My dear old lady, you never saw through my deception. You were so pleased!
[Even though you were ill, you used to press me to go to a movie. How could I tell you that I was not interested in being entertained? The only thing I wanted to do was to sit at your feet painting Aivazovski seascapes.]
How did this book come into being? Euphrosinia Kersnovskaya, after years in Soviet prison camps and exile to Siberia, rejoined her Mother after a separation of 18 years. They decided not to settle in their homeland Moldavia, but in the city of Essentuki in the South of Russia.
Mother wanted her daughter's life to be full and interesting, but Euphrosinia would not travel because of her mother's failing health. So she began to paint landscapes from memory, and make copies of Russian artwork. While mother would be playing solitaire, Euphrosinia would be painting beside her, and telling her about some of her outstanding life experiences. Mother was so impressed that she urged her daughter to write down her story, and also to promise that she would not stop painting, as she had real talent.
After her Mother's death Euphrosinia tried to live up to these promises. She bought thick school exercise books, ball-point pens, pencils and paints. Beginning in 1964, she wrote down what she had lived through between 1940 and 1960, illustrating the text liberally with coloured sketches.
After her story had been written down in full, Euphrosinia decided to rewrite it in a different format, as a series of drawings with explanatory captions. It is this second version which you have before you. Where the captions are not sufficiently clear we have added extracts from her earlier, more detailed work. We have also added some bridging narrative to maintain the unity of the record.