My Russian Doppelganger

(Written in 2011. Image by Zoya Cherkassky)

There’s a Russian woman living in my building.

Technically, she’s moving out, as evidenced by a “Furniture for Sale” sign taped downstairs by the elevator, a sign with her name, Tatyana. And though I’ve never met her, having recently moved here myself, I’m becoming acquainted with her stuff, which she’s been depositing on the “free for all” bench in the lobby.

Not that I need anything. Still, every day on my way out, I now anticipate the thrill of noticing something new on the bench, rummaging through the books, exploring the textures of the domestic accessories left behind – and piecing together the personality of their former owner.

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“Believing in Lenin” (from Generations Literary Journal)

Recently, my coming-of-age creative nonfiction piece, “Believing in Lenin,” appeared in an Oakland-based literary journal Generations.” Generations, a Journal of Ideas and Images, publishes original work by emerging and established authors to encourage conversations across the generational gaps. Since they are currently in print only, I decided to post the text here.

Believing in LeninImage

In Soviet Union, children were more than just children. They were October’s Kids, in honor of the revolution that stamped out Russian monarchy in 1917, and it was a pretty big deal. Decorated with star-shaped pins with Lenin’s picture as a boy, they sang spirituals like “Lenin is within you and within me” in music class, alongside the tunes about the female deer and the rays of golden sun. And if they were good, they’d be taken on a pilgrimage trip to Moscow, to see Lenin’s body in a glass case.

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