Granddaughters

Galina Ivanovna’s grandmother was the luminary of the labor camp, while our grandmothers were her audience. Ours were bakers and railway workers and nurses and midwives. They were also spies and counterrevolutionaries and collaborators and traitors. They had been caught using expired ration cards, giving directions to foreigners on the street, and whispering to their spouses in the middle of the night. They were punished. From the stories our mothers told us, we knew that our grandmothers were innocent. They had all thought it was a mistake, a bureaucratic oversight that would soon be corrected.

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