Ana and I practiced spelling in Cyrillic on the foggy kitchen window. When she and her sisters were deported to Kazakhstan they had to study in Russian. It is a common theme in deportees’ stories that they learned and studied in Russian once displaced; many deportees have voiced feeling like their language was taken from them. Some older Moldovans speak Romanian while writing the language in the Cyrillic script, while other deportees lost their native tongue all together and have a hard time speaking in Romanian at all, instead defaulting to Russian. While Ana’s Romanian is quite developed, Pasha’s struggles slightly more as a result of her living a great deal of her adult life with her husband, Vanea, in Ukraine.

Ana remembers, “I would sit with my head beneath my desk. I couldn’t understand a word. I was crying, crying and crying. I couldn’t speak a word in Russian. Mother would soothe us in the evening, when she came home. She would say, ‘Stop crying now. You will learn. Today a word, tomorrow – two.’ We found ourselves taken so far away from our Moldova to such a big country, and we couldn’t understand a word of Russian. Mother translated us as much as she could. But that’s how it was. What could we do?”

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