They Took Away Our Way of Life
Topic: "No, Not Russian" (4)
Frodo is not gregarious per se, but he does have his own way of starting conversations, and making friends. Mick, the Wonder Dog, has become enamored of a slender, young German Shepherd who lives across the byway afronting the Shire. In the cool of the evening, he will walk ahead of Frodo, and take a restful position on a small rise overlooking the house where the siren resides. She is very shy, and since Mick, the Wonder Dog, knows that he cannot enter the byway without Frodo's announced approval, the two merely stare at each other, from a distance.
Frodo spotted the dog's owner, to whom he had but a hand-waving acquaintance, in his own front yard, and walked across the byway to remark upon the slender build of his dog. Mick, the Wonder Dog, took this as act of tacit approval and crossed along with Frodo. The owner explained that he had made the error of feeding the dog from the table at a young age, and now she will not eat that which better serves her nutritional requirements. While they talked, the dogs were showing early signs of play, and the communication that has long included ancestral nose and butt.
Frodo noted the heavy accent of his neighbor, and asked if it might be Balkan, "Perhaps Latvia?," he asked innocently. His neighbor was almost shaken with shock. "How did you know? Nearly everyone thinks I am Russian, because of my accent. How did you know?"
Frankly, according to Frodo, it had been a wild guess. He could just as easily have said Estonia, or even Finland. He just hadn't thought of Russia. It proved to be a very good guess.
As time bore on, Frodo's neighbor let forth the content of his own Box, as if the saga of Pandora were to be repeated in sheer verbiage. The neighbor told Frodo that in 1939, when Latvia fell to the Germans, his grandfather, not unlike almost all of the men in their small town, was told by the Germans that he either join the German Army, or that he would be shot. His family, it was added, would be sent to work camps. His grandfather acquiesed. What role he played, Frodo does not yet know.
In 1945, when the Russians liberated Latvia from the Germans, the neighbor said his grandfather was taken captive and assumed that he would be shot for having been a soldier in the German Army. In fact, he said, one out of every five Latvians was unceremoniously killed by the Russians for their abetting of the Germans. The neighbor's grandfather, for some unknown reason, was spared, if it can be called that, and was sent to Siberia for a minimum term of 25 years. Frodo's neighbor began to softly sob, and salty paths wandered through his day-old beard in search of his chin.
Frodo had never met anyone even remotely involved with detention in Siberia, although he had known of the history for most of his days. Frodo was not sure what to say, and he was searching for some appropriate response. It was then that they both noted the two dogs, standing on either side of the neighbor, both leaning, listening, and looking up, respectfully. Both Frodo and his neighbor smiled, and proceeded to rub dog ears in only the way that Man or Hobbit has ever done.
As they parted for the evening, Frodo crossed the byway while Mick tarried but a moment behind. Frodo looked forward to telling Sam or Tom Bombadill about the mysterious neighbor with the skinny dog. Another neighbor, somewhat brusquely, stopped Frodo and asked if she had indeed seen him talking to "that Russian."
Frodo said, "No, Not Russian." He bade her goodnight, and walked home with his friend, who seemed to be laughing, at Frodo's heel.
Posted by loveysdaddyga
at 5:53 PM EDT