(Photo from the author)
by Polina Bachlakova
Jul 6 2016
Because of limited access to contraception, Soviet women in the 20th century had more abortions than almost anywhere else in the world. My grandma is one of those women.
In Russian culture, the grandmother is the nucleus of every family. When our family immigrated to Vancouver from Moscow in 1995, we took that tradition with us; as a kid, I spent most evenings hanging out with grandma. Even when I was that young, I remember thinking she was a walking catastrophe of contradictions, as if somebody had haphazardly glued together opposite personalities, squeezing them into a soft and round, four foot nine body.
Whenever she'd sit down to teach me to write in Russian, she'd be unbelievably patient and kind. However, in regular conversation, she was sharp-tongued, dismissive, and brutally venomous. Our relationship was rocky, to say the least—and the older I grew, the less I understood how a woman with a chemistry degree, a passion for film, and love for her family could be so corrosive to the very people she loved most.
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