TE15 Lithuanian Honey Cake

Irena: Life Should Be Clear

her, “Did it not disgust you to kiss a Jew?” Then Mrs. Ladigienė wept as well. Neither she nor I slept that night—we talked right through to the morning. That was how she became my second mother, and I, her daughter. I stayed with Mrs. Ladigienė’s family even when the Soviets occupied Lithuania, right up to her deportation to Siberia. You are probably wondering what made me cry and what led to that dramatic conversation between Mrs. Ladigienė and myself. Here it is important to say one key thing: when a person is constantly surrounded by humiliation and hatred, when they are constantly hounded and persecuted—this kind of situation has a profound psychological effect. Living within that steady stream of hatred I could feel the worm of doubt beginning to gnaw at my heart: “Maybe there really is something wrong with me?” I felt very comfortable in Mrs. Ladigienė’s home and was showered with love and attention. Although she was a woman of profound faith, she never displayed it, and she demanded more of herself than of others. Her whole being was permeated by love for her neighbour. But Mrs. Ladigienė was also a secular and an artistic woman. How beautifully she recited poetry! I can remember how we—the whole family—would sit in the living room after dinner and she would recite poems by the Lithuanian writers Salomėja Nėris, Bernardas Brazdžionis or Maironis, and sometimes also poems in


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