Līgo Haibun Challenge: Remember To Forget


This week there are two prompts for the Līgo Haibun Challenge: Siberia or South America. Since all the way through January I have been writing haibun for Carpe Diem Haiku journey across the Soviet Union, the word I have chosen couldn’ t be different…

He never talked about it. At first because it was a secret to be kept – a personal secret, a seal of shame. The one you want to keep only to yourself, trying to avoid from spreading like some disease also on the ones you love. With time it became trendy to talk about the past and reveal everything but he still preferred not to. He didn’ t want people to glance at him with that look, that mute “I am so sorry!” in their eyes. He didn’ t need neither their sympathy, nor their promises about how history will never be forgotten. He didn’ t need to tell to remember.

After returning he never took a train again. Not even once. Maybe because he would still flinch in sleep, almost feeling the odor of human fear in a stuffed cattle freight wagon. Or freeze from the clickety-clack sound of the railroad…it reminded him of that word. The one he had avoided mentioning for so long. S…i…b..e…r…i..a. And then there was winter. Yes, he couldn’ t…he just never could fall in love with it again. White stopped to be the colour of innocence and hope for him many years ago. It was the colour of bitter cold and silent forests where his own thoughts were louder than axes and saws. Anger was white. And dispair. Hope could be only green, the colour of the first burgeons because it meant he had survived. Survived yet another winter. And after everything else had gone numb, hope was the only thing he had left. Hope to return. Not to return and to tell, just simply to return.

year’ s coldest day
behind the locked door
memories survive

PS: Shortly before, during and immediately after World War II, Stalin (de facto leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953) conducted a series of deportations on a huge scale which profoundly affected the ethnic map of the Soviet Union. It is estimated that between 1941 and 1949 nearly 3.3 million were deported to Siberia. By some estimates up to 43% of the resettled population died of diseases and malnutrition.

Līgo Haibun Challenge

Carpe Diem Haiku *Chita*

City Chita (Чита) is situated in the Eastern Siberia, right where the river Chita meets the river Inogoda. There are only two cities in the world where on the same hill at the same time are three temples of three different religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and Chita is one of them. In the ancient part of the city on the top of the hill (the old prison use to be there, too) there is a synagogue, a mosque and an orthodox church. This is why Chita is called also “the second Jerusalem”.

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Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Carpe Diem Haiku *Irkutsk*

If you look at the modern map of the Russian Federation, Irkutsk is located almost in the middle on the line, connecting St.Petersburg to the Kuril Islands. Thus we could assume Irkutsk is the unofficial center of Russia, at least geographically. It might be one of the reasons why the inhabitants of the city have come up with the proverb “If you haven’ t been in Irkutsk, you haven’ t been in Russia”. After all – centre is centre! 

At this point of the journey I decide to hop off the train a bit after Irkutsk to experience something that takes my breath away at once. Yes, there is a true gem of nature in Irkutsk region – lake Baikal. Also known as the “Galapagos of Russia”, the Baikal is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 m) lake in the world. It contains 20% of the world’s total unfrozen freshwater reserve. There are 336 rivers that flow into the lake but only one – the Angara that flows out of it. The landscape surrounding the lake basin, with its mountains, boreal forests, tundra, lakes, islands and steppes, is exceptionally picturesque.

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moving mountains
back and forth with every wave
stillness in time

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Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Image courtesy of Wikimedia