20 Март 2015| Shelyakhovskaya (Gruzdeva) Maria Aleksandrovna

Do Not Expect Me Soon

1942, 3 April. [from A. I. Gruzdev to S. I. Gruzdeva in Totma] № 65.

I already wrote you that you should wait for me, but do not expect me soon. The end of the War is far off, and, of course, I will not return soon.

I’ve got so used to the War that bombings, artillery fire, mortar and machine-gun fire have already ceased to astonish me.

You go under fire and are indifferent to it, in a word, I’ve have become a warrior, as if I had warred lifelong. I even write articles on questions of military tactics for newspapers. Recently I wrote a number of articles about experience in battles for inhabited objectives. One of them is to be published in the Red Star” (Moscow). The others are to be published in our army press.

1942, 11 April. [from A. I. Gruzdev to S. I. Gruzdeva in Totma] № 65. [the number of the previous letter is mistakenly repeated]

Recently I received a letter from Maria Pavlovna Golubeva, which I asked about Ivan Gasparovich’s condition. The letter was written on 23 March. In it she writes that Ivan Gasparovich has been in an in-patient treatment center (this is something like a rest home for the sick and weak), he left there on 22 Mar., but does not look very well. Waits for aid from me, but I cannot give him help, unfortunately.

1942, 12 April. [from S. I. Gruzdeva to the front] № 17.

It has become sad in our large house: yesterday we saw Vasya off to the army.

Kuzma is still at home, but perhaps he, too, will go as of 1 May, but even if he won’t, this is, as Valya and I say, only a shadow of that stone wall behind which we lived. Here we, Valentina Stepanovna and I, remain—the two of us and five children.

The parting between Valya and Vasya was hard—they sobbed bitterly. […] We went along with him for 5 km from Totma, and then we stood on the road and waved our hands, and he waved his cap, standing on the sleigh.

Sasha, darling, do not leave me, be living.

Vasiliy went on the postal transport horses and every now and then he telephones us from the stations and everything is so similar to you—do this go there and there, take care about that and that—everything about the family, about the household. Will it really be possible for all of us to meet again?—what unthinkable happiness!

1942, 14 April. [from S. I. Gruzdeva to the front] № 17 [the number of the previous letter is mistakenly repeated]

Sasha my darling! Today it is a week that there have not been any letters from you. And, as always, my heart is full of anxiety. Now to one, then to another woman neighbor come mournful messages, and all the time it seems to me that it is my turn. Formerly they would have said that it is sin to think thus about the living, but what shall I do if there is so passionate a desire to be with you.

Sashenka, you… can it be that you feel offended at me for anything in the past? All the time it seems to me that I loved you poorly, took care of you too little. Do not be offended, forgive me—I am so punished by separation, anxiety, anguish. Valya bustles about in order to get land for a vegetable-garden, to plough it, to get seeds. Nothing has come of getting a she-goat they do not sell them for money, and we cannot exchange bread for one. I, as before, busy myself with the children, with the stove, with cleaning our luxurious apartment consisting of 4 rooms and toward the evening I get so tired of tramping around that I’m ready to fall asleep without undressing and no matter where. Valya is weaker than me, she gets tired even more rapidly; furthermore, she has to prepare for lessons.

Kuzma is still on a business trip, so there are two of us with the children in the entire enormous apartment, or, more precisely, I am alone: Valya is now working at school, then working on the loan[1]. Yesterday I signed for a loan of 550 rubles, and contributed 200 rubles in cash. They have promised [to give us] land and seeds at the military registration and enlistment office, at Valya’s school, at Kuzma’s work—so we’ll get them somewhere. I will keep you informed about our matters.

1942, 20 April. [from A. I. Gruzdev to S. I. Gruzdeva in Totma] № 68.

In one of your letters you wrote that you are not unaware about the life of Leningrad and the residents of Leningrad. I also wrote you about this more than once.

The residents of Leningrad are standing heroically: recently they restored and restarted the streetcars. This is what Leningraders are. Now the time has come also for you, my wee girl, to display courage and endurance worthy of the woman patriots of our beloved Motherland, who at any blows of fate do not fall in spirit and do not lower their hands[2]. Maria Pavlovna informed me that our Dad has died. About the circumstances and the date of his death I could not learn anything from her letter, since the censors cut out much from it.


[1] Working on the loan meant a public load: to collect people’s money for the state loan for defense. “To sign for a loan” meant for a person to make a written commitment to pay, within a certain period of time, some amount of money in exchange for passive bonds of a corresponding state loan. This load was very heavy both for those who had to collect the money and for those who had to give it.

[2] The Russian expression “not to lower one’s hands” means to continue to struggle patiently and persistently even in a most desperate situation.

© Translation into English and endnotes by Christina Petrides (USA)
and Maria Shelyakhovskaya (Russia).

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