Homeland is where your heart is

What is Homeland? This word is cognate with the word «native». As a rule, Homeland is understood as the native land. The special land that evokes positive emotions. The land where you were born.

I vaguely remember this illustration from my twenty years’ ago primer: a clear sky, green hills, a couple of birches, a river in the distance and the caption: «Our Homeland». Then I just began to get acquainted with this concept and still poorly understood what it wanted to say to me. Other «pictures» – images of the Homeland come to mind: the poster «The Motherland Calls», numerous variations of the Homeland in mosaics, frescoes and sculptures of the Minsk metro, patriotic Soviet songs, poems about the Homeland from school textbooks, street posters for the holidays and many, many more.

Little by little, with age I came to understand that everyone puts into the concept of «small Homeland» something of his own that is close to his heart, his spirit, his thoughts. This place for someone may not even be a city, or a village, or a street, but a close circle of people with whom a person associates the most vivid and warm memories.

I am very lucky since I find it difficult to name a specific city, house, the circle of persons as my «small Homeland». This is because spiritually I am a very open and kind person. And as you know, like seeks like. So all my life I met and communicated with wonderful people who helped me to feel at home in their circle. But there are still a couple of places that have stuck in my memory for a long time and will not leave me even in very old age.

The first is, of course, the parental home. For me, it is like in a famous song – the beginning of all beginnings and a reliable berth in my life. My parents live in the microdistrict «Zialiony luh» of Minsk. Although it is far from me, I still don’t spare any time or energy to come there at least once a week. But when I arrive there, my parents and I do not sit at home all day, we walk around our beautiful microdistrict until we are completely exhausted. Because it is the nature of the «Zialiony luh» that has become a small Homeland for me. What landscapes are there! How many interesting and unforgettable places are there! There are many parks with secret thawed patches, the river where you can find ducks and swans in any weather, the impoundment surrounded by picturesque trees. There is even a waterfall, and more than one. In childhood, my friends and I always found new and unusual places to spend time. And walking with my parents, I always plunge headlong into those carefree times when there was only one problem in my life: how to take a long walk outside. Fortunately, this problem is now easily solvable for me.

The second place that is forever in my heart is the village where my mother comes from. During my entire conscious and unconscious childhood, I visited my grandparents in the summer. They live in the Mastoŭski part of the Hrodna region, in the village of Vialikaja Rahoznica. The village is not small, but not big either, everyone knows each other. And of course, everyone knew me too.

Since my early childhood, my grandparents took me with them both to work and rest. And I had no time to be bored with them.

My grandmother worked in a sewing center. While she went about her business, I, together with other workers, invented various colorful outfits for myself, staged fashion shows and small performances, imagining myself as a famous singer. And in the evening, when my grandmother and I returned home, we went into a small shop, bought ice cream and walked along the river, remembering the day we had lived.

And the next day I was on my way to work with my grandfather. He worked as a tractor driver, loading large bales of straw onto trucks. I remember how he made me a seat in the tractor next to his and rode me around the village. At work, while waiting for the arrival of the trucks, my grandfather and I climbed to the very top of the stack and looked to see if anyone was driving and transporting anything.

The best part of the work was, of course, lunch. The tractor drivers were fed very well, but the tastiest thing was pea soup, which for reasons unknown to me I called «nut soup». I ate in with zest, and when I finished the first portion, I boldly went to demand the second one, arguing that I worked hard and needed to replenish my strength. Fortunately, no one refused me.

At other times I had to help work in the vegetable garden. I did not like poking around in the ground, plucking weeds. But the dislike very quickly became a hobby. My grandparents instilled a love for plants and animals in me. It is only thanks to them all the window sills in my house are now filled with various flowers, for which I tenderly look after.

It was possible to sleep off until dinner on a weekend in the village. And when I woke up and washed my face, I knew that I would find my grandparents in the summer kitchen. I walked in, said hello, and sat down at the table. They gave me a plate with a mountain of unusually delicious, crispy potato pancakes and a glass of birch juice. Mmm...

Now my sister has replaced me in the village, and, to be honest, I am very envious of her.

I have met people who believe that they have never had a happy childhood, and therefore they did not associate any place on Earth with their Homeland. Of course, compared to them, I am fantastically lucky.