My mother finally got round to having her living room refurbished.
The old ceiling needed repairing for a while, and the state of the wallpaper was getting embarrassing.
People started making comments, you know.
And, as it often happens when you finally take a proper look at your home, she noticed a lot of things she did not really need, things that accumulated throughout many years, sitting there on shelves, gathering dust. She proudly told me how much junk she had thrown away.
It feels great, doesn't it, i agreed. And then, we got stuck.
What do i do with all these books, she said.
In my childhood, the big library was the focal point of any intelligentsia's flat. My auntie was particularly rich. She had the complete volume sets of Alexandre Dumas, Pushkin, Dostoyevskiy...everyone you can think of. And she had probably read them all, too.
In the times of my childhood, books meant so much more to us than money, crystal glasses or gold.
What do i do with them all? My mother asked and we were lost, nostalgic for a moment, stuck between our past and current lives, torn between the old habits and the new circumstances.
You don't throw books away. Your library is your treasure, your collection of priceless pieces you keep forever. To pass on to your children.
But, we corrected ourselves, what is the point now, for us? Not only would I not really be shipping all those books to wherever i currently happen to live these days...but also, let's be realistic, my children would never be reading them in Russian.
And yet, it felt wrong, somehow. Throwing away all those books felt like we would forever close that door. The door to our past- with no ibooks, newspapers online or smart phones. The past of the Soviet childhood, rare sets of books, prestigious and not, expensive and collectible... The past where we dusted those bookshelves and arranged the favourite hardcovers by height, admiring the quality of the special editions and the colours of the hardcovers.
How many years we collected those books! How difficult it was to find a certain author's complete set of all the volumes!
"Who is going to read them now?" My mother said, with only a slight note of sadness in her voice.
Up to you, i said. If you are ready to rid of them, just do it.
But we both knew she probably could not.
Now, she said, her tone suddenly changing, You promised days ago! to teach me how to install Angry Birds Seasons on the Ipad... Hmm...yes, times have definitely changed.