I’ve written several posts on the topic of the devastating “Wild ’90s” in Russia. What I find to be very important is the preservation of the peoples memories of that tragic era. Already there are signs that it has become etched in the Russian “gene pool” on the same level as the Time of Trouble of 1599, the Borodino battle of The Great Patriotic War of 1812 and the memories of The Second Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, along with many other historic turning point events – both in hardship and happiness.
I wrote a translation of one such recollection in the article The ”Wild ’90s” in Russia, as reflected in people’s memory and in the second part of the testimonials translations. Here is another characteristic story from Ankdot.ru site, New Year-themes, yet sad and bittersweet. The author is maybe a little younger than myself. After the main translation, I will present some select comments to the post with more memories of that terrible and confusing time.
THE GRANDSON OF SANTA CLAUS
This was inspired by the stories about Santa Claus. A fair warning: it will not be fun. As I remember, my childhood was a happy one though it can hardly be called rich. First came the “perestroika”, then the “fun” of the 90s. My father had died, mother was a kindergarten teacher with a salary equivalent of 10 pounds of buckwheat a month (those who remembers 1992-1993 – he will understand). And all this against the background of the emerging abundance of imported goods. Kids today won’t understand what it was like in the early 90-ies to eat Snickers on a school break or go outside with a cassette tape recorder. As you can gather, with a monthly budget of 10 pounds of buckwheat, Snickers at a break, and especially the tape recorder in the courtyard were not to be dreamt of. I knew better, and didn’t even hint about such things.
So when on January 1, 1993 I received Sony Walkman as a gift – I was close to a shock. First, at the time it was better than both iPhone X and Apple Watch combined nowadays. Secondly, I knew that for the next six months the monthly ration of buckwheat would be halved. “Mom, from where?” “Don’t worry, it’s a present from work.” In short, until the summer I was treated at school, if not like a king, then at least as of particular noble bloodline.
And only a few years later did I learned that for the sake of the player, my mom worked part time as a cleaner in the same garden a few months…
Now I’m an adult of about the same age as my mother was back then. I earn more than well. But I cannot get my mom to agree to any expensive purchase (“You need to save money for a new car/apartment/dacha”. Those, who have parents who survived the 90s as adults will understand me). So I every time have to come up with some excuse for where the present came from. Travel package – “Yes, it’s a promo tour from some acquaintances, with a 50% discount, we must take it.” TV – it’s a bonus from the store, the phone – “we can buy it here twice as cheap, than what you have in Russia”. In my experience, what works best is to get tickets to the theatre “for the bonuses of the mobile operator, which will expire if they are not spent now.”
And also now I bought her tickets to the concert in the Kremlin, “tickets from friends, whose firm is sponsoring the concert”, while with tears welling up, in my inner eye I see a 13-year-old glowing from happiness, with a player in his hands.
My dears, my advice to you while it is not too late – please your parents. They, though they are already old, still believe in miracles. And I told you of some modern versions of the “miracles”.