … a wheel of cheese in the fridge. Table resembles our house. We put scarves on our heads and start a long lasting fun of a game – Siege of Leningrad.

We play in pair, but you can play with much more people. As a matter of fact you can play with as many people as fit under one table. You just need more buckets, more scarves and much more cheese in the fridge. Relationships between the game participants are mainly family relationships: mother – daughter, father – son, grandma – grand child. We play classic mother – daughter version.

The game play is quite simple. I and my friend are surviving through the horror of the cold winter 1941-1942, the very beginning of the Leningrad Blockade.

– My little daughter, we don’t have anything to eat,- This is me talking, – I go and try to find something.

I crawl out from under the table; rattling bucket in my hand. I go straight to the fridge, cut a small piece of cheese from the 3 kg wheel and go back. We split the cheese in dozen little pieces the smaller the better. This is our food supply for a week. We eat it up in the matter of seconds.

Once food is finished – daughter goes out searching for scarce food; rattling bucket in her hand. In the imaginary 40 degrees Celsius below zero she crawls to the – oh so distant fridge, opens it to cut off the next piece of cheese, our supply for yet another imaginary week.

The game goes on and on for hours until no cheese is left.

When my friend’s mother comes home she panics thinking we will suffer a cheese poisoning. But we are fine. Same as we are now – we are just fine.

So here is the question. Why out of million possible games did we choose this one: the game of hunger, scarcity, hardship and suffering? We had it all: great family, food on the table, great friends and fine health. We had nothing to worry about. Why the scary game? Why running around my friend’s apartment with those rattling buckets pretending to suffer? While thinking about it I had an epiphany. Suddenly I saw the whole world in front of me running around with rattling buckets: little buckets, middle sized, huge ones. There were even some people in the middle of the crowd pushing a whole tank car in front of them. Buckets rattling, tank cars clattering while people diligently suffering imaginary hardships.

  • Everybody has a bucket.
  • Rattle – Rattle – Rattle
  • Everybody plays
  • The Leningrad Blockade.
  • I did. Now I don’t.
  • Well… I do, but I won’t.
  • Such a waste of life.
  • One simple question: Am I alive?
  • I think I am…
  • Yes, I am, no doubt!
  • If I am alive,
  • What else is there to rattle about?
  • I fill my bucket to its edge with fertile mother-earth
  • And plant a slender cherry tree directly to its heart.

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