Thank you for your beautifully worded post, Michelle Pacansky-Brock.
I first shared these images in a blog post back in 2009. They are part of a historical narrative contained within an autograph book which belonged to my maternal grandmother.
(I attempt to write down the story)
As if 1917 were still now.
As if the colours have just been applied with the brush,
as if the painter has just left the room to make a cup of tea.
As if the sled has just arrived,
leaving straight lines in the snow
punctuated by horses’ hooves
and the travellers’ impatience to dismount has marked the snow with hurried footprints.
As if the anticipation of the travellers lives on perpetually,
as if the barely contained joy of the husband and father is about to happen right now
and the warm, strong embraces can be felt over and over:
the first embrace for the little daughter, then a kiss for the newborn son, and finally the longest one for the soul companion
whose letters have sustained a solitary confinement.
As if the tears shed remain moist on the cheek and the loving words white clouds that linger in the cold air frozen forever.
As if the story of war-torn families is the same everywhere
and every day husbands, fathers, wives, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, grandmothers, grandfathers and babies
are living and reliving the moment when dreams are realised and the family is reunited.
As if 1917 is now and in the future.
Background to the illustrations:
The father/husband in the story is my maternal grandmother’s father. She is the little girl in the picture and the baby is her brother (who died from tuberculosis at the age of 18). Her father was staying in Siberia for work. They were Germans in Russia, and my grandmother was born in Russia.
The second illustration is part of a story written in the form of a poem by a friend of the family. The poem and illustrations relate the story of this episode of their lives in 1915 (but the poem is dated 1917). Poetry in verse was commonly written by Russian people at the time (and even now).