Attic of My Memories

To Mark Tait,
my First Canadian Reader

When I try to recall something that was a long time ago, it looks as if I come into a strange room. Maybe, it is an attic in the house where I have been living all my life.

Actually, I have neither an attic nor such a house because I used to live in different places and my own things were changed many times and sometimes I feel itís a pity. Some people can live in many places all over the the world, changing different countries and cities, but they know that there is a house somewhere to come to, the room where they lived and played many years ago, and that somebody waits for them in that house. Itís a pity that I have not such a place.












And, now, I see, that it really looks like an attic. Iím standing in confusion there because the things I see seem familiar to me but I donít remember them exactly yet. They have all become pale and covered with dust but they look familiar somehow and the attic itself is not scary or haunted at all. Although the sun tries to shine through the dusty window the things look grayish and vague in its light. I walk in and begin to look attentively at the things around me. I canít decide what I should explore first because there are so many ones.

After a while, I take a light-brown rubber toy bird. Itís a bullfinch, a toy which our neighbours had. When I was little (two years old) and came to visit them, Uncle Stepan pressed its beak and it became driven inside because it was soft rubber. And I donít know why it was so fearful for me then, but I ran away every time I saw it.

I see some other toys my sister and I played with and I recognize some of our dolls that I havenít seen for many years. I canít say that we had too many or too few toys but each of them had its own name and personality. Some dolls were really good examples of behavior for others, but one doll was a really bad girl: she didnít want to eat, or sleep, or go to the kindergarden, or do anything else she had to do well, so we had to punish her for bad behavior.

I see my top that we bought with my Aunt (and I even remember its box and how it smelt when we opened the box, and we tried to spin it in the yard on the asphalted path, but it was not very successful; the top spun much better on the floor because it was smooth and was made of old wide planks).

And I find a small box with some ancient buttons and beads that my grandmother gave me. They are all of different sizes and appearances and so different from the ones we had on our clothes. But Iím surprised to find them here because Iíve been sure that I lost them all and my mother scolded me for it.

Sometimes I find a small part of something: a splinter of colored glass or a fragment of a red cup with golden twigs and round white leaves on them,- and I can remember I didnít like to drink hot milk with honey and butter when I was sick and coughed. It was so untasty then!

I find my blue bike (and its third wheel in the far corner) and my skates that I didnít use so much because there was not much snow that winter and I grew out of them the next year.

Only I canít find a folder with my childish pictures because my grandfather kept them but I donít know where he put the folder, althouth Iíd like to look at my pictures very much. (Thatís why I keep my sonís pictures that he drew when he was younger. Of course, he is not interested much in them now, but when he grows up, itíll be more interesting for him to look at them. And I wrote down so many of his talks - they were really amazing! I know only several of my own funny talks my mother told me about but if she had written my words, I would have known more.) For a long time, I believed that if I could go into a real attic in our old house (where Iíd never been) I would find my pictures there. But itís impossible, of course, and I can never see them. Iím sure, they were not good and were very childish and poor but itís a little sad anyway.

And what is really impossible for me now is to define the real size of the room we used to live when I was a child. Rooms can change their dimensions, you know. For example, when you return home after a long absence all at home seems so strange and different - it can look larger or smaller but strange some way.

In my memories, I see the huge room. I saw it many times in my dreams and almost every time I couldnít enter the room for some reason. I even tried to figure out its dimensions in my mind, putting the pieces of furniture we had there. It couldnít be huge, just rather large. But my memory doesnít want to agree with such a statement. I understand I was small myself then.

Thatís the only explanation. Itís logical. But I can never verify it in my life.

I think, I remember our old house rather well in my mind. I can see with my inner sight many of the things we had there: a piano, a sofa, a big round table, my arm-chair-bed and my sisterís bed that grew small for her. I see old heavy doors with old bronze door-handles (the house was built at the end of the last century). In the other room, where my grandparents lived, the furniture was really old and old-fashioned: a huge dark-wooden cupboard and a wardrobe, a table with turned legs and some chairs with curved backs and round seats.

And then my memory helps me to recall the other things about my childhood - I canít see them in the attic because they are invisible - itís the smell of mignonette and other evening flowers after our yard was watered in the evening of a hot summer day, or the smell of burned autumn leaves and the blue-grey mist of smoke in the street when I went home after school, or the coolness and freshness of an early summer morning and the cherry-trees in blossom in the yard near the door-steps, or many a turtle and hedgehog we had sometimes in our childhood, and even our neighbours who sometimes scolded us children for something, and their cats; or snowmen we used to make in winters (itís really difficult to keep them in the attic, isnít it?). I remember our stove in my grandparentsí room and feel the warmth of the wall in the room we lived in. I remember that I was very afraid of big dogs before I made friends with our neighboursí spaniel Wilíka and that I often used to cry (my eyes were on a wet place, my grandparents used to say to me) and many other things all around our old house.

To my mind, they are unique because I remember them as I saw them many years ago, and even the people whom we lived with saw the same things very differently and remember (or donít remember, or some of them just have passed away already) utterly differently.

Itís a strange and amuzing thing - human memory, isnít it? We can smile or laugh and feel a lump in the throat just thinking of events that took place years ago. But it makes us so different from other living creatures on Earth!