Emigration Is Always Hard

Emigrants' lives are a part of our nation

Every emigrant has a special fate. However, when a person meets a fellow countryman in a foreign state, both usually become so joyful that they are ready to turn their souls inside out. It is not known whether it is a national habit or Russians have no one to speak to abroad.

The woman's name is Lesya, she looks like 40 years old. She is actually a younger person, but she looks older because of the housework. She left three children in Russia - they are living with her grandmother. Lesya had to leave to another country to earn some money.

The story of this woman had a standard beginning: her first husband left her, she could not find a job, but she had to raise two children that she had from her first marriage. She saved some money and went to work to Prague on a guest visa.

At first, she was washing dishes in a Czech restaurant for a year. She was hired illegally because the restaurant owner came form a Balkan country, so he was friendly to emigrants. When Lesya earned some money, she asked her relatives to buy her a visa for 12 months for 24,000 crowns. Lesya was happy that she had managed to move to the Czech Republic.

She visited her Russian home for a couple of months during the year. Her neighbor proposed to her and they got married. In nine months, Lesya gave birth to her third child, a boy. A year later she returned to the Czech Republic with her husband. The latter did not manage to cope with the new experience - he started drinking, lost his job and returned to his native home. In Russia, he divorced Lesya and the court upheld his claim for the house, where Lesya's children were living with their grandmother.

Lesya was living in Prague at that time. She was so desperate about the situation that she decided to talk to a local mob of the Russian origin. Emigrants usually know such people - Lesya had to pay him a thousand crowns to buy protection from the police. The mob lent $3,000 to the woman and she saved her children. However, Lesya found herself in a very unpleasant debt situation.

She has already reimbursed 50 percent of the debt to him. She has a better job now - Lesya works as a maid in a four-star hotel in Prague. The work is not dirty - she has to clean about five rooms a day. The hotel's owner makes her stay in the hotel until late, in case some of the guests might need an iron or a bowl of fruit. Lesya works 12 hours a day. "It is not hard for me. Even if I have nothing to do, they pay me anyway. Hotel guests often leave some money for maids in their rooms when they leave. It is not like washing dishes after 150 people." Lesya receives her payment through a so-called "client." Officially, she makes 60 crowns per hour, but she received only 50. The rest is paid to the people who cover illegal emigrants - the latter do not mind such a "tax."

Natasha has been living there for 22 years. She has a rather romantic story about her arrival to the Czech Republic. She is now married to a Czech man - she met him in the Russian city of Volgograd, where he had arrived on a business trip. After the wedding the young family decided to live in Prague for a while. They had to struggle with the Soviet reality for several years. Natasha's parents were rather influential people, that is why she had her foreign passport and visa registered in a week. However, her husband's colleagues were reproaching him for marrying a Russian woman. He eventually lost his job because of it. Moreover, the man lost a large apartment in the center of Prague. The family had to return to Volgograd to recover from the shock. Natasha delivered a baby girl. However, her husband did not want to stay in Russia, so they all had to return back to the Czech Republic. Hardly had they arrived when they had to deal with even worse news - Natasha's father died. She had a paralyzed mother left in Volgograd and it was decided to take her to Prague too. Natasha was taking care of her mother for four years. When Natasha and her husband took a short vacation, they received a facsimile message about the mother's death.

After the break up of the USSR, Natasha had an opportunity to sell her apartment in Volgograd. The husband made a poor investment in a stock exchange and lost $22,000. Natasha had nothing to do but to start looking for a job - it was her first occupation in her life. She was lucky to find a job of an accountant. Her daughter grew up and entered the philological department of the Karlov University. As soon as she started working there, another unpleasant surprise happened - Austrians had taken over Natasha's firm. As a result, the company had to reduce the personnel - Natasha was fired. "I have not been able to find another job for three years already. Nobody likes my age - I am 50 years old. I come from a good family, I have a higher education. And here I am. My friends call me asking me to return home, but I have no place to go in Russia: my parents are dead, I sold the apartment."

This story represented the lives of only two women. Most likely, there are thousands of such people living abroad. Some of them are successful, others were not that lucky. However, their lives are a part of our nation. Both Lesya and Natasha had so much nostalgia in their voices when they were telling their stories. However, the two women did not want to answer the question whether they wanted to return to Russia for good. Probably they did not want to acknowledge that the answer is never.

Alexandra Vagner

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Author`s name Olga Savka