“We lived on one side of the rivulet, there was forestry here. There plains and kolkhoz farm land on the other side of it. We, the children, would go to school, the youngest of us was left at home and locked, and our mother took a light wherry, got to the other bank of the rivulet and went begging for the potatoes or the other food. It was a severe time for us, we were brought to Siberia in the autumn, we had taken almost nothing when we were exiled, then the winter started. The first year was agonising for us. Sometimes there was an only bowl of food for seven people. Obviously mum and dad gave us a part of their food. I can’t even imagine how they managed to survive.”
“I went to work into the brigade which had been building railroad. The whole brigade was cutting the trees, laying sleepers. I was only sixteen, but had to work with the grownups. After such hard work my hands were swollen. During the night I soaked them into the brine. I had been working on the railway for two years and for one year had been pruning tree branches. There were some volunteers coming to build railway, but there were no people who would prune tree branches, so some stronger girls were shifted to the forestry works. It was very hard to prune tree branches. Even now I chop wood. The most difficult were spruce: they are very branchy. After work our hands were achy and swollen. It was very hard labour.”
“It was the autumn, an early morning came,
They knocked at the closed window frame.
The strangers intruded our dwelling,
They didn’t ask for water or the shelter.
Mother was wringing her hands, calling on God’s mercy, and weeping her bitter tears.
The gatecrashers arranged the papers under their wish,
Marauded the house, not looking at us.
The truth is that they speeded us on our way.
The tackled horse was on the trot.
Mum and dad made the sign of the cross to the lot.
The lindens, the spruces we left behind, the beds unmade, the cattle not fed
All the doors left open as they fled.
Crying granny hastened through the meadow, she was eager to make her bow.
But the time was running low.
Our family was sold to Siberia.
The throngs were packed into the load,
The others were fussing around the railway road.
We started wandering away from our homeland.
The cattle- truck was locked and nailed.
The ration was cold and stale.
When it stopped, people rushed for water.
By the armed soldiers they were escorted.
Electrical poles in distance announced of city approaching.
We knew that some wind will be let in.
Despite our flush with shame and apologies we had to empty our bowels inside.
From the cattle –truck to the barge were displaced.
The perishing cold seeped into the bones.
Both young and aged noticed the scenery changed.
I was in great sorrow for our tiny Lithuania.
I heard the Mūša sough every night in my dreams.
After awakening the same despair was in the air.
At last we came to stoyanka (Engl: halt)
Small houses are standing on the bank on the river. Not zemlyanka (Engl: dugout).
There were some bigger houses in sight.
Mummy, daddy, which of them will be given by might?
We were herded into the huge abode,
The others were lying on their sackload.
Stinkbugs and roaches were crawling on walls,
So cramped and jam-packed, you had to stride warily not to fall.
Soon we all got malaria, from the corners we heard only Jesus, Maria.
No letters, no parcels, no telegrams.
We were fortunate to have beside our mums.
My dearest mummy, you went through the kolkhoz blood, sweat, tears and heartache.
You knew no words in Russian, but managed to get some potatoes,
to scary grim hunger from children away.
At school we were equal.
No Lithuanian books in the bag.
We couldn’t answer when asked.
We were oppressed by unutterable heartache.
But soon we learned to read and to write, we played games, hit a ball,
We sang and even danced not only the simple bops but the Kazachki (Engl: Russian dance)
Even the Russians were surprised by our valiancy.
One by one we started earning a bit.
It was very hard but we didn’t admit.
Our bodies were bitten by gnats and midges.
When we went to the woods for the berries, were scared to death by the roaring bears.
We grew up buoyant, diligent and never downhearted.
From parents that property was imparted.
Our mum was telling the stories without any twinkle,
We all like the tiny tots fell asleep to the sound of her soft voice.”
“Some people came to our place from the neighbourhood authorities and started inventorying our things: furniture, the cattle in the shed. Later told us not to go anywhere and warned not to try running away. My dad got angry and tried to ask them: ‘Why do you want to exile us? What for? What the use from the multi-child family? Who can gain any profit from the little children and me, the old and ailing man?’ Then the strangers suggested squealing on the other family, they were ordered to exile the certain number of people. But the father refused to do so. He told: ‘No, what neighbour should I point to? If that arrow had fallen on me, if it is my destiny we have to get ready.’ All our belongings were put into the cart and brought to the stack yard. There were some more people prepared for the exile there. Later we were brought to Panevėžys sand put into the freight train cars. So we started our journey. Throughout the whole trip some people were sitting next to the window and trying to learn what direction we were being brought. We were checking school atlases, the maps and marking the way. It took a month to get to Siberia: two weeks by train and two weeks by barge.”
In exile in Siberia everybody stood for the others like for themselves
Liongina Zazaitė – Polikaitienė was born on the 25th May in 1940 in Buivyškiai, Pasvalys district, Lithuania. Her parents Jurgis and Liongina Zazai were farmers. Jurgis Zazas had been in WW1, worked as a teacher; later was a famer, he owner 21 ha of land. There were 5 children in the family. In 1949 Liongina’s parents joined the kolkhoz, her father became a stableman. On the 31st October in 1951 some Soviet functionaries (one of them was a leader of pioneer organisation) came to their place and informed that their family is going to be replaced (exiled). Liongina’s parents were suggested to squeal on the other family and they would be left alone. Liongina’s parents refused to do so. They were given several hours for the preparation. Some neighbours helped them with the preparations. It took a month to get to Siberia.(two weeks by train and two weeks by barge). They were brought to Kujanovskij district, Tomsk area (Russia). Her mother worked as a farmhand, her father started working in a boiler house, and the children went to school. Liongina had finished 5 grades in Lithuania. In Siberia she finished two more grades and at the age of 16 started working. At the beginning she worked at the railway, later - in the forestry- she had been pruning tree branches. Local Russians (Siberians) helped and supported family very much. Liongina’s father had continually been writing letters to the relatives in Lithuania and asking to appeal for their family reinstatement. But the relatives were too afraid to appeal. Her father had been sending letters to Vilnius and to Moscow and asking for family reinstatement. After Stalin’s death the family were allowed to return to Lithuania, but they had no means for the trip. Liongina came to Lithuania in 1959, after 8 years of exile, her parents returned two years later. Liongina was given a shelter by her uncle in Gudžiūnai, in two years her parents stayed there as well. The people round about the village called the Zazai “The gooks”. Liongina whole her life worked on a farm. Presently she is a pensioner. At the age of 50 Liongina started writing poetry about the exile and her family experience.