My name is Nadia Zhdanov. All through my childhood I lived in Moscow, the capital of Russia. I had lived there ever since I entered the Octobrianks at age eight. For years I was a staunch Communist, fully indoctrinated by the government.
But, as I grew older, I started really thinking about what these people were telling me. I started wondering why Americans seemed so much happier that Russians. I started asking questions of my teachers and parents.
At first I got blank looks and mumbled explanations about how Lenin had already told us everything we need to know. But as I persisted, determined to answer my doubts, they started threatening me, telling me I had to stop. I didn’t understand. Once they sent me to the KGB and had them talk to me. I stopped asking questions.
But my doubts were still there. And as I wandered the grey streets of Moscow, I thought and I wondered.
And one day, as I was walking across the city, I came across a man. His hair was steel-grey and he walked with a stoop. He could have been any ordinary Russian. But as I passed him and nodded a brisk hello, he smiled at me, something ordinary Russians normally didn’t do. I walked on for two more steps, stopped, turned around and ran after him. Impulsively, I grabbed his arm. He turned and looked at me. I was stunned again. His eyes. I had never seen anyone with eyes like that before. They sparkled with life and joy.
“Who are you?” I breathed. (more…)