Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Letters From Latvia - Nica 16th of December 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.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.


The 12th instalment of the Letters from Latvia series is a little soapy. It deals mostly with Janis' breakup with Vera (the girl at home) and his decision to marry Lidija. This appears to be a little less scandalous now that Janis has apparently explained the circumstances of their breakup. 

The themes to the letter are interesting but even more interesting to me is the subtext. If we look at this letter, and the other letters more broadly we may notice that Katrine's language is deeply philosophical and somewhat poetic. I can't help but think that the original Lativan would be even more so.


Sincere greetings to you, our dear Janis, Lidija and Ilmars!

Dear Janis, we recently received your letter written on 3.11, which was so long, you told us so much about yourself and so I was so very, very happy when we received one from you again. Some such explanation, our dear Janis, we would have been happy to receive from you sooner. Everything that you say about your first love, about being disappointed in it and that you had already broken up with Vera when you left, lifted a weight from the heart, as if lifting some guilt from you. Dear brother, I know that you were already kind of “disappointed” in Vera, but I did not know it all nor that you had already broken up. I know and understand how it is in the teenage years when a young person “searches on earth for that which does not exist on earth”. It seems to me that it is not exactly due to not knowing, not understanding life, but more because then you really don’t want to believe that the things we aspire to, that we dream about, might not happen, not be fulfilled. Then adult life seems like something that can grant everything. For me it was not in matters of the heart, but in the ordinary course of life. Home life seemed to me so empty, silly, bad and everything, and in my faith in goodness I imagined that the good and noble things, which I saw in my mind, existed only somewhere else, and I wanted to be there and I tormented myself with these delusions. Now I could almost laugh about it, for I have almost forgotten those thoughts and I wonder how could I not see the reality of life. People are the same everywhere. Good and evil are found everywhere. And no one, it seems to me now, can be completely bad or good. Reading about your disappointment because of your ideals, what I just told you comes to my mind, which was something similar to your disappointment that happened to me in those years and I can completely understand you, my dear brother. Now we have both grown older and become a bit wiser. You have found your real, human earthly love in your dear life partner Lidija and I no longer make my soul flee or shrink in front of everything that is around me and live in non-existent far places but am learning to experience life as it really is, to experience it as deeply as possible and that is where the real joy of life is to be found, life’s meaning and reality and beauty and fulfilment. I know what it is to love, even though I have not yet loved, or found my real destiny. I don’t like to just trifle. You can have friendship, but once there is talk of love – then it is all over. So I am telling you this, dear brother, so that you and Lidija will know something about me too, we are so far apart that we can only know about each other through what we tell each other, or what we can tell from photographs. Dear Lidija, I am sorry that I have caused you a bit of pain, but I could not do otherwise than to write that. I couldn’t know you well enough yet, to think that I was wrong. I seemed as if you had sort of taken away all Janis’ rights even to speak about his own heart and that could be hurtful us too. That is why it is so good that you have now written everything yourself, which is what I wanted to suggest by what I wrote. So now our doubts have gone and we believe much more in your life’s happiness together. We believe and it is much easier. Don’t fear, Lidija, that we might scorn you. No, we could never do that, when you are Janis’ life’s happiness. I hope and believe that we can all have a harmony that will not stand in the way of your happiness together but will add to it. We are not the kind of people that like to be on bad terms with others.

We celebrated cousin Anna’s wedding very nicely, and are gradually preparing for Christmas. How happily will you celebrate it? …We will at least be together in spirit, in one Homeland. – Live well! With very loving greetings to you all - your family at home.


PS Old Mrs Straupenieks has asked us to ask about Valdis.She has not received any letters for a really long time.___  
As always, I welcome your comments below!

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