Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Letters From Latvia - Nica 27th of June 1947

Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series click HERE

One obvious problem with this series of translations is that we only get half of the story - because I don't have a copy of the letters that Janis sent to Latvia. Perhaps they are out there somewhere but unless someone comes forward with them, I will have to speculate as their content.

It appears that Janis left a girl behind. We often hear of soldiers getting a 'dear john' letter in which their sweetheart has found another man. In this case John (Janis in Latvian) has written to tell his family to tell them he has married while abroad - leaving an awkward situation at home, with his girlfriend still waiting for him. On the bottom of this letter Janis' mother writes a short note, it is quite apparent that this has come as quite a shock to the family, least of all janis' girlfriend.

Also mentioned in the letter is the festival Ligo. Celebrated on the summer solstice, it is one of the most (if not the most) important national holiday in Latvia. You can find more information about Ligo here and here!

Our dear Janis in a distant foreign place,
We have received a letter from you again – a greeting for mother on Mothers’ Day June 21. It was very moving for us and especially for our dear mother. Janis, it is lovely that you can so feel the bright star of your mother’s heart over you in foreign parts, that you feel its light and can keep strong and sure in its light and guidance. And truly our mother has prayed and is praying to God, every morning and evening for you and us all. Her heart wants to stand guard over us. She has prayed for blessings for you, and now that you have started life together with your chosen life partner, she has faith that that too is perhaps a part of the blessing  that she has prayed for for you and will not cease to pray for, for you both, her son and her daughter-in-law. I think she will want to write a few lines herself in this letter. We have come to terms now with the change in your life and accustomed to it and do not feel as if we have been slighted by your actions, because you know what you are doing and you do not have to answer to others for it. In life many bad things are done for which their perpetrators should be ashamed, but we do not think that your choice could be any wrong doing. Vera knows about it now, although we avoid talking about it. All the talking is done by both mothers. But we think that Vera is able to forgive you. It is fate and she is not a mean person. But she is not thinking about getting married at the moment, perhaps she intends to stay unmarried altogether. She comes to see us with her mother and will continue to do so, the same as all this time – so she can show people that she has only been coming here in friendship to me and  for the sake of general good relations. We did not manage to keep the news private though, at least father did not consider it necessary not to tell his relatives and good friends and then why should they stay silent? They say also that Peteris Sapratis and (?) from the Lejnieks have told about it. But never mind, let them know. We consider that you are not to be blamed and maybe Vera “does not want you at all” any more.
So. Live happily with your wife. She might help you to bear the heavy weight of your exile, till you all return to your homeland to start a real life.
Dear brother, I wanted to write to you on Ligo night itself, but that was not possible. Vera came to visit with her friend, her schoolmate Zigrida, her “husband” as she calls her, and who has become our friend as well, because she has been here a number of times. In the evening all of us, including the forester’s Ilze, went to the forest for birch boughs, but on the way back there was terrific rain and thunder several times, so we were soaked. But the rain was warm and only made us laugh, we sang Ligo songs, even though the rain was driving into our mouths. This trip was for us the best part of the whole Ligo festival. We brought home birch and oak branches and wild flowers. We all went to the neighbours’ – to the forester’s place- to celebrate Ligo vakars, but as it still rained and the ground and grass were wet, then to our great regret no celebration was possible. We did not see other people lighting barrels either. But nevertheless the Ligo spirit was in our hearts and in all other houses as well and in all of our Latvian land, when Latvian people prepare for and celebrate our most beautiful and traditional festival, the Ligo festival. Old and young celebrate it. Then the sun gives us more of its light and warmth in our lives and the whole earth in its caress offers to us, its human children, its greatest splendour. Everything is green, ripening, flowering and fragrant. All the little flowers are blooming in the meadows and edges of the fields, the clover fields are in flower, the rye fields are rippling high and over the fields and meadows a vast and fervent Ligo rings from the hearts and mouths of the people. Joy and gratitude for the unchanging beauty of the land and of life, no matter what storms and shadows pass over it and over people’s lives. On that evening, our dear Janis, I wished you all the best from my heart, that you too might feel some joy and happiness, especially on this evening when in your homeland they sing Ligo. Perhaps you thought of the Ligo festivals you celebrated with your friends in your homeland, before we were separated by (?) life.
We all wish you and your wife a happy life together and a swift return to your homeland. And may your son Ilmars also not feel left out. 
With best, best wishes, Kate
PS We have received 3 letters from you and have sent you 2 letters, 3 cards and now this letter.

Dear son and daughter-in-law,
I send greetings to you in distant, foreign parts and wish you God’s blessing in your future life. What you have done was a big shock to me though, for it came unexpectedly, not dreamed of in my mind or my dreams. When we got your first letter, we hadn’t even had time to read it a second time when Vera was advised by telegram, for I know of your real good fortune, that you are alive and well, for all the talk here was about you being alive and well. Then when your second letter came, whatever I might say, it was a great mercy that Vera was not here with us. If we had not been driven out of our home, then of course Vera would have been with us, because that was your wish. And I have fulfilled it all, I did not abandon Vera even though we were refugees, we shared each mouthful, so that you could not reproach me that I did not fulfil your wishes. But now it is very much the opposite It caused me great anxiety, you will know that yourself. For my expectation was to see you come home alone and for maybe half a year not to give you back to the world, but to rejoice over you by myself as over a small child, to look after you and give you a mother’s care, after the perils you have been through. But now you have chosen a life partner for yourself in  foreign parts.  I still wonder every day if that really is your fate. Then once again best, best wishes from mammucite and I wish all three of you the very best and hope to see you come home soon.

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