25. January 2011 · Comments Off on Anna Karenina · Categories: B. Family Legends · Tags:

Her name wasn’t Anna.  Her real name was whispered and her story told beneath the radar.  Not until I was old enough and crafty enough to get a copy of Tolstoy’s novel did I realize that she was “our Anna Karenina.”  All I knew was that she was a great, celebrated beauty and had two very young children and everything to lose.  She and her lover were discovered “in flagrante” – you can’t say it better than that in two words.  They took away her children immediately, and her own father refused to see her.  She was sent continents away, and that was that.   I heard nothing about a train or any other form of “You have to kill yourself first” stuff that would be the result of following the sort of crappy advice people actually said out loud.  At least that was a relief.

Then I saw a ghost!  “This is Anna,” my aunt said.  I stared at my aunt with the big question bulging from my eyeballs, “That Anna?”  She laughed.  Time had swept away many of the old taboos, not to mention people who held long grudges.  Anna was old, but from her sparkling conversation she had no senior moments that got in the way.  She had married a man many years younger than herself.  She regaled me with stories about the glittering world of her youth, which was also my mother’s world, that my mother had died too early to tell me herself.  And eventually, Anna told me the story of her heart.

Maybe I’ve become too crotchety, but I think that Anna’s story has very little chance of happening today.  Who has the time anymore to take so much from a glance behind a fan, a stolen sideways look, or a glimpse on the street, for desire to build up till you are consumed and forget that you would lose everything as well as the Bishop’s approval?  Yes, there was her never-failing wit, but I did not forget that there had been unimaginable pain and an indomitable spirit of survival.





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